Friendly Water for the World’s partner God in Us-Africa has been building a robust BioSand Water Filter network, radiating out from its headquarters in Gisenyi, Rwanda. They started by training a group of HIV-positive widows, by which they could ensure their own safe drinking, as well as earn much needed income. Word of the miracle of clean water spread, and soon local governments were coming to God in Us-Africa to ask them to train unemployed youth, and set up new groups, complete with business plans. In less than a year, there are now eleven fully functioning groups fabricating and selling BioSand Filters. The groups have names such as Unity, Vision of Life, Drink Clean Water, and Amahoro (“Peace” in Kinyarwanda). More than 600 Filters have already been sold, and the groups are doing demonstrations at fairs and in government offices. Plans are now being made to expand into “Friendly Water Soap” and in training youth to build ferro-cement rainwater catchment systems.
Since starting only 19 months ago, God in Us-Africa, a group of only four people under the leadership of Niyetegeka Patient, has facilitated the building, sale, and installation of SEVEN THOUSAND BioSand Filters. Counting the orphanages, schools, and government buildings who now have BioSand Filters, more than 100,000 people newly have access to clean and safe water. Waterborne diseases are disappearing among those with access, child mortality has been reduced, people with HIV are living longer.
There are now 31 groups that have been trained, with hundreds of participants. Many of them – widows, women with HIV, unemployed youth – are now earning more than enough income for their families, and have even started their own community philanthropic endeavors – buying health insurance for kids, shoes for children entering school for the first time, goats for poor families.
For me, the best part is how this is spreading. After being provided with BioSand Filters by a widow's group, and with their health massively improved, a group of 20 women with HIV stepped forward and asked to be trained so that they, in turn, could build yet more Filters for 68 families with HIV, with no pay for themselves (pictures attached). I think Patient and his team may have sparked a movement!