These days, I am working very hard at looking to the future, setting a course for 2011. This week, however, I had occasion to look back into our past and gain some perspective.
I mentioned that Toti and I began working together in February of 2008. While he was busy building some of his first filters, I was out on a crazy adventure with some friends. We were part of a team performing a small medical clinic in a very remote village called Newtawas, located on the Davao river, on the wrong side of a distant mountain range. The hike nearly killed me.
When we arrived in Newtawas, we learned that they had just buried two people in their village who had died from water-related diseases. In fact, they reported that several people died each year due to the unsafe water. They had no choice but to drink from the very contaminated river, the effects of which were obvious. I returned to Davao and Toti and I immediately began plans to provide them with some water filters.
Did I mention that the village was on the wrong side of a distant mountain? Have I mentioned
that our filters weigh roughly 150lbs? These desperate people found a way to bring two filters over two mountains in two days. They first strapped them to a horse (oh, how I interceded for that animal!) and when the path became narrow and steep they carried the filter by hand. These people clearly understood their need.
We were glad to get the news a few days later that the filters made it to Newtawas in one piece. Our very first partners arrived in the village a few days later to install them. We distributed a few more filters in the area that month and then our attention shifted to other provinces.
Why am I telling you this outdated story? Well, last week we were reminded of our first great adventure. One of the national television networks, GMA, did a story on the evening news about these crazy BioSand Water Filters in this little place called Newtawas. GMA has a foundation that does community service projects, and they happened to be doing a medical clinic in Newtawas when they saw the filter in use.
A reporter decided to learn more about the filter and did a story on the evening news. The villagers reported that their health had improved immediately after the filter's arrival and they hadn't had any problems since! They marveled at its ability to proved safe drinking water day after day, year after year. They called on local politicians to bring in more of the filters for the entire region so that everyone could benefit from this powerful technology.
GMA's foundation has inquired about partnering with Impact Nations to help bring more filters to Newtawas and the surrounding area. We'll let you know as that develops in the coming months. We are also trying to track down a copy of the news story and will post the video here if we can find it.
I am left to reflect on the grace of God and the power of partnership. Together with a number of participants, we rescued lives. We partnered with donors in North America who provided the funds to build the filters. We partnered with another local missionary couple who provided the land on which to build the filters. We delivered the filters to the drop point using a truck that was donated by a church in Connecticut. The filters were carried over two mountains by people who were determined to be a part of the solution, and installed by compassionate people who saw the need and purposed in their heart to meet it.
The really cool thing is that these sort of stories are happening all the time, and we won't even hear about most of them. As I said, we now have over 4000 filters spread throughout more than 20 provinces. We can't keep track of each circumstance, and sometimes we get so caught up in the big picture that we forget what it is all about. We are rescuing lives. And when you stop to think about it, we have been blessed with an incredible privilege and an awesome responsibility.