Giving the gift of water

Giving the gift of water

As far back as 1985, the then UN General Secretary, Boutros Boutros Ghali issued a stark warning: "The next war will be fought over water, not politics." In view of the fact that around 71% of the earth's surface is covered with water, this prediction may seem unlikely. However, when you examine these inconceivably large bodies of water more closely, Boutros-Ghali's horrifying prediction suddenly seems plausible. Only 0.3% of the total volume of water on earth is available to humanity as drinking water. The remainder consists of undrinkable salt water or is stored in glaciers, ice, or snow that never melts. Currently, over 1.2 billion people worldwide have no access to clean drinking water. That number is on the increase. Thankfully, the commitment shown by the former pro-surfer, Jon Rose, has been more than a literal drop in the ocean in terms of addressing this terrible situation. Instead, he's saved lives.

In 2009, Jon Rose was a pro surfer on board a ship sailing off the coast of Sumatra. As always during the previous 13 years, he was travelling in search of the perfect wave. Jon's father worked in Africa, where he was engaged in collecting and processing rainwater. Inspired by the activities of his father, Jon had recently founded the "Waves for Water" initiative. The basic principle behind the initiative is simple: if all surfers were to distribute water filters to areas experiencing severe drinking water shortages during their extensive travels around the globe, they could help countless people to achieve the goal of clean water. Accordingly, his luggage contained ten small, but highly effective water filters that he wanted to take to Bali with him. Suddenly a slight bump hit the boat. At the time, he had no idea that the reason for the bump was an earthquake that measured 7.6 on the Richter scale. Only when they dropped anchor off the coast did they receive news of the disaster. On the Indonesian island, the town of Padang lay in ruins. There had been over a thousand fatalities and hundreds of thousands had been made homeless.

Jon worked his way through the devastated region, until he eventually encountered a group of aid workers, to whom he gave his water filters. This allowed the men to provide clean water for survivors to drink and treat the wounded despite the lack of infrastructure. Jon describes this day as the point at which his life was transformed. He decided to expand the "Waves for Water" initiative into a global charitable organization. Since then, Waves for Water has commenced operations in 37 countries, distributing over 150,000 water filters and given over eight million people access to clean water. After the great earthquake in Haiti in 2010, with more than 200,000 fatalities, Jon was among the first aid workers to reach the scene. The two weeks he had planned to spend helping out turned into two years. The waves had to wait.

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Published : 12/10/2015 11:54:55