This summer Grambling State University students Jelyse Dawson and Derrill Miller will travel to South Africa to participate in The Coca-Cola Company’s Open Happiness tour.
Coca-Cola has committed $30 million over the next six years to provide access to safe drinking water to communities throughout Africa through its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN). RAIN, implemented by The Coca-Cola African Foundation, will provide at least 2 million Africans with clean water and sanitation by 2015.Contestants had to construct and submit a three-minute video answering the question, “How does the Coca-Cola RAIN program inspire you?”
In her video Dawson talked about how we abuse water in America and how we take water for granted. The former science major talked about the ecosystem and how water is essential to everyday life.
She said, “In America, each person uses 80 gallons of water per day. Other countries aren’t as blessed.”
Dawson’s parents, Lin and Margo helped shoot her video, and GSU student Benjamin Daniels edited it. She said she would not have been able to submit her video without Daniels’ help.
To prepare herself for her trip Dawson said that she has been researching the country to find out about the people’s needs and talking to people like her father and older brother who have been to Africa.
“I am really excited and hope that we can do some good work there. I have always wanted to go to Africa. This will help me to narrow what I want to do in the future and show me how I can help others in my work. This program is great for students interested in public service and health careers,” said Dawson, a senior from Boston majoring in business management.
Like Dawson, Miller talked about the benefits of such programs. He said the program is bringing awareness to global warming. In his video he thanked Coca-Cola for getting more black students involved.
In his video he said, “Every human in the world deserves a healthy start in life, and what better way to give them that than healthy water? Africa is a rich country, so supplying healthy water to its people can help the country to strive.”
“I was excited to know they found interest in my video, and I was one of six finalists,” he said.
Miller said this experience is helping him to not take small things for granted, especially drinking water. “This will show me that life is full of great things. I should appreciate what I do have and not focus on what I don’t. I should be grateful,” he said.
This trip is special to him because he has wanted to go to Africa since he was in the second grade and had opportunities to go several times, but something always seemed to get in his way.
“I would like to experience different cultures and network on an international level. Plus, I really like doing community services and experiencing other cultures will enhance my resume,” said the Chicago native who is majoring in hotel restaurant management.
To prepare for his trip Miller said he was been brushing up on African history and trying to find out what people of Africa really need, so he can see what else he can do to help them. Also, he has been speaking to Grambling students from Africa such as Loic Anagho.
The president and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, said that Africa’s water crisis threatens the health of its population, which affects its prospects for economic growth.
“Communities need strong, healthy people to thrive, and our business needs strong, healthy communities to grow and be sustainable. Helping African communities tackle their water challenges is an important priority for our company and our bottling partners and is an area where we can make a positive and lasting impact,” said Kent.