Clean water sloshes back and forth in a nalgene water bottle that hangs from the hand of a student as she walks to class. Clean water bursts from the spout of a water fountain as a student gets a sip before class. Turn on the tap, stop at the water fountain, but what if it wasn’t that easy?After disaster hit Japan, people’s access to clean drinking water became more difficult.
A week before the disaster, Deb Choma’s community health class talked about what would happen if there was a disaster in Vermont. And after seeing how bad Japan was hit, they decided to do something to help.
They are raising money to send life straws to Japan.
But what are life straws?
The main purpose of a life straw is to filter water to make it drinkable.It removes bacteria like Cholera, which can make you sick with diarrhea and dehydration, according to Dawn Desell, a student in Choma’s class.
The filter is small and in the form of a straw that makes it portable. According to Elisabeth Wilhelm from Vestergaard Frandsen, a company that sells the life straws, one straw can filter 18,000 liters of water, enough for a family of five for three years.
“You can drink your own urine or water from the street and it keeps you healthy,” said Choma.
The life straws are bought in large quantities. It’s $100 for 20 and within the first 48 hours the group raised $600. Their goal is 1,000 straws, according to Choma.
The group is planning to give the college the money so that Castleton can write the check to send the straws to Japan.
The group has been setting up collection tables to take donations, wearing shirts that Choma bought to advertise and is offering for anyone to stop by their class on Tuesday nights from 6-9 in Glennbrook classroom A, according to Dessel.
Students in the class like Laura Thomas are excited about the effort the class is putting in.
“This disaster was so huge that it shook up the world, and I feel we needed to step in and help,” Thomas said while wearing her life straws t-shirt.
The disaster hits close to home as a former Castleton student, Shou Watanabe, is from Japan.
Choma personally offered for Watanabe and his family to stay at her home if they needed to evacuate.
Because we have had Japanese students that have made an impact on our school, Choma is surprised that she hasn’t heard of any other efforts at the college.
“That’s what Castleton is about, helping the community,” said Choma.