“Humans of Sacred Heart” – Katia Barker ’20

How and why did you decide to start working with Thirst Project?

“I began working with Thirst Project in eighth grade through my Making History Project, a Sacred Heart theology requirement where students had to choose a global issue they were passionate about and find a way to make a difference.  As a female in the United States, I am extremely lucky to have access to an education that many girls across the globe pray for.  So, I decided to work with female education in the developing world.  After researching factors that keep girls from attending school, I discovered that many girls in third world countries walk up to six kilometers to and from the nearest, often contaminated water source every day.  They return carrying five-gallon jerry cans, which weigh 40 lbs.  This time-consuming process keeps girls from attending school, thereby trapping them in the poverty cycle.  Worse, the water they collect is shared with livestock that urinate and defecate in the water.  Drinking this water often causes waterborne illnesses, which kill a child under the age of five every ninety seconds.  After learning about this, I knew I wanted to battle the female education gap by battling the global water crisis.  When I researched clean water charities, I was immediately drawn to Thirst Project because it is a youth-based organization.  They have a fun and energetic staff that focuses on empowering youth to make a difference.  While many organizations turned me away because of my age [13 years old at the time], Thirst Project was excited to work with me.”

What is your favorite part about working with Thirst Project?

“My favorite part of working with Thirst Project is knowing that I am making a true impact on lives.  For instance, since eighth grade, I have raised enough money to drill three wells in eSwatini.  One of my wells is in the village of Lonhlalane, eSwatini, where the nearest water source is six kilometers away.  In the past six months, twelve villagers in Lonhlalane contracted cholera and one even contracted guinea worm, an extremely painful parasite that is immune to drugs and grows to 25 inches beneath the skin.  It can only be treated by physical removal.  Once my well is installed, disease rates will drop by 90 percent overnight.  Additionally, Thirst Project is the world’s leading youth water activism organization, meaning they are dedicated to the youth leadership in ending the global water crisis.  It is great fundraising for an organization that not only saves lives, but strives to empower future leaders.”

What do you hope to achieve through your work with Thirst Project?

“When I began fundraising for Thirst Project, my goal was to raise enough money to build one well in eSwatini by my high school graduation.  At $12,000 per well, I believed that this was a realistic, yet challenging, goal.  I have now raised a little over $41,000.  So, currently my goal is to raise enough money for a fourth well.  On a broader scale, Thirst Project has promised to do what no other organization has done before, and bring the entire nation of eSwatini safe clean drinking water by 2022.  I am very excited to work with Thirst Project as they accomplish this groundbreaking goal and see what they do next.”

The King Street Chronicle thanks senior Katia Barker ’20 for her contributions to “Humans of Sacred Heart.”

Photo by Natalie Dosmond ’21