Safe, drinking water is something we all take for granted in Singapore. However, there are millions around the world who do not have access to clean water. Water is the source of life and dirty water is not just dirty but deadly. 1.8 million people die of diseases related to dirty water every year, which is why the United Nations consider access to safe drinking water a basic human right.
Although tap water is widely available in Batam, it is not accessible by the entire population. The slum dwellers of Batam in particular are still drawing water from wells.
They use this well water for washing and know better than to drink it direct. Drinking water, or what is popularly known as “Aqua” is available but can be quite costly for a family who is struggling to put food on the table. That is why the temptation is always present to resort to drinking water from the well.
One of our friends, Allan is quite an expert in the area of water filtration and proposed that we set up two HydraAid biosand filter system as a pilot project to see if the slum dwellers will find them useful for their daily water needs. These were purchased from Canada and cost about $500 each to set up (together with an electric water pump), most of which was due to transportation cost.
The Biosand filter works by filtering ground water through layers of sand and gravel. After two weeks, a layer of lactobacillus forms which then acts to purify the water by killing the other bacteria present in the water. Once it is set up, the system will last for 10 years with minimal maintenance. That works out to only $50 a year to provide drinkable water for a small community which still is quite a good investment despite the high transport costs.
We hare now monitoring to see how well the systems are working and if the people find them useful before we consider installing more systems.
There is no doubt that providing clean water is a great community project with an excellent cost benefit ratio. If the villagers find them useful, we will need to think of cheaper means of either getting these filtering systems to Batam or look into how to manufacture them locally. If you have expertise in any of these areas and would like to help out, please write to me at [email protected].
In case you are wondering where I find the energy to do this, my personal inspiration is found in the Bible. In the book of Matthew Chapter 25 starting at verse 35 where Jesus said:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
But whatever your source of inspiration, good works bring joy to the soul which, ironically, money can actually buy! (In this case, $1000 plus some of our own expenses)
The World’s foremost Life Coach, Tony Robbins puts it this way: