In this month of love (being February) I can hear the howls of protest from many an individual as they scarper to warmer climes, (or just anywhere else) to avoid participating in Valentine’s Day.
I have my own personal rules regarding the day in question – I call it Anti-Valentine’s – but that’s for another story and those of you with a stronger constitution than most.
To change perspective a little, I skipped along the web looking for romantic tales/rituals involving water, splashing merrily as I do. I found some truly lovely practices and rituals, but the nicest, by far, was sent to me by our co-ordinator extraordinaire, Michelle. As we‘re very invested in charities, as with The Africa Trust, which provides safe drinking water to people throughout Africa, I thought that this was quite fitting:-
Long, long ago, there was a lake of cold water in Kenya. Many animals came at night to the lake to drink some water. But people never came to the lake at night. The animals could kill and eat them. Now, a rich man who had a beautiful daughter once said, “The young man, who will go to the lake in the evening and stay in the cold water till morning, will have my daughter for his wife.”
There lived a poor young man who loved the rich man’s daughter very much. He said to his mother, “I shall try to stay all night in the lake and then marry my dear girl.”
“No, No,” the mother said, “you are my only son! The water in the lake is very cold and the animals will eat you up. Don’t go there!”
She cried and cried. But her son said, “Mother, don’t cry. I must try. I love her so much!” So the young man went to the girl’s father. He told him that he wanted to go to the lake and stay in the cold water all night. The rich man sent his servants to a place where they could watch the young man.
When night came, the young man went to the lake and his mother followed him. But he did not see her. There was a hill forty paces away from the place where the young man went into the water. The woman climbed up the hill and made a fire there. The wild animals saw the fire and were afraid to go near that place.
The young man saw the fire, too. He understood that his mother was there. He thought of his mother’s love and it was easier for him to stay all night in the very cold water. Morning came. The young man went to the rich man’s house. The rich man saw him and said, “My servants say that there was a fire on a hill forty paces from the lake. It warmed you and that is why you could stay all night in the water. So you cannot marry my daughter. Good-bye.”
The young man was very angry. He went to the judge. “Well,” the judge said, “this is a very simple case.”
The next morning the young man with his mother and the rich man with his servants came before the Judge. There were many people there who wanted to hear the case. The judge asked for a pot of cold water. Then he walked forty paces from the pot and made a fire.
“Now,” he said, “we shall wait a little until the water is warm.”
The people cried, “But the fire is so far away, it cannot warm the water in the pot.”
Then the judge said, “And how could that young man warm himself at a fire forty paces away?”
So the case was over and the young man married the rich man’s daughter. They lived happily for many years.
Now I’m sure your swain is not expecting you to take a dip in an icy pond at the common to prove their worth this February, but as far as grand romantic gestures go, this is pretty impressive. Think about it before you go off and spend your hard earned dosh on some screaming pink, polyester-haired teddy.
Here at the end of January 2015 AquAid has reached a fantastic milestone. With the help of our customers, we have reached total charitable donations in excess of £10 million since the company was founded in 1998, enough to supply more than 2 million people with clean drinking water.
These donations could not have been achieved without the help of our loyal customers. Every one of you has helped contribute towards the fantastic achievement and we, as well as the beneficiaries of the donations, are truly grateful for your support.
I hope that all of you will take a brief moment out of your day to pat yourself on the back for the difference your purchasing decision has made. I have been fortunate enough myself to see first-hand the difference when I visited Burkina Faso a few years ago. The transformation to a child’s life when they no longer have to walk three miles every day for water cannot be exaggerated. It is two hours more every day to study, be with his or her family or simply be a child, able to play and enjoy life.
On behalf of AquAid and all of the children and adults who have benefited,
When you type blogs in English English (not a typo), but your Office is set to American English (default for the globe it would seem) you very quickly develop a sense of humour or humor, with all the typo’s in the different spellings e.g. organise vs. organize; and then with measurements – litres or liters vs. gallons, etcetera, etcetera.
So, imagine my delight when I was advised that the AquaAid Group were water winging their way across the Atlantic and opening up a bottleless water cooler company in the States. The United States of America that is. This meant that for once, when I typed a blog, my spell and grammar check would take seconds instead of minutes.
