West Union sixth-grader raises $12,000 for well in Uganda
Some people make everything look easy. Eleven-year-old West Union Elementary School sixth-grader Crawford Sly made raising $12,000 to build a well in a small village in Africa in just a few months look like a piece of cake.
The well, capable of generating more than 4,000 gallons of water per day, is located at West Union's sister school, the Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School in Uganda. West Union regularly sends teachers and school administrators to Uganda each year to work with the school, including principal John Alle and Sly's father, school volunteer David Sly.
"Over the past three years, students at West Union have created and sent a variety of art projects, supplies, and sports equipment to students in Uganda," Allen said. "In turn, the students at Mpondwe Lhubiriha created some amazing projects that I was able to bring back and share with staff and students at West Union."
Crawford became interested in building a well after one of his father's trips to the school, having recently read a book about water wells.
"I read a book about doing a well and it made me want to do that," Crawford said.
After reading the book, Crawford asked his father how the students at Mpondwe Lhubiriha get their water. David told him they walk about three hours before and after school each day to collect water.
The well's completion in May means not only that students no longer have to trek six hours every day for water, it is also attracting better teachers to the school, David Sly said.
Because some teachers in Uganda go months without pay, easy access to water is an alluring amenity, attracting higher-caliber teachers to the school, he explained.
The benefits of the well don't stop there.
Better teachers at the school means the students earn better test scores and will be more likely to continue with their education. This is a particularly big deal for the girls at the school, David Sly said, who aren't traditionally encouraged to further their education.
To raise the $12,000 for the well, Crawford started simply by giving a presentation to his class at West Union. He then gave the presentation to the 11 other classes at West Union, bringing with him a gerry can, which is what the students in Uganda use to collect water, to fill with donations.
Crawford also used his dad's help to set up a Go Fund Me website and to connect with more family, friends and even David's work contacts.
After talking to West Union, family, friends and his dad's work network, Crawford had raised $6,000, half his goal.
Crawford then went to Pastor James Gleason of Sonrise Church in Hillsboro to ask about giving his presentation at the church. Crawford presented in front of the exceptionally large Thanksgiving weekend congregation, who matched the $6,000 in donations.
Presenting to the large crowd at Sonrise Church didn't faze the 11-year-old. Crawford had already given his presentation a dozen times.
"I felt comfortable and felt like I knew what I was talking about," he said.
According to David Sly, his son's initiative and perseverance were a big part of the motivation for people to donate. "If an 11-year-old can do this much good, what more could I be doing?" one donor said to David.
After Crawford raised the $12,000, the well took several months to complete. The well was finished in May and named in Crawford's honor.