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Students lugging water around Fort Langley a lesson in empathy

Grade 6 and 7 students at Langley Fine Arts School take part in the Walk for Water Thursday

Grade 7 students Payton Schtronach and Haunnah Brynjolfson had to switch hands often as they carried large yellow jerry cans of water through Fort Langley on an overcast Thursday afternoon.

They’re not accustomed to having to haul water for drinking, and washing, and watering crops.

At the end of their 2.4-kilometre walk, alongside their Langley Fine Arts school mates in Grades 6 and 7, they poured the water on the trees and plants at the community garden near their school.

Though they finished up the school day with tired arms and sore hands, they are glad they participated in the Walk for Water on May 26.

“I felt tired as well as proud of myself, but also I’m thinking ‘wow, I can’t believe they do double that twice a day’,” Haunnah said. “I can go to school and get a proper education instead of having to go get water.”

The walk was a lesson not lost on the two local students.

“I just feel so privileged that I can literally go to my tap and have fresh water right there at my disposal,” Payton said.

Many people in impoverished nations such as Uganda have to walk long distances to fill containers just to survive as they lack the infrastructure developed nations have.

“Everyday kids like us have to skip school or parents have to skip work so they want walk hours every day to get clean water just so they can drink,” Payton said.

They know that they are fortunate by accident of birth.

“It was definitely nice being able to kind of put yourself in their situation,” Payton said.

“And it really puts it into perspective for you and lets you live in their shoes for a while,” Haunnah added.

The students have been studying global water issues for a few months. Grade 7 teacher Emilie Colbourne oversaw the project which was to not only teach the students about water issues and poverty in places such as Uganda, but also to fundraise for the charity Acts for Water.

Student donations will go to help a school in Kota, Uganda have enough clean water for each student for one year.

Colbourne added that the walk through Fort Langley helped raise awareness in the community. She told the students that people stopped her to ask about the procession of young people with yellow jerry cans. COVID had put the school event on hold for a couple of years.

The two students said they would like to continue to fundraise to help provide clean water to people abroad in the future. Haunnah said raising more awareness might help increase donations as people come to understand the struggles others face.

“It sort of makes me think if… a few classes did this much already, how much more do you think we can do?” Payton added.


• READ MORE: Fort Langley school does water walk in early 2020

• READ MORE: Langley City’s walk for water was six kilometres


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Langley Fine Arts School students walked more than two kilometres through Fort Langley on Thursday as part of the Walk for Water. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Teacher Emilie Colbourne (in the hat and orange vest) led students through Fort Langley on Thursday afternoon during the Walk for Water. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
The bright yellow jerry cans students carried through Fort Langley on May 26, 2022, were full of water as students such as Haunnah Brynjolfson and Payton Schtronach took part in the Walk for Water. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Tara Helps offered a song to start and close the Walk for Water by Langley Fine Arts School students on Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley Fine Arts School students walked more than two kilometres through Fort Langley on Thursday as part of the Walk for Water. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Grade 6 students Sidney Van Den Berg, Charlotte Pichard, and Leah Nicol took part in the walk for water, carrying large jerry cans through Fort Langley May 26, 2022, to learn about the experiences of people in Uganda who have to walk several kilometres to access water. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Payton Schrtonach and Haunnah Brynjolfson are Grade 7 students at Langley Fine Arts School who took part along with the school’s other Grade 6 and 7 students, in the Walk for Water on May 26, 2022. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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