By Mary Sue Faherty, Literacy Coach, St. Mary of the Hills School
This year, St. Mary of the Hills School is conducting an all-school read of “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. This amazing true story shows the struggle of a young man named Salva Dut growing up in a war-torn South Sudan in the late 1980s. It also follows a young girl’s journey in 2009 as she walks eight hours a day in search of water so that she and her family can survive. The water she collects every day is muddy and bacteria ridden, which leads to many diseases and even death. As the book unfolds, we begin to understand how a simple water well in one village could positively transform the lives of thousands. Unfortunately, South Sudan is still one of the world’s least developed countries and is currently experiencing a civil war with mass atrocities, coupled with a severe drought and famine. There are many innocent people living there who desperately need help.
The school-wide theme this year at Saint Mary of the Hills is one of service. In connection with this theme and the main message from its all school read, the school is participating in the “Iron Giraffe Challenge.” This challenge is part of the Water for South Sudan initiative and a direct challenge from Salva Dut. The school's hope is to raise $3,000 to restore a well in South Sudan. The students are bringing in loose change to fill gallon water bottles in their classrooms, and they are also walking to raise funds. The junior high students will obtain sponsors for each lap they walk with a gallon bottle of water held on their heads. The younger students will walk with a twelve- or sixteen-ounce bottle on their heads. Families and friends can also donate to at https://www.classy.org/team/190922?is_new=true. St. Mary of the Hills School are very excited about our fundraising efforts and the theme of service that our students will be putting into action through this endeavor.
Also, in connection to the theme of service, the school recently hosted a young organizer and activist who spoke to students about giving back. Wednesday, September 19, Sophia Gustafson came to speak to the student body about her experience in Guatemala. Sophia is a junior at Medfield High School and the niece of Academic Advisor Pam Vasta. Sophia discussed her service in Guatemala where the lack of clean water inhibits people in many ways. In particular, Sophia focused on the girls who collect water for their families and how this labor prohibits them from going to school. At the age of seven, Sophia started a charity called Hope for All to raise money for an orphanage in the Congo.
Sophia also discussed her passion for singing and how she integrates this gift into her life's mission. Sophia has always loved singing, writing her own songs and performing. With her parents' support, Sophia began singing in Boston and all of her donations were directed to Hope for All. Recently, Sophia made it through three rounds of American Idol, performing in front of Luke Bryan, Katie Perry and Lionel Richie. During her presentation, Sophia sang two of her original songs entitled “Purpose” and “The Good News Generation.” She challenged the students by saying that everyone, no matter what age, can make a difference with the life they've been given.
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