Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 23, 2021
A long walk to water—from Sedgwick to Sudan
Local students raise money to drill well in Africa
by David Avery
Here in Maine in the 21st century, finding a reliable supply of clean, drinkable water is not generally an overriding concern, but in some parts of the world that is not the case.
Students in the seventh and eighth grades at Sedgwick Elementary School were learning about that and decided to do something about it, according to teacher Sarah Doremus.
As part of a project-based curriculum, the students decided to raise some money toward drilling a well in the African country of Sudan. A well may not sound like much, but, as the children learned, access to such a source of water makes all the difference for people, especially school girls in Sudan.
They were inspired by their school assignments, like reading the novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. The novel is based on the true story of children in Sudan, one of whom, Nya, makes a two-hour trek to fetch water for her family twice a day.
Consequently, education becomes impossible for Nya, a central character in the novel. Sedgwick students decided to help out children like her.
But how to do it? They brainstormed ideas and settled upon something that students at Sedgwick Elementary were familiar with, stamp printing on fabric.
They used the technique to create unique peace flags, each one a work of art, which they sold for $10. The flags feature unique geometric designs and messages of peace.
They sold more than 100 flags. They also received donations to help them toward their goal.
They set a goal of raising $2,501 because it seemed doable in a year, Doremus said.
Student Madeline Snell said her favorite part of the project was creating the printing blocks by carving. In fact, all of the students present at a Zoom meeting expressed their pleasure with being able to be creative during a practical school project.
Jasper Rossney liked working together and helping classmates, while Raffael Krall thought that the best part was coming up with their own designs.
Jacob Allen even made a video to promote the project, nothing new for him. He has his own YouTube channel.
Camielle Hardie expressed her teacher’s fondest hopes when she said that it really “helps to have something right in front of you,” meaning a physical object and a practical application when you are learning.
The project-based curriculum comprises most subjects at Sedgwick Elementary; in this case, it involves art, science and natural resources and English and language arts.
The other teachers involved were ELA teacher Dolphin Thalhauser and science teacher Bev Hawkins.
Doremus said that this sort of learning gives the children agency for change. “Their actions effect change in the world.”
Somewhere in Sudan a young girl is learning the same lessons, thanks to the ingenuity and initiative of these Sededgwick students.