“For it is in giving that we receive”. – Francis of Assisi
Sometimes life takes an unexpected curve and you just have to go for it. Back in December, as I was preparing for the busiest time of the year for me and my family I received an email telling me about an opportunity to join LifeStraw, a water filtration social enterprise owned by Vestergaard, on their upcoming trip to Kenya in February on a special project: To reach the one millionth child to receive safe drinking water.
I dropped everything I was doing that December day and applied for one of three spots to attend as a storyteller and volunteer on the trip. I hoped for the best and left for the holidays returning right after the New Year to receive the exciting news that I was selected to join the 2018 Follow the Liters team to Kenya!
As I prepare to leave for the trip today, I want to tell you a little bit more about LifeStraw and the what I will be doing for the next week in Kenya. I am thrilled to be going and doing the work I love so much. Traveling, volunteering and doing good! Making a difference has become so important to me throughout the years. I have been blessed with so many opportunities to travel and have realized how inequitable the world can be. Giving back to my family, friends, community and those around the world in need is a critical aspect of my life. I look forward to making a difference over the next week.
LifeStraw is one of three social enterprises owned by Vestergaard, a family owned global health company innovating game-changing solutions that contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet.
The evolution of LifeStraw has been a remarkable journey. It started in 1994 when the Carter Center approached LifeStraw’s parent company, Vestergaard, to develop a filter that could remove Guinea worm larvae from water it was contaminating. Vestergaard designed a cloth filter but then evolved it into a more effective pipe form in 1999. Today, more than 37 million LifeStraw Guinea Worm filters have contributed to the near-eradication of the disease.
Inspired by the impact of the LifeStraw Guinea Worm filter, Vestergaard worked to develop a product that could filter out virtually all of the microbiological contaminants that make water unsafe to drink. The result was LifeStraw technology, introduced in 2005 as a personal “straw-like” filter. It was designed for people in developing countries who don’t have water piped in from municipal sources or other access to safe water and emergency settings following natural disasters when water is contaminated. ( *From LifeStraw’s website under “Our Story” ).
What does LifeStraw do?
LifeStraw water filters convert contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water. The easy-to-use filters are a vital tool for some of the 780 million people who don’t have ready access to safe drinking water. Unsafe drinking water leads to the risk of diarrhea which kills more than 1.5 million people every year. Safe drinking water is especially important for vulnerable groups, such as children under five, pregnant women and people living with HIV. Each product in the LifeStraw portfolio is designed for a specific situation where safe water is needed but not readily available. LifeStraw offers specific products for international health and development as well as products sold to consumers for outdoor recreation, travel and daily hydration.
How does LifeStraw Give Back?
In 2014, LifeStraw launched the “Follow the Liters Program”. Under this program, a portion of the proceeds of consumer sales for any LifeStraw product anywhere in the world, goes toward the purchase of LifeStraw Community purifiers which are distributed to schools in developing communities. As a result, each consumer purchase provides one school child in a developing community with safe water for an entire school year.
This is a comprehensive program implemented by the company including training, education and follow-up. LifeStraw makes a minimum five-year commitment for every school they work with to ensure sustainability of the program. LifeStraw water filters and purifiers help prevent waterborne diseases in 64 countries around the world and as of the end of February, the program will reach the 1 millionth school child.
What will my role be on the trip?
When I arrive in Kenya, I will be joining an international team of volunteers and LifeStraw staff with the goal of reaching the one millionth child to receive safe drinking water. We will spend the first two days in training learning all about water-borne diseases and how to assemble the water filtration systems. Then we will divide up in teams and spend the next week reaching 3-4 schools a day to set up, install and train the local community on the filtration systems. Besides this work, I will also be in charge of telling the story of our week via social media and blog posts. I plan on taking a ton of photos as always and can hardly wait to share what I learn and experience.
What you can do to help spread the word and follow me along in Kenya:
While I’m in Kenya, please feel free to follow me along on social media. I will be posting as often as I can on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will be using the hashtags #LifeStraw #Lifestraw1million
Ways you can support the program:
- Follow LifeStraw social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Like, forward, share the posts.
- Sign-up for LifeStraw’s e-mail list on Lifestraw.com
- Purchase your own LifeStraw in support of our campaign here. For a special 30% off, use this coupon code: LifeStraw1Million
- Donate to our 501-c3 Safe Water Fund
A short YouTube Video about Follow the Liter:
Making a difference is the greatest gift one can give. I admire you for wanting to do just that. I will look forward to this newest adventure of yours.
Thanks Lulu! I just got back and it was a life changing trip! More coming soon!
This is so amazing. It is my country you are coming to. When I was in high school a few years back a similar project was done though by a different organization and the difference that we experienced was so huge. So I’m no doubt that you’re going to touch millions of lives. May you all be blessed. I hope you enjoy the experience in Kenya!!
Thank you! I loved Kenya! What a magical place. It was truly a life changing experience.
Another amazing and worthwhile journey, Nicole. 🙂 🙂
Thanks Jo! It was truly an amazing experience. Can’t wait to share it!
What a fantastic company! I can’t wait to hear and see more from your trip Nicole. Congratulations!
Sue, I just got home Sunday and am trying to put all of what I experienced into words. It is going to be a difficult task! It was an absolutely life changing trip. Being a part of this campaign, meeting the staff at LifeStraw and the thousands of children truly filled my soul. I tried to do a recap post on Instagram each day of some of the children I met. Now for putting it all into words! Wish me luck!
Yay, back to Africa!
It was such an amazing trip! There is truly something magical about Africa. In Kenya, the people are so happy despite all the basic needs they lack. Their joy and aspirations is a strong message to the world. I loved my time there!
Best wishes, greatly deserved, keep well.
Thank you! It was truly an amazing trip and life changing. I look forward to sharing more.
This sounds like such a worthwhile program Nicole. I am so excited for you and inspired by you! I will definitely be looking into supporting this program.
Thanks LuAnn! When I say this trip was life changing, I truly mean it. It was like nothing I have ever done before even with all my volunteer work and travels. It made me realize that the future holds more work like this for me. I can hardly wait to share more. It will be hard to put the trip all into words. 🙂
I’ve been telling Terry I would like to incorporate more philanthropic work into our international travels. I may just have to pick your brain.
Yes! If you want to email me or else we can chat on the phone when you get back, that would be awesome. For me by far it has been the most rewarding travel I have ever done.
I will be in touch when we return.
Sounds wonderful LuAnn! I would love to talk with you!!! Hope you both are having the time of your lives!!!!
We are having a fabulous time Nicole!
So glad to hear LuAnn! Sorry about your finger but good thing it wasn’t an ankle. 🙂
It could have been much worse Nicole! This too shall pass.
Where are you off to next?
El Chalten for more hiking. Hope the weather is better for this next stretch.
I remember hiking there in that little town. Loved the hikes and we had ok weather. It is beautiful though.
This is such an impressive organization. There is clearly no higher priority than safeguarding and creating drinkable water. Wonderful project to be associated with and I wish I got invited to be a volunteer!! Where do we sign up? thanks for introducing us to this positive effort and hope that your week in Kenya goes well. Will be following you on instagram for sure
Peta & Ben
Thanks so much Peta for the comment! I actually applied for the trip and was chosen to go! I am so grateful I went as it was truly an inspiring, life-changing week. To be on the ground doing this work was truly incredible. I can hardly wait to share more.
Such important work that LifeStraw does! And I am sure it’s going to be an amazing trip for you. Look forward to hearing (and seeing) more.
Thanks Otto! It was truly an incredible week. Hard to put it all into words. That is my next task!