A Heart for Clean Water

A Heart for Clean Water

In our work, we have the privilege of knowing many who have a heart to address the need for clean water around the world. Everyone has their own story and solution. Check out this story from one of our partners. He shares about helping to bring clean water to a variety of communities from Vietnam to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, as a professional engineer, I was researching the possibility of supplying tribes in the Sahara with solar powered water pumps which could draw water from the depths beneath the sand for their use. It turned out that the technology was not there at the time, as the water tables can be 500′ deep. 

I then went to Vietnam and the Philippines in 1999 and 2001 to help with the management of medical waste through high temperature incinerators we were developing. These incinerators were oxygen fed to boost the temperature and eliminate dioxins and other dangerous byproducts in the smoke. During that time, I was asked to help with the construction of a milk plant in Saigon which could produce lactose free milk for the young women who were giving birth to malformed children because they were drinking water from contaminated lakes and rivers. They were contaminated with Agent Orange leaching from the nearby forested areas which had been defoliated during the Vietnam War or, what the Vietnamese call the American War. In fact, the tap water in Hanoi had to be boiled for at least 20 minutes to break down the very thick virus spores which it contained.

In the Philippines, I was asked to see what could be done with the contaminated water in the water supply of Cebu, the capital city of the province of Cebu in the Philippines. This water was contaminated with heavy metals from industrial byproducts. I was also looking into what could be done about the bacterial contamination of Manila’s water supply which could cause serious health issues.

Of concern, recently, was the problem of contaminated water in developing countries. A promising product caught my attention: Water bags that could be filled with dirty water and made drinkable by emptying a packet of water purifying powder into the bag. It seemed to me that there were some issues with this approach, which could otherwise be used temporarily in national emergencies following flooding or earthquakes: The bag could become contaminated by dumping it in dirty water. Furthermore, as poor people came to the end of their supply of water purifying powder packets, their natural tendency would be to prolong the supply by reducing the quantity of powder dumped into the water bat, with the risk of drinking unknowingly water only partially decontaminated.

That’s when I spoke to the Business Connect team and they suggested I look at the VF200 prefilters combined with the VF100 water filters which could last indefinitely, and whose exterior need not be in contact with contaminated water. We provided these filters to communities and dispensaries in remote regions of Africa. Villages in Haiti, Madagascar, and South America, for example, could also make use of these filters to provide people with safe drinking water.

My goal moving forward is to put whatever money is available towards supplying filters to people who have no access to clean water. The issues are so numerous: people without access to potable water because of pollution, dry climate conditions, hurricanes and earthquakes which destroy water supply facilities, undrinkable seawater…”

This story highlights a heart to help those in need and the many ways one can champion clean water. We are thankful that so many have noticed a need and taken action. If you would like to be a part of clean water work, become a water sponsor. This is a simple way to partner with those who have a similar heart and become a champion yourself!

Does Voting Matter?

Does Voting Matter?

For 22 years we lived in five African countries, and then visited almost 50 countries in total. We lived through four military coups and I was stranded for over a week while borders were closed in one instance. When our U.S. national elections came around, I was always so grateful and amazed that we were able to change leadership without the threat of violence. No matter the differences, there was a sense that we were first of all Americans and secondarily members of a political party. Today, it seems we have reversed that role.

Weekly I meet with a dozen men and women. Our theme or purpose is a joint journey of discussion and discovery regarding Faith and Current Events. More than any time in my lifetime, I feel it is critical to be engaged politically. I want to discuss ideas not people, although some very good people have some very bad ideas. We are not of one mind and have very different ideas on the direction of our country, it’s policies, and will likely vote very differently. However, we have something more important than our political views that hold us together. 

It is my hope that each of us refuse to be branded by a political party. I do not want a label attached to my name because I affirm a certain position, nor will I label anyone else. I want to know why you think the way you do. Mimicking what partisan political pundits and friends are posting on Facebook without doing our own homework does nothing to advance the common good.  I pray that I will think and act with wisdom and love and justice.  I do not pray that God be with me but rather that I should be where He is. Think deeply about the country you want to experience and flourish in and do vote. We have such a privilege to participate in the future of our country.

