What was supposed to be a bicycling trip through China and Southeast Asia for Curt & Cathy Bradner, became an opportunity to volunteer their services to Dr. Cynthia’s Mae Tao Clinic for a month. Which became a year – with more volunteer work in Umpium Mai Refugee Camp. Which became five years with the advent of a vocational training program to teach people how to make Ceramic Water Filters.
And then the Tsunami of 2004 hit SE Asia and water filters were much needed. One thing led to another and they were asked by UNICEF if they could start a program in Myanmar as well. They did, thinking it would be a year – which became two years, which became seven. They stayed because they saw the immediate need for clean drinking water. They felt there was no reason that so many should suffer illness and death from something as easily preventable as waterborne diseases. They felt they had a solution.
The approach? Thinking outside of the bottle.
The solution? Simple ceramic pots molded out of local clay, mixed with ground rice husks, which, when combined properly and fired at the correct temperature produce a filter with the antimicrobial properties to filter out 99% of bacteria in the local water supply.
Thirst Aid trains local artisans to create these ceramic filters using the skills they already use for making simple pots – and in the process helps to keep Myanmar’s tradition of pottery alive.
Thirst-Aid also educates mothers on ways to improve hygiene and helps to create small business opportunities for villagers to sell filters and filtered water within their own communities.
Today Myanmar has the largest production capacity for this type of ceramic water filter of any country in the world. All manufacturing and sales are done within the private sector with 100% of all income generated used to support the program, bringing jobs and improved incomes to pottery villages across the country.
Welcome to a sustainable system: Returns not just for the planet (no more burning wood to boil water), but for perpetuating education and empowering local people to lead their community into longer, healthier lives.