NEW YORK (CBS) A first-year student at Middlebury College is among a group of young women from New York that is helping families more than 8,700 miles away in Cambodia -- and their charity continues to grow.
Back when she was eight, Emmy Specht's family trip to Cambodia opened her eyes to a nation's needs. "We just noticed how much we all have that we kind of take for granted every day, or something as small as clean water that other people need. And we use it every day and we don't even notice it," Specht said.
So she and her sister, Rae, and their friends took notice, starting the charity Four Girls for Families. Their first project several years ago was funding and delivering 600 water filtration systems to Cambodia.
Improving a country's water supply helps prevent death and disease, but impacts so much more Specht said. "A lot of the young women in the villages because they did not have clean access to clean drinking water it would affect their whole lives," she said. "They would have to go walk for miles each day to get clean drinking water so it would prevent them from going to school."
"We grew from doing water filters to building wells. And a lot of these wells were built at schools, so that kids could bring water back to their family," said Maddie Joinnides, now a first-year student at Middlebury.
The group also just finished a new project -- a school for about five hundred kids.
Reporter Elaine Quijano: That's a pretty big accomplishment Maddie.
Maddie Joinnides: Yeah, it was pretty daunting to start.
"Visiting that school was probably one of the highlights of the trip. Talking to the students, really making a personal connection and seeing firsthand what we've done," said Eloise Kocay.
Reporter Elaine Quijano: Do you think about them when you're here?
Eloise Kocay: I do, sometimes when I just get a glass of water I think, you know I wonder what that girl at that school that I talked to, I wonder what she's doing now and I wonder if she now has clean water because of us.
They now sell Cambodian crafts to raise funds. Their new goal: a second school, and a second generation of siblings and other volunteers for the project.
The charity has raised some $300,000 in its five year existence, and the group is gearing up for a trip back to Cambodia next winter.