Project Pakistan

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This month marks the anniversary of the devastating floods in Pakistan


Christian Troy and Jordan Tappis revisit Pakistan on behalf of Waves For Water.

Pakistan’s floods of Summer 2010 were rated by the United Nations as the greatest humanitarian crisis that the UN has ever faced. And although it measured such magnitude, the disaster went largely unnoticed by the international community.

The UN expressed concern that aid was not arriving fast enough, and the World Health Organization reported that ten million people were forced to drink unsafe water.

Waves For Water responded. We overlooked the politics and the threats and focused on the human crisis. Within a month, we raised funds, shipped water filtration systems, and arrived in Pakistan to find partners in country to combine efficiencies for optimizing distribution of clean water to those in need.

Pakistan Demo

Christian Troy gives a demo on water filter installation

 

Distributing water filtration systems in the rural Layyah District of Punjab, Pakistan

Distributing water filtration systems in the rural Layyah District of Punjab, Pakistan

 

One of our Water Filters in use

Waves For Water filtration system in use

 

A Pakistani farmer drinks clean water to the last drop before he raises his dry tin cup and smiles

A Pakistani farmer drinks clean water to the last drop before he raises his dry tin cup and smiles

 

A couple of beneficiaries acknowledge the camera after the one on the left recited an original poem of gratitude

A couple of beneficiaries acknowledge the camera after the one on the left recited an original poem of gratitude

 

As it turns out, any other color bucket may have just blended in—

As it turns out, any other color bucket may have just blended in—

 

These two bespectacled brothers left us with an indelible image of radiant, red buckets being carried off into the farmers' fields

These two bespectacled brothers left us with an indelible image of radiant, red buckets being carried off into the farmers' fields

Read more about Project Pakistan

Project Amazon 2011-V.1

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Mother Nature has certainly been committed to getting our attention lately… the last couple years have been riddled with an overwhelming amount of natural disasters.

I believe that all this is cyclical when speaking in terms of the “big picture”, but am also aware that it’s a cycle that none of us have been around long enough to experience before. In my line of work, these are the types of things that I think about late at night. That said, I am happy that we’ve created a platform (W4W) in which we can help the people adjust and adapt to whatever the universe throws at them next… because all of this stuff seems stranger than fiction at times, and then we start to rethink and adapt to the change… ultimately allowing us to persevere.

There is nothing easy about doing a trip like this. Travel to this specific region of the Amazon is painfully long any way you slice it… I did the math and from LA to our final destination (anchorage on the river) is over 60 hours of travel. But in my opinion it is always the hard journeys that we remember. Adversity has a damn fine way of leaving it’s mark on us… testing us… allowing us to see who we really are… and more importantly, who we want to become.

Guga lying underneath the hammocks

Example of homes we supplied filters to

After countless hours of travel we boarded the Rey Benedito (our boat/home for the next 5 days), in the city of Macapa. The boat was a three story steel beast with all the Amazonian charm we could have hoped for – I swear there were colonies of insects that were entirely indigenous to that boat. Almost any boat on the Amazon is set up for its passengers to sleep on open decks in hammocks. The Rey Benedito was no different – Once on board, our entire crew claimed slivers of space next to one another on the second deck. Each sliver was equipped with a hammock and mosquito net to drape over the top. It is awesome to watch how people adapt to a new environment – the methods in which they create a familiar and secure space in an unfamiliar setting. In this case everyone was given the same amount of space… and tools (hammocks, netting, and rope)… but each persons approach in transforming the space into their own, was remarkably different. It’s a psychological experiment really…

As I said before the concept for our mission to the Amazon was simple – surf the infamous Pororoca (tidal bore wave created by extreme tides during a full moon) and deliver water filters to riverside villagers along the way. Obviously this environment was far different than most of the places we’ve worked before – Haiti, Pakistan, Japan, etc… and the way we approached our work this time was significantly different as well. Most places we go, there is limited access to water period – clean or dirty! In this case, there is an abundance of water… it’s all around you… everywhere… actually, it is one of the biggest sources of fresh water on our planet – it’s just not clean to drink.

