- Brewster Central School District
Brewster High School Students Raise Money for Wells in South Sudan
For the fourth year in a row, Brewster High School students are getting ready for We Walk for Water, a symbolic walk to raise both awareness and funds for Water for South Sudan. Led by teacher Jessica Juska, students have raised $15,711 over the past three years and have sponsored the drilling of three wells.
“As freshmen in Mrs. Juska’s English class, we learned about the unimaginable realities that young girls face in South Sudan. They trek six to eight hours a day to retrieve contaminated water from water holes, just so their families can survive,” said junior Madison Dakin, who has participated since she was a freshman. “This ultimately jeopardizes the young girls’ ability to get an education or a job because of all the time spent trekking.”
Inspired by Judy Bernstein’s They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky, students walk for six hours during the We Walk for Water event to represent how girls in South Sudan miss their chance at education in order to walk to water holes.
“As part of the service project, students seek sponsors for their walk to raise money to help sponsor a well in a village in South Sudan to give the people living there access to clean water, hope, opportunity, and stability,” said Juska.
Students are thrilled to be able to participate in the event together again on campus this year.
“Usually, everyone participating in We Walk for Water congregates at our school track and walks together for the duration of the school day,” said Madison. When schools shut down in March 2020 because of COVID, the group was not sure how to hold the event.
“I proposed an idea to Mrs. Juska to walk individually and track all of our progress through the Nike Run Club app on our phones,” Madison continued. “We could not let a pandemic stop us from contributing. In fact, I believe the most critical time to contribute to those in need is in times of crisis.”
Senior Alicia Eder was surprised at how well the event did despite COVID complications.
“I was pleasantly surprised that so many students were willing to do socially distant walks through COVID — and that my community was willing to donate to this project in a time when many were struggling financially,” she said.
Heading into her fourth year participating in the event, Alicia reflected on the experience.
“It's still so incredibly unreal to me that three communities in South Sudan now have access to clean water,” she said. “I feel very grateful that there are people in my community as passionate about this cause as I am, and that our teamwork has made an impact on the lives of people in need.”
Sophomore Monaco Pillai, who is participating for the second year, is equally in awe of what the students have accomplished.
“It's just such an eye-opening experience for everyone involved,” Monaco said. “I feel incredible knowing that something that we're doing right here at the high school is changing lives across an entire ocean. Partaking in the Walk for Water really inspired me to be more conscious and thankful for the things we have here. I think the greatest shock of the entire event is the fact that it even has to be done.”
Madison has found the entire experience rewarding.
“Overall, it feels fulfilling to know that we played a part in making a difference in the lives of others, especially during a time of crisis. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and to be a part of adapting our initiative during the pandemic,” she said. “I also better understand the importance of being exposed to and educated on the harsh realities that others endure, so that we can come together and act to make positive differences.”
Madison noted that the experience has given her perspective.
“Truly understanding the privilege of living in a developed country like the United States with the availability of sanitized water — and everything that comes with it, especially health and education — is so important when considering the hardships other people are going through,” she said. “In South Sudan water is nearly inaccessible and I believe it’s imperative that everyone takes a step back to not only appreciate how lucky we are, but to lend a helping hand to those not as fortunate as us.”
This year’s culminating We Walk for Water event will be held on May 26. You can help the cause by donating here: https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/3557048