Name: Amber Mendoza
Occupation: 5th grade teacher at Porter Elementary school in Mesa, Arizona.
WASH Connection: As the H2O For Life Coordinator for her school, her students managed to raise several thousand dollars towards WASH goals, attracting the interest of Representative Matt Salmon, who visited their school in January to congratulate them.
"I chose water because it's the most basic of needs."When Porter Elementary teacher Amber Mendoza's HOPE Club heard those words while watching "Water for Life: The Diary of Jay-Z," these 4th, 5th and 6th graders decided to dedicate the rest of their year to bringing safe, clean drinking water to fellow students in Kenya. They set about finding a WASH organization with whom to partner.
H2O For Life made it easy for Amber to partner with them and spread the message of WASH. She specifically noted that their webpage was easy to navigate and provided her immediately with a wealth of educational resources and fundraising tools. Amber was able to easily pick a country of interest, and a school within that country. It helped make WASH real for her students as she could point at a map and say exactly where their help was going, and exactly what it would do. Using the resources provided by H2O For Life, her students have organized two H2O Walks, coin drives and t-shirt sales. These efforts have raised nearly $2,500 for their cause.
Amber described her personal commitment to WASH as a "leap of faith" into the world of international aid. In 2012, Amber went through a divorce that put a strain on her and her two children. During this difficult time, she was encouraged by her local Cornerstone Church to connect with the wider world. "I wasn't sure how I was going to get there, but I knew I was being called and that I had to do this," she said of her decision to embark on a mission trip to a Kenyan orphanage.
She says this is one of the scariest decisions she's ever made but that in the end, it's been transformational. She met her fiancé during the 10 hour flight to Kenya, a fellow churchgoer exploring well ministry. Her work with H2O For Life has been so successful she's been approached to become an ambassador for the program. In fact, as of this writing she is in Kenya, visiting both of the schools funded by her students. When she returns, she will share the latest news on their progress!