Recently we had a parent write in with a touching story and photo about her son, Josiah, and how he wanted to make his impact on the world. We are happy to share Anne and Josiah’s story below…
Our son, Josiah, read a book recently about kids selling lemonade in their neighborhood for a quarter and he got inspired. But I hesitated… did I really want to spend a Sunday afternoon hawking juice for what would amount to only a few bucks?
We decided to improve upon the game and showed him the SeeYourImpact.org website–how, for only a few dollars, we could do something BIG to improve a person’s life. Josiah got really excited that in one afternoon he might be able to get someone books to read or clean water to drink; so we made a sign, mixed the juice, and baked some cookies.
For three hours, Josiah stood at a busy street corner in our neighborhood waving his sign and smiling at drivers while shouting “Lemonade, 25 cents!” Once people stopped, he told them he was raising money to build a well in Laos.
He loved clicking on the tab to buy clean water, and especially loved seeing the family’s picture two weeks later when they wrote him a thank you note. My husband and I are thrilled that this has Josiah both excited about giving to others and grateful for even the simple things he has, like clean water. He is already planning his next lemonade stand. Josiah is five years old.
At SeeYourImpact, we call the updates we send for each gift Impact Stories. It’s great to see these result in even more Impact Stories when they reach home.
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Providing clean water to a man, woman or child who has never had the luxury of taking water borne illnesses for granted is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. In Africa water borne illness accounts for more than half of all visits to the hospital and kills millions each year. But, that is only scratching the surface of the tragedy, many people who don’t have access to clean water sources are forced to buy bottled water which typically costs at least five times as much as clean tap water. It is estimated that it would only cost 1.7 billion dollars more each year to provide clean water worldwide.
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1 is for the more than 1.1 billion people who lack access to safe drinking water.
2 is for the 2 billion people who are infected with intestinal worms due to unsafe drinking water.
3 is for the 3.575 million people who die each year from water-related disease.
4 is the number of children who will die of a water-related disease while you read this blog post. (Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.)
5 is for the children under 5 without proper drinking water that lose 1.5 billion healthy days.
6 is for the 60 million children who are born into households without access to clean water every year.
7 is for the 7 billion dollars in total savings health care agencies would realize if drinking water and sanitation were completely available.
8 is for the 88% of cases of diarrhea worldwide that are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.
9 is for the 90% of 3.575 million preventable water-related deaths that are children, each year in the developing world.
10 is for the 5 – 10 times more that slum dwellers pay for clean water than their middle class counterparts in the same cities.
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Mr. Sisupan Phedsompu is 52 years old. He lives with his wife, grandmother and 5 children in Kaengyang Village, Thakhek District, Khammoune Province, Laos.
He and his family are sticky rice farmers. Their current water source is a local well. They often boil the water before consuming, but also they drink it raw sometimes.
Now they are able to save resources and time by using a ceramic filter!
Thank you, Valerie for giving them the opportunity of improved livelihood!
Learn more about providing a family with access to clean water and Lao Water! Click Here
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If you’re a backpacker or hiker you’re probably familiar with a number of different methods of water filtration. Ranging from mechanical to chemical I’m certain that many of us have tried them all. Depending on personal taste, you may use a ceramic pump filter, iodine, or even boil your water. As a longtime backpacker I had kind of accepted these as my only options. Then a few years ago a friend showed me a water purification method that simply floored me. It’s a little handheld device from MSR called a MIOX pen and it works with salt, water and two small batteries. The device produces chlorine dioxide which kills off most of the the bacteria in water. Also, at 3.5 ounces and 7 inches it’s pretty easy to fit into a backpack and weighs less than a pump.
I remembered the MIOX pen while highlighting clean water technology used by two of our partner charities specifically, BioSand Filters from the Trailblazer Foundation and ceramic filters from LaoWater. Compared to these two devices the MIOX pen is a little different mainly because it requires batteries. For many communities, batteries are not easy to find. But it made me wonder if two small batteries can filter my drinking water for a lifetime of camping trips can the same formula be scaled for an entire village? I was surprised to find that the answer is yes.
