Students without scissors—or safe water

April 16, 2015

by Tammy Suitor, Samaritan's Purse Canada International Volunteer Coordinator

The first of 15 Water for Kids teams recently returned from Cambodia. Team members were shocked to meet students who’d never used scissors before—much less safe water—in their schools.

I love to lead Samaritan’s Purse Teams and be part of the bigger picture of what God is doing around the world. A recent trip to Cambodia—the first of 15 we’re sending there this year to help build Samaritan Filters for schools—was no exception. We had a fantastic trip.

When we first arrived at the school where we were going to be volunteering, we were greeted by all 400 students. To be welcomed by such a large, excited group applauding our arrival was unexpected and overwhelming for many of our team members! The next week was spent building the Samaritan Filter and interacting with the kids by day, and sleeping in the school in our mosquito tents by night.

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The Samaritan Filter is large enough to produce clean water for an entire school.

The Samaritan Filter is based on the same technology we use in the BioSand Water Filter. Contaminated water (pumped from two ponds in this particular school’s case) is filtered through a ‘bio-layer,’ then subsequent layers of sand and gravel to become clean water that’s safe for drinking. Unlike the BioSand Water Filter, however, which provides enough safe water for one household’s needs, the Samaritan Filter is large enough to produce clean water for an entire school.

It can be surprising to learn that what’s second nature to us is sometimes brand new to someone overseas. Washing hands, accessing safe and clean bathrooms, drinking safe water, using scissors. Wait—using scissors?

Yes. Our team also had the privilege of launching some Bible-based curriculum at an afterschool program at another school. Each lesson included a game, Bible story, snack, and craft. The first day, we discovered the kids couldn’t do a basic cut-out craft because they didn’t know how to use scissors.

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Just imagine if your child never learned how to use scissors because they simply weren’t available in school or at home. Then imagine if your child never had access to safe water or a functioning bathroom. Scissors are one thing, but safe water and sanitation can be a matter of health and sickness, even life and death.

On a lighter note, the kids also didn’t know the game of Duck, Duck, Goose—commonplace on school grounds here in Canada. Our team taught it to them and they absolutely loved it! (see video above)

Water For Kids 248Please pray for the children of Cambodia. Also pray for Samaritan’s Purse, that our Water for Kids program would indeed bring safe water and more to schools across the country. Click here to learn more about upcoming Water for Kids teams trips.