Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.

According to RDIC , 74% of all deaths in Cambodia are caused by water borne diseases. in an effort to minimize the risks of the water at Knar School, a clean water initiative was executed at Knar School in February. The water at Knar School, as in many other areas rural Cambodia, was found to have unhealthy levels of E-coli, even at 20 meters deep.

The original well at Knar

The original well was put in at the school in 2005 by the Stimson family in Texas and is still in use in the kitchen. In January 2010, we received the news that the water was tainted with E-coli. At that time, we had just begin a personal hygeine project at the school to tackle the problem of infected sores on the student’s legs.  The vast majority of children at Knar do not have access to clean water and soap at home for bathing, so they often bathe at school. Their walks through the forest and rice fields to school leave their legs dirty from manure, pesticides, fertilizer, etc and when it’s not washed off with water, a rash forms which then gets infected and children are often sent to hospital with systemic infections from it. Regular washing of the legs with soap and water prevents this in it’s entirety. Primo and Iris, volunteers from Italy. gloved up and helped us administer first aid to over 200 children and shave the heads of several of them whose body lice was beyond treatment during the first week and it was during their stay that we first began to dream of a better way to do it than using wash basins and hauling water.

Primo Mariotti on bath day at Knar

During all this daydreaming, we got the news about the problems with the water quality and Primo and Iris jumped to action,  funding the construction of a water tower and gravity fed filtration system, utilizing the filters from RDIC, and a solar powered pump.

We had just finished an identical system at Koh Ker School, so drawing on our experience in the water tower building business, we got the tower at Knar built in short order and clean drinking water to the children in less than 3 weeks.

Construction of the tower and installation of solar and pumps in February 2010

Since making clean water available to students, there has been much training around the science of clean water, why we need clean water, what makes water clean and not clean and the health benefits of drinking only clean water. It’s been a challenge to convince the students to drink only the filtered water, but over time this effort has been successful and the children not only drink it at school but carry it home at the end of the day.

A big big thanks to Iris and Primo for making this happen so quickly. Up next? Maybe some showers!

The finished water tower with filters in place

Good water for all my friends!