Special Guest Post by Kevin Sheward, Research Consultant for Water for Empowerment
Before I joined the Water for Empowerment team, I was probably very much like you. I had heard the statistics: Over 3 million people dying a year from water borne illnesses. 1,400 children die per day due to diarrheal diseases linked to unsafe water. 875 million people are living without access to safe drinking water. When I heard about Water for Empowerment, I felt inspired to learn more about what can be done to bring safe water to individuals who desperately need it.
Through Water for Empowerment, I had the opportunity to participate in a two-day training with WaterStep, a great organization working that brings safe water and proper hygiene practices to communities all around the world. WaterStep, based in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the leaders in a movement to help communities create their own safe-water.
During their two-day training I learned about the chlorination process and how it can be used to create safe drinking water for thousands of people. WaterStep has created a special chlorination unit and it was remarkably simple to construct and maintain. Myself and the other participants were able to practice building a chlorination unit that can be deployed all around the world. With a handful of table salt, a battery and a little ingenuity, WaterStep has found a low cost way to provide reliably safe water for thousands of people at a time.
I also learned that safe water, while extremely important, is only part of the solution to ending water borne illnesses. That is why the other half of the WaterStep training is dedicated to learning about how water borne diseases are transferred and the simple ways we can prevent them. The training we received is just like the training development workers teach in areas all around the world.
Before I joined the effort to help bring safe water around the world, it seemed like an impossible task. I was one person and didn’t know how I could possibly get involved and be a part of the solution. What I discovered is that solutions to this problem can be inexpensive and that there are many ways to participate. Whether it is joining a WaterStep trip and installing a chlorination unit, or donating old shoes to help raise funds for their work, there are many great ways to be a part of the solution. WaterStep is just one great organization that is making a difference, there are many others than are in need of our time, gifts, and talents. The first step is to get informed and find your place.