UNICEF taps into global water issues

Each day, many people will walk for as long as 30 minutes for drinking water. The walk from the Heskett lawn to Hubbard isn’t that bad, but it should give students a hint at what other countries go through for a commodity many Americans take for granted.

Today marks the first day of UNICEF’s Tap Project Week. UNICEF’s website estimates 1,400 children die each day from water-related diseases. Every year, UNICEF dedicates a week to help close that gap. The UNICEF Campus Initiative at Wichita State is on board.

“I never expected it was that bad — that so many kids struggle from preventable causes,” said Tony Le, president of Campus Initiative.  “These kids don’t deserve that.”

During lunch Monday through Thursday this week, the organization will have an information table set up to accept donations. A $1 donation can provide a child with clean water for 40 days. UNICEF will match the funds the chapter raises. Beyond funds, the week seeks to raise awareness about clean water issues.

“There isn’t that much awareness yet,” Le said. 

But he doesn’t blame people for not knowing about the issue.

“I was one of them once,” he said with a laugh.

UNICEF donates to 190 countries, including Vietnam. Both Le and Quang Nguyen, the chapter’s secretary, are Vietnamese. Nguyen doesn’t know the story of how they came to America.

“I never wanted to ask,” he said.

It never seemed like something his parents wanted to say. Instead, he thinks it’s something they want to keep to themselves to make him “live to the fullest here in America.”

Since he’s started at UNICEF, Nguyen has been seeking to raise awareness of global issues.

“I believe that it would open their (students’) eyes to realize that there’s more to life than just being content with your life,” Nguyen said. “I want to make an impact in a community, not just my own. I want to create that awareness and provide that support to third world nations that are lacking water or having problems with children not being able to access water, or any humanitarian relief effort.”