Picture of Founder

JLSS Without Water for Five Days

Living in Khirbet Kanafar presents many challenging situations, but some of them are literally impossible to bear. Monday morning 26 October 2009 presented such a situation. The day started normally in JLSS. It was a typical beautiful Lebanese Autumn morning with plenty of warmth and sunshine. As usual Monday mornings start with the Salutation of the Flag: a requirement by the Ministry of Education that all students line up in the playground to sing the Lebanese national anthem. We also had a group of friends and supporters from Giengen - Germany who were visiting our school. All was going well until the phone started ringing informing the administration that there was no water in the school.
The maintenance team was called to check and remedy the situation, but hours passed without results. The situation started getting desperate: over five hundred people, most of them children, were totally without water. The kitchen and bakery staff were continuously sending urgent pleas to quickly remedy the situation, but the cleaning staff were desperate. The situation in the toilets was impossible.
Johann Ludwig Schneller School, thanks to the wisdom of its founder, Hermann Schneller, owns its water spring in the nearby mountain. The director decided to go up with the maintenance staff to the spring to find out what was causing this very severe water crisis. Upon reaching the spring he discovered that there was plenty of water coming from the spring, after all, this is the water-rich land of Lebanon, particularly the Bikaa valley.
Upon inspecting the water reservoir a short distance below the spring, the director and theWater Shortage 2009 Photo maintenance staff discovered that it was totally empty. This was very strange. The reservoir is always full after weekends because the children are away. They go home every other weekend. That weekend the children went home. Upon inspecting the drain pit, the maintenance staff discovered that the lock was broken and there was a fresh 30 cm water mark on its wall indicating it was drained recently.
Upon inspecting the situation further, it was discovered that the water supply from the Schneller spring was not reaching the main reservoir.
A passerby informed the Schneller maintenance staff the name of a neighbor who was digging with a bulldozer near the Schneller main water pipe, and that he damaged and buried it without fixing it.
The director called the neighbor and told him what he heard and asked him to point out the place of damage in order to speed up the repair process. The neighbor, a former student of JLSS, totally denied and assured the director that he was working near the pipes but he did not damage anything.
There was no other option but to rent a bulldozer to dig the track of the main water pipe which was completely renewed early last summer after it was damaged!
Work started Tuesday morning and the place of damage was not found by 5.00 pm when one of the neighbors finally decided to help. He came to the Schneller maintenance staff and told them that he saw what had happened when the main pipe was damaged and he pinpointed the exact location.
The news, in spite of the ugliness of the situation, was a great relief. Schneller School will finally have water again. The families that live in school and who with our guests form Germany were in a very desperate situation smiled with hope and relief. The news was quickly relayed: the pipe is fixed, water will run in the pipes in a few hours.
Thursday morning came but there was no water. The maintenance team had to go up the mountain again with the bulldozer, and with the help of the neighbors three places of damage were pinpointed and the pipe was temporarily fixed as it needs to be completely replaced soon, yet again!
Water very slowly started flowing in the pipes to the relief of everyone. The muddy water had to be drained out first. All clogged pipes had to be dismantled and cleaned, and then the wait for the main reservoir to fill again.
Gossip in the area started spreading that Schneller School closed not because of the water crisis, but because H1N1 virus spread among its students. Parents were calling to enquire, and some even refused to accept the truth when they were told that it was only a water crisis and it had nothing to do with H1N1. Even the local police, General Security, called the director to enquire about that rumor. The director assured them Schneller School is totally free from H1N1 and he wished they would go after the person who caused the damage and the closure of the school for a whole week.
School resumed normally on Monday November 2nd. Four teaching days were lost, and we need to compensate them as our local adventures may continue due to snow or other challenges. Reformation Day, which is a holiday for all Evangelical schools in Lebanon, was one of these days. We are left with three days to compensate. Founder's day holiday will be omitted and two days will be dropped from the Christmas vacation.
A word of thanks is registered to the Schneller maintenance team and all the employees, mainly from the vocational school, who stayed when others were at home, to assist in the repair work. Two working days will be added to their next summer holiday to compensate them. It is our hope that this was our last adventure for this year!
Schneller School Name in Arabic
Johann Ludwig Schneller Schule

Education for Peace since 1860