The problem was not small. As we arrived at Gales Point, Belize, a small village of less than 500 people, we knew that we had a task on our hands: to return clean water to Gales Point Primary School. Over the past year, the water quality had been so poor that the Belizean government had been forced to close the school on several occasions. Not only were the school children drinking contaminated water, they were also being deprived of an education. It was a real problem, but a preventable one and through Semester at Sea, we were given a chance to remedy the situation.
I took a class titled ‚ÄúReal Communities, Real Problems, Real Solutions‚Äù during the Short-term 2012 voyage. Taught by Dr. Bernard Strenecky, this class utilized The 100 Dollar Solution¬†model to tackle this issue. First introduced to Semester at Sea in Fall 2007, The 100 Dollar Solution aims “to teach students how to turn $100 into a world of change by meeting community-determined needs.” Over the course of the trip to Belize fellow students Joe Torp, James Kelly, and myself collaborated with experts in the field to come up with an affordable, sustainable solution.
In the end, with the help of AJ Strenecky and the Rotary Club, we were able to install a water filtration system into the main water pipeline in the school. This particular device utilizes ultraviolet light to kill microbes within the water without contaminating it. Thankfully, our solution worked: The Belizean government confirmed in November that all traces of E Coli were eradicated from the school‚Äôs water. Now, the kids are back in school, staying healthy and getting their education. I learned valuable skills in this class, and was able to aid a community in need. I cannot ask for more.