Money raised by students at Southwest High School in Minneapolis will pay for the construction of 10 new wells in Somalia and other East African countries next year.
The school's annual charity drive collected $20,000 for the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa. Executive Director Mohamed Idris said the Minneapolis-based nonprofit will build the new wells in rural villages where families must walk up to four miles to gather heavy containers of water. Idris said the water shortage is one of the biggest problems in the Horn of Africa.
"Recently, the drought and lack of rain for consecutive seasons made the lives of people there miserable -- because people there depend entirely on rain," he said. "So if there is no rain, basically there is no life."
High school senior Mohamed Samatar and the school's student council helped organize the charity drive. Samatar was born in Somalia, and said he wanted to give back to his homeland in a meaningful way. But Samatar says he was astonished to see some of his peers spring to action.
"Having teen-agers at a high school raise money for people miles and miles away -- and they haven't seen them, they haven't had any talks with them -- them being so passionate about the project just pushed me to keep doing what I do," he said.
Idris said the rain is necessary for people who raise livestock as a way of life. Each well can serve up to about 3,000 villagers.