Little do many backpackers know that the cool little water purifying pen they carry is saving lives in other countries. Any backpacker who uses a MIOX pen will be familiar with the small handheld device. It’s a simple formula of water, salt and electricity in a handheld device. What backpackers and travelers probably wouldn’t recognize is the MIOX pen’s bigger cousin used for large scale treatment. One of these devices, donated by MIOX, has changed a village in Honduras by providing clean water for all the local residents. It’s amazing to think that the technology that powers a little red device used on camping trips can save lives a world away. I was completely blown away however when I found out that “With the energy it takes to boil 1 liter of water for purification, a MIOX system can treat over 40,000 liters”. Makes you look at your water purifier a little different doesn’t it? If you carry a ceramic filter you shouldn’t feel left out though. The simple technology that powers that also saves lives.
Pretty cool how the devices we use to purify water on backpacking trips are used everyday to save lives around the world.
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Again much like my last post, The $1 Spectacle, this is not breaking news, it’s just a great idea that will hopefully have a huge impact.
December 26th, 2004 Michal Pritchard sat in a daze as he watched the fallout from the Asian Tsunami. Villagers scattered across their broken towns, scrabbling to rebuild shelters, find food and find potable water. Many went days to weeks without reliable sources of water, to Prichard this did not make sense, it should have been easy to airdrop water or even better portable water filters, and create a stop gap for those people in need, the technology existed. But, he chalked it up to the regions low wealth, perhaps in a first world country access to water would be returned quickly. A few months later hurricane Katrina hit, and access to water was lost. Pritchard then watched in horror as men fought in the streets over water, gun battles erupting, men died, over what most take for granted a basic right. It took five days for authorities to bring water into the disaster zone. That is when Pritchard decided to take action, he retired to his garage where he invented the LifeSaver bottle.
The LifeSaver bottle is similar to other commercially viable water filters, such as the Life Straw or Bio sand filter, but the LifeSaver takes water filtration one step further. Most available filters are able to filter out particulates and bacteria. This is accomplished using activated charcoal and membranes that typically have 200nm pores, however this means everything less than 200nm can get through. Most viruses are 25-15nm, which means they can get through the 200nm pores found in numerous water filters. However the specially designed membrane system in the LifeSaver has pores of only 15nm, which prevents nearly everything but water from getting through. This allows for truly clean water.
During the TEDGlobal 2009 conference Pritchard gave a live demonstration of his invention (minute 3:30). He walks over to a fish tank full of crystal clear water. Then proceeds to pour in muck from the River Thames, then muck from his friends pond, then feces from his friends dog. After his concoction is complete, he takes a pitcher full of the sludge and puts it in the LifeSaver bottle, pumps vigorously then opens the nozzle and squeezes the bottle. A stream of crystal clear water flows from the LifeSaver into a waiting glass. To the audience’s delighted applause he daintily sips from the cup, commenting on the clarity of taste.
The success of the LifeSaver bottle will come down to its practicality. The real measure of that being the cost of each unit in the real world. Currently if you wanted to purchase a LifeSaver for camping it runs about $180, which is about double the price Pritchard aims to sell them for in the developing world. 90$ might seem like a lot for a water filter, especially considering continued upkeep costs. However, the LifeSaver is actually cheaper than most portable alternatives in the long run, each bottle contains a filter that has a life of 4,000-6,000 liters (1,050 – 1,585 gallons), which puts the price per liter at about 1-2 cents, further replacement filters cost about $20, which means after the first 6,000 liters each liter costs less than a cent. Further, the new LifeSaver Jerrycan is able to filter 10,000 – 15,000 liters of water for less than one cent a liter. However the true strength is not the cost but rather the effectiveness in a disaster zone, where refugee camps can be populated by tens of thousands of people, disease can spread rapidly, but with the help of the LifeSaver a camp of 25,000 can be provided with clean sterile water.
The LifeSaver seeks to do one thing, and it does it exceptionally well, it provides sterile drinking water at an affordable price. It is well suited for disaster zones and areas where there is an abundance of non-potable water. However, many places where people do not having access to clean water also don’t have access to water. For instance, throughout Africa and Asia it is a lack of infrastructure rather than technology that prevents people from acquiring clean water. But, there are many ways you can help, for instance Trailblazer builds wells for villages and provides water filtration units and LaoWater provides families and communities with cheap reliable water filters.