Mexico Earthquake Relief with Adventures in Life

Mexico Earthquake Relief with Adventures in Life

In September 2017, the region known as El Istmo was devastated by an 8.1 earthquake in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Our partners at Adventures in Life, talked with their partners in that area, but were struggling to figure out how their small ministry could respond to such a massive disaster. Listening to their friends, they heard a specific need time and time again. Water. Yes, people had lost their homes, thousands and thousands of people, but we didn’t have much ability to make a dent in helping change that reality. Worse, El Istmo was still digging out and finding bodies. So they decided that instead of standing on the sidelines, or sending bags of used clothing, they could provide clean water to groups of people living in the impacted areas.

Village Water Filter in Union Hidalgo

Over the next few weeks, they installed village water filters in strategic centers, with more than half of them still in operation 3 years later. One was provided to a Catholic relief center in Ixtaltepec, a city that lost 70% of all of their homes and buildings. Others went to local churches, including one in the town of Union Hidalgo. The team administering that filter system became the de facto clean water supplier for the city, supplying the 4 relief centers in that town for two months.

The other filters were installed at the city halls of two towns, where people could freely access them with their own water containers. Additionally, they also supplied over 300 families in the more remote areas with individual bucket filters.

Those filters, both the village systems and the individual buckets filters were, and continue to be life changers. They gave people hope, made clean, safe water accessible and continue to do so today.

Thanks to our many donors, our partners at Adventures in Life  were able to make a real difference for families all across a region that looked like a war zone after the 2017 earthquake.

Original Story Written by Dave Miller at Adventures in Life

Partner Highlight: Clean Water in Rural India

Partner Highlight: Clean Water in Rural India

When Pastor Prasad began work in the mountainous area called Eastern Ghats in India, he found that many people who were living there were struggling to get access to clean drinking water. They would often drink from open wells, canals and streams which were muddy and dirty. These sources would become even worse during the rainy season, often overflowing with debris.

One day, the pastor received a water filter from one of his friends. He brought it back to the village and they were so happy for the opportunity to drink clean water. This gave Pastor Prasad an idea. He decided to work with this friend to raise funds for water filters to distribute to the mountain villages. They heard about the work of Connect for Water and decided to partner with us to create a Championed Project. Through our platform and your generous help, they were able to raise funds to provide clean water to many more mountain villages.

They provided water filters to the local families while also introducing them to Jesus. As Pastor Prasad demonstrated how to use the water filter, all the people in the village came to see the filter and hear his story. He explained that the filter changes the dirty water to clean water just as God changes our dirty life to new life.

A few months after each distribution, Pastor Prasad returned to the villages for a follow up. He saw a huge impact in the lives of those in the villages. Before using the water filters, they often were sick, some having diarheaa and others having typhoid. There were also people that died from the dirty water. They now were able to live healthier lives.

We plan to continue partnering with Pastor Prasad to provide clean drinking water to as many people as possible. Through our support, Pastor Prasad has already been able to distribute more than 500 filters over six years. Yet there are still thousands of villages thoughout the mountains that are still suffering from the effects of dirty water. These villages have stream water sources that are driven by gravity, so if one Village Filter is installed, the whole village will receive access to clean drinking water. Will you partner with us to help more rural villages in India?

India – Giving 500 Rural Families Water Every Day

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Partner Highlight: Tatirano Social Enterprise

Partner Highlight: Tatirano Social Enterprise

At Connect for Water, we have the privilege of sharing about the work of organizations around the world providing clean water. One of those organizations is Tatirano Social Enterprise. At Tatirano, they recently debuted two water cisterns at an EPP [Elementary School] in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. But they are more than just two concrete tanks at a school. They’re a combined 10,000 litres of clean water for the students, staff, and surrounding neighborhood. The cisterns serve as a tool for WASH training at the school, the impact of clean water rippling out into people’s lives.

Together, they’re 10,000 litres out of almost 60,000 litres installed throughout southern Madagascar. Private systems help fund communal systems at schools and hospitals, in cities and rural towns. A medical clinic in Fort Dauphin has three of its own systems, allowing doctors to focus on patients and patients to focus on recovery.