Even more amazing is that their flagship company HQ is in the City of Luuurve, San Francisco. We will be supplying bottles water coolers all around the San Francisco and (can it even get any better!) San José and Sacramento, all in the (uno momento as I remap my map brain to see states vs. counties) very fabulous (translate), rather marvelous State of Californ I A. Yessiree Bob, we’ve arrived!
Before you get all worked up and think your fave blogista is in town, sadly, this is not the case. When I heard that AquaAid was opening up in the City of Love, I did suggest that perhaps I should be on the scouting party list, but I gathered from the deafening silence that this was unlikely to happen. That’s OH KAY though, as I get to be involved in the manner that I’m best accustomed to – in cyberspace.
As you may have noticed from the different spelling in the logo above, AquAid in the States will be known as AquaAid, to avoid any confusion as to its pronunciation.
As Uffe Hansen, Group Manager of AquAid, says, “We really believe that our mix of high quality products, great service and charitable donations will be a winner in the US Market, as it has been in the UK. We are starting with one office in San Francisco, but hope to open a second in Los Angeles within 18 months”,
More relevant information about us:
Water coolers are our business, and making the world a better place is our passion. That’s what drives us to deliver exceptional products and service to all of our customers.
Our day to day focus is based on solid business principles:
High quality water coolers, from US manufacturers.
Environmentally friendly products, removing the need for deliveries of bottled water around the country.
Most advanced filtration in the bottleless water cooler industry.
Six-monthly servicing of water coolers, offering peace of mind that your water cooler will always dispense the highest quality water.
Next day call-outs in the rare event your water cooler develops a fault.
Local service. No call centers, no sub-contract engineers, just good honest service from a company you can trust.
So, there you have it – we’ve gone Stateside. If you’re planning to relocate to the States, you can now ‘take’ AquAid or AquaAid, rather, with you. If you’re already there, get in touch, we have a dynamic team happy to assist.
I believe that you will have gathered by now that I’m a pretty huge proponent of The Africa Trust. I may blather on about it, but please, pick one of numerous reasons, not in the least the fact that thanks an incredibly hard working team, potable water is brought to millions of people in the world and you’ll have really clear idea of why I’m such an enthusiast.
With this in mind, I’m constantly on the look out for discoveries / inventions that can make the world a better place for all involved. Ways that draw from nature, science, ways that are practical, sustainable and more often than not, pure genius.
*Open-Source, Personal Water Desalinator: Italy
Briefly, Eliodomestico is an eco-distiller that uses solar power to make salt water drinkable. Created by Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti, Eliodomestico is an open-source project designed to provide safe drinking water for people in developing countries. Essentially, the device works like an upside-down coffee maker to produce five litres of fresh water every day. Users begin by adding sea water in the morning. Over the course of the day, the heat of the sun causes steam to rise into a water-tight boiler. The steam is then forced down through an expansion nozzle and condenses against the lid of a collection basin. At the end of the day, users can remove the basin, which is full of fresh water and designed for transport on the head.
Eliodomestico is made from widely available materials and requires no electricity or filters; maintenance is simple, Diamanti says.
Gravity-Powered Lamp: United Kingdom
Many of us may take electric lights for granted, but there is a considerable portion of the world—around 1.5 billion people—that lives in poor, remote areas and has to rely on dangerous kerosene alternatives. Currently being funded through an Indiegogo campaign, the GravityLight hopes to change that by offering a cheap lamp that runs on a renewable resource. The device is attached to a weight, which when lifted for a few seconds harnesses enough energy to power the light for 30 minutes. Operating without batteries, the GravityLight contains no deteriorating parts and means owners don’t have to spend money to keep it running.
As you know, I tend to blather on a little about water. Especially drinking water. Clean, fresh drinking water in Africa, where millions of people don’t have access to the life giving stuff as we do. It all seems a bit negative, but that isn’t really the case.
‘Scientists using technology developed to search for oil have discovered a vast underground water reservoir in one of Kenya’s driest regions that if properly managed could supply the country’s needs for close to 70 years.
Researchers from a French-American firm, Radar Technologies International, worked with the Kenyan government and UNESCO to layer satellite, radar and geological maps on top of each other, and then used seismic techniques developed to find oil to identify the reservoir.
It lies in Kenya’s extreme northwest, close to its borders with South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. The area is sparsely populated and prone to conflict over existing scarce resources.’
