It always amazes and humbles me after a trip, to realize how much I take clean water for granted. Living on a huge body of water such as the Mississippi River, I can appreciate its beauty and necessity to our way of life. However I do not bathe in it, nor drink the water that has given it such a wonderful nickname, "The Muddy Mississippi".
In Peru, they have the Amazon. A vast river and tributaries with it's web spread all throughout the world's largest rainforest. Unlike the river that we are all so familiar with however, the Amazon is also the local watering hole, bathtub, laundry mat, and bathroom. Disease runs rampant through these parts due to having little to no type of sanitation, or even options for it. A huge supply of water with none of it safe to drink.
Through some contacts that we had with a group called YWAM (Youth With A Mission) I found out the vast need for clean water and medical care. From there, I knew that we needed to go. By we, I mean my mom (who is a registered nurse) and myself. On April 25, with a bag of medical supplies and two Khlor Gen Units packed, we headed to Iquitos, Peru with no real idea what we were getting ourselves into.
In emails, I tried my best to explain what the Khlor Gen Unit did. Tried to explain that it does not purify the water itself, but simply creates the chlorine needed to purify the water. Apparently I did not do a good job, because I spent an afternoon explaining the process through a translator to Julio. Julio was our local contact who works with the villages along the river. He was to be our guide and connection to the locals. He also ended up being the local comedian but that is another story by itself. He needed to understand it first and make sure it worked before we brought it to others.
Throughout our hour long demonstration + Q&A, Julio kept using the word curious. He loved what it could do, but wanted to see it in action. He was curious about if this small machine could really change people's lives. We must have gotten him just curious enough, because we planned out to leave a couple days later to head deep into the jungle and bring these units to the village people.
Once we got into the jungle, and into the villages, mom began meeting with people and one thing became very clear. 90% of all complaints were directly related to dehydration. You see we went in the cool season. 90 degrees with 90% humidity. Cool right? In the warm season it gets up to 110. They all said they had headaches, had no energy. They would talk about how they only have 1 cup of water a day. If they drank more, they became more sick. A never ending circle. I am not good at math, but one cup of water a day in the heat is not enough. They needed a solution to the problem that lead to so many more problems.
We went to two villages in our time there. One of around 500 people, one with around 700 people. They were amazed with the Khlor Gen. Making chlorine to purify the water was such a foreign concept. It took a bit to grow on them. Julio began answering any questions they had because he was so confident in its use and effectiveness. As time passed, the local leaders began to take ownership and pride in these new machines. Instructing people on them that were not in attendance during the presentations. They were taking care of them, excited at the opportunity to change the way of life for an entire community.
At the end of the presentation, we had dozens of people bringing us their bottles to be made into chlorine. It really sank in the potential benefits if they take advantage of the system.
We left one water unit in the smaller community. The other unit, YWAM is keeping at a base they have centrally located on the river. They are going to take it out and instruct more villages on the benefits of using the chlorine produced, as well as provide a central location by which they can come and make chlorine for themselves.
The need is great along the Amazon. We could have taken a hundred units and it would not have been enough. This is such an extremely small sample size of the world. There are 783 million people without drinking water, and this is the story of just a few of them. We are just praying that God will use what we did take with us, and multiply and help many.
A huge thanks to everyone for their support thus far, without you, we would not be able to do what we do.