Raising Awareness and Saving Lives
Lake Highlands High School Junior World Affairs Council Chapter Hosts Service Project
by Julian Villamar-Robbins, Lake Highlands High School
On November 1, 2023, the Junior World Affairs Council (JWAC) chapter of Lake Highlands High School (LHHS) hosted a life-changing service project in partnership with the nonprofit Wine to Water. Over fifty students attended, learned about the impact of access to clean water in developing countries, and worked to assemble water filters that will provide clean water access to 25 families for up to 10 years.
The project started in Spring 2023, when I received the Global Gateway Grant from the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, and I approached our chapter with the plan to use the grant funds to initiate a service project. In evaluating options, Wine to Water stood out because of its hands-on approach to saving lives and its focus on educating volunteers. Our members and our sponsor, Ms. Emily Ramirez, were enthusiastic, and we agreed that we wanted to raise more funds to allow volunteers to assemble more filters. We hosted a community fundraiser and raised over $1,000 dollars in addition to the grant funds, which allowed us to build 25 filters.
Filter components and instructions were shipped to our school, we publicized the event to multiple school organizations, and during the event, students were able to learn about the impact of unsafe water. We learned that worldwide, 2.2 billion people still lack access to clean drinking water, resulting in death and disability from preventable diseases. In 2017, it was estimated that 1.2 million people died prematurely worldwide as a result of unsafe water. We also learned that in many areas of the world, the work of sourcing clean water falls on women. Providing clean water access can make it possible for more girls and women to pursue education, which can improve gender equality. After assembling the filters, student volunteers wrote notes of encouragement to the recipients, and now, Wine to Water staff will train families in the receiving countries on how to use and maintain the filters we built.
Our chapter is grateful for the support of our principal and for the Lake Highlands community members who donated toward the purchase of filter components. Usually, service projects at our school focus on local needs, and it was important to our chapter officers that we bring a global service opportunity to LHHS. We are proud to have helped to save lives, and we are also excited about the opportunity for our classmates to be able to learn and make an impact beyond our community. Junior World Affairs Council provides a unique opportunity for high school students to broaden their world, and the leaders of our chapter hope that JWAC will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.
Julian Villamar-Robbins currently serves as president of the Junior World Affairs Council chapter at Lake Highlands High School in Richardson ISD. He plans to pursue engineering in college.
The views and options expressed in this article are the student’s alone and are not endorsed or reflect the views of the nonprofit, nonpartisan, World Affairs Council of Dallas Fort/Worth.