There were a lot of firsts on this trip but I can say for sure that we have NEVER rode the water we cleaned. For five days we lived on and surfed the very water that we drank. In my opinion this was a huge breakthrough in the work that we do. If we launch a program that focuses on all the abundant fresh water sources around the world… and taught people how to clean it – the number of senseless deaths (whom are mostly children) in those regions would be incredibly reduced, if not completely eradicated.

I say this all the time but any death related to dirty water is an utter shame. There is simple technology that already exists – like the filters we use – that can prevent these deaths in an instant.

To be continued…

Jon

Empowering Individuals

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Greetings from India!

I arrived here two days ago after what seemed to be a bottomless pit of traveling. My flight was late getting into Frankfurt (from LA) which resulted in missing the connector to my final destination in India – Chennai. Since there is only one of these flights a day I had to wait until the following morning to get back on track to Chennai. Frankfurt was a feeble 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) about as dismal conditions could get. I opted for an overpriced room at the transit hotel in the airport since my bags (with all my clothes) were checked through and thought of going out into the elements in my SoCal attire halted any adventurous spirit I had left. After a few pints of fine German Lager and some AMAZING people watching – I swear, Germans (or maybe just the people who travel there) have some of the most interesting looks I’ve ever seen. Michael Bolton mullets…to Hare Krishna hipsters…to weathered flight attendants…Frankfurt proved to be an unexpected, yet worthy detour.

I was invited here to India by two young Australian film makers named Jonno Durrant and Stefan Hunt. They are currently filming a six episode documentary TV series called Surfing 28 States (www.surfing28states.com). It is a sequel of sorts to their first film, Surfing 50 States, in which they attempted some form of surfing in all 50 states of America…with hopes of learning about our culture in the process. The concept for me joining this leg of their journey was to do some Waves For Water work in the much needed areas surrounding Chennai and hopefully get a few waves in-between.

So, practicing what I preach with the W4W – Clean Water Courier Program, I filled my duffle bag with as many filters as possible and set the course for India. The beauty of this work is, and has always been, its simplicity. That said, there ARE some intricacies in setting up sustainable local networks once on the ground, but the fact that I can so easily put 20 filters in my bag – resulting in roughly 2000 people getting clean drinking water, is still astonishing to me. The impact made for the amount of effort given is unparalleled to anything else I’ve ever done.

Yesterday was our first full day and using the same model I practice everywhere I work, we started sniffing around for local community centers (orphanages, schools, churches, etc…) that could serve as an inroad for distributing some of the filters. We were soon pointed to an orphanage a few kilometers away and were happy to have our first lead.

We hit the JACKPOT!! The orphanage was run by a local fellow named Isaac, along with his parents. They’ve operated this orphanage for the last 20+ yrs. Isaac was very accommodating and within minutes of explaining our program I could see the light bulb go off in his head that he could really help his people with this. He is a shining example of exactly what I look for in a local network. He gets it…and genuinely cares. He is also established in the community and thoroughly understands the needs of his people. Empowering individuals like this is the basis of our work. He represents the seed planted that, over time, will hopefully result in this entire area getting clean water.

We gave Isaac a demo and got a couple systems up and running for his orphanage and then he said he’d take us to a primary school nearby so we could help them out too. We were introduced to the head master and were then asked to do a live demo/lecture for the entire school on the importance of clean water. All the little children sat very orderly in front of the outdoor stage from which we spoke on. It was a organic moment that really represented this work in its purest form. Before we left I gave a big portion of the filters I brought to Isaac for which he planned on distributing to other schools and orphanages in the surrounding areas. He is fully on board and is now our first W4W representative for India. Now anytime we know someone traveling to India we can get them some filters to carry over… Isaac will receive   them and then reinforce the networks he’s built. It’s a simple model but over time will have great impact.

Really rainy today but hoping the storm will produce some fun waves to ride…

Signing off…

JR

Long Trek to India

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I just made the long trek to India to join Jonno Durant and Stefan Hunt on their quest to visit every state in the country.

If you saw their Surfing 50 States film, you can imagine what this one will be like.Fortunately for me, we’re on the coast near a city called Chennai, so I will be able to ride a few waves while I’m here. Even better, I’ve been able to do some good work in this clean-water-challenged region. We gave a filter demo… and lecture on the importance of clean water, to primary school today. Was AMAZING!

