Eleven college campuses. Over 800 students participating. Hundreds of dollars raised by students, and thousands given by benevolent donors. “Be Hope to Her” is effecting change – real, lasting, sustainable change.

This campaign began because Nuru noticed a need in Kuria, Kenya – a need that is an injustice; women and girls, sacrificing education and opportunity to spend 20 hours of their week fetching water…a practice has gone on for hundreds of years in that community and has furthered the cycle of poverty, but is now beginning to change in that community because of our efforts and Nuru’s partnership with the Kurians.

I have been so inspired by the passion the students have shown in bringing the message of the need for clean water access in the developing world to their campuses. Both men and women students have rallied together to fight for equality for the women and girls of the developing world – because we choose to be their advocates; through solidarity, we walk alongside them and stand for justice.

The creativity in spreading this message was unlike anything I’ve seen before! Yellow buckets dominated student unions, were featured in art exhibits and hung from trees; windows and walls were plastered with artwork, and sidewalks were chalked with the BH2O+ message; stickers were plastered on laptops, water bottles and guitar cases, and window clings stuck near water faucets and fountains; banners, t-shirts and poster boards were designed and displayed; Facebook status and Twitter updates spread the word; the BH2O+ promo video played on continuous loop in dining halls and student unions; the Dean of students gave an excused absence for event participants at one campus and personally paid for student buckets at another; students organized bake sales and a benefit concert to collect funds – and other students flat out asked their friends and classmates to give money to the cause – and they did!  So many highly responsive, activistic students not only engaged, but invested, in this project for hundreds of families in Kuria, Kenya living in extreme poverty, and each bringing dozens of others with them for the ride.

As an example of the high get-it factor of the students involved in this campaign, read this excerpt from Kati Bailey, the volunteer student campus coordinator at Marshall University:

“You drink it. You cook with it. You shower in it. You brush your teeth with it. You swim in it. You flush the toilet with it. You wash your car with it. You may even make some delicious kool-aid with it. And you probably do all this…without a second thought. If you’re like me, that is. So what is it? What is this magical liquid that has so many uses? That’s right…Water. You know, H2O. That substance that pours so freely out our faucets and into our cup as we gulp it up and move on to our next task on the to-do list. Well for many, and by many I mean millions, it isn’t that easy. This year 2.2 million people will die from water-borne diseases. Numbers are really easy to scan over. But really soak in that. 2.2 MILLION. And each one of those people is just like you and me. They have hands. Hair. A personality. A soul. And they die. Because this liquid we pay no mind to is contaminated. I know what you’re thinking…ok Kati, I officially feel guilty. What more is there to say!? The most important thing is left to say, LET’S CHANGE THIS.”

And another excerpt from an email Darcy White, student campus coordinator at Stanford, wrote to rally students for the event:

“Girls and women in Africa have to miss school daily to carry water for an average of 3 hours. I can’t force you to skip class, but it is a good chance to join in solidarity and spend one day carrying buckets so that people in Africa don’t have to every day.”

I have been humbled to partner with these students and watch them rally together for this cause. Students groups and clubs who had never partnered together came together, meeting weekly for months, to make this an experience their campus would soon not forget. Students used their club networks, email lists and Facebook friend lists to spread the word about why we need to take action – and how.

As the students who brought us the BH2O+ campus experience have shown us, it truly is within our power to effect change. And I’m so grateful for the hundreds who did – who took a stand for Kurians needing empowerment, needing resources, needing opportunity.

Thank you! Tuko pamoja!