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 the help of South African friends Brendon and Sheri Schmikl. Water at Beretta Primary significantly improved student health and nutrition through a thriving garden. In 2007, a documentary was produced on A Spring of Hope and the changes at Beretta Primary since the addition of the well. The documentary was updated in 2010 and serves to educate people on the topic of the world water crisis and A Spring of Hope’s work.
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 economic and social development programs. Beretta Primary has capitalized on their water investment by expanding their tremendous garden and by selling their surplus fruits and vegetables to the community. The school won a 10,000 ZAR ($1,000 USD) prize for their garden in 2010 and continues to exhibit incredible entrepreneurship and drive to improve the quality of life and education of its students. Today, ASOH has partnered with over 40 schools, clinics, and community gardens in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa. ASOH has become a team of highly motivated young activists, engineers, and thinkers.