Students at Highview Middle School in St. Paul, Minnesota, are learning more than they ever imagined about clean water, sanitation and other water challenges that are part of everyday life in South Africa.

The American kids were teamed up with students at Puputle High School and Phaphamani Primary School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa for an international education project. During the 2010-2011 school year, the Highview students raised more than $5,000 to help provide water systems for their partner schools, whose students are also learning about water, sanitation and good hygiene.

Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

At Highview, teachers have incorporated water-related topics into their lessons, and students have organized several service-learning and fundraising projects.

The eighth-grade students hosted a Walk for Water event, in which participants received donations from parents, friends and relatives and then carried 3-gallon buckets of water for 3 miles—the average distance women and girls in developing countries walk in a typical day, usually carrying more than 5 gallons of water.

The schools were teamed up thanks to H20 for Life. This Minnesota-based nonprofit connects schools in United States with schools in developing countries to complete WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in Schools projects, which provide students with clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.

Working for Water

The partnership between Puputle, Phaphamani and Highview is part of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s RAIN Water for Schools program, which will benefit 100 schools in South Africa and an additional 100 schools in other African countries.

The schools project is a component of RAIN (Replenish Africa Initiative), Coca-Cola’s response to the water crisis in Africa. With RAIN, the company aims to bring clean water to more than 2 million people in Africa by 2015 with a five-year, $30 million commitment.

Progress made to date with RAIN Water for Schools:

  • Nine pilot schools were completed in June 2010.
  • Project implementation is currently underway at 52 schools. H2O for Life contributed $25,000 for 11 of these schools and is now working to raise funds for schools in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
  • An estimated 50 South African schools will be completed by the end of 2011.