Clean Water Project News

The Clean Water Project - Making Meaningful Connections

This April a wonderful gathering of students, teachers, engineers, associates and Sisters met in the Clean Water for Life Project Learning Lab at Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati. Lou Casey, the SNDdeN African Photovoltaic Project Engineer from Liverpool, England, showed pictures of the installations in Africa and of upgrades to the equipment and shared the impact they are having on the Sisters and the people they serve.

TOP LEFT: Sister Dorothy Kiley, who served in Kenya, and students from Chaminade Julienne High School

TOP RIGHT: Sister Teresita Weind and students from Chaminade Julienne High School

BOTTOM LEFT: Lou Casey discusses the Photovoltaic Project with students from Mount Notre Dame and Chaminade Julienne

BOTTOM RIGHT: Sister Ann Fanella demonstrates water filtration with elementary school students in Chicago

Tim Galieti, an environmental engineer and volunteer with Engineers without Borders, provided a virtual presentation of the water filtration system he helped design for the students to use in the lab. Following the presentations, the students had lunch with Sisters who shared their experiences of living in Africa, Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru and the southern border in the United States.

Locally, the Clean Water Learning Lab is the only such lab where high school students apply their engineering knowledge in real-lire research. Using equipment like that used in the Photovoltaic Project in Africa, Mount Notre Dame and Chaminade Julienne students are conducting research to benefit the Sister and their co-workers in Africa.

The seeds for the Learning Lab and the dynamic growth of the Clean Water Project began in 2013 when Karen Hadden, Associate Director of Development, and Angie Weidgerber, Communications Manager for the Ohio Province, attended the 10th anniversary celebration in Boston of the African Photovoltaic Project (APP). 

After meeting Lou Casey, the APP Project Engineer, and Sisters Loraine Connell and Leonore Coan, Karen and Angie returned to Cincinnati, eager to increase support for this project. They formed a planning committee who chose three goals: education, financial support and increased solidacity with the Sisters' ministries and with children in Africa. 

Simultaneously, Michael, a sixth grade at The Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati, learned about children living without clean water and was determined to help them. Learning from his father about the 10-cent water purification packets (PUR) that Procter and Gamble produces and about Notre Dame Schools in Africa, Michael spearheaded the Summit's all school Annual Walk for Water.

Seeing the positive response of the Summit's students, the Ohio Province Clean Water Planning Committee contacted Notre Dame Heritage Schools to ask if they were interested in the project. Angie developed a cross-curricular Teacher's Resource Guide to educate students about water and to make the connection to children in Notre Dame Schools in Africa. She and volunteers visited schools to demonstrate for the students the impact of a PUR packet in a jar of dirty water. Now eighty-two schools, parishes and parish groups support the Clean Water Project.

In 2014, new associates, Patti and Keith Hanley, began giving these demonstrations to elementary and high school students. Keith, a retired engineer, envisioned an opportunity to do more for high school students. Keith, his wife Patti, Karen, Angie, Sister Claire Foley (RIP) and engineering teachers at Mount Notre Dame and Chaminade Julienne High Schools presented a proposal for a Learning Lab at Mount Notre Dame to the Provincial Team, who approved renovation of an unused garage for the Lab.

Everyone involved in developing and participating in the Clean Water for Life Program over the past nine years is grateful to Sisters Loraine Connell and Leonore Coan and Lou Case for their advice and collaboration. The Clean Water for Life Project connects the Notre Dame community across the world as we all work together to create, teach, and learn what is needed for life and to develop hearts as wide as the world.

Prepared by Sister Rita Sturwold, SNDdeN. First published in the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur U.S. Newsletter, May 2022, Vol 13, No.4