• E Connections 2014-2015

    Cultivating global awareness with a focus on understanding real-world problems is a key element of the Mercer Island School District's 2020 Vision

    Clean-water advocate from Nepal engages and inspires MIHS students

    Of all the questions students asked Prakash Sharma, who is one of several national directors of Splash, an organization that helps provide clean water in impoverished schools throughout the world, what struck him most was the question that wasn't asked. Why water?

    "I think access to water is a basic human right," said Mercer Island High School senior Alec Dugan, who is currently taking International Studies. "Access to clean water is a really big issue that we need to solve."

    "Adults ask - why water? - all the time," Sharma said. "Students already understand. That reflects the importance of this global issue."

    Sharma oversees Splash's operations in Nepal, where the organization aims to serve nearly 150,000 students in 650 schools daily by 2019. Serving those schools allows Splash to impact the most kids with the worst water and the deepest poverty. Like many others from Nepal, Sharma's family has spent nights under the stars since the damage caused by the recent 7.8 earthquake.
    Sharma's visit to MIHS included a discussion with three classrooms in the library presentation room. The stop was prompted by an email from senior Ian Platou during work on his Global Issues Project, to Peter Drury, Director of Strategy at Splash. Drury's office is located at the organization's global headquarters in Seattle.
    Prakash Sharma
    Prakash Sharma, Director of Splash-Nepal, speaking at Mercer Island High School
    Prakash Sharma and students
    Sharma speaks with students
    after his presentation
    "When I got the first email from Ian, I thought - wow, here's a kid who's engaged," said Drury. Accompanying Sharma, he went on to tell students, "We have water in our toilets in King County that is cleaner than many students in Nepal have in their drinking fountains, and children are impacted by the water crisis more than anyone."
    For context, Sharma compared water quality in Kathmandu to the water-quality crisis Mercer Island earlier in the school year, when E. coli and Coliform were discovered. "You guys already had an emergency with E. coli. In Kathmandu, 68 percent of schools have some level of E. coli in their water. That's why Splash is there. We use a system that filters 99.999 percent of bio-contaminants."
    Splash water filtration system
    A Splash water filtration system via facebook.com/splashglobal 
    Asked about the damage to Splash's filtration devices from the earthquake, Sharma reported, "Nine out of 12 filtration systems are functioning." In fact, the systems that were serving 100,000 students are now serving about 500,000 in Kathmandu. The community as a whole has become the unintended beneficiary of the work done in the local schools. 
    Splash was founded in Tacoma by Eric Stowe. Drury says Stowe "is a local kid who has done something quite remarkable." Stowe's dream was to provide clean water at every orphanage in China. While lofty, Drury says that dream could be fact next year. 
    "We live in a time when young minds can figure out how to solve the world's problems. Their innovation, their creativity, their access to resources and the evolution of technology - so many elements of our business model are available to students today. We know students are asking, 'What's the problem in the world that I'm going to solve?' "

    It all starts with asking the question. 

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    Phone: 206.230.6227