Those 60,000 litres are held together by the Calabash Cistern design: an internationally shared method to build rain harvesters with eight bags of cement and simple, locally available materials. One 5,000 litre system takes only six days to put together, and seven days to cure. In just under two weeks, households can have reliable, protected, clean rainwater when they need it.

This project isn’t just about water. It’s about the team Tatirano trains to build the cisterns, coordinated by a Malagasy construction manager, who has since brought on new staff in the same role.

It’s about the Tatirano water agents who monitor the water, maintain and clean the cisterns, sell surplus to the local community, and coordinate with the central office. Tatirano only accepts female candidates for this role because the overwhelming majority of water collectors and managers in the home are women. At the EPP, a young woman now has a critical and professional skill, enabling her to do important work while supporting her family. She was trained to do this job, and now has trained two others to do it as well.

Tatirano isn’t working by itself either. A student environmental club helped research local water points. International universities want to help with analysis and remote sensing technology. Local and community officials vet the project and bring neighborhoods into the fold and larger organizations want to team up to help scale.

This network of partners share a passion for water accessibility and rain harvesting. They build the cisterns while respecting the communities that they’re meant for. They are publicizing our results and using them to inform new partnerships.

Photo by Daniel G Wood

In response to Covid-19, Tatirano has also created 23 handwashing stations around Fort Dauphin managed by a team of 69 currently unpaid elementary school teachers on rotation. This hygiene campaign has been taken up enormously and they have enabled over 100,000 people to wash their hands since starting in early March. The response to the campaign represents a huge demand for sustainable water access that is simply lacking, while understanding about the importance of hygiene is really high. This has proven a willingness to wash hands with water and soap, now it’s up to Tatirano to continue encouraging the government that they are already partnering with on a regional scale, to focus on investment in infrastructure. 

As uncertain times continue, Madagascar’s infrastructure will continue to be tested and strained. Durability and stability matters. Sustainability matters. Two cisterns don’t just change where a community will get its water. It changes how residents think about their water, their health, and themselves. We are thankful to see the great impact that Tatirano is having in Madagascar and look forward to continuing partnering with them.

Original post written by Gabriel Sandler

Udon Thani Distribution

Udon Thani Distribution

At Connect for Water, we want to bridge the gap to provide access to clean water solutions to those who might not be able to afford them. We work to be the connection between those in poverty and access to clean water, but to accomplish this, it is essential to have distribution partners. One of our partners in Thailand is Pastor Rut and his wife Awm. A few years ago, they left their comfortable lives in Bangkok to serve communities in poverty. They traveled miles away from their home and the familiar to the communities of the province of Udon Thani, an area in northeastern Thailand where Pastor Rut was born.   

Their goal was to plant a small church, but they soon found that the adults of the community were wary of these “strangers.” Realizing they had to build trust, they began leading programs for local children. The number of children attending grew steadily and eventually these programs developed into occupational training in farming, motorcycle mechanics, sewing, and baking. The children enjoyed learning from Pastor Rut and Awm and began to develop loving relationships. When the parents saw this investment in their children, they began to believe that the pastor and his wife could be trusted. This trust opened the door for them to help the communities in new ways.

As they continued to invest in the lives of the local people, they began to see other needs that could be addressed. One of these needs was for clean water. They noticed that there was an unusual number of cases of kidney stones and other health problems which were caused by drinking contaminated water. This was when Pastor Rut and Awm decided to connect with Connect for Water, as they had heard of us through connections in the Grand Rapids area, a Cornerstone and a Calvin College graduate. With our understanding of the area, we decided to send Village Water Filters for distribution because they would be able to provide clean water to each of the families and would work well in the rural setting.

The Village Water Filters were well received. The parents smiled as they began to understand the importance of the filters, enabling them to provide clean water to their families. The children giggled as water flowed from the bucket and they were able to see how the water became clear and to enjoy the refreshing taste. Today, these people are now living healthier lives because of the access they have to clean water. By sharing village water filter kits with local schools and families, Pastor Rut and Awm were able to become friends instead of being strangers

Connect for Water is based on connections like these that allow clean water solutions to be distributed to those in need. If you have a story to share about the impact of clean water or would like to connect with us in our work, please send us an email at [email protected]. We would love to make even more connections to provide more clean water around the globe.

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