I recently had the opportunity to present Compassion’s Water of Life initiative to kids at Vacation Bible School (VBS). For five evenings I was given 5 to 10 minutes to speak about the importance of safe drinking water and focused on something different each time. The facts, ideas and special water challenges gave the kids something to think about each night.
Please feel free to use these ideas in your own home, church or small groups to share the importance of clean water with those around you.
Day 1 – The Need
My goal the first night was simple – present our mission focus and help the children understand the need for safe drinking water. Although water is the most common substance on earth, many people do not have access to water in their homes.
Here are some examples I shared:
I took the kids on a virtual trip to two different countries. The home we visited in Peru did not have running water and the 13-year-old daughter would walk to the top of the hill to collect it. By doing this several times, she was able to fill the family’s large buckets with water that was used for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
This water had to be collected and brought to the house, but at least it was safe for drinking.
We then took a trip to Rwanda and watched Fiona collect water that was not safe for drinking, and then ran it through Compassion’s Water of Life filter. The water that came out was clean and safe.
Fact: Water is the most common substance on earth.
Challenge: Count the water faucets inside and outside your home. Consider bringing a quarter or dollar for each faucet you have and donate it for a Compassion Water of Life filter.
Each child took home a water bottle with a Compassion logo taped around it. This would serve as a reminder to bring money the next night and would hopefully start a conversation with their parents on the way home from VBS.
Day 2 – Fancy Water
On day two, I reported that my home has 12 faucets. The kids counted out loud as I dropped a quarter in the water pitcher (our collection can) for each faucet I had counted in my home.
To illustrate how easy it is for most of us to get water, I had a tote bag full of fancy water I had found at the grocery store: sparkling water, flavored water, vitamin water and more. As I pulled each bottle out of my bag, I told the kids why this water was fancy compared with regular old tap water.
Fact: 93 percent of the earth’s water is salt water and therefore undrinkable. 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water.
Challenge: Choose one faucet in your home to use exclusively for the next 24 hours. If you choose the kitchen sink, then brush your teeth there. If you choose the bathroom sink, then be sure to get your drinking water there.
Day 3 – Water Is Heavy
I started this presentation with the shorter video clip of Fiona collecting water from a water hole in Rwanda. In the video, she walks a total of three miles and carries a 5-gallon bucket of water back to her home.
To illustrate just how heavy water can be I had several different volumes available for the kids to lift and carry across the room (1 bottle, 1 gallon, 2.5 gallons and 5 gallons). The kids had a great time trying to lift and carry the water, and were amazed at just how heavy it really is.
Fact: 1 gallon of water weighs approximately 8 pounds.
Challenge: Count how many times you turn on a water faucet in the next 24 hours.
Day 4 – Compassion Water of Life Filter Demonstration
Finally we were ready to test the Compassion Water of Life filter for ourselves. First we had to make dirty water. The night before we had played a water game so I saved a bucket full of water from the game. It had dirt and grass floating in it and was a perfect addition to our dirty water.
Earlier in the day my daughters and I had walked to a nearby lake and collected a couple gallons of lake water. Still, none of our dirty water looked very dirty. So my oldest daughter added some dirt, leaves and grass to add some visual drama and make it look dirty.
We added it all to the Compassion Water of Life bucket and stirred it up. I scooped out a glass of the dirty water and then filtered a second glass so we could see the difference. Then I drank the clean, filtered water. I had small cups and invited the kids to also come up and try the water.
Those who did got a sticker that said, “I drank it”.
Fact: The water filter will provide a lifetime supply of clean, safe drinking water for an entire family.
Challenge: Taste the filtered water.
Day 5 – Illustrate Impact
For my final presentation I really wanted to visually illustrate the impact the kids were making by their generous donations. It’s amazing how quickly quarters, dollars and larger donations can add up. I wanted to kids to see that their small part was part of something big – something really big. Generosity.
Throughout the week I had been hanging paper water drops near the Water of Life table – each one represented a Water of Life system that would be donated on our behalf.
We had raised enough money for five Water of Life systems, but to be honest with you, five isn’t a very big number and doesn’t seem like many.
Our kids had been divided into small groups for the week. Each group had 1 to 2 adults and 5 to 7 kids of different ages – kind of like a family.
In our little VBS groups we had eaten together, played together, worshiped together, learned together and worked together – kind of like a family.
Before the kids came in for our final session, I hung five smaller water drops around five group stations. I asked the kids to look and see if their station had a water drop and if it did, to stand up.
We then looked around the room at all the kids and adults standing so we could get an idea of how many people would benefit from the five Compassion Water of Life systems we had raised money for.
Fact: A person can survive 30 days without food, but less than a week without water.
Challenge: When you drink clean water, remember to thank God for that water and say a prayer for the thousands of people who do not have clean, safe water to drink.
One of the kids suggested that we pray right then and there and so we did. It was a great week and I was excited to see the kids grow in their understanding of poverty.