By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Lucianna Phillips witnessed a Peruvian woman this week, who thought she herself witnessed a miracle at the same time. The miracle, as conveyed by Lucianna in her Feb. 20 blog: murky, undrinkable water poured from one bucket to another, turned into clear, clean drinking water in Huanchaco, Peru.
Background: Lucianna is a Carbondale Middle School student who is traveling through northern Peru with her father, Jason, and brother Luke, a Crystal River Elementary School student. Mother Nomi is back at her Third Street Center office, where she is a self-employed accountant.
Jason owns and operates Globetrotteradventures.com, whose offerings include fly-fishing and adventure travel in Peru “from a Gringo’s (sic) perspective” according to the website.
Anyway, before Lucianna, Luke, Jason and Nomi traveled to Peru to visit Nomi’s family for the Christmas holidays, Jason learned of wavesforwater.org. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to get clean water to every person who needs it, according to the group’s website. “Access to clean water improves personal and civic well-being, increases overall health, reduces poverty and increases opportunities for education and employment, contributing to the overall advancement of individuals and their communities,” the website says. “We work on the front lines to provide access to clean water through the distribution of portable water filters, the digging and renovating of wells, and the construction of rainwater harvesting and storing systems in places where groundwater is not accessible.”
Founded by Jon Rose in 2009 as a way for travelers to do what they love and help along the way, Waves For Water launched with its Courier Program — a do it yourself distribution network of travelers who carry water filters with them in their luggage, eliminating the distribution challenges faced by philanthropic aid programs. Since 2009, the Waves For Water program has touched over seven million people in more than 27 countries. The organization was also the first nonprofit to team up with a U.S. military battalion, in an active war zone, to help people in need along the Kunar River in Afghanistan.
For Lucianna, Luke and Jason, their effort to get involved with providing clean drinking water to more than 200 residents at Huanchaco, Peru, involved the use of a proprietary water-filter system developed by Sawyer Products (sawyer.com). The Sawyer system comes from kidney dialysis technology and exceeds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommendations for drinking water. The biological filter does not require chemicals, and removes salmonella, streptococcus, cholera, botulism and other bacteria from the water. The filter makes up to five gallons of filtered drinking water, in less than 20 minutes. “One filter can feasibly take care of 100 people. If taken care of the filter can last a life time,” says the Sawyer website.
The Phillips family focused on the Milgro School’s Empowerment Center for Women and Children of Cerrito de la Virgen.
On the day the Phillips family brought the Sawyer filter to the school to demonstrate its use, a woman named Mama Lusila “brought her super-dirty, green unfiltered water to us asking how much it cost,” said Lucianna in her blog. After explaining the procedure is free, Lusila was still confused. “When we dumped her bucket of water into the filtration bucket, it made the clearest water I have ever seen in my life,” Lucianna said. “The lady was happily shocked. Everyone observed a miracle and became emotional. It made me feel warm hearted.”
Lucianna continued, “I hope that this project will help the (Peruvian) community for years to come. We hope to create awareness for other people around the world to participate in any volunteer or philanthropy program, and especially the wavesforwater.org organization.
Published in The Sopris Sun on February 23, 2017.