Walking in single file while holding jugs of water atop their heads, the Ursuline Academy students created a scene that might easily have been immortalized on the tomb walls of an ancient Egyptian pharoah.
But what the students really wanted onlookers to understand is that hauling water is an arduous and never-ending task that’s performed by girls and women in today’sAfrica.
“Women in Africa carry as much as 40 pounds of water on their backs – for us it’s only 10 pounds, and we don’t have to do it every day,” said sixth grader Lauren Songy of the activity that had her and her schoolmates carrying water around the courtyard for up to 20 minutes.
The exercise kicked off “Project Africa,” a yearlong, inter-disciplinary study of the continent by Ursuline students in all classes, from toddler age through high school.
“Children and babies are dying from things as simple as diarrhea,” said sixth grader Diana Ledet, noting that students are raising money through various campus activities to fund the construction of freshwater wells in Cameroon, where the Ursuline Sisters conduct missionary work.
Last month, “Project Africa Day” began in the auditorium with a prayer service followed by two multi-media presentations: a film on the scarcity of clean water written by kindergartners, and a PowerPoint on the special year of study by middle schoolers.
Students spent the rest of the day in their classrooms writing Africa-related poems, making Cameroonian “ndop” cloth, learning the science of well construction and water purification, and singing and dancing to African music. Prayers for the continent will be the focus of prayer throughout the year.