Burns Middle School students recently doubled their fundraising goal for a humanitarian project, raising more than $2,000 for a nonprofit organization that drills for clean water in South Sudan.
During October, students and staff read A Long Walk to Water by Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park. The book, in part, details the real-life story of Salva Dut, who escaped from a warring tribe and became one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” in 1985.
After living in refugee camps for 10 years, Dut moved to the U.S. Several years later, he learned that his father was still alive in Southern Sudan but was suffering with disease caused by waterborne parasites. His father’s illness inspired Dut to help both his father and his country by bringing clean water to those in need. This was the beginning of the nonprofit Water for South Sudan.
The money raised will be donated to Dut’s Iron Giraffe Challenge, which drills for clean water in South Sudan. The project got its name because the water drills resemble iron giraffes.
“When all students and staff read the same book at the same time, it promotes literacy, sparks conversation and builds community,” said Library Media Specialist Elizabeth Muster. “A Long Walk to Water was chosen this year because of its themes of hope and perseverance, something we all need during these trying times. We also want the Iron Giraffe Challenge to encourage empathy for those in less fortunate circumstances.”
BMS is one of 950 schools that have participated in the Iron Giraffe Challenge since the organization was founded in 2014.
The goal was to raise $1,000, which is the cost to build one of the water rigs. Schools that raise that amount receive a virtual visit from Dut.
Muster said more than half of the money was raised in one day, saying the money came from local businesses, staff members, and students working together to make a difference.
“The fundraiser showed that we — students, staff, and the community — can come together to reach a common goal to help those in need even though they live on the other side of the world,” Muster said.