Using Pritchard’s filtering system 99.9% of viruses and bacteria are removed from even the most polluted water, providing any number of people safe sterile drinking water. In disaster recover situations, like those faced after the hurricane Katrina disaster, people fleeing from their homes tend to congregate and the spread of disease can be terrible. Especially when water is concerned, for typical use water does not have to be cleansed of viruses, but when thousands of people are living, coughing and sneezing in a confined proximity water can become contaminated, and become a virus spreading vector. The LifeSaver bottle eliminates this risk and aids in disaster recovery.
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Ashley, your donation has made such a difference in the lives of Beng and his family members. This water filter will provide clean water to Beng, his wife, his three children and a niece and her family. Now they will no longer suffer from dysentery and will be able to lead normal lives. Beng’s son looks forward to being able to continue his education at a nearby middle school where he will ride the family bike 10 miles and no longer suffer from weekly bouts of illness. Thank you for your kindness.
Provide another family a reliable source of clean drinking water through the Trailblazer Foundation.
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It’s amazing how a simple technology can save a life. In the United States we’re lucky that getting water is as easy as turning on a faucet. Sometimes for populations of developing countries the infrastructure simply does not exist to provide this essential resource. Providing access to this resource is one of our core causes at SeeYourImpact. We actively seek to identify and partner with groups working in this area and it’s always exciting when we partner with a like minded group creating change in communities. Recently, we had the privilege of being introduced to a group working out of Laos called LaoWater Resources (LWR). After talking I decided to dig a little deeper into Laotian history and was literally stunned.
Lao Today and Lao’s History
A total of 44% of the population in Laos live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day. For nearly 30 years, from 1944-1975 Laos was ravaged by war as first the Japanese, then the French and finally the United States fought with the Communist Independence Movement. Tragically to this day Laos holds the distinction of being the most bombed country in the world. In fact there are an estimated 80 million bombs that did not detonate spread throughout Laos today. With only a small amount of arable land many farmers turn to selling the bombs for scrap metal, a dangerous situation. With barely enough money to even put food on the table many families struggle with access to clean water. Our partner LaoWater Resources encountered this lack of access to clean water firsthand. But by using local resources and a sustainable solution they have found they can create a postitive change. LaoWater Resources helps by providing ceramic water filters to communities in Laos. I personally get excited when learning about the technology behind our partners and wanted to share how ceramic filters work.
How Ceramic Filters Work
The technology behind a ceramic filter is fairly simple. Ceramic allows only molecules the size of water or smaller to pass through to the other side effectively removing many contaminants. Additionally filters are treated with silver to to kill bacteria and prevent the growth of mold and algae. Putting it altogether results in a cool mechanism.The picture on the right shows water being poured into a filter with a spigot for dispensing on the bottom.
What innovative ways have you seen technology used to change lives?
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One of the best parts of working for SeeYourImpact is being introduced to incredible new organizations creating change all over the world. It also provides for some excellent learning opportunities. Recently we partnered with the Trailblazer Foundation who are using BioSand Filters, an amazing low cost technology water filter, to change lives in Cambodia.
How is a BioSand Filter made?
The beauty of the BioSand filter is its simplicity. All that’s required is concrete or a plastic barrel, a diffusion plate, a lid, fine sand, coarse sand, gravel and some PVC pipe. The concrete is poured into a mold and the PVC pipe is dropped in to create the filter base. Gravel, coarse sand, and fine sand are added inside. A diffuser plate is then dropped in to sit a few inches above the water level. Finally water is poured in and the lid is placed on top of the system.
How does a BioSand Filter Work?
The top layer of sand traps the majority of micro-organisms, which create a biological layer that eats contaminants. This layer is aptly named the “Schmutzdecke” (German for dirt cover) The schmutzdecke needs to stay wet and undisturbed to work properly, that’s why in the diagram you’ll notice the diffusion plate and the water level at a higher point. Further down sand and gravel remove contaminants that cause odor, cloudiness, and affect taste. For further info see the BioSand Filter on wikipedia.
Is it effective?
BioSand Filters can provide up to 80 liters of clean water per day while removing 95%-99% of organic contaminants.
I have included a video from the Trailblazer Foundation showcasing their use of BioSand Filters and showing how it changes lives simply by providing clean water!
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