Erin Huber is the founder and executive director of Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc.™ a non-profit organization focused on creatively reconnecting people to local water. She inspires people to become better stewards of water through education and awareness in the west and she designs and implements sustainable water projects in the east (Africa). Huber’s passion for safe drinking water is supported by more than a decade of volunteer work and awards, a B.S. of Environmental Science and an M.S. of Urban Studies from Cleveland State University, emphasizing sustainability policy and new economics.
When I last wrote, Drink Local. Drink Tap. had been planning to bring three sustainable water projects to children in Uganda. Well, we did that, and then some. A gravity-fed tap system was installed as Phase III to our St. Bonaventure school borehole project, we built our first gravity-fed irrigation system for Family Spirit AIDS Orphanage and Child Center’s farm, and we installed a borehole project at Family Spirit Primary School where 267 orphaned children live, attend school and try to battle sickness such as AIDS, malnutrition, and previously, illnesses from dirty water.
There are some extremely important points to make about these special projects. Kids will have a sustainable food supply (healthy and with variety) for the first time at Family Spirit AIDS Orphanage and will also learn job skills as many of them have to enter the "real world" after 7th grade or age 13. Already, they have vegetables growing and their health has improved.
The borehole at their school has allowed the children to stay safer not looking for "dirty" water, stay healthier by not drinking dirty water and get a better education because they are in school and not spending precious daylight hours carrying heavy containers of water from a nearby swamp or spring. Something else really special? Most of students at St. Bonaventure, and the villagers in Mulajji, have now seen running tap water for the first time in their lives. The 500-700 kids there no longer have to fill dirty containers with water, no longer have to pump water, and even no longer have to carry it one single foot when they need a drink, to wash their hands or to bathe. With your generous support, we were also able to use a few hundred dollars to rehabilitate two water tanks that were completely infested with parasitic worms and sludge where children were drinking (see photo below). We also purchased cups for all 700 students and staff at one school so everyone can stay hydrated all day and get the most out of class each day.
This year has been life changing, and life saving. One of these schools lost two children just months before we came - there is an emergency now, children are dying and we have proved that we can do something to make life possible there. We can all do something to help children and vulnerable people live more healthy, happy and dignified lives.
Here’s what’s next!
We are going back to Uganda in the summer of 2014 to begin planning projects with seven new schools, to follow up on past projects and to continue building our network of support. Ten schools were interviewed in January 2014 and only seven were chosen to continue to move forward with us in planning sustainable and safe water projects. After combing the south and western parts of the country, we found some children walking four miles, roundtrip at times, to collect water from swamps, crowded and polluted public water sources and 50-100% of the children at these schools have worms (bilharzia) because even cattle share their water source. This has to change if we want our world to change.
Read more about our current projects here.
Our Wavemaker Program students, volunteers, churches and businesses are all making their drops in the bucket. What’s even more special? Kinetico has given DLDT an amazing jumpstart and committed to help build one full project this year with their Gold Level support!
It can be overwhelming to think about all of the pollution in the world, the one billion people without access to safe drinking water or the fact that more people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. But, if we work together to make positive change, we can truly impact those unimaginable statistics- we’ve proved it and will continue to work hard, with you, to save our water and save lives.
Ways to get involved:
We are able to offer our Wavemaker Program to schools. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like us to work with your school or youth group.
Additionally, you can help by hosting a fundraiser or screening our documentary, Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda. You can also donate directly. For information on these fundraising and outreach programs visit the Drink Local. Drink Tap. website.