“Sweat equity” well worth it, says BioSand Filter owner 20 years later

June 6, 2019 • Ethiopia
Seifu Sileshi sits in the doorway of him home.
Seifu Sileshi sits in the doorway of him home.

But need for more filters in developing world remains urgent.

Turning on the tap to safe water – just $45 can make a difference.

It’s been 20 years, but Seifu Sileshi can still remember sifting sand and mixing cement to help build some of the first BioSand Water Filters in the world.

Seifu was helping because when Samaritan’s Purse builds and installs the life-saving filters in developing countries, we ask the beneficiaries to contribute labor or a small amount of cash (usually $5) to ensure they are committed to the filter and its benefits.

Seifu says he was glad to assist because the Ethiopian farmer and his young family had become desperate to escape the typhoid and other diarrheal diseases caused by drinking dirty water.

Someone—usually a child—is dying every 37.5 seconds in the developing world from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

A risky environment

Seifu’s water source is a small lake in his village about a 90-minute drive from Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa. The same spot where Seifu and his neighbors must gather their drinking water is also where cattle drink and defecate.

Seifu stands beside his life-saving BioSand Water Filter.

Seifu stands beside his life-saving BioSand Water Filter.

In such a risky environment, BioSand Filters that transform dirty water into safe water in only minutes are truly life-saving.

So Seifu has no regrets about the time spent sifting sand and mixing cement. He knows he and his family are still benefiting today, and will be tomorrow, from his “sweat equity” and the filter they received.

“We’re happy,” he says. “It was worth it. The water is so clear after filtering.”

Seifu is grateful that Canadians have continued to faithfully support Samaritan’s Purse Water Projects in Ethiopia and many other countries: “Canadians, you have blessed us. We want you to be blessed too.”

32,000 filters in Ethiopia

When Dr. David Manz invented BioSand Water Filters in 1994, he offered the technology to non-profit groups willing to use it to help in the developing world.

Samaritan’s Purse accepted David’s offer. We tested the technology, then arranged for the construction of 12 steel molds from which concrete filters could be formed. We sent the molds to several countries where we and our local Christian partners began building filters. One of the countries was Ethiopia, where we’ve now built 32,000 filters.

Most of these installations have provided us God-given opportunities to tell people that beyond safe water, their lives can be transformed by faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12, ESV).

Worldwide, with thanks to God and to donors like you, we have built enough household BioSand Filters and larger-scale Samaritan’s Filters for schools and small communities to help almost 1.7 million people. But the urgent need for more filters continues, so please join us through your donations and prayers.

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