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Spouse Calls: Students with a global vision

They’re on the soccer team and prom committee, National Honor Society and yearbook staff. They take advanced placement courses and run cross-country. They’re in band, dance team and Junior ROTC. And in their spare time, they are raising money to build a well in Africa.

This handful of students at Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany, wants to make a difference.

Last summer, Carissa Carlson and her brother, Chandler, started talking with their family about a humanitarian project for an African nation.

Then the Carlsons, a military family, moved to Stuttgart. Carissa and Chandler soon found like-minded friends at their chapel youth group, including Kevin Perry, Brandon Crytzer and Emily Lloyd.

A little research into the scarcity and the quality of water in developing nations convinced the students to pursue a water project.

"They walk so far just to get water that’s not even good to drink," Kevin said about students in Africa. "It seems like they should be able to get what we get."

Chandler agreed: "When I first realized there are kids my age going through what they go through, that’s what really, like, struck me and made me realize I have things so much better, and I should be doing something about it."

After looking at several organizations, the students chose Charity:Water, a nonprofit that raises funds to build wells in Africa.

Charity:Water’s "Water for Schools" program matches up four American school groups — each committing to raise $5,000 in a semester — to build a well for a school in Africa.

"Charity:Water Patch High School" was launched and committed to raise $5,000 between Christmas and summer break.

Carissa estimated that 20 to 25 students meet regularly and help with fundraising efforts. Some show up early every Monday morning to sell muffins before school. T-shirts, designed by another Patch student, sold out quickly, and more are planned. "This shirt is building a well in Africa," the logo declares.

And it is. The students passed the halfway mark of their fundraising, thanks in part to a $1,000 donation from Patch High School’s senior class, and donations of time, materials and muffins from students and parents.

Awareness of global water problems is as important as the money, the students said.

"While the money is a big issue, our main goal is to raise awareness," said Chandler, "So that every time they drink a glass of water or buy water they maybe think about … how kids so far away are working so hard to get dirty water."

"Our biggest event that we are trying to raise support for is the Charity:Water walk, May 16," Carissa said.

The group hopes the 5K fun run/walk at Patch Barracks will raise the final funds, and more awareness.

"It’s really neat to see that we actually can do something about it," said Emily, who plans to study biology in college and work on global health issues.

"Every time I read an article about water and biological issues, I get all excited. It’s really opened my eyes to all the different issues there are in the world and all the different ways we can help."

"When we first … told people our goal was $5,000 and awareness, they said that was really going to be hard, and it has been," said Kevin. "But we’ve found solutions for it. We’re not seeing a problem and just stopping. We’re seeing a problem and finding solutions."

All agreed their faith is important. "It’s going to happen because God is helping us," said Chandler.

Terri Barnes is a military wife living Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com or on the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.


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