How many college seniors can say they helped save lives as part of their senior project? That’s what six seniors from the Orfalea College of Business are attempting later this month during World Water Week and the Tap Project.
“It’s a senior project but we hope to do more than that,” said Lindsay Bruinsma who is heading the Cal Poly United Nations Children’s Fund committee.
The committee will host the event which will take place March 22 to 28 nationally, but will be extended locally to the 30th because Cal Poly spring break falls on World Water Week and the group wants to give students more time to participate.
As a major part of their senior project, the group will launch the first Tap Project in San Luis Obispo using the skills they acquired from their business education.
“We are from different concentrations. I’m marketing, we have some finance and international business. Because it so multifaceted it reaches a little bit of all of our areas,” said Rochelle Norwood, one of the six in the committee.
For the past month the six have been soliciting restaurants to join in the Tap Project.
During World Water Week, restaurants will ask their customers to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually receive for free.
Nearly all of the project’s proceeds will go towards the United Nations Children’s Fund’s campaign to bring clean and accessible water to millions of children around the world.
“That’s the great thing about UNICEF, because it’s so well connected it’s able to do so much without having high administrative cost,” Bruinsma said.
UNICEF was created in 1946 to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. Today it is one of the largest humanitarian and developmental assistance organizations that provide relief to families in developing countries.
According to UNICEF, waterborne illnesses are the second deadliest of children under five, with 4,200 dying every day of it.
For that reason Bruinsma and her group are trying to raise funds through events like the Tap Project to provide clean water to 900 million people around the world who don’t normally have access to it.
UNICEF will distribute packets that contain water purification tablets and rehydration salts as part of the solution to treat the diarrhea which is largely responsible for deaths in children who drink unsafe water.
In addition to providing them with safe water to drink, UNICEF will aim to educate the people of the three nations receiving aid (Haiti, Togo, Central African Republic) about the dangers of waterborne diseases as well as promote safe hygiene practices.
Another issue UNICEF plans to tackle is the inconvenient distance people travel to get access to water in these developing nations by building water pumps.
Since it was introduced in New York City two years ago, the movement has grown from 300 New York City restaurants in 2007 to a nationwide effort in which over 2,300 restaurants across the country participated last year.
“San Luis Obispo is great at community things but this is a global issue that San Luis Obispo citizens can really grab onto,” Bruinsma said.
So far three restaurants have registered in San Luis Obisopo: Pizza Fusion, Upper Crust, Trattoria and Natural Café. A final list of participating restaurants will be listed on the events website tapproject.org.
Eventually the group wants to establish a club at Cal Poly so that the movement continues year round because “Nothing is more important than children. They are our future. So if we can make even the slightest change for children anywhere in the world, I’m extremely excited about it,” Bruinsma said.