There has been a seven-year devastating war going on in Yemen with Saudi Arabia. Millions are in desperate need of medical care. It is not just war wounds but the destruction of infrastructure that has now led to increasing outbreaks of cholera. Medical teams are treating everything from war wounds and burns to cholera and diphtheria, working in the thick of a massive humanitarian crisis. Yet here in the United States, we do not have a clue what is happening in Yemen.
An Extra Challenge
Once we heard of this need, we partnered with Business Connect to help. Yet they ran into a challenge. They could not ship life saving water filters directly from the States. It was impossible to import the filters. In order to get them to Yemen, they had to first ship them to South Africa and then combine the shipment with other goods from another non-profit organization.
Thankfully, the filters did finally make it to Yemen via another non-profit and five hundred household filters were distributed at two Internally Displaced Persons camps in Aden and Lahj. Please see the video below.
A Hope to Help More
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation was also able to receive 1500 filters and move them to Sana’a to distribute to areas with the largest outbreaks of cholera. They are working with WHO and the ministry of health to select those areas.
These kinds of challenges overwhelm us, but we are thankful to have had a small part in making this project successful. We have so few answers. We try to do something with the resources we are given.
We are glad to already be seeing impact from our project in partnership with ChildFund International in Honduras. Our goal was to provide filters to a predominantly agricultural community that relies upon water from a mountain river.
Families were drinking water directly from pipes that fed river water into their homes, not knowing the water wasn’t safe to drink and exposing them to water-borne illnesses. This is a typical hurdle in our clean water projects. We must not only provide the tools necessary for people to have clean water, but also help people understand the health affects of the clean water.
With this need in mind, we partnered with ChildFund on a project to help hundreds of families gain access to clean water. This partnership was in coordination with the Honduran Government health service, who was working to identify families at high risk of exposure to water-borne illness through drinking water. In order to make this project happen, funds were used from Kohler’s annual “Run For Clarity” fundraising event.
In addition to providing Kohler Clarity water filters, this project also focused on educating families who received the filters to enable them to utilize the filters properly, ensuring years of access to clean and potable water. It was all part of a multi-phase project that seeks to identify families with the highest need for water filters, educate on the proper and safe use of the filters, and distribute of filters that meet the goal of helping 300 families in the region.
As a result of the work done ranging from the Kohler “Run For Clarity” fundraising event in Wisconsin to implementation work in Honduras, 273 families now use water filters to provide clean water to their family.
Even though implementation was relatively recent, within the first month of use the local health center reported zero patients with gastrointestinal diseases. This shows just how important these projects are for the families in need of education and resources so that they can live healthier lives by drinking clean water for years to come.
Being the son of Lou Haveman, founder of Business Connect, I have had numerous adventures and experiences. This August was special. I had an opportunity to go to Tanzania with my son, Chris, and nephew, Josiah. We spent three weeks together; going on safari, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, spending time in a Massai village and embracing Africa in all its complexities and ethnicities. This was a trip to complete a promise my dad made to the grandkids saying he would take them on a trip to Africa before they completed high school. I was replacing him.
The first two days we stayed in Arusha, a place called Echo Impact Center where we learned about agriculture conservation and how they’re helping small farmers be more efficient and productive in the growth of their crops.
Next, on the agenda was a visit to Lake Manayara and Ngorongoro crater for several days of safari. We had an incredible time appreciating the beautiful landscape of the Rift Valley and the wildlife. It is always amazing to see the animals in their natural habitats.
The highlight of the trip was attempting to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. For me, the hike was the toughest climb of my life; but the boys did very well. We were all successful in climbing to base camp but only my nephew was able to actually summit. We now know what altitude sickness entails but we were blessed with great weather and fantastic views of Tanzania and Kenya…An incredible experience!
Water Filter Distribution
Our last week was spent with our local Business Connect water distributor, Julius Issaya. He took time to give us a real exposure to the people in Arusha as well as the Massai. We spent one night staying at a local Massai boma where they slaughtered a goat for us and give us an evening barbecue. We spent the night in a local hut and experienced sleeping on a dirt floor in what Americans might describe as deplorable conditions. Suffice it to say, the kids were glad we only stayed one night.
We met the owner of the boma, Mr. Long Bonnie; who currently has six wives and another two that passed away. He has 165 children and grandchildren and is 105 years old. The boys enjoyed a game of soccer with some of the kids while I played with some of the other children.
We spent the day distributing water filters to a Massai family and educating them on how to use, clean and maintain the bucket filter as well as teach them how beneficial clean water will be to their family. It was fascinating to watch their surprise at how clean the water became when using the filter.
Julius also took us to the local hot springs where we were able to enjoy an afternoon of swimming and hanging out. We enjoyed a day at the market where the boys had the opportunity to hone their bartering skills; something they became quite good at and was a talking point when returning home.
We stopped at a place called Small Things. It is a one-stop ministry where struggling families get assistance, day care, work toward family reunification, and job skill training. Our water ministry is partnering with them in the training and provision of clean and safe water.
A couple of major take away observations:
In the United States we have an extraordinary variety of amenities.
Lifestyle differences are significant.
