TO celebrate World Water Day recently, students from Epping Boys High School have committed to donating money to help provide water filtration units to villagers in Oecusse, Timor Leste.

Judy Charnaud, who has been volunteering in Oecusse for the past 15 years, spoke at the morning assembly and grabbed the students’ attention by holding up two bottles of water.

One was clean water from a Sydney tap, the other dirty water from a well in Oecusse.

“It is no wonder that 13 per cent of children in Oecusse die before the age of 5, mainly due to drinking contaminated water,” she said.

Judy’s project, which is supported by Epping Rotary Club, provides clean drinking water by giving households bio-sand water filtration units and rehabilitating village wells.

The latest addition to the project is the provision of pumps and piping so the villagers can more easily irrigate vegetable gardens. This means clean water and fresh, healthy food is now available reducing incidence of malnutrition, disease and water borne illnesses which too often lead to death of young, vulnerable children.

Judy was introduced to the assembled students by Mauli Fernando, a Year 12 prefect and two Year 7 students Samuel Kim and Arthur Lee, spoke eloquently about the need for clean water, something which we in Sydney take for granted.

Epping Boys High is planning a long term commitment beginning with Year 7 and continuing with this group until they are in Year 12.

Not only will the students give a helping hand but they’ll also build a relationship between cultures, make friends and acquire an understanding of basic human rights, equity and justice.

PICTURED Year 7 Geography Co-ordinator Jaye Dunn, Judy Charnaud, Epping Rotarians Peter Garrard and Bruce Jacobs, Year 7 students Samuel Kim and Arthur Lee holding the bottles of water, Year 12 prefect Mauli Fernando and Year 7 Advisor Cameron Gordon.