RARITAN TWP., NJ – Seventh-grade students at J. P. Case Middle School are demonstrating that class doesn’t necessarily end when the school bell rings.

In fact, they are still learning from a lesson that began last year when they attended Susan Stess' sixth grade Language Arts class at Reading-Fleming Intermediate School. That’s when they were moved by a stirring book that alerted them to the lack of access to clean drinking water in South Sudan - and the impact that has on the lives of its children.

The students’ heightened awareness led them to inspire all of the school’s students to help raise money for a new well.

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In a period of just four days, FRSD students raised $7,000 to benefit Water for South Sudan, a group that works to provide not only clean water, but improved hygiene and sanitation practices for the impoverished nation, where clean water is a scarce resource.

The school’s donation was enough to pay for about one-third of the cost of a new well, which has now been built and hygiene education programs are in place.

The well is in the village of Mangot, in Akok, Tanj, South Sudan.

Ashley Weibel, who works with Water for South Sudan, told the students, “Our team actively makes strides each day towards watering the seeds of change in South Sudan, none of which could happen without your help.”

Although parts of South Sudan continue to experience unrest, the group has been able to continue drilling wells. The one funded by FRSD students is the group’s 359th well since it began its efforts nearly 15 years ago.

As important as clean water is, the benefits of the well extend beyond the obvious. Clean water provides “grassroots development and sustainability for rural villages and schools,” said Lynn Malooly, who is the executive director of the U.S. arm of Water for South Sudan. The installation of a new well can be a “starting point for conflict resolution between different groups, creating peace and stability” in a country struggling to sustain itself.

“When people are healthy, they are more able to attend school, earn and income, and develop other aspects of their life,” Malooly told the students.