Animals and people are everywhere. Businesses are set up along any road. Life is lived outside.
Although people don’t have a lot of material things, they are so friendly.
My biggest take away from this experience was how the people in Tanzania take care of children that are not their own. It truly is about community… a refreshing change from the United States.
We sure could learn from other parts of the world.
In the wake of Cyclone Idai displacing thousands and ravaging infrastructure across Mozambique, assessments are being made to what kinds of relief and to what degree need to be distributed across the country.
Business Connect’s partner in Mozambique, who’s working with Dorcas and UNICEF for funding to get filters and get them in the hands of the people, has been trying to get an idea of who needs filters and how many they’ll need. Going in, our partner, Ajodama, has gotten 500 home filters and 4 facility filters into the hands of people in need of clean water.
The facility filters are currently being utilized as a temporary emergency solution that’s being carried around the region to help filter water in different villages in need of water now before home filters are distributed to them.
With the filters that have been distributed, both Dorcas and UNICEF have been very happy with the results, seeing positive feedback from those who are getting filters, and also getting an idea of what’s needed moving forward based on assessments that can be made as road access is restored.
As assessments are being made to capture the scope of how many filters are needed. More filters will be ordered by distributors in-country to fulfill the need presented by the damage done.
One group in the north of Mozambique has been working to get a large shipment of filters from our partner in-country, but they say that due to road conditions and flooding it is more difficult to get filters out and assess the damage as they go.
Relief efforts have been ongoing because two more cyclones have made landfall since Idai, displacing thousands more people and devastating infrastructure that has been flooded or destroyed.
As other groups all help to repair Mozambique’s infrastructure and restore public health for all those affected by the cyclones, we continue our commitment to helping to make an impact in countries that are in need of disaster relief, providing sustainable solutions for clean water that will make a lasting impact.
Give to our Disaster Relief Fund now so that we can respond at a moment’s notice to bring clean water to those in need in the wake of tragedy.
Michelle took a two-week safari visiting reserves in both South Africa and Botswana and had the opportunity to visit school children at their schools. While she was there, she learned that none of these school children had access to clean water in their classrooms.
The school she visited while on the safari was a destination for some supplies she had brought to give to the school through Packed for a Purpose. Michelle wanted to something that would have a lasting impact on the school and all the kids that attend. She wanted a sustainable solution to the problem she had witnessed first-hand.
Michelle felt strong enough about what she experienced and decided to get herself in contact with someone about how water filters can be provided for these school children. Through our partnership with Kohler, Michelle was able to figure out that the Kohler Clarity filter would be the best filter that was suitable for the needs of a classroom and who can help get the filters there.
Business Connect’s Global Director in South Africa was able to identify a local distributor Business Connect works with and then figure out the delivery of the filters based on how much money was raised through Michelle’s Championed Project.
Michelle’s drive to make change in people’s lives was partnered with our vast network of local distributors that all are helping to build local and lasting economic potential.
Once the funds were together the filters were shipped and donated to Mabele Primary School. After having the filters installed in the seven classrooms the school had, an article was written by a government paper about how much good this is doing for the students.
The filters installed helped the 192 students get access to clean water from the classroom. Community members stressed how important these filters are in helping to stop the spread of waterborne illness. Before the filters were donated, students were simply drinking from an open bucket when they needed water. The filters have made the drinking water safe, the benefits to students’ learning will be reflected in better performance through their education.
One of the students attending the school said that “she was not only happy, but also felt blessed to be receiving such a donation.”
Michelle’s passion for making change in people’s lives because of the conditions she witnessed in these schools was connected with the right people abroad that are looking to spread a product that is helping to improve people’s lives while supporting local economies and local growth.
Families in Mukuru have been able to purchase filters for themselves since 2017 because of Douglas Mukisa, a local distributor working in Kenya, which has led to many families now gaining access to clean, drinkable water. The initial shipment was sold at a subsidized rate, which got the filters into the hands of the families that need them, and people started to spread the word.
The success of the filters for families even garnered attention from an NGO operated clinic run inside of Mukuru. The clinic wrote a letter and called Douglas to thank everyone for the work they’re doing because of the positive impact on people’s health the filters are having. Less people are going to the clinic with health issues that can be prevented by water that’s been filtered or treated. Over time, however, the price for filters has begun to become an inhibiting factor for families wanting to get access to clean water.
In an effort to help the concerns around this rising cost, Douglas is working on a partnership with a local bank that could offer small short term loans to Mukuru residents who could then buy a filter with the money and provide clean and safe water for their family.
This partnership would not only allow filters to become more accessible to the community, but also increase the reach that Douglas can distribute filters, allowing filters to get to more locations outside of Mukuru.
Because Douglas wants to keep things community focused, the families who purchase filters through the loans will be supported through the help of community organizations that will help to make sure that everyone who gets a filter can keep it by not defaulting on the loan.
This connection will help strengthen the community, and allow people to band together to support clean water for every family in Mukuru and beyond.
The work that Douglas does is always growing, because to provide sustainable solutions to clean water, the focus needs to be on long term development and change. To help invest in people living in Mukuru and support their ability to get clean water, all it takes is five dollars per month for a year to provide five people with clean water for five years.