I also met someone who could be our perfect networking here – his name is Isaac and he and his parents have run an orphanage in the area for the past 15 yrs. He’s perfect! This shot is of all the kids and me and crew on stage just before the lecture/demo. More to come tomorrow! — Jon Rose

Check more about Jonno and Stefan’s project at www.surfing28states.com

Challenge & Determination Breeds Success

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Fritz and I had an incredible day yesterday. We got out of the city and visited his home town of Leogane (epicenter of quake). We had a special lighthearted mission this time… and after the days we’ve been having it was so damn refreshing to get back to the core of what we do – give people clean water, and have fun in the process.


Fritz had learned of a Haitian National soccer game that was taking place – Mirebalais (epicenter of Cholera outbreak) VS Leogane. The plan was to show up just prior to the game and present both teams with the few brand new Nike soccer balls that we had left over from our Game Changer Kit project.

We were to give each team a water filtration system so they could have it running at all their practices, games, etc in the future… Fritz being the “unofficial” mayor of Leogane had it all lined up… we showed up gave quick demo on the filter system to each team and then pumped up the new balls.

After the ref’s checked them out and gave the nod, I walked out into the field and presented the new balls to the captain of each team. Whenever I’m with Fritz, I get to experience the REAL Haiti and I would very much like to take this opportunity to thank him… thank you brother!

We watched the rest of the game from the sidelines and experienced the simple joys of sport… and community. It is these types of activities that, for at least a moment, take away all the pain and suffering these people have endured… and just brings them back to the basic fundamentals of happiness – loving, laughing, and sharing a cold beer!


Just before leaving back to PAP we stopped at a nearby youth group that Fritz knew about and gave them a filter system. When we showed up the teacher was giving a lesson in hygiene to about 20 kids. Was perfect timing for us as we were able to not only educate them directly about drinking safe clean water, but also, teach them to use the filtered water for hand washing, etc… these can be the little differences that decides whether one of these kids gets Cholera or not. It really is that that simple…

On the ride home I found myself pondering the whole bureaucratic side to this work (opposite of what we had just experienced in Leogane) when dealing with other NGO’s or local governments etc… and how recently the work seems to have entered a new phase in which the bureaucracy is showing its ugly face more and more… to be expected, I know, but still makes my skin crawl a bit at times. I didn’t come from this world. I don’t have “traditional” training in how to play the game. We look at things through a different lens and it allows us to make some pretty dynamic decisions that have ultimately helped a lot of people. That said, I am also humbled daily because of it. I have made plenty of bad decisions along the way out of pure inexperience, but those bad decisions are always what lead me to my best ones. I think ultimately it just comes down to not being afraid to fail. It’s like that classic Michael Jordan quote – “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail”. I can’t think of a more applicable place for this quote than Haiti.

There is always something that rises up and stands in the way of your goal down here and it’s really how you deal with that challenge that determines the entire course of success… or failure.

Cheers!

50% of Children Die

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The people that are affected most from a lack of clean water are children.

With such incredibly hard conditions for their under developed immune systems, almost all of them have some sort of parasite using them as a host— and the result of this can often be death. But— THIS IS ALL AVOIDABLE! I’ve said this before but when a child dies from lack of clean water, it is a complete and utter shame. It is something that can be so easily prevented, it makes me sick thinking about it. And another thing! — who knows who these children could become? Who knows the history they could make by receiving this opportunity to survive. In some of the areas that we work it is a 50% infant mortality rate due to water related ailments — that means every other baby dies from this? What?!

Here’s a nugget to chew on — we work in the exact region of Africa that Barack Obama’s Father is from. Imagine if his father was one of those babies that didn’t make it? Well—? No President Obama for starters! So I think about the simple act of giving clean water and all the obvious daily benefits from it— But, like the Obama analogy, giving something as simple as this can also change history forever—

The one thing that has always amazed me about this work is its sheer simplicity and measure-ability. Don’t get me wrong, there are always adversities to negotiate when traveling through a developing country— But I’m more talking about the fact of setting out to do something, and time and time again, being able to get it done— no matter what curve balls get thrown. This is a testament to the filter system we’ve been using down here. If our goal is to get clean water to everyone who needs it, this system actually makes me feel like that is possible. Whether we set out in the morning to distribute 10 filters or 1000, the outcome is always the same — more people have clean water that did not have it the day before. That’s the measure-ability I’m talking about! I like those odds!

