As the city of Columbia, SC wrestled with a lack of clean water during the flooding, we had many friends who organized for water to be delivered up there. One local charity with some ties to Dewees went even further, sending portable water treatment to the city so residents could produce it right there. The units transported to Columbia were Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment systems, each capable of providing tens of thousands of gallons of clean drinking water per day, and a similar system (filtration and purification) to the one we use here. Similar water purifications systems were deployed in the U.S. following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Water Missions International is a local organization providing sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas. Normally, this doesn’t include local areas in the US, but last week they found a local disaster and made a big difference. Bob Drew, a regular volunteer there, answered their call for volunteers to specifically organize treatment units to be delivered to Columbia. I popped over to their headquarters in North Charleston last Monday to watch the production line and learn a little more about what they do.
I was really impressed with what they do with volunteers. There are stations set up all around a huge warehouse, with banners and posters showing people using clean drinking water all around the world. Each station has a piece that gets assembled, and all tools and supplies are right there, along with very specific directions for assembly.
I got to help assemble a part of a pump, and watch the crew testing stand-alone chlorination units. The connection and camaraderie among the volunteers there is great to watch– they even gather together for lunch with staff and volunteers. I had a chance to meet one of the founders, Molly Greene, and she shared her enthusiasm for this mission that is providing water to millions without access to safe water. Here is a video tour of the facility:
They really focus on changing communities, and include community input for both planning and inplementation. You can read more about their approach here.
Dewees owner Jeffery Deal worked for Water Missions International, and I asked him about his role with the organization:
Until one month ago, I served as Director of Health Studies at Water Missions International. My job was to measure the impact of safe water and sanitation and manage ongoing improvement activities. Our department published nine journal articles over three years. The health impact of providing these services was truly inspirational– lives saved, work days saved, economies improved. I love their mission and work to those who otherwise have no hope.
So if you are sitting somewhere watching some of this flooding footage, and want to make a difference but have a hard time buying bottled water for trash reasons, think about donating to Water Missions instead. If you’re local, think about donating time or money to help their efforts at home and abroad. It’s easy to take water for granted when the taps are flowing. Click here to donate online.