Ryan's Well: Pump It Up

Pump it up (Nathan Greenfield, TES Magazine, 27 February, 2004)

ABC Television video: Ryan's Well (2004)

If you have access to the video documentary "Ryan's Well", you could watch the first few minutes and complete the following notes:
  1. Ryan Hreljac lives in a small town called Kemptville, about _____ kms. north/south of Ottawa, Canada.
  2. Ryan’s teacher told him it cost _______ to sink a well.
  3. Ryan’s parents said they could not give him the money for a well, but __________________________ _______________________________.
  4. When Ryan took his money to WaterCan, he discovered that __________________________  _________________________________________________________.


  • Pre-Reading
  1. Arrange the following words and phrases into three categories in the table below. You must be prepared to explain how you have categorised the words. (What are your column headings?)
  2. in full flow   a shortage   diarrhoea   charity work     to sink a well   dysentery   donations   a campaign   on a mission   bacteria   a project   fundraisers     a Rotary Club   infected   a gasoline-powered drill   a raffle   to fetch water   sponsored bike rides   typhoid   a non-profit organisation   parasitic worms   contamination   water-borne diseases   cholera   aid agencies   a hand-pump   sanitation   springs   latrines



  3. Now use some of the words/phrases above to complete the table below:
  4. Word or Phrase



    operating very successfully


    to dig a deep hole to get water


    a lottery using tickets


    organisations that help less fortunate people


    making water or food dirty


    the use of soap, toilets etc to avoid germs

  5. You have already watched the first few minutes of the documentary film "Ryan’s Well". Now read quickly through the first two paragraphs of the text (Pump it up) and make a note of one fact that you did not learn from the video.


  • Reading
Read the newspaper article Pump it up (Nathan Greenfield, TES, 27 February 2004) and answer the following questions. (The line references refer to a Word version of the article which I printed for my own students. Sorry!)
  1. Paragraph 2
    1. In what ways is Ryan a fairly ordinary 12-year-old boy?

    3. In what ways is he not an ordinary 12-year-old?


  2. Paragraphs 2-3: We learn that Ryan has travelled "to all corners of the globe" and met many famous or powerful people. Why does he travel so much?

  4. Give two reasons why Ryan’s parents did not give him the money for a well.
    1. .
    2. .

  5. Using a pencil, add notes to the following flowchart which illustrates how Ryan got funding for "his" first well:


  7. Why do you think WaterCan provided funding for a documentary film to be made?

  9. Ryan’s mother said that she was impressed by the way he raised money for a well but that she "felt he had done his bit". (Lines 51-52) What do you think she meant by this?

  11. After reading Lines 52-66 add two more boxes (with notes!) to the flowchart in No. 4 above.

  13. Why does the writer describe Ryan as "a surprisingly shy boy"? (Line 67)

  15. List at least two reasons why Ryan’s visit to Uganda was memorable.

  17. What was tough about Jimmy Akana’s life before the well was drilled at Angolo school?

  19. What were the "darker traumas" that Jimmy experienced? (Mention at least two.)

  21. How did Jimmy get a visa to enter Canada?

  23. Lines 120-125
    1. What award did Ryan win in November 2003?
    2. Why did the sponsor pay for a second award?


    "How The World Could Get Well" (additional text)

    Using the text, complete the notes below:

    • No. of people without clean water
    • No. of people without proper sanitation
    • No. of people who die daily from water-borne diseases
    • Solution 1

    Pipe water from springs, possibly using gravity.

    • Solution 2


    • Solution 3

    Improve …


    Explain the title of this text (what are the two possible meanings of the word well?).



    Post-Reading: Language Study

    1. There are a number of places in the text where people or organisations are defined using one of the following patterns:
        1. Angry with his friends
        2. , Justin stormed off towards the canteen.
        3. Oprah Winfrey
        4. , America’s most successful talk show presenter, was born into poverty.

      Find examples of similar sentence structures in the text "Pump it up". Mark them like the examples above.

      (Look at lines 14-15; 37-38; 39; 67-68; 72-74; 76; 117; 122-123; and 124-125.)

    2. Look at Paragraph 3:
      1. "Ryan has met the Pope … He has criss-crossed the United States …
      2. "He joined Prince Charles … in 2001."

Why are two different verb tenses used here?