Hope Overflowing

Tuesday 4.30.2013 @ 8:36pm | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Water. It’s something we take for granted here in our desert oasis. Clean water is at our fingertips, and dozens of gallons flow through our homes each day for drinking, for watering our lawns, for bathing, for cooking and to fill our swimming pools and fountains.


Yet, according to the United Nations Development Report, 1.1 billion people have inadequate access to water. Women and children carry water from rivers and streams, sometimes walking miles with heavy pans and jerry cans, and often suffer waterborne illnesses that leave them weak or even prove fatal.


The same amount of water that runs down the drain when we shower could give a family drinking water for days, yet we seldom think about those things when we leave the tap turned on while we brush our teeth or fill the tub.


The lack of access to clean drinking water kills more people than any form of violence, including war. Children are the most vulnerable. Diarrhea from waterborne illness kills 1.8 million children a year, according to the U.N., and water-related illness results in a loss of 443 million school days each year.


You don’t have to travel far from the U.S. to find these issues. The island nation of Haiti, still recovering from the January, 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake that awoke our awareness about poverty and tragedy because it was so close to home, damaged over 600 groundwater wells and severely limited access to clean water. Once again, children are perhaps the hardest hit. Roughly one in six children born today in Haiti will face either sickness or death because of lack of safe, clean water.


Valley Christian schools are joining together to do something about that. Liquid Hope, a joint effort between students, teachers and families from participating schools, including North Valley Christian Academy and Northwest Christian School, took the challenge to give up drinking anything but water for one week, April 8 to 13. That meant no soda, no Starbucks, no Kool-Aid, nothing but water, which was harder than it would seem at first glance for many of the youngsters and the staff.


The money saved through this sacrifice was donated to Liquid Hope. The goal of Liquid Hope was to raise $50,000 to provide clean water and ministry for the children of Haiti. That impressive goal was surpassed, however, and the students raised money to go toward projects in Haiti, from building and repairing groundwater wells and funding a high school mission’s trip to the communities where the wells are being built.


To remind everyone taking part of the importance of the project, each person was given a bottle, named ‘Liquid Hope’, to carry with them throughout the day. “It reminded them that people in the world don’t have clean water,” said North Valley Christian Academy Executive Director Nate Kretzmann.


Northwest Christian School Superintendent Geoff Brown traveled to Haiti to see the problem for himself. “I knew, going in, what to expect,” said Brown. “Port au Prince is the poorest city in the hemisphere. There was such devastation, even still today, but I could see the hand of God doing things. For many people, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can be part of that.”


Kretzmann was eager to encourage participation from his students. “Our goal at NVCA is to build Christian leaders who truly want to serve,” he said. “Our students are learning that life isn’t just about them; it’s really and truly about how we use our God-given resources and talents to serve others.”


The Liquid Hope project partnership kicked off their efforts at Grand Canyon University Arena April 8, where Ron Luce from “Acquire the Fire,” addressed the challenge with several students from the participating schools. Christian band City Harmonic led worship in this first-ever city-wide chapel for Christian schools.


The idea for Liquid Hope started with the efforts of just a handful of students. It quickly spread, and soon a flood of compassion evolved.


“It started, really, with five schools,” explained Brown. “The next thing we knew, we had inquiries from all over the state. The project has also spread to Christian clubs on public school campuses. This movement encompasses about 15,000 students on about 25 campuses. I’m excited to think about what can happen!”


Like all worthwhile projects, accountability is the key. Hope4Kids International, a local 501(c)3 organization, will serve as a conduit between Liquid Hope participants and project leaders who are already on the ground in Haiti. An organization called Liquid Water will also help to designate one of the two communities to which students will travel during the summer of 2013 and provide the portable water filtration systems. A select group of students from participating schools will train people in Haiti to use the filters so that they can help themselves reduce illness and deaths.


“We can make a difference,” said Kretzmann.


And they will.