College students visit Honduras; bring relief to impoverished residents
By Natasha Dado | Thursday, 03.21.2013, 08:32 PM

DEARBORN — Five Arab American Wayne State University students spent their spring break in Honduras working on projects that bring relief to impoverished people, such as revitalizing current infrastructure and establishing an entirely new framework to improve the quality of life in rural areas. 
The projects included dam construction, trench digging, installation of piping systems, conduction lines, distribution networks and residential connections, but the most important was educating locals, not only on water safety, but also to physically show them how to operate and maintain the new water systems in order to sustain long term water quality that meets or exceeds United Nations Environment Program standards.
The students are the founders of the WSU National Student Water Association (NSWA) and include Abess Makki, president; Vice President, Muhamad Chbib; Director of Finances and Administration, Rashid Al-Mehdi; Director of Logistics and Analytics, Ali Mourad and Communications Coordinator, Ali Abdallah. 
“This is a extremely important global issue, and truly deserves attention. Over one billion people on earth don’t have access to potable water or adequate sanitation. This is why the water crisis continues to lead the world as the number one cause of death,” Makki said. 
NSWA members are only 20-21 years old., and have helped bring awareness and solutions to the world’s water crisis since the group’s inception.  
Arab American youth from Dearborn in Honduras, where they traveled to help impoverished people who’re victims of the global water crisis. Photo courtesy of the NSWA 
The NSWA’s mission is to provide disadvantaged communities in developing countries with adequate sanitation facilities, and potable water. NSWA student volunteers help address the crisis by constructing and installing piping systems in third-world developing countries, as an ample way to transport the water cleanly and efficiently to those in need.
NSWA is led by WSU Faculty Advisor; Dr. Silas Norman, Jr. Dr. Norman is the Associate Dean of Admissions, Diversity and Inclusion, at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. 
This is the NSWA’s first trip to Honduras, and they collaborated with Global Water Brigades, another organization that has launched missions there before.  
According to Makki, Global Water Brigades has already brought relief to two villages, and through this trip was able to provide running water to a third village. He said only 17 homes had access to water in the village, and now all 100 in it do after the trip.  
The men spent seven days in Honduras, and witnessed first hand the effects of poverty. Makki said since none of the homes in the villages have access to water, people have to walk miles and carry water back to their homes.  Often times the water isn’t clean, causing many children, adults and animals to die from water sanitation issues. Makki said children as young as eight years old have to walk long distances to get to school. 
“The fact that they don’t have running water is crazy,” he said. In addition to not having access to water there are homes that don’t have electricity, and other basic resources. 
“There are sometimes five to six people in a home that’s the size of a room, they don’t have refrigerators, a washer or dryer or air conditioning.” 
Makki said the trip has made all of the NSWA members more humble after being exposed to such an extreme level of poverty. Next year they plan on visiting Africa, to help needy people in Ghana. Makki said Hondurans became emotional when they left, because they had formed strong bonds with people from the villages. Despite the limited resources in Honduras, Makki says  people there are extremly hospitable. 
“They started crying when we left. I didn’t think the living conditions would be that bad, until I witnessed them first hand,” he said. 
For more information on the group contact NSWA at 313-903-0586.   

By Natasha Dado

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