So, I sit here and sip my all too familiar glass of whiskey and think about our last two days— we’ve been with the Nepalese and Peruvian military contingents of the UN Minustah distributing filters to selected community leaders in each region they are based. It is part of the same UN project we’ve been working on for the past few months down here.

Much like when we did it with the Uraguayan contingent in the South with or the Chilean’s in the North, it was an incredible snapshot into their cultures— When we stay with these units, we REALLY stay with them— sleeping in their barracks, eating their food, and learning about their country and traditions. For example, the lounge area of the Nepalese base was littered pictures of their homeland— and symbols of their Buddhist beliefs showcased through painted murals on the walls. They also had Gurkha knives (national weapon of Nepal) displayed on an alter just by the entrance. But above all, they are very sweet people that always look you in the eye and seem extremely accommodating by nature.

I’m so grateful to have these opportunities and even more grateful that these unique experiences result in more people having clean water.

Over and out!
— Jon Rose

In Loving Memory

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I would like to take a moment to celebrate the life of someone very near to me. My Aunt Leslie lost her battle with cancer two mornings ago. My family and I are grieving the loss of a truly beautiful soul. My heart is completely with my uncle Mitch, in remembrance of her spirit.

This post is about remembering some of the profound experiences that I’ve had here in Haiti.

I remember. . .

My first few days down here shortly after the quake – full of adrenaline and willing to help … The eye’s of the triage patients we helped, the compassion for each other and their courage to persevere … The murky sunsets and the smell of burning trash … The first batch of water filters I gave out – to a pastor named Evans Louis … The first church service I saw in the tent camp below our base, people united, singing and embracing each other.

The devastation I felt when I saw my first fatality as a result of the quake … The roads all blocked by rubble, and knowing that rubble was once somebody’s home … All the brave volunteers I’ve encountered – moms, brothers, wives, rich, poor, etc … The first night it rained, thinking about all the displaced families in their makeshift tents.

Seeing the first baby that was born in our J/PHRO hospital … Giving my first demonstration of our clean water system in a little school in Saint Marc – bright eyed children in the front row … My first trip down to Jacmel, seeing the rich & beautiful landscape that Haiti has to offer … Tending to a girl with a broken pelvis, getting her transported to the hospital, then watching an elderly woman pass 5 min later.

Meeting Fritz, Sylla, Paula, Jean Paul and all the other great people that have helped us to get our filters out … Feeding formula to a malnourished infant at one of our mobile medical clinics – seeing life return to his eyes … Driving along side the airport runway, watching all the aid planes cued up to land – feeling hope in that.

Having my first ice cold Prestige beer – and my first nip of whiskey after a hard day … Looking up at the stars from inside my tent, while laying in a pool of my own sweat … Driving away from a tent camp that we gave filters to – and passing another one along the same road that I couldn’t help … Pouring my first batch of green-colored pond water through a filter in the field – drinking it – and having it work!

Feeling proud of the opportunity to do this work – and being part of a REAL solution.

Lastly, the realization that no decision is insignificant – every choice helps create a new thread in our evolution . . .

Aunt Leslie, you are with us always…

Much love,
Jon Rose

Incredibly Busy & Extremely Happy – Haiti

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Jon Rose in Haiti

Jon Rose in Haiti

Still going…. I literally haven’t stopped moving since I got here. As my father likes to say at the end of another day in Haiti, “Incredibly busy, extremely happy!”

I sit here now at our base camp in PAP and ponder the past few weeks. I’m heading back to US tomorrow, so just gathering my thoughts over a cold Prestige. I spent the last few days in Jacmel visiting Paula. She has fully embraced our program down there and it was incredible to see her operation first hand. This work really is a collaboration based initiative. I simply cannot do it without people like her, or Fritz in Leogane, Sylla in St. Marc, Jean Paul in Port-au-Prince, etc. These natural leaders know their communities inside and out, and the style in which they distribute reflects that very knowledge. They are soldiers fighting to make their communities better . . . and our program is just one of their tools. I went to areas where whole villages are now operating entirely on our filter systems and not one of the villagers had a clue as to who I was. This is beautiful, and exactly the point. My task has been to empower a select few who then empower their community. It’s a viral, grassroots program that is thriving.

