Curt and Cathy Bradner were only supposed to go on a bicycle trip in Southeast Asia, but ended up creating a sustainable solution for drinking water challenges in Myanmar.
– We were looking for something to better the skills to refugees and migrant workers in Thailand and found that one of the vocations that was needed and respected was pottery, says Curt.
They realized there was an immediate need to reduce number of people suffering from illness and death from waterborne diseases. Fortunately the solution to prevent this did not require huge resources.
Ceramic Water Filters
The solution was a ceramic pot molded out of red earth and ground rice husks, which, when properly combined, has the ability to filter out 99% of harmful agent in the local water supply.
Curt and Cathy set up Thirst-Aid in Myanmar, which trains local artisans to create ceramic water filters using the skills they already have. Eight factories have been established that at the same time keep Myanmar’s tradition of pottery alive and flourishing as well as local employment.
Thirst-Aid also educates mothers on safe hygiene and creates small business opportunities for villagers to sell filters and filtered water within their own communities.
One of the many great projects Thirst-Aid has implemented is the Sagaing Project. Through funding from the SLOW LIFE Foundation Thirst-Aid set up a local ceramic water filter station in Sagaing province just north of Mandalay.
In total 2,133 families received ceramic water filters produced by Thirst-Aid. As a result 9,596 people in rural Myanmar were given access to clean and safe drinking water.
And this is not just good for the health of the villagers. Previously, the only way to sanitize the water was boiling, which through the use of firewood lead to deforestation.
Working with SLOW LIFE Foundation it was estimated that the project avoided 4,698 tons CO2 in 2012 alone.
They are proud to have created an industry that has placed over 240,000 ceramic water filters helping an average of five people each, however, feel stronger about their achievements with regards to education.
– It is the women that we have trained that get to work as health coordinators that we think we really helped. It is this core group that just might be able to make some more valid and lasting changes in their communities, says Curt.