Oshoek, South Africa – May 28, 2012. Wishing Well International Foundation South Africa (WWIF-SA), the sister foundation to WWIF-US, made its second deployment of filters to Oshoek with the assistance of WWIF-US, Hands at Work, H2O SA Mpumalanga and Bambanani, a local NGO doing work in the community. Oshoek is a rural border town between Swaziland and South Africa. Hands at Work is a multinational non-profit organization working in vulnerable communities across sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS, poverty and numbers of orphans are highest and support structure is low. Bambanani Community Service is the local NGO working with Hands at Work to help identify the neediest and most vulnerable families needing assistance. H2O Mpumalanga is a for-profit organization based in Nelspruit assisting WWIF with the warehousing and deployment of the Hydraid Biosand filters.
Led by Ken Lister, WWIF-SA trustee and CFO of H2O International SA; and Peter Kellar, owner of H2O International Mpumalanga, the deployment was a complete success. The deployment was well planned and the filters were delivered to different locations within a 20-mile radius, taking the entire day. Two filters were installed in the Community center and the rest were installed in homes of Bambanani care workers, most of whom were in charge of 8 to 15 orphans, in addition to their own children. Since there were five different organizations collaborating in the effort, the day started with a meeting to introduce all team members to each other. Most team members had traveled two to three hours to Oshoek to participate in the deployment and had never met one another personally.
Also present at the deployment, was Guillermo Guzman, Founder of Wishing Well International Foundation, who after a week-long conference in Cape Town traveled to meet Ken Lister in Komatipoort, a border post with Mozambique and potential site for future projects. While H2O personnel carried and installed the filters at each location, Guzman and Lister met with the head of the household and with the assistance of translators they were able to learn their stories. The most common language used in the area was Swazi.
“While it was good to hear the stories, to learn the great benefit and value we were bringing to these vulnerable communities, it was very hard to see and almost incomprehensible to believe people live in these conditions today. It really does something to you when you are on the ground with them. There is no source of clean water nearby and women and children travel miles to fetch contaminated water. The children are orphans from HIV/AIDS victims and many of them are HIV positive themselves, with compromised immune systems. Stories about widows with six to seven children who were fostering another 8 to 15 orphans, to the 73-year-old grandmother (Gogo) who lost her seven children to AIDS and was left alone to raise 8 children, and the seven orphans ages 16 to 3 who recently buried their HIV positive mother, found living alone and fending for themselves, are just a few which have reinforced the desire to work harder and to continue with our efforts to bring the entire industry together. We, the industry of clean water, can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines. We should lead in providing safe, clean drinking water to those who desperately need it. It is time we exercise our corporate social responsibility and help others while making profits,” said Guzman. “We ask everyone in the industry to join us and our many corporate sponsors in this very important and humanitarian effort that will benefit many.”
In July, WWIF-SA will deploy more filters in the rural areas of East London, Eastern Cape, benefitting many orphans and children. The Foundation is currently working on two more projects: the village of Bagliga in Ghana and Batey San Jose Ulloa in the Dominican Republic. Efforts at Bagliga will be to honor the students of St. Paul Lutheran School in Boca Raton, Florida and Batey is the Wishing Well village to honor current and future water treatment industry sponsors.
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