Businesses use ROI – Return on Investment when factoring investments. Tacoma South Rotary invites you to entertain a different twist on that formula. We think of the ROI in qualitative terms – Ripple of Impact
In 2020 – 2021, Tacoma South Rotary invested in two projects with an amazing Ripple Of Impact. Through careful stewardship of our dollars, Tacoma South Rotary, in partnership with Rotarian Mic McDaniel’s nonprofit “Global Helps Network,” transformed lives in rural northern India. In this article, we’ll focus on one of the two projects, “BioSand Water Filters.”
Together with Lakewood Rotary and Tacoma 8, Tacoma South raised $8,200.00 to finance The BioSand Water Filter Project. The money was used to start three self-sustaining businesses producing water filters for residences in rural northern India.
Earlier this year, thirty-four leaders from five villages attended a five-day training program to learn how to assemble and build BioSand Water Filters. All thirty-four participants graduated and received a certificate.
Over the course of the week, eager students attended classes throughout the day. Morning classes were spent learning how the filter works as well as the basics in how to run a business. Then, in the afternoon, the students learned how to construct the water filters from concrete using rudimentary methods.
The one-time investment made by Rotary created three new clean water companies. Each water filter costs $30 to build, lasts thirty years, and is simple to maintain with a once-a-year flush. These water filters use no moving parts and no electricity. A single water filter takes polluted water and makes clean drinking water for a family of five or more. The filters sell for $50, netting $20. The $20 profit is reinvested in the company – paying for modest salaries and additional materials.
Our investment supplied a start-up kit that provided everything necessary to build twenty-five BioSand Filters. The largest expense within the kit was the two steel molds used to hold the concrete poured to form a filter. These two molds will be used over and over again for many years.
In addition to learning how to build a filter, students were taught how to conduct water quality tests. The tests are carried out before and after each new install to record and verify testing results. The data is shared as part of a global clean water mapping. Learning how to test water samples provides villagers with additional marketable skills and helps them climb out of extreme poverty.
All of the thirty-four village leaders from the five villages wanted to start a business. Unfortunately, we were only able to fund businesses in three. The other two villages are waiting for additional funding to start their businesses when it becomes available through a future project.
Currently, all three businesses have produced more than one round of 25 units. One business is on its third production cycle, even during Covid. Conservative estimates demonstrate that we have touched over 150 families from this one Rotary project. Based on a family of five, 750 people have clean, potable water for the next 30 years with our “one-time investment.” Now that’s a Ripple of Impact!
One unimaginable outcome from the BioSand Filter Project is what organically grew from its success. Whether waiting for trial or convicted of a crime in northern India, the life of a woman in prison is fraught with fear. Fear of abuse, rape, beatings, and illness due to unsanitary conditions. And fear that her children will die.
Indian law requires children, under the age of eight, go to prison with their mothers if there is no one else to care for them. Water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, malaria, and diarrhea kills both mothers and children.
Contaminated water quickly spreads illness among the inmates. Cholera can kill in hours if left unattended. Death takes the weakest first. Two little children died of diarrhea due to the unsafe water in the women’s prison.
A Superintendent of a District Prison in northern India, who became aware of the success of the BioSand Water Filters program, approached the team asking for water filters for the prisoners.
Thanks to the work of Mic’s counterpart in India – Benjamin, they were able to provide two free filters – one for the Women’s prison and the other for the Juvenile prison. With over 1,250 prisoners in that prison, they could not give a filter for every cell.
There are over 80 women and 18 children, under eight years of age, in the Women’s prison. Children – eight to eighteen – who commit crimes are confined in the Juvenile prison. There are 40 Juveniles in this prison.
The same Superintendent is now negotiating with us to allow the BioSand Water Filter team to come into the prison and conduct a BioSand Water Filter training program.
Not only would this program bring clean drinking water to the prison, but it would also do away with water-borne diseases and create a jobs program to build and sell the water filters – ultimately improving the living conditions for those incarcerated.
We are grateful for District 5020’s support. One of the ways Tacoma South can expand its clean water foothold in northern India is through a Global Grant. An exciting component of the grant will include a larger scale increase of water testing.
Want to part of this amazing outreach? Tacoma South is writing a Global Grant and will need your help. Stay tuned for more information as the grant writing progresses, and a call for partners is made.