In Canada, we never think twice about it: we turn on a tap and water flows. Not so for the people of many African villages where running water doesn’t exist. In order to understand this problem, a group of Vanier students will travel to Africa in June, 2011, for a 4-week study trip in Malawi entitled “Water: Action for Access” that will focus on access to safe water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa. The students were selected for their leadership, enthusiasm, commitment and interest in the problem of access to safe water.
While in Malawi, they will live in Makupo Village, a rural community that until recently did not have easy access to water. In the past, women of Makupo and the surrounding area had to walk great distances daily to fill buckets with water for everyday use. The Vanier students will learn first-hand what it’s like to live where clean water is not readily accessible and will explore how access to water affects the education, productivity, health and environment of African communities.
Since last fall, the Vanier College International Education Office has been preparing these students for their experience in Malawi with orientation sessions on Africa, globalization and the developing world. The students also researched issues affecting Malawi and learned about access to water worldwide, and have participated in workshops on cultural sensitivity appropriateness, documentation and journaling skills, and photography.
As well, the students were encouraged to organize fundraising activities, which raised several thousand dollars to cover the costs of their trip. Their fundraising efforts also focused bringing attention on the problem of access to water worldwide.
Next semester, the students will share their discoveries about access to water in Malawi with fellow Vanier students and local high school students to make them aware of global issues in Africa and how they might become involved in finding solutions.