The gift of clean water, the gift of life

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December 17, 2015 2:03 PM

Students from Treas Village Secondary School, along with Sam Tan and Vichet Mongkul from Samaritan's Purse Canada, and Ken Hastings and Pastor Ken Fisher, load bags of sand into a water filter,

A half-dozen Lloydminsterites returned home recently from a charitable mission in Cambodia where they set up water filters for the locals, giving many Cambodians their first access to fresh water for drinking and washing.
Ken Hastings, who was among the crew that visited the Svay Chek region near the Thailand border, said the trip was so rewarding it was hard to come home.
“It was just a continual welcome,” he said.
“They are just so gracious.”
The Lloydminster team set up and installed biosand water filters that clean water of parasites and bacteria like E. Coli. The filters, which were invented by a man from Calgary, use sand to remove the unwanted parasites and bacteria.
Without the filters, locals in Cambodia were forced to use pond water for drinking and washing, causing many of them to become ill with waterborne diseases, such as dysentery.
Few people in the country have access to wells, and the ones that are in operation are shallow, so the water is still of bad quality.
“We were able to complete three school water filters and we were also able to assist 17 families in preparing their own biosand water filter,” Hastings said.
The two-week mission was made possible by the organization Samaritan’s Purse, and put together by Southridge Church.
The team spent much of the trip living in a local school where they had their meals prepared by a Cambodian family, making them familiar with the native cuisine.
Hastings said they all got to know families in the area and it was one of the best trips he’s been on to establish relationships with the local people.
“Anything they could do to keep the kids healthy they were doing and we were able to work along side them and take that to a whole new level,” he said.
“One principal said, ‘Thank you for helping us change our lives.’”
Aside from providing clean water, the filters also helped save the locals money.
Many of them would have to pay for water if there were no ponds nearby, and this caused some of the people to seek work in nearby Thailand.
Once in Thailand, it was not uncommon for Cambodians workers to be taken advantage of by potential employers and some of them even get forced into forms of slavery.
With the water filters set up, however, the people were removed from these types of risks.
“We were working right on the front line of that and we had people saying this water filter now means I don’t have to buy water, which means I may not have to migrate to find work.”
Hastings said the filters are virtually maintenance free, easy to operate, and have an unlimited life span.
His next mission will see him return to Cambodia next March for a medical trip and he said there are still openings for doctors, dentists and optometrists who would like to get involved.
Those interested in helping out are urged to visit the samaritanspurse.ca, or contact Hastings at k.hastings@mcsnet.ca

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