For young Australian Muslim children attending Bene Kids, a weekend Madrassa based in the outer eastern suburb of Doncaster in Melbourne, the idea of not being able to access basic clean drinking, for many of the students, is impossible to comprehend.
However, earlier this year during the month of Ramadan, the school partnered up with Muslim Aid Australia on the Little Seeds Project teaching the students the value of water, and the reality that for many communities across the world, clean drinking water is literally a matter of life or death.
The Little Seeds Project is a children’s charity program developed by MAA as a fun and educational initiative to inspire children to help those less fortunate. In the case of the Bene Kids students, their focus was to raise funds to build a water well in their name, to bring clean water to the communities of Varullapur, Lalpur, Mithapukur, Rangpur in Bangladesh.
Azi Mustafa, Bene Kids Manager said that it was very much about teaching the students about giving back in a global way. “For the kids, it was very exciting. It was very different to the everyday Saturday programs.”
During lessons, the students were leaning the basic concept of water and where it comes from. “Some places in the world, you just can’t turn on the tap and depending on the age of the children determined what they were learning and how they were to raise money.”
MAA provided Little Seeds bags with seeds to sell and little money boxes to collect donations, older students focused on raising money through their own ideas. “The students in the fifth grade came up with a mini fete idea, with stalls and games all in the aim of raising funds for the well in Bangladesh.”
A total of $3120 was raised by the students and the well is now operational and providing fresh drinking water for 34 people. For the Bene Kids students the idea that this well in Bangladesh has their name on it has also been a huge inspiration for the students.
“Bene Kids have always taught the kids in a critical thin king way is the focus of Bene. It’s not just about sitting in a classroom, when they are actually out there doing things, they are understanding the whole project more.”
Bangladesh being located in South Asia, on the fertile Bengal delta, means that it is an excellent location for agriculture. However, the land is also inundated with extreme flooding throughout the year.
This leads to water becoming easily contaminated and water-borne diseases becoming rampant, such as dysentery. The only clean and safe drinking water is located deep underground and wells must be dug to access this water.
According to the World Health Organisation one in every 20 deaths in Bangladesh (around 43,000 deaths per year) are the result of contaminated ground water in wells.
For more information on the Little Seeds Program, visit http://www.littleseeds.org.au/aboutus