Prep Students Volunteer with Water1st in Honduras

Nick Pickel and Margot Gwynn

Two women roll out masa tortillas in coffee farm, Finca del Eden, Honduras.
Children play with clean water at project inaguration in Eracla, Honduras.
Woman smashes clay pot, symbolizing the end of walking for water.

In early March, seniors Jane Hurley and Ava Berard traveled to Honduras to embody Prep’s commitment to service and justice. They volunteered through Water1st, a non-profit organization that fundraises for clean water and sanitation systems in rural areas all around the world and works with local partners to create clean water systems. 

Hurley, co-chair of Education of the Youth Board, along with Berard, co-secretary of the youth board, help lead and present at the tri-annual Global Youth Board meetings, engage in service trips, and more. Hurley has been on the board for six years and Berard has been on for seven years. Senior Finn Donahue and junior Zoë Pomeroy are also on the youth board.  

Hurley explained, “Water1st takes a community organizing approach, meaning it fundraises money for partner organizations that actually do the work of implementing water sources so they can be run autonomously by communities.”

The purpose of the Honduras service trip was to visit one of Water1st’s partner organizations, Cocepradil, and to interact with the communities impacted by the water projects. Hurley explained, “If you are more involved and have a deeper knowledge and connection with these people, you are more apt to help them.”

Berard noted that the trip gave them a deeper understanding of what Water1st did and how they directly help people. According to Berard, the two, joined by other juniors and seniors from private and public schools from around Seattle, went to four ribbon-cutting ceremonies in communities that had just gotten clean water and sanitation systems. They also walked for water to experience the daily struggle of communities in need, constructed parts of a water project, and experienced and learned about the culture and history of Honduras.  

Hurley explained the significance of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and said, “Community members shared poems, prayers, songs, and skits about the process of building their water project.” Furthermore, at the end of each ceremony, a woman would take a clay pot used to hold water and smash it on the ground, symbolizing the end of walking for water. Hurley and Berard also had a number of cultural experiences, such as a night of Cumbia dancing and learning the story of Honduras’ national hero, Lempira. Hurley explained, “This cultural knowledge gave an even stronger insight into the communities we visited.” 

Berard said, “Before Water1st, many children and families believed that they were given up on and lost hope. Water1st worked to restore and bring clean water and sanitation to those communities that were impacted most severely.” 

Furthermore, Hurley was impacted by the Honduran value of community and hospitality. Each village they visited welcomed them wholeheartedly into their homes, educating them on Honduran culture and traditions. Each community came together to dedicate time and effort to the water projects, as it would benefit everybody in the community. Hurley remarked, “There was a constant willingness to sacrifice personal needs for the greater good of the community.” 

Hurley also had a conversation with the mayor of Candelaria, who talked about how water projects give “communities hope for the future and a reason to stay” notwithstanding other issues such as internal displacement and migration, which Hurley studied for her sophomore Model UN project.  

In the spirit of Peace and Justice Week, Berard and Hurley want to inspire other Prep students to get involved with service. Hurley recommends “finding a cause you’re passionate about and doing something about it. You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems, but something as simple as volunteering at a local homeless shelter can make a big difference. If you actively look for opportunities to serve others, you will find a wealth of options in and even beyond Seattle.” 

If you would like to get involved with Water1st or donate to Seattle Prep’s Water1st fundraising team, visit