Clean Water For All
by Paul Katzeff
Since my last report (Feb.19, 2020) was six months ago at the beginning of this clean water project with the Namanyonyi Community of Shalom Interfaith Cooperative we have made significant progress. In addition to the first 40 installations, we have provided an additional 120 families with a clean water filter for their homes. We financed the purchase and distribution of a second 40 in April, and 80 more are being distributed as this post is being written. The funds, if you are not familiar with how we do things at TCC, were provided by your purchases and a $1.00 contribution per package from those revenues, by TCC to our Trust Account for clean water.
For reference, a clay home filter with a 15-gallon capacity costs 82,000 Ugandan Dollars ($24.00 US) plus another $6.00 for transportation, and other Administrative needs to get a filter from the factory in Kampala 150 miles to the Co-op headquarters in Mbale.
Clean water is a rarity in Uganda’s coffee-growing regions. Farm families spend hours every day hunting for water. When they find it it is generally filthy, brackish, and loaded with bacteria that cause disease and often death to the weakest in the family (children under the age of 5). After they find a water source they fill 5-gallon Gerry cans and haul the 40 pounds of bad water back home to be used for cooking and drinking. Many boil the water, but many don’t have the resources to buy charcoal or wood to furnish the fire needed.
When boiled, the water is still brackish and foul-tasting and most often is not boiled long enough to kill all the bacteria. Typhoid, Cholera, Dysentery, and Diarrhea are but four of the many diseases that kill. These diseases are the leading causes of death in the Namanyonyi Community. Every family has lost an infant or a young child. Imagine a community with that sadness. I don’t want that sadness to be in my coffee inventory!
So we have called upon our loyal coffee customers to help us eliminate the sadness that comes from not having a simple but essential commodity, clean water. Buy Delicious Peace Coffee is a call to action.
To date, we have financed 160 filters. The sources of their water have not changed. They are still collecting water, often from puddles after rain. It is still foul when they fill their 5-gallon plastic cans, but when they get it home, they pour it into their clay filter and in minutes the filter removes 99.9 % of the bad bacteria according to the lab tests run by The National Geographic Society. The filtered water is clear, healthy, and tastes good.
The Cooperative is getting healthier with each additional filter. Together with you, we are saving lives, removing sadness from an entire community, and building the cooperative’s importance in its community. Since the water project started the coop has grown by 100 families.
Our goal at Thanksgiving Coffee is to finance with your help, the entire cooperatives member households (average size is 12) with a least one clean water filter. There are 320 members as of July- 125 Muslims, 84 Jews, and 111 Christians.
We have enough Delicious Peace coffee left from the 2018/19 crop to provide another 70 families with the filters which means we will fall short by 70 families this year. The 2020/21 crop will arrive in November. I expect the coffee to be wonderful, perhaps the best Arabica coming out of Uganda. Why? Because I have learned that Quality of life and quality of coffee go hand in hand. When farmers see that their coffee betters their life and their family health, they love their trees more and that love translates into better care, better agronomy, and that translates into flavor that sings with the joy of hope and progress. The 2019 harvest which we are now promoting is their best so far. I know they are motivated to say thank you to us thru their coffee flavor. Let’s make 2021 a banner year for them and for our own taste buds.
Imagine a village of 320 families of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. There is a great story in this, one that the world needs to hear. Not one member is college-educated, many are illiterate, all farming coffee as their only choice. They need to feed, clothe, house, and educate an average of 8 children. Some households are caring for children whose parents have died of Cholera or Typhoid. And yet, they came together in an effort to aggregate their coffee so it could be sold into the international Coffee Market as Specialty bringing a higher price to each farmer via their Cooperative. We have tripled their income by honoring their effort to show that the three Abrahamic Faiths could work together to bring hope to their families and community.
We have taken great care to document the past health of each family prior to receiving the filters. It is clear to me that we have changed the course of each family’s history. Together, we have altered their fate!
A full report will be part of my next communication to you. My local associate Elijah, whose latest email follows the end of my post, will be doing the interviews and collating the information for us. Elijah is another story in itself. He somehow came out of this impoverished and isolated community to get an education, follow his dream to be a videographer, and eventually meet me on my last visit to Uganda in 2017. We met on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. He was selling a DVD he made of his soap opera video made with local amateur actors. I bought a DVD and took it back to the US with me to watch. His email address was on the disc. He and I have become friends and now he is our staff project director in Uganda. He deserves a full blog entry. He defied his fate and battled to become himself. In the process, I have been able to work remotely in Uganda with absolute efficiency.
Here is his last report to Thanksgiving Coffee. It exemplifies my good fortune to find myself on the same spot as he was, at the same moment. Was it fate? Serendipity? Providence? That moment changed his life, mine, and the course of 320 coffee farming families.
Dear Paul Kazeff,
I would like to inform you that we started the exercise of water filter distribution for the 3rd round and it’s going on well. I would also like to tell you that whenever some filters reach with damages perhaps on shipping, Mr Matovu (spouts) has to make replacement. This is why, we received 80 filters for the 3rd round plus 2 filters compensation for filters that reached with damages during the 2nd round.
On this note, I want Matovu to know that during this 3rd round, the truck driver did not take much precautions hence when I checked, I found 9 filters damaged. There is need for an assurance from Matovu that these 9 filters will be replaced and that in the next round, there will be proper packing of the filters in the truck and the driver taking much care when delivering the filters. For proof of the 9 damaged filters, I have attached some photographs. Check in the attachments of this email. You will see some few photos of water filter distribution exercise and the 9 damaged filters. I will send a 3 minutes video and more photos for the whole exercise in a few days.
We will celebrate when all 340 families have the health energy and joy that clean water brings. When you purchase this coffee you are buying yourself Angel Wings, and of course Delicious Peace.