My bank, insurance company, home inspector, and furnace man have sent me notices of their unwavering concern for my health and welfare during this pandemic. Not to be out done, it is our turn… to challenge you to express that same concern to the vulnerable, the sick, and the remote communities around the world.
Seriously, our work continues. Clean and safe water are even more crucial during this time. We are fortunate that over the last six months we have been able to consolidate our warehouse, living quarters, and office into one location. Although our state governor has shut down the state, we are not shut out and we consider ourselves essential. Water filter kits are being put together and sent out.
What has changed is that all the mission trips, with volunteers hoping to travel this winter and early spring, have been cancelled. The opportunity to suitcase water filters to remote and difficult places has been closed. The good news is that we have inventory located in many countries ready for distribution. Would you consider taking the money you were going to spend for a trip and donating it so in the face of this pandemic, you will be the face of hope?
I expect there will be some kind of government check sent to each of us in the face of this corona virus. I expect many of you do not need that check. I do not I will be donating that check to those that do and a portion will be going to Connect for Water. I hope and pray that instead of hoarding and self-care our spirit of generosity and compassion will multiply.
To all of you living abroad that we have worked with over the years; our prayers and work continue alongside of you as well. If you see a neighbor, a friend, or a community that you know needs clean water send them our way so they can locally purchase their water filters and water treatment products.
Please remember every donation to Connect for Water and every purchase from Business Connect is supporting local business men and women in the country and regions around the world. We believe in supporting the local entrepreneur!
Lou Haveman Founder of Business Connect and Connect for Water
Connect For Water is a social impact not-for-profit founded on the belief that there is a clear path to help people throughout the world address their safe water needs. This path, based on our years of experience, focuses on improving local access to water treatment solutions, so local people can easily get what they need to improve their lives through clean water.
It seems too simple; the little eight-ounce plastic bags with a filter and a back-flushing syringe will bring safe and clean water to a family for several years. Here is the rest of the story…at least a small portion of it.
Last week, two of us rented a 26-foot flatbed diesel truck and drove to Wisconsin from Grand Rapids, Michigan, a distance of 360 miles one way. We went to pick up a 60-foot motorized conveyor system. Currently, our assembly of water filter kits takes place in the lower level of a commercial building with a loading dock that is a good 15 feet higher on the main floor.
This is the building we purchased last summer knowing that our current filter kit assembly location, Mars Hill Bible Church, could no longer be used long term. Our collaboration with 20 Liters was also going to change. It was no longer feasible to keep inventory in a church warehouse, two garages and a basement.
When we bought it, the building consisted of an upstairs apartment, a furnished restaurant, 5,000 plus square feet of potential office space, and a basement level with seven, small sound-proof rooms and enough room to have a small basketball court. We were told the building had quite a history, being used for community gatherings of all types. Prior to our purchase, it had just been vacated by the city after discovering more than 50 residences.
Six months later we are close to completing a huge renovation, after basically gutting the interior. Now Jereme our CEO, and his wife Natalie, have converted the apartment into a plush flat roof garden apartment. The empty restaurant is a thriving Mexican center for catered food and a convenient meeting place. We have seven offices and desk workspace for rent. Most importantly, we have our needed office and inventory space for Business Connect, our non-profit, Connect for Water, a tiny real estate desk for Home Connect Real Estate, and a volunteer space for manufacturing Village Water Filters. This spring a sign will go up in the front indicating that this is the CONNECT building.
We connect resources with needs, donors with recipients, and investors with beneficiaries. The conveyor is just one more of the many connections.
There has been a seven-year devastating war going on in Yemen with Saudi Arabia. Millions are in desperate need of medical care. It is not just war wounds but the destruction of infrastructure that has now led to increasing outbreaks of cholera. Medical teams are treating everything from war wounds and burns to cholera and diphtheria, working in the thick of a massive humanitarian crisis. Yet here in the United States, we do not have a clue what is happening in Yemen.
