Tuesday, June 20, 2017
In May, two Olsson Associates employees participated in a week-long trip to build a clean water installation in Tanzania, Africa. Curt Mader and I joined an eight-member team to volunteer with Agua Viva International Inc., which is a corporation that trains and equips its partnering communities to install, maintain, and operate Living Waters for the World (LWftW) water purification systems. In addition to working as a senior engineer at Olsson, Curt Mader also serves as the CEO of Agua Viva International.
Agua Viva partnered with International Health Partners (IHP) to provide a purification system for a pediatric clinic and new neonatal care unit in Zinga, Tanzania. Not only will this provide clean water for the clinic, but it will also provide clean water for the community of Zinga.
The installation team was divided into two teams, a water installation team and an education team, to achieve the following:
Pure water availability without education is not enough. Clean water is in extremely limited supply and costly in third world countries. The Agua Viva education team taught the community how to conserve drinking water and about the four most important uses of purified water: drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, and infant care.
The installation team used the LWftW model. The system has three stages of water filtration, one stage of ozonation, and one final stage of ozonation prior to bottling. The system requires little maintenance, and filters can last for about two years, depending on the amount of dissolved solids (dirt) present in the water supply.
On each day of the trip, all team members either worked with the partnering community on the installation or in health and hygiene educational classes. Olsson Associates and its employees helped fund a good portion of our trip to work on the system installation.
Prior to the Agua Viva team’s arrival, each partnering community was asked to have a few things in place: a water room to house the system, two water tanks – one for nonpurified water and one for purified water, and the bottling station table with sink.
On the first day, the Agua Viva team became acclimated with the host family, Dr. Denny and Paula Loftstrom. The Loftstroms are the administrators of the IHP clinic. They reside in a home owned by doctors Charles and Lynn Powell (of Paola, Kansas), which was built to house volunteers.
The second day, the team split. The installation team walked the sandy quarter-mile path to the water installation room, located right next to the pediatric clinic. The education team was escorted to a church, where the community was invited to gather for hands-on and interactive water education activities. Curt and I helped the water installation team. By the first day, the installation team had assembled most of the piping components, readied the water pump, and installed the two water tanks.
In the next two and a half days, the education team continued classes, and the installation team completed the entire system. After the installation was complete, Curt, with assistance from a translator, provided training to the hospital staff on maintaining and operating the system. The training drew a large crowd of construction workers, nurses, and other staff members. The excitement and enthusiasm over the gift of their new clean water system was overwhelmingly evident.
The community filled its first water bottle on the third day. Everyone at the training got a taste and displayed enjoyment over the smell and taste. Then the Agua Viva team took a bottle of water to the church for the last day of education. A celebration and blessing of clean water with the participants was held. The team provided treats, toiletry bags, and of course purified WATER! This simple water installation may seem small in the grand scheme of world issues, but its impact will be huge for this community.
For more information about Agua Viva International, go to www.aguavivainternational.org.