Celebrating Creativity in Guatemala

Celebrating Creativity in Guatemala

We know it has been a tough year and a half with the pandemic around the world, especially for our partners working in developing countries. They have had to take creative approaches in order to keep their businesses going. Cosas Mejores, one of our distributors in Guatemala, did just that to keep afloat during the many lockdowns they had to endure. 

During pre-covid times, Cosas Mejores built homes for low-income families in and around Antigua, Guatemala. When the families moved into their new homes, Cosas Mejores would also give them a VF100 water filter as a welcome gift. These projects were powered and funded by volunteers that came to work on the homes. Cosas Mejores was also selling filters to other groups that did work in the community. 

Of course, the pandemic lockdowns put a stop to many volunteer trips and halted much of the work being done. Even today Guatemala is still in partial lockdown and locals have very limited access to vaccines. Unfortunately, things are not looking like they will go back to normal anytime soon. 

This pushed Cosas Mejores to think of a creative way to use their current resources to generate new streams of revenue. Since they had many local carpenters as well as a welding shop from building the houses, they decided to create wood furniture to sell. This allowed them to keep their workers employed and cater to the demand for tables from the local shops and homes around Antigua. As the city is a center of tourism in Guatemala, this pivot is an excellent example of listening to the market and making adjustments accordingly. The furniture helped to diversify their sales portfolio to reach new markets and continue to grow their business.

At Business Connect, we desire to help our distributors build successful businesses, not only with our products, but any product that will help them grow. We know that business creates sustainable change in our communities. In this case, Cosas Mejores was able to develop their business even further by adding to their product portfolio. If you need business coaching or additional ideas, please reach out to us. We want to help you be a profitable and successful entrepreneur, so that together we can better the lives of others in our communities.

An Island Without Clean Water

An Island Without Clean Water

Through our work at Business Connect, we get the privilege to collaborate with many great organizations. Whether it is a local business, a non-profit, or a clean water champion, we are thankful for every connection. One of those organizations is 28Bold and here is their story.

Back in 2013, Christan had a dream to go on a short term mission trip to South Africa, because she was always interested in the African continent, its people, and their long and short term needs. During the trip, she got to learn about South African culture, but she also saw poverty firsthand. This wrecked her and her one and done mission trip turned into something else. She had to do something. For her 30th birthday party, she decided to have donations collected to build a garden in one of the villages in lieu of gifts. The funds were needed for the initial seeds and gardening tools.

The following fall, she visited the village to see how everything was going. As she approached the plot of land, she found that it was all dried up. The villagers explained that they did not have the water needed to keep the garden alive. This shed light on a very big problem that many people around the world face. She also realized that there are so many parallels of Jesus being the living water, so she took this opportunity to share about living water and provide clean drinking water. 

Even though Christan was working a fulltime job and had three kids, she decided to start 28Bold, a non-profit that provides clean water to communities across Africa. The name originally came from Proverbs 28 which says “the righteous are bold as a lion.” Her organization was going to be bold and dive into these clean water projects. They began drilling boreholes in different villages so that they could have easier access to clean water.

For one of their projects, they decided to work in Madagascar. The island is unique in that it is surrounded by water, but remote villages still don’t have access to water. The villages were so remote that one could only visit them by foot or helicopter. There was no way to get the borehole drilling equipment there. A connection in Madagascar recommended Business Connect as a supplier of VF100 water filters which were purchased and provided to those people. 

The impact of the filter distribution was incredible. The communities living there suffered from severe water borne illnesses. One woman had large visible cancers on her body that were life-limiting. They also saw one child’s stomach wiggling because of worms from the water. The families were so grateful for the filters. Some had even walked for days through the rainforest to receive a filter for their family. 
This was one of the many projects that 28Bold completed. They are on a continued mission to be sustainable, building relationships with local pastors and partners as well as employing local well drillers. Even though the pandemic has slowed their progress, they still have upcoming clean water projects. For one of those projects, they will be providing VF100 water filters to the Maasai people on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. We are excited to share their updates in the future. You can learn more about their work by visiting 28Bold’s website. If you need VF100s for your upcoming clean water project, visit the Business Connect website.

Empowering Amazon River Communities

Empowering Amazon River Communities

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is famed for its biodiversity. Through the rainforest, the Amazon river flows, the largest river in the world in terms of volume and area of its basin. The Amazon river basin not only is home to a variety of wildlife, but also to many groups of people who have developed lifestyles that are well integrated with the rainforest. 

Our partners at RMDLT are working with one of these groups, the Ribeirinho peoples of Portel, Pará, Brazil. They first saw the need for water filters when they were doing a project to preserve the forest from deforestation. Their goal is to protect the forest and the local customs of the people as well as give them a better way of life. As part of this work, they interviewed the local people to understand their most pressing needs. In addition to social needs like school and health centers, clean water is a big need. There is a lot of pollution in the Amazon river that is a result of logging, ore extraction, cattle ranching and other activities on the river. The water actually causes many health issues in the communities.

