Water of Life
To reflect on the importance of water and to be aware of the needs of those without clean water supplies.
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect upon the importance of water and to be aware of the needs of those without clean water supplies.
Preparation and materials
- Some wet-weather gear (optional). A rainy day would also be a useful aid.
- Two bottles, one filled with clean water and the other with muddy water.
- A bucket, preferably metal.
- Children could be asked to lead the Time of reflection.
- Sing the first verse of 'Thank you Lord for this fine day' (Come and Praise, 32). Refer to the weather. If it is fine, remind the assembly that not all days are dry. Sometimes it is 'wet and horrible', but we should be thankful for rain.
Sing 'Thank you Lord for rainy days'. (Some children could wear wet-weather clothing and clothing and perhaps parade at the front of the assembly. Or this role could be adopted by the staff!).
- Invite the children to consider why we should say 'thank you' for rain, e.g. plants need it to grow, we need water to drink, it's fun to splash in puddles!
- Remind the assembly how water is easily obtained and 'on tap'. Water mains and pipes bring water to our homes from reservoirs and treatment plants.
We can also buy clean bottled water. Show the children the prepared bottles. Who would want to drink the muddy water? No one. However, many people in the world have no choice but to drink polluted water.
- Invite the children to imagine that they are the 12-year-old girl living in Ghana in the following story.
Napoga is 12 years old. She lives in a small village in Northern Ghana, a country in Africa. In Ghana it doesn't rain for months and months. From October to June it is the dry season.
You could pause at this point to ask if any of the children have lived in other climates.
Every morning in the dry season, Napoga is woken by the sunshine and the sound of singing birds. But until recently Napoga didn't feel like singing. She couldn't go to school because there was so much work to do. As the girl in her family it was Napoga's job to fetch the water that they needed to drink and cook with. The water was in a muddy hole about half a mile from the village.
At this point you could ask the children how much water would their own families need each day? And how much water could they carry at a time?
Napoga's family used as little water as they could, but still she had to carry 8 buckets of water a day in the hot sun all the way back from the water hole. Napoga, like many Ghanaian children, had learned to carry things, not by hand, but by balancing them carefully on her head.
Perhaps pause to demonstrate using the bucket - do any children have this skill?
Napoga grew very tired. As the dry season went on, the water in the pool dried up, and she had to patiently scoop it up a little at a time, into her bucket. Often she had to wait her turn while others collected the water they needed. It would sometimes take her 6 hours each day to fetch water. Even then, the water was dirty and sometimes made her family ill. When, at last, the rains were due, Napoga's father planted seeds to grow plants for food. But if the rains didn't last long enough the young plants died. Her family were sometimes afraid that they might not have enough to eat.
So imagine the excitement Napoga felt when she heard that their village was to have a new well. A village meeting was held and lots of plans were made. Some time later, a Land Rover and a lorry arrived, carrying cement, tools and digging equipment. Everyone in the village worked together to dig the well. Eventually it was deep enough and it began to fill with water. The work went on until the deep hole was covered and all Napoga could see was a concrete base with a hand-pump to draw the water from far below the ground.
One of the men of the village pumped the handle, and clean water gushed out (pour some of the clean bottled water from a height into the bucket).
Napoga cheered. Her family cheered! Her friends cheered! Everyone cheered! They knew that the new supply of water would change their lives.
Can the children think how?
So now when Napoga wakes, she sings with the birds. She doesn't have to spend so much time collecting water and can play with her friends and go to the local school in the village. Her father can use some of the water to help his crops grow so that the family won't be hungry. And her mother can use clean water for cooking and Napoga and her friends won't get upset tummies any more.
- Reflect that often we take for granted all the water we use every day. Refer the children to organizations such as Water Aid (www.wateraid.org.uk) which assist some of the world's poorest people to gain access to clean water supplies.
Time for reflection
You make springs flow in the valleys and rivers run between the hills.
From the sky you send rain on the hills
and the earth is filled with your blessings.
Today we thank you for your gift of rain, that helps plants to grow,
and makes rivers flow.
We thank you for clean water,
which we can drink,
and which keeps us healthy.
'Water of life' (Come and Praise, 2)