Can individuals in a community lead healthy, flourishing lives if the community as a whole is not well?
Column by Shaye Reagan
I’ve been pondering this question over the last few weeks as students at ICS (including my own children) have put their efforts together in hopes of funding a Rainwater Collection & Filtration System to be installed in a school in Uganda through a non-profit called the Ugandan Water Project. Often, entire communities are without access to water. This goes beyond just not having plumbing – children often have to spend every day walking to collect contaminated water for their families. Let’s imagine a small percentage of the community members have secret, hidden access to clean water. Their individual health outcomes are better, there is more time available for education, farming, building infrastructure that is needed in a community. Are they really better off, though, if the majority of their neighbors, brothers and sisters aren’t afforded similar basic human rights? I think not. Healthy people exist when they dwell in healthy communities.
Now making healthy communities? It is a task that is easier said than done. It requires finances, cooperation, local governmental structure – and these take time. I have been taking time with Immaculate Conception School students to imagine what life must be like for millions of school-aged kids in Uganda who have to suffer for the most basic need of water. These wonderings certainly help grow compassion. But the most beautiful thing happens when it moves us to action.
Over the last week, nearly 50% of ICS students have voluntarily participated in walking through downtown sharing about the Ugandan Water Project with business owners and patrons. In their own words they have been communicating the need of kids like themselves, stirring others to compassion and action. These kids – Kindergarten up through 6th grade – have been confident, articulate, and kind. I believe this is absolutely a result of the ICS environment. But let’s be honest – this is the result of a healthy, flourishing community. We can thrive as individuals because we have a rich and invested community.
Many businesses have committed to partnering with these students to reach their goal of $3,600 (which is a very attainable goal that will have impact on 500 people for over 20 years!). The first local organization to jump in with us was the Rotary Club. From the beginning they pledged to launch this project by giving us the first 10%! In an act of faith, they committed this money from the upcoming Pancake Breakfast on Tuesday, November 8th. Go get those tickets – your money supports our local community and many abroad.
Perhaps you think, “What can I do? If millions need water, I can’t do that!” This is why the Ugandan Water Project has a mission to bring clean water to the next person. And then the next. Will you help us? Please visit ugandanwaterproject.org/ics and give – it can be $1 or $100. Every drop counts.
Learn more about the efforts to provide clean drinking water to those in need: