By Grace Reilein.
Clean water and access to proper sanitation is a human right that is often taken for granted in much of the United States. It is easy for young people to forget that access to clean water is not common in other parts of the world. University students make up the next generation of global changemakers. As changemakers, having knowledge about global issues such as clean water and sanitation will be vital for many years to come. On Auburn University’s campus, Students for Clean Water (SFCW) is actively raising awareness of these issues and making a change around the world. SFCW, led currently by the organization’s president, Molly Kilpatrick, have been an integral part of changemaking on Auburn’s campus for nine years.
SFCW is an on-campus, student-led organization at Auburn University. Their mission statement is ‘An estimated 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. SFCW exists to eradicate the global water crisis through education, awareness, and fundraising.’ (“Students for Clean Water – Student Involvement”) SFCW’s prioritizes raising funds to purchase water filters to send to areas of the world where access to clean, potable water is hard to come by. The vision of SFCW for the 2021-22 school year is to raise $22,000 to purchase water filters to send to over 100 families in Nepal. SFCW’s fundraising is in partnership with Neverthirst, a Christian nonprofit based out of Birmingham, Alabama. Neverthirst is responsible for purchasing and distributing water filters to the regions of the world that SFCW raises money for.
SFCW got its start on Auburn’s campus as a Miss Auburn campaign in 2013. Miss Auburn candidate, Tara Jones, focused her campaign on raising awareness of the worldwide water crisis and raising money for water filters. That year, Tara Jones won the title of Miss Auburn, and her campaign moved on to become a full-fledged campus organization. Over the years since SFCW began, water filters have been sent to Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda, with a focus on Nepal for the past four years. In the past, SFCW has also partnered with Filter for Hope on a trip to Costa Rica.
Throughout the year, SFCW hosts multiple fundraising and educational events for both Auburn students and the greater Auburn community. In the fall, the organization hosts the Carry the Jerry 5k. What makes this 5k unique to SFCW is that at the end of the race, participants must carry a jerry can of water over the finish line to give an idea of what women and young girls must do each day to bring clean water to their families. In the spring, SFCW presents their own Worldwide Water Week, with different events on each day of the week, including benefit nights at local businesses, selling march madness brackets, and spreading information about the importance of clean water. On Wednesday of that week, they host ‘Why Water Wednesday’ where the organization shares information on why it is important for all people to have access to clean, potable water and the true scope of the issue. Later in the semester, SFCW hosts the H2Bowl event at a local bowling alley where bowling teams compete against each other, and the entry fee for the event is fundraising for water filters. This event brings together Auburn students and the rest of the Auburn community for a fun day of friendly competitions and clean water education.
The issues tackled by SFCW relate back to multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation can clearly be seen in SFCW’s mission and vision. SFCW not only fundraises for water filters to be provided to those in need, but also spreads information so that people outside of the organization can join the efforts to make a change. Providing these water filters also addresses goal 5, Gender Equality. In many water-scarce areas, the duty of collecting water for the family often falls upon the women and young girls of the household. This prevents many girls from attending school and receiving a proper education due to the time-consuming task of collecting water. For the same reason, it keeps many women out of the workforce, preventing them from being financially independent. According to the United Nations, women and children spend 200 million hours (about 22815 and a half years) collectively every day around the world collecting clean water. With the efforts of SFCW, this number can go down around the world and improve living conditions.
Students at Auburn University can get involved with SFCW on the SFCW AU Involve page. On that page, potential members can fill out a quick application to join for any given semester. The goal of SFCW is to raise $200 per member of the organization, so each new applicant is especially important to the organization. Students do not need any prior involvement experience to join, and the organization is open to all students, including first-year and graduate students. If a student does not have time to officially join SFCW, all are welcome to participate in the events hosted throughout the school year.
Other Resources recommended by President Molly Kilpatrick:
Post contributed by Grace Reilein, Program Coordinator, Office of Sustainability
Learn about the SDGs & AU and Auburn’s contributions related to this post: