Volunteers are Problem Solvers

May 26, 2020

Posted by Amanda, Director of Outreach

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Volunteers are Problem Solvers

Damascene was fascinated as 20 Liters SAM3 Household filters began to appear around his small village. He was a local “fundi”, a handyman, problem solvers. Damascene began to spend time with the Water Project volunteers to try to understand the filter better. He watched them as they built the filters and offered his help for washing sand and other activities. Quietly, he hoped that his assistance would allow him and his wife to receive a filter for their home.

His commitment and hopes were rewarded in 2009, when his family received a filter.

For the first few months, the filter operated perfectly. But after about 9 months, Damascene noticed something strange. Water would come out of the filter clear, but after sitting for 10-15 minutes it would begin to turn a yellow-ish brown color. This couldn’t be right.

Damascene’s inquisitive mind looked for answers. After all, he considered himself a problem solver.

He thought about the steps of making the filter and developed a theory – he suspected the problem was in the bottom layer of pebbles in the layers of sand in his filter. He removed all of the sand from his filter, washed it carefully, and looked carefully at each of the layers.

When he got to the bottom layer of pebbles, he saw what he had suspected. Soft yellow and red stones that contained iron were mixed in with the gravel. These small, soft stones were breaking down and leaching iron into the water. One by one, he picked each of those small stones out and refilled his filter. He had solved the problem.

But he didn’t stop there, he contacted the Water Project volunteers to tell them about the problem and the solution that he had found.

The volunteers began to visit all of the homes with similar issues to remove the stones. They also began to look for and remove the stones as they were sifting and washing sand for new filters. Volunteers also told staff, who were able to order gravel without these soft stones.

Damascene is now a member of the Water Project volunteer team – expanding our team of local, committed problem solvers by one more person.

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