A group of Lower School students recently connected with Uganda by way of New Jersey — and what started as a month-long change drive might turn into an ongoing partnership between Santa Catalina and Living Water International (LWI).
On June 6, the second-graders and several sixth-graders came together for a special Skype session with Matthew Pearson, a research and evaluation specialist for LWI. Currently living in Princeton, N.J., he took the job with the Houston-based organization in April, after working as an economic consultant for several years.
Pearson, who holds a doctorate in economics from University of California at Davis, puts his expertise into practice by measuring the effectiveness of LWI's work. He is tasked with gathering data about the people and environs that the organization serves and with helping determine the impact of current and future projects.
After Pearson's introduction, the students told him how they had collected change in classroom water bins throughout May and raised about $1,500 for a Living Water well-drilling project. A few of the boys shared the story of their break dancing at this year's Carnival — an activity that encouraged several triple-digit donations.
"The organization's website just really spoke to us — the videos were incredible and moving — and with it being faith-based, we thought, 'This is it,'" said Ibi Janko Murphy '83, religion teacher for grades 1 and 2, on why the school chose to support LWI.
Pearson also took questions from the students about his recent trip to southwestern Uganda, where he visited schools and other areas that benefit from LWI projects. The questions ranged from casual and fun to quite profound. A sixth-grader asked if the students in Uganda wore uniforms, and a second-grader asked if he thought all of Africa would have clean water someday.
Since the Skype session, Murphy and Pearson have corresponded on ways to continue the partnership in future years. John Nadolski, director of the southwest region for LWI, is based in Sunnyvale and will be our point person going forward.
"(Matthew) bragged about your wonderful hospitality, making him feel welcome and invited as you shared the Skype phone call," Nadolaki said in an email. "Please pass along my sincere thanks to the students, staff, and families at Santa Catalina School."
Click here to watch a video of Pearson describing his impressions of Ntungamo, Uganda.