Friday, November 18, 2016
“More than a billion people lack adequate access to clean water.” — David Suzuki
A fellow missionary has recently requested that we build five biosand filters to be given to deserving families in our area (all families here are deserving, but we'll find those with recent deaths). These filters are being given by a friend of the missionary’s mother, bless her. Karen, John, and I are still using the same biosand filter for our everyday drinking water as we have since Jerry Buckingham first built it in 2006. For over ten years, it has produced about 100 liters a day of clean, safe drinking water, and by adding just two drops of bleach for every five liters, it is as safe as the bottled water sold in town. Jerry trained with a group called CAWST out of Canada to learn how to make them. Engineers created these and hundreds of thousands are in place all over the world in developing countries. They filter out 100% of all parasites and bad bacteria thus removing cholera, dysentery, and other water-borne diseases. We have them in every one of our worker’s homes and, over the last ten years, have placed over 500 of them in our area of Tanzania. Since each filter can provide daily water for up to thirty people, that’s over 15,000 people with the possibility of clean water. Now obviously every filter doesn’t provide water for thirty people, some just for a family of seven or so, but some are at schools where up to 300 kids drink their water. It’s safe to assume that almost 8,000 to 10,000 people in our area are benefitting from these filters. We have them in orphanages, hospitals, schools, government offices, private homes, and in many of the missionaries’ homes in our area. The District Commissioner for Bunda has two in his house. One is for drinking water and the other is for his bath. He told me, “Why would I want to take a bath in water that has parasites.” Good point.
The biosand filters are basically concrete sand and gravel filters that use a layer of bacteria on the surface of the water in the filter to eat the bad bacteria. Each one is about four feet high and weighs about 200 pounds, so little chance of them being stolen. Because we use only copper tubing and copper has gone up a lot in price, we are fighting to keep the cost to about $40 a filter but that is far too expensive for most Tanzanians. We have subsidized costs for several projects and other sponsors like Rotary Clubs have paid for whole cost. When we started, we thought that some enterprising Tanzanians would take this over as a business, but that has never happened. Still, giving even one person clean, safe drinking water would be worth the effort and the thousands that have been helped is just icing on the cake.
There have been some other significant advancements as well. There was a group that was just doing evangelism in Kenya and Tanzania who stayed with us and learned about the biosand filters. They sent a team to be trained to build the filters, and we sold them a mold (the most expensive part, about $1,000), trained them, and they are now evangelizing and building biosand filters for the Masaai people in Kenya and Tanzania. Well done. Another group who had also stayed here are doing some very good work in the war torn areas of the Congo. They also sent a team here to buy a mold and learn how to build the biosand filters and are now building them and placing them in some very remote areas of the Congo. In order to get the mold to them, we had to build one using lighter components, so it could be flown into the remote areas. We’re kinda proud that others have taken up the torch and are working in other countries to deliver clean, safe water to people who desperately need it and are glad to have played a small part in it.
All this because one man learned how to do it, made one here, and taught others to do it before he returned to his home in the United States. We are happy to be a small part of what is a huge effort to put an end to cholera, dysentery, and other diseases here. The schools report better attendance because students aren’t home sick. The hospitals have better recovery rates, and just sweet, gentle children go to bed knowing they won’t wake up sick or dying—thanks to the efforts of all those who have kept this alive. This one thing has been worth all that we have suffered to be here, but it is just one of many projects that are helping to change the face of Christianity, education, and good health here in this East African country. Thank you for all your support of our efforts on Christ’s behalf.