By Sister Cathe Shoulberg
“No work of charity can be more productive than the careful instruction of women.”
Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, was certainly a woman ahead of her time! And this story gives authenticity to her thinking.
Mara Howard, a senior at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School, has been involved in a leadership program at the high school called LEAD4Change. Mara, along with classmates Brynn Romberger, Mia Van Mater and Haley Young, conducted an informational program regarding everyone’s right to clean water. They worked on a yearlong project to gain knowledge and information on the global water crisis and have shared their experiences with the broader GMAHS community, shedding light on this global emergency. This directly relates to one of the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy, to care for the Earth.
Mara became aware of the issue of clean water while she was a 7th grader at Saint Helena School, Blue Bell. Under the careful direction of Mrs. Kerri Sepich, her ELA teacher, students were assigned to read the book, A Long Walk to Water. The book interweaves the true stories of two Sudanese children who overcome mortal dangers to improve their lives and the lives of others. Simply put, it is about the struggle for clean water! As a result of reading the book, Mara became strikingly aware of clean water shortages in Africa and other parts of the world. She decided right then and there that she was going to do something about it! After discussing the issue with her mother, she discovered charity: water, a nonprofit that funds clean water projects and provides education to residents in developing countries. For Mara’s birthday that year, and for the Christmases that followed, her extended family decided they had all they needed and made a plan to instead donate to this amazing charity. For Mara’s 17th birthday, she made a donation of $1,800! Her family continues to use birthdays and holidays to donate to this and other charitable causes.
Mara, Brynn, Mia and Haley presented their completed project to Lead4Change and were awarded a $1000 grant, which they will use to engage speakers at GMAHS to further the community’s knowledge and understanding of the global water crisis. Working on this project has taught these young women valuable lessons: how to work together as a team, to complement learning/teaching styles, and to manage and integrate information.
Catherine McAuley was so right in placing value on the education of women. Our world will long continue to see the benefits reaped by educated Mercy Women.
“When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action.” Maya Angelou
For more information on the global water crisis, watch The Spring – The charity: water story.