Once the RMDLT team knew of the need for clean water the VERRA REDD+ program funds were used to purchase VF100s and VF200s. REDD+ projects play an important role by implementing site-based activities that directly engage local communities to stop deforestation and forest degradation effectively. While government strategies and programs provide the legal and policy frameworks for addressing deforestation and degradation, projects are able to work deeply in a particular place with local communities to address site-specific drivers of deforestation and degradation, driving finance to these critical high-threat areas and the communities that depend on them. As part of their regular work along the river, like providing high efficiency cookstoves, sharing techniques for protecting the forest, and working towards social development goals (SDGs), they distributed the filters. 

The response was very positive when the communities first received the filters. The team did training on how to backflush the filters, the recommended maintenance for the filters, so that the community would be able to make the filters last for many years. When the team followed up a few months later, the locals shared that their health improved when they stopped drinking directly from the river. They were very grateful and pleased that the group provided the means to deliver clean water to their communities.

RMDLT’s long term goal is to provide even more filters through the next year and expand to even more communities. This is to improve the overall quality of life for the Ribeirinho peoples.

This story highlights the importance of ownership in filter projects. When communities realize the benefits of clean water, they are more likely to drink the water consistently and maintain the filters properly. This leads to an even bigger health transformation.

Distribution Highlight: VF600s in Eswatini

Distribution Highlight: VF600s in Eswatini

Despite its small population size, Eswatini (Swaziland) has the highest HIV prevalence in the world and has been greatly affected by the epidemic (UNAIDS, 2019). With this in mind, Daran and Teresa Rehmeyer began an outreach called CHIPS in Maphiveni. It was an intervention in the local communities in eastern Swaziland for impoverished and isolated HIV affected children and their caregivers to access health care. The goal was to develop a local clinic, employing and training local Swazi’s to provide services to their communities. Today, CHIPS stands for Community Health Intervention Programme in eSwatini. 

One of the needs Daran and Teresa noticed was that of clean water. The community tap supplies water from a borehole and storage tanks, and they needed to make sure the water was clean. There was also a rainwater collection system installed at the clinic, which also invites contamination. We had many clinic staff sharing they were experiencing gastrointestinal problems due to the contaminated water. The clinic also sees many community members with water borne illnesses.

Both of these systems give the option for clean water instead of collecting it from the Mbuluzi River or irrigation canals. This river suffers from animal and human fecal contamination as well as contamination from the sugar cane fields and mills upstream. In addition, there are crocodiles that one also needs to avoid when collecting water as people have been taken before. Simple purification methods are also financially out of the reach of most residents: bleach or extra firewood for boiling water are commodities beyond the financial reach of most. 

With this in mind, they decided to ensure clean water for the clinic and community with two VF600 Facility Filters. The overall project was funded through a generous gift from Rotary.  Daran and Teresa also collaborated with community leaders to set up and regulate the system. As of two weeks ago, they finally had everything set and are excited to see the impact of these facility filters in the communities where they work. These filters will allow the clinic to have more time to focus on those affected by HIV and others with health needs.

If you know a community that would benefit from a facility filter like the one Daran and Teresa installed, connect with us! We are happy to discuss options and assist in bringing clean water to those in need. If you would also like to learn more about Daran and Teresa’s work in Eswatini, check out their website.

Water4Life Global Responds to the Pandemic

Water4Life Global Responds to the Pandemic

We know it has been a tough year for the world. We have seen so many hurting, but we have also heard of many positive stories of people helping others. One of those stories comes from our distributors in Guatemala, Water4Life Global. Immediately they took action to help those in rural communities in Guatemala that have been severely impacted by the health and economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families were already living in poverty and thus had no means to prepare for a lengthy quarantine and the catastrophic impact it would have on their lives. The unemployment and rising market prices caused by the country’s quarantine catalyzed an increase of famine before the virus even threatened the communities. Water4Life Global decided to help by putting together “Give 4 Health” Care Packages in collaboration with Familia Utz Corazón and Konojel.  Each of the packages included a VF100 water filter, a month’s worth of essential food and natural sanitation products. 

Over the course of a few days, hundreds of filters were distributed. Families were split into different days based on the barrios or neighborhoods they were from. They would go to the 5 minute education session where they learned about the importance around clean water, how to use the filter, and then how to use the sanitation products. After they received the education and filter, they would go and collect their fruits, vegetables and natural sanitation products. Families were given the option of receiving a filter or not. The first day there was only a small number of families who took a filter, however the following day there were six times as many. It was obvious that word spread of the filters and families were really interested in getting their own.

It’s always amazing to hear of the impact of the VF100 water filters around the world. Great partners like Water4Life Global are able to identify needs quickly and take action. If you are interested in bringing clean water to those in need, check out our water filtration products. We have a wide range of solutions to fit your needs. 

Would you like to see more of Water4Life Global’s work? Check out their video that showcases the need for clean water in the rural Guatemalan communities.

You can also find them at https://water4lifeglobal.org and on YouTube.

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