See, now, this is actually marvellous news, but with this, a word of caution:
“But knowing there’s water there, and then getting it to the surface, are two different things …” Brian McSorley, a water expert at Oxfam in Nairobi, said.
And therein lies the rub. Deep down underground there is potable water – even in the Sahara Desert – but reaching it can be problematic.
That’s why sustainable, practical and cost effective solutions are important. One such solution that has been in operation for a number of years now, addressing this exact problem, can be found through The Africa Trust. A charity started by AquAid and Ian Thorpe. One of the many solutions that The Africa Trust provides is the building of Elephant Pumps throughout disadvantaged communities throughout Africa.
No, they don’t use real elephants. The Elephant Pump is a well based on an ancient Chinese design. The pump has been adapted to make it stronger, more durable and made and maintained using materials that are locally available in remote rural sub-Saharan African communities.
The bananas for fees project has nearly doubled in size this year with almost one thousand children now benefitting. This was due to a good harvest and the reduced need for inputs compared to the previous two seasons. It is anticipated that further significant growth will be possible next year as school plantations are extended and new sites are identified. This business is clearly profitable although all the profits are being reinvested to achieve impressive growth. There will be very little investment needed for this project now that it has gained momentum.
The dairy programme in Zimbabwe continues to expand with a total of 37 cows. It was established through purchase and distribution of serviced cattle on the understanding that farmers pay back the loans for their cows over a period of 18 months. A dairy association in the Honde Valley manages loan repayment independently. Whenever loan repayments allow for another cow to be bought, this is done on a similar basis so that the dairy herd is continuously expanding. Some additional investment was made to allow for the establishment of a second dairy herd and association in Watsomba. There is a long waiting period for delivery of cattle after payment is made, but the milking shed structures are now in place and a crop of silage has already been grown.
The pump building programme in Zimbabwe is currently operating at full capacity with 10-15 pumps being installed every week. 478 pumps were installed in the last year in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Liberia, including AquAid pumps and also pumps built with funding from other partners such as Christian Aid and Dorcas Aid. There was a particularly long and heavy rainy season in Zimbabwe, which disturbed construction activities, but such heavy rains mean that aquifers are now fully recharged.
In Liberia, we have established a small operation of trained former child soldiers who are building Elephant Pumps and Elephant Toilets. Trials of the new household water filters are proving most encouraging and this could end up being a major programme. Input from micro-biologists and others is helping with modification of the design and water testing protocols. 2014 is the year for the filter to be piloted with roll out from 2015 onwards.
Liberia has been through local disturbances and deadly outbreaks of disease including cholera and the horrifying disease Ebola. It is a country of enormous need, desperate poverty and poor security. Violent crime, especially robbery is commonplace and corruption is the norm. The Africa Trust is planting a seed of hope in that troubled country and gradually the various initiatives are taking root. I am keen on the recycling of plastic waste in Liberia and already we are using waste bottles to make pipes and guttering. There is potential for this to be extended further. A brick-making project was recently funded.
In Kenya the 35 business skills trainees who received loans are all doing well, except for one. The motorbike taxi business is slowly growing with no major problems reported on collection of rental fees. We have funded a maize-grinding mill for a group of women living with AIDS. The pioneer group who were so successful in paying back all their loans in full have set up a savings and loans association with some matched loan funding from The Africa Trust.
In Malawi, we have a man working full time on business skills training, mentoring and loan collection. There is a growing footprint from this programme as a many businesses succeed and start to provide local employment. An orphanage and home for elderly care has been built near Lilongwe. Some funding has been provided to pay for solar lighting and geysers for the extension to the Dawn Centre for severely disabled children.
In Uganda the number of Africa Trust business skills trainees will soon reach 10,000 with a large number of new businesses successfully established as a result. Others have used the skills they learnt to expand and improve existing businesses.
The programme in Tanzania continues to go well with steady growth of the motorbike taxi business and no major management problems with the three water pipelines. One small pipeline problem was resolved in which villagers had blocked an outlet to a cattle trough in order to conserve drinking water. I instructed them to take a separate pipe from source so that the two needs were no longer competing. I again did some survey work with a view to the introduction of the Elephant Pump in the Mara region in the next year or two. A small grocery shop has been established to raise funds for monitoring.
The Mozambique programme is in a holding pattern since the government is insisting on data from an extended pilot period for the Elephant Pump, before expansion can be authorised. We feel that it is worth some patience to keep the authorities on side.