An Extra Challenge
Once we heard of this need, we partnered with Connect for Water to help. Yet we ran into a challenge. We could not ship life saving water filters directly from the States. It was impossible to import the filters. In order to get them to Yemen, we had to first ship them to South Africa and then combine the shipment with other goods from another non-profit organization.
Thankfully, the filters did finally make it to Yemen via another non-profit and five hundred household filters were distributed at two Internally Displaced Persons camps in Aden and Lahj. Please see the video below.
A Hope to Help More
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation was also able to receive 1500 filters and move them to Sana’a to distribute to areas with the largest outbreaks of cholera. They are working with WHO and the ministry of health to select those areas.
These kinds of challenges overwhelm us, but we are thankful to have had a small part in making this project successful. We have so few answers. We try to do something with the resources we are given.
We are a business with a huge heart for impacting the world. A majority of our water filter products are distributed through mission agencies and volunteers of all stripes and stories. Although we are men and women of faith, we really do not know the stories behind the pictures we often see. This one might interest you.
We just received this story from Liberty, a young lady who works for one of our collaborating partners. She has been our main contact person when they purchase water filters for their many implementing partners on the ground around the world.
“This warrior came out to greet us when we went down into the valley to work on the drill rig in West Pokot. Our translator told us that the markings on his arms and chest signified that he had killed many Turkana people in his young life. The Pokot people are known all over Africa to be some of the hardest, most ruthless warriors. It was actually so sweet. After a little while, he warmed up to us and ended up trying to help us start the generator at the drill site. He hid his weapons somewhere and changed into some normal clothes…a tshirt and a beanie…perfect for 90 degree weather, right?
I had been asking the Lord to direct our steps and show us who he would like us to give our Treasure and filter to that we had brought. Toward the end of our time at the drill site, I asked our translator to help us facilitate a conversation with the warrior. He had him gather his family together to hear what we had to say. Surrounded by a small crowd of 13 eager Pokots, another team member and I tag teamed sharing the Gospel with the warrior and demonstrating the water filter/explaining the need for it (they had been dipping their cup into the nastiest water and drinking it while we were there). At the end of our conversation, I challenged him to make a decision and told him that we would be so happy to pray with him and his family.
He said, “If there is a God that can purify me like this filter is purifying this water-I want to know Him.”
All 13 of them prayed with us to receive Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit! We gave him a Treasure and a water filter to share with his family and shared about our new church plant in the area so that they could get connected. Hallelujah! Pretty priceless experience for this girl who’s usually behind a computer or telephone back in the States! “
We all know some of those people. Every year they make a trip to some exotic location or volunteer in a country that we have no personal knowledge or experience with. I wonder what is it that draws them, repeatedly, to make this trip. I know many such people. I was one of them.
Last week, I met someone for the first time. She too is a world traveler. Her name is Joanna. She flew in from Baltimore for an International Association of Better Business Bureaus for a conference here in Grand Rapids. She was retained as their official professional photographer. Jeff and I spent about six hours with her on Saturday showing her our water filter products, strategy, and facilities.
When one of our distributors found out she was going to be in Grand Rapids, he suggested she take a day to meet us.
I asked her what captured her interest working with one of our clean water partners. She said it was on a trip to Cambodia. It was watching the people respond. The women laughed, giggled, and joked as they tasted the clean and safe water coming through the filter for the first time. It was the spontaneous joy of others that captured her spirit.
That experience was enough. She now volunteers and brings dozens of people to semi-annual fundraising events that provide clean water solutions for people around the world. However, it is not just the experience, but it is bringing others along who also then embrace this experience. As in everything, the exceptional becomes mundane and routine regardless of how important and impressive the experience was. What never seems to fade is seeing others become involved, excited, and passionate. It is for that reason so many international travelers never travel alone. They want to relive the excitement of discovery and joy through the eyes of the new travelers. She is a master of introducing people to this opportunity, whether it is to volunteer, travel, donate, or be engaged in some other way. Retirement does not get any better than this and she is only thinking about retiring to work full time in clean water projects and by inference Business Connect. We are so grateful for her and her heart.