Club Plans Virtual Benefit Concert for Water Crisis


Pali Thirst Project Co-Presidents Jenna Barad and Stella Becir meet virtually with Thirst Project Director of Student Activation Kellen Brewer

Eliana Feinstein, Editor-in-Chief

An estimated 663 million people lack access to clean drinking water, a number that more than doubles the population of the United States. This was a fact unbeknownst to Jenna Barad and Stella Becir before they joined the Pali Thirst Project, a branch of a nationwide nonprofit organization that addresses the global water crisis.

Now Pali High juniors and Co-Presidents of the Pali Thirst Project, Barad and Becir’s latest focus is their club’s Virtual Benefit Holiday Concert. Slated for 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18, the YouTube concert will feature performers from numerous schools coming together to raise awareness of the global water crisis.

Becir will perform as part of Pali’s a capella group, AcaPali. She also sang in the club’s recent benefit concert on Oct. 16. Barad said that many members of the Pali dance team performed then as well, noting it was another example of community support within the Pali Visual and Performing Arts department.

The club’s October benefit concert raised approximately $1,500, pushing the group’s semester total to $6,000.

“It’s really been remarkable,” Barad said. “It’s all due to our members, our communication, our bond with each other.”

This $6,000 sum is half of the $12,000 amount needed to build a freshwater well for a community in Eswatini, the African country the Pali Thirst Project is seeking to support. Wells reaching deep into the ground access clean water and pump it for communities that are home to as many as 500 people, according to the Thirst Project website. Because this roughly equates to $25 per person, Becir explained, Pali Thirst Project often encourages $25 donations to give people clean drinking water for life.

According to Becir, “every single penny counts” in this water crisis that permeates through social, political and economic life. Millions of women and children in search of water walk miles every day carrying heavy containers, and this responsibility prevents women from working and youth from pursuing education. Even after walking eight or more miles, the water is often still contaminated.

“It’s awfully dirty, but that’s the only option,” Becir continued. “So they go home, and they boil it, and they still drink it. And then what happens is children are infected with horrible waterborne diseases, which is the number one child killer worldwide.”

With the devastating losses of children and adults alike to this crisis, Barad said: “It’s just a horrible chain reaction. I think raising awareness is one of the most important things.”

Coupled with fundraising, educating others about the global water crisis is crucial for the Pali Thirst Project. With communication through mass emails, social media posts and school announcements, the club has been working hard to share its message. Each individual club member has their own linked fundraising page under a Pali High branch on the Thirst Project website. There are currently 23 active Pali funding pages, though Barad encourages more of her peers to create their own pages and participate in the club’s work.

“Our funding page allows as many people who want to to join and be a part of it, and that’s how the Pali High community can get involved,” she said, adding that the wider Palisades community can support their cause by sharing the links to their funding pages and helping raise awareness.

Barad and Becir hope the winter concert will bring greater attention to the Pali Thirst Project and boost community awareness of the global water crisis.

To join the virtual experience on Dec. 18 at 6 p.m., search “Pali Thirst Project Virtual Benefit Holiday Concert” on YouTube.