In the summer 2005, mother and daughter Joanne and Brittany visited the Limpopo province of South Africa. Chance circumstances landed them at Beretta Primary School in Acornhoek, an impoverished town located in a former “Bantustan,” or apartheid-era “homeland.” Beretta had over 1,200 students and no running water, a reality most schools in rural South Africa must face.
The lack of nearby running water made life at Beretta extremely difficult. School gardens, which provided for many students their only source of fresh fruits and vegetables, grew exclusively during the rainy seasons. Volunteer mothers walked several miles to retrieve buckets of water from a government pump to prepare lunch for the children. Without operating flush toilets, students were forced to use unsanitary pits and were not able to wash their hands to keep from spreading illnesses. Beretta, however, was not unusual. Sanitation, hygiene, and water access are some of the biggest obstacles for rural schools not only in South Africa, but across the entire continent.
Brittany and Joanne teamed up to fundraise for a borehole (deep water well) at Beretta Primary. In 2006, a well was completed with the help of South African friends Brendon and Sheri Schmikl. Water at Beretta Primary significantly improved student health and nutrition through a thriving garden. Beretta continues to serve as the primary model of success for A Spring of Hope, which was later founded in 2007 and has grown into a professional NGO with an ambitious and unique mission to combine clean water access with economical and social development programs.
Today, A Spring of Hope has 45 partner schools that they support with water, garden, and sanitation projects. A Spring of Hope also partners with community gardens and community centers that provide resources and support for impoverished communities in rural South Africa.