On Monday, February 22, the first Amity Foundation Living Water Townhall under the theme “Water and Human Needs” took place virtually. The Townhall brought students, donor agencies and beneficiary villagers together to provide authentic learning experiences for participants while allowing overseas partners to articulate their plight. About 220 supporters, more than half being middle-school students from S.K.H. Tsang Shiu Tim Secondary School in Hong Kong, attended the event.
Amity’s overseas partners, Transform Nepal and the Toungoo Diocese of Myanmar shared on-line videos providing insights of the local situation of water deprived communities. AFHK responded to the needs and supported the construction of water facilities for those communities in the past two years. During the Townhall Meeting the audience with many students not only got a better understanding of the local situation in Nepal and Myanmar, but were also invited to exchange with AFHK’s overseas partners and discuss with overseas guests directly.
“According to your experience and observation, what are the biggest obstacles that hinder the launching of water projects in these places by the local governments or NGOs?” asked one student representative. Mr. Rabindras Das, Director of Transform Nepal explained: “In Nepal the local government is very weak in terms of capacity. They are trying their best to reach out to the people, but they are lacking in resources. That is why they ask NGOs to play a part in the development effort. They also see NGOs like Transform Nepal as a partner to mobilize the community. As we work with the community, we see the needs are there and we make the community participate. We make a plan with them, approach supporting partners like AFHK and also approach the government of Nepal to clear other issues. So in the end it’s always a team effort.”
Additional interesting questions were asked by student participants during the exchange out of curiosity for the very complex humanitarian issues in developing countries. The audience was in particular impressed to witness the hardships that villagers are experiencing to access clean water for daily use in Myanmar. The video was shot by Rev. Matthew Khu Tay and volunteers of the Diocese of Myanmar in present very difficult local circumstances due to the pandemic. Looking ahead, AFHK is planning to arrange a few more virtual Townhall Meetings, that will broaden the horizons of a variety of audiences, and in particular young people are most likely to benefit from this form of authentic experiential learning.
The virtual AFHK Townhall Meetings are part of Amity’s Living Water Campaign that has since 2010 been advocating for tangible actions to provide clean water and sanitation for marginalized communities. Every year in spring AFHK invites people to join the Walk for Living Water to raise funds for these communities. This year’s Walk for Living Water will take place during 22 March to 22 April “virtually” in compliance with social distancing requirements from the Covid-19 Pandemic. The next AFHK Townhall Meeting will take place on the 22nd of March with implementing partners from the Philippines and Sri Lanka. We invite you to participate and be part of the global water crisis response! Follow us on social media for more information and upcoming events.