Riverhead students launch ‘Water Challenge’

02/07/2014 8:00 AM |
SANDRA KOLBO PHOTO | Students in Riverhead Middle School English teacher's Mindy Benze classes recently initiated a "Water Challenge" to promote clean drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa communities.

SANDRA KOLBO PHOTO | Students in Riverhead Middle School English teacher’s Mindy Benze’s classes recently initiated a “Water Challenge” to promote clean drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa communities.

Drawing inspiration from “A Long Walk to Water,” a book they read in English class about a Sudanese refugee whose mission is to provide clean water to sub-Saharan African communities, students at Riverhead Middle School recently launched a “Water Challenge” — a venture that has raised more than a thousand dollars.

As part of the challenge, English teacher Mindy Benze’s students pledged to drink only water for two weeks to raise awareness about the clean water crisis affecting countries around the world, a Riverhead Middle School spokeswoman said. The challenge was also extended to teachers and staff.

Students then donated the money they and school employees would have spent purchasing soft drinks and juices over the course of those two weeks to The Water Project, a non-profit organization that provides sustainable water to communities in sub-Saharan Africa who lack access to clean water and proper sanitation.

The money raised by Riverhead Middle School students will be used by The Water Project to help cover the $15,000 cost of building a deep-water well in an African country, according to a press release.

Author Linda Sue Park’s 2011 book “A Long Walk to Water” is based on the true story of Salva, a Sudanese boy who spent years on the run after his school was attacked by rebel soldiers in 1985 and was brought to the United States in the mid-1990s.

Salva eventually returned to Africa to establish a foundation that installs deep-water wells in remote villages in desperate need of clean water, according to the release.

To contribute to “The Water Challenge,” contact Mindy Benze at mindy.benze@riverhead.net.

ryoung@timesreview.com