Being back in PAP after three days in Jacmel is an abrupt shift. But this time around I have a subtle sense of satisfaction flowing through me. I’ve said many times throughout my journey in Haiti that it is hard to ever feel satisfied with so much devastation and despair all around. But this trip was different. There is still just as many problems here, and in some cases even more than before the quake. But at least with the little sliver that I have some control over, things are noticeably better. And with that comes a glimmer of satisfaction that I have been truly longing for.

I told a friend a few nights ago that when we follow your hearts, and make our decisions from that place, everything seems to work out for the best. There is a certain synergy that I have been experiencing lately that is a tangible affirmation of this way of living.

That said, I have a renewed confidence towards our quest to bring the people of Haiti clean water, mostly because I know I’m not doing it alone.

Much love…
Jon

Enormous Opportunity in Haiti

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My experiences in Haiti have taught me a boatload of things, but one of the more unexpected by-products has been a new-found understanding and appreciation for the global military community. In the first month after the quake I worked closely with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and was blown away day in and day out by their incredible discipline and stark efficiency. They were such a great group of guys that genuinely enjoyed helping the local people through such a rough time.

Fast forward – I’ve spent the last two days living with the Chilean battalion of the UN Minustah Military (Minustah is the name for the UN’s Haiti operation). The Chileans are in charge of patrolling and securing the North section of Haiti. My stay here is part of a preliminary mission to start laying the foundation for a collaboration/partnership between the UN Minustah operation here and my water program. The idea is to utilize the Minustah Military’s knowledge of this area to help us establish and operate our program. It is an exciting step towards our goal of getting everyone in Haiti clean water; this kind of support is the very backbone of such a goal. The Chilean soldiers are hospitible and genuine people. They have let me in to their world and I will never forget it. Especially their cook, who insists on calling me “California!”

It’s been nice to be away from the intensity of PAP. However, the day before I came up here to the North I visited two camps in Cite Soleil – Haiti’s most desperate and crime-ridden area. There is a project going on there, spearheaded by Patricia Arquette, that involves our filtration systems. She has created a testing facility in one of the tent camps to try a few different sustainability concepts. Patricia and her team have mainly been addressing the sanitation challenges of this area – human waste, trash, etc., all of which are on the verge of creating a secondary disease-driven epidemic. She is incorporating our filter model into her program to combat the potable water challenges, but her main focues have been on composting, recycling, and bio-digesting. It was an incredible project to see and I’m honored to be a part of it.

I really believe that there is such enormous opportunity in Haiti right now. We have a chance not only as foreigners, but as humans, to try aggressive solutions here, solutions that in the future could end up being benchmarks for the global community. There are amazing people here doing amazing things, and once again I feel confident in our ability, as a species, to collectively change our destiny.

More to come…

Humbled and grateful,
Jon

Sweaty & Sleep Deprived – Haiti

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Where do I begin? I’m sweaty and sleep deprived but the work is good. I’ve had a 13 hr day yesterday with Fritz in Leogane. Like I said in my last update my networks have been exceeding all of my expectations. Mainly in their organization and persistent work ethic. Coordinating and operating a filter distribution is HARD work and they are not getting paid. They have truly embraced the empowerment aspect of this program.

Yesterday I went to some villages only accessible by a 4 wheel drive up a riverbed. In each mud/stick hut there was our filter systems… Operating perfectly! One mother said that her baby had severe diarrhea and now with the filter, it has stopped. It really is that black and white…. They say the differences in their health are nothing short of extreme.

There has been more civil unrest in PAP. Organized crime is getting more organized… And there are more and more reports of kidnappings and killings. Some aid workers have now been victimized. Which, is unsettling since I have been out in the thick of it almost everyday. I am relying on trust and quick wit… Psychologically, that’s all I have.

About to crack into my trusty Jack Daniels stash. I’m banking on it to make the bags under my eyes feel less heavy.

Signing off cause this update is now making me sweat more….

Jon