30 Mar Water Filters for Sierra Leone
I had the privilege of meeting with Brian and Gail Welch of Fremont, Mich., earlier this year. The Welches were missionaries in Mattru for three terms. Gail was an RN at Mattru Hospital, and Brian taught at Centennial Secondary School in Mattru.
Through their non-profit organization, CoolWater, Brian and Gail are working to set up family and community water filters in places like Sierra Leone. They decided to focus on water filter projects due to the high mortality rate among children and the difficulty of providing safe drinking water in many villages, hospitals, and orphanages.
They first purchased the filters through International Aid. When the doors were closed, Dick DeVos (of Amway fame) began selling filter canisters. The actual filters are manufactured by Cascade Plastics in Grand Rapids. They can filter up to 70 gallons per day for 10-15 years, removing parasites, bacteria, and viruses. (Read more about the filters at Hydraid.org.)
CoolWater would like to place filters in small villages, schools, hospitals, and orphanages. The cost is about $60 per unit, plus $40 for shipping. The Rotary Club is providing matching grants, and the Welches are working on other grants as well. CoolWater has raised $4000. They would like to initially send 150 filters to Sierra Leone.
My suggestion to Brian and Gail was to first consult with Billy Simbo and see if there is any interest from the Sierra Leone Conference. In order to be successful, training and maintenance of the filters is required.
Aside from ensuring access to safe drinking water, this might also be a tremendous “in road” for evangelism and church planting in some villages and small towns. A volunteer from a neighboring UB church would set up the filter and provide training regarding its use. They would then make regular visits to check on the filter. As the relationship builds, the doors for sharing the gospel might also be opened.