LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Water is the key to life. Every system in our body depends on it, but not everywhere in the world is lucky enough to have it. Three Lockport City School District teachers, Daina Burke, Julie Tette, and Anna Barrett, plus a handful of students set out to change that, one village at a time.
Ghana is a country of over 27 million people. A large majority of those people have to walk miles to get clean water every single day. Anna Barrett, a foreign language teacher at Lockport High School, used to be one of them. She lived in the country until she was 13 before moving to Germany with her family. Since leaving, she had aspirations to change the way of life, her friends and family there, were living.
Barrett told News 4, “It has always been a desire of mine as far as my vision to go back and give back to the country that has given me so much.”
The biggest way she could do that, bringing water filtration systems to the Village of Ada. But she needed help, so she gathered 27 helpers, a lot of them students, a few sponsors, and the trip was off. Her daughter Zipporah was one of the lucky participants. She explained to News 4 how the water filtration systems worked. She said, “They take the river water buckets on top, and then the other bucket is on the bottom. Then you take the water filtration system, and then the water goes through and takes out all the bad stuff and then it goes into the clean bucket and then you have clean water.”
The young adults were able to show the Village how to use the systems. And they gained so much from the experience.
Student volunteer, Matthew Chu, shared, “It was a really big eye opener, because we used to, I used to take so many things for granted. And while I was there, I didn’t even want to use too much water, because multiple days on the trip we had run out of water.”
Another student, Hannah McWilliams said, “When we gifted the village filtration systems, we had the community come for a demonstration and just to see all of their faces, some were crying, they were just so thankful we were here to help, and it was so heartwarming.”
The volunteers also learned about the Ghanian culture.
Gena Rising, a student and participant told News 4, “Especially being in a third world country, it was really different. I think we all assimilated well, and really quickly. Dr. Barrett was a really big help for that. She really got us into the culture.”
Some of the culture took a bit of getting used to.
Jaqlyn Leiser, a left handed student, shared a piece of the culture that was a little bit quirky. She said, “Like eating in a group, if you use your left hand, you can clear a room basically.”
Teaching the students about the culture, strategies of learning without ideal resources, and bridging the gap between different civilizations is something Barrett says she loves.
She said, “It was very humbling but yet very inspiring at the same time.”
Helping one village changed so many lives, but there are many more people who need assistance. Julie Tette, another teacher involved in planning the trips, told News 4, “We plan to go back next year and potentially dig a well for the community to continue our water efforts.”
To learn more about their efforts and see the video montage of the trip click here.