In its first year in existence, the Corona del Mar High School’s International Club raised enough money to install a deep-water well that is providing fresh water to hundreds of Cambodian schoolchildren.
“I thought it was a good cause — a school from here helping a school so far away,” said club founder and president Sachi Uyemura. “I was really excited just to know the $300 we raised would change so many lives.”
Sachi, a junior, traveled to Cambodia several years ago with her family on a vacation and said she never would forget learning about how limited fresh water is for so many people.
When she created the International Club last year, she knew that fundraising would be a key element, along with monthly meetings to discuss other cultures and sample foods from other countries.
At the group’s December meeting, members heard a short lesson on Indian culture and dined on saffron rice, chicken curry, naan and samosas. They discussed fundraising ideas and passed out photographs of students in the Siem Reap province playing in fresh water by a well with a sign with the club’s name.
“It’s nice to help people around the world,” said Paige Davies, a junior. “I thought the well was a good idea. They didn’t have clean water — we take water for granted.”
Junior Christophe Killian said that helping people more than 8,000 miles away seemed like something that would happen in a movie.
“It’s not something you see happening around you,” he said. “And we did it — it’s cool.”
The group sold candy and colorful Santa hats to raise money for the well, and they will continue to fundraise this school year, either for another well or for filters and supplies for the current well.
The nonprofit organization, Journeys Within Our Community, arranged for the well’s installation at the school and sent emails and photos to the club.
“This well has changed the daily lives of the students who now have a vital source of water,” wrote Seng Sok, the clean water project manager for the organization. The well is located at the Kouk Chann Primary School, which has 349 students in nine classes.
“Your donation is a crucial part of a larger effort to improve the lives of these students,” Sok wrote. “Their new well provides water from deep in the ground all year round.”
The news was exactly why Sachi said she founded the club last year.
“It’s very important to me,” she said.