Friday, December 7, 2012

Preparing for Peru, IRS status

We are excited about our upcoming trip to the Sacred Valley, which is located in the Cusco region of Peru. Check out the attached photo to get a better idea of where we are headed:

This trip will be our first to Peru, and it is taking place at about the same time in which our Tulip filter Project in Nicaragua is finishing up. In this trip, we will be travelling to the Sacred Valley along with the Peru Health Outreach Program (PHOP), a student-led initiative from Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.  PHOP has been travelling to Peru since 2006 for four weeks every summer to set up a clinic in the rural setting of the Sacred Valley, as well as working in a urban hospital in Chincha Alta, Peru.

We are partnering with the PHOP initiative in order to add a sustainable, year-round water treatment component to their program. Both parties are extremely excited to add this aspect to the program, since it will allow for a more permanent impact on the health of the people of the Sacred Valley, other than just four weeks of primary health care.

It is important to understand that the philosophy of Pure Water Access Project is against blindly going into a country or region and delivering (or imposing) water filters on the people there, merely assuring them that they “need” such technologies. That is why we are going to do extensive research on the geography and lifestyle of the people of the Sacred Valley, in the hopes of selecting of a treatment system that will work most effectively and sustainably.  If we do not feel assured that we have a sufficient technology, then we will use the first trip this summer in order to gather baseline data and to assess the situation in the Sacred Valley. Again, we are not doing this for the sake of doing this. We want to ensure that the projects we conduct, and the donations which you give, achieve sustainable impact on the populations which they serve. We will do our absolute best to ensure this process, and to document and analyze it all in order to disseminate that information and share it with the larger NGO sector.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce that the IRS has recently recognized us as a legitimate charitable organization, and granted us tax-exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. We will be adding the documentation of this status to our website, and issuing documentation to all of you who have donated thus far. Our status is retroactive, meaning all donations since our inception are tax-deductible.  Thank you for supporting us thus far, we continue to make significant strides and it is all thanks to you.

- Adam Tabbaa

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What is culture?

Culture is a word we use so often, but it is not necessarily an easy one to define. When you hear the word "culture," what comes to your mind? Maybe you associate it with ethnicity, or heritage. But I think we could all agree that there is a "high school culture," or a "football culture," and these cultures have nothing to do with ethnicity.

I believe it is more appropriate to define culture, in the words of Anthropologist Dr. Brown, as learned patterns of thought and behavior characteristic of a social group. People in a culture have shared ideas, meanings, and values which are socially learned. Culture is part of our subconscious, it is learned and acquired, not inherent. Perhaps most importantly, our culture is continuously modified by life experiences.

This is the concept of culture that we at PWAP refer to when we say we are analyzing "cultural barriers" to successful implementation of water technologies. How do the peoples' learned patterns of thought and behavior affect their receptiveness to a new water technology? Do they have specific behaviors, such as working long days in a field, that make certain technologies more suitable than others? These are the questions that Pure Water Access Project is working to answer.

Another important component of our approach is considering the bio-cultural view of the people we serve overseas. It is critical to understand how individuals view their own health in order to work with them and supply them with foreign water technologies. If people don't even think there is a problem with their contaminated water source, how are you ever going to convince them to use a water filter regularly?

The concept of culture is an important one, and its lack of consideration has caused countless water projects to fail overseas, wasting thousands and thousands of dollars. We believe that our work will help shed this inefficiency by elucidating exactly what these cultural barriers are, and what technologies work best, where, and why.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Community Outreach in Global Health

Happy Water Wednesday, friends!

I just got back from a class on Community Outreach in the developing world, and I want to provide you all with a brief overview of what we covered, in the context of Pure Water Access Project.

The two rural communities we visited in March, El Bejuco and Malacatoya Dos, are great examples of what a typical "community" in a rural setting in the third world look like. Typically, a "community" consists of approximately 500 people or less, and this was the case in our two communities. Throughout the world, not just Central America, there are villages and communities of similar sizes, with the majority of them being separated from the nearest cities by large distances, with poor (if any) means of transportation between them. This poses a major problem for health care, as you might imagine. If there is a medical emergency, or an accident of some kind, it is often impossible for the patients to access the necessary health care in a timely fashion. Furthermore, even if there is a doctor somewhere nearby, the ratio of citizens to doctors can be as great as 1:100,000 in some countries, such as Malawi. The difficult logistics of travel and the shortage of trained health care providers creates a great need for "primary care" in the rural settings.

El Bejuco was a phenomenal example of how to establish a primary health care model in a rural community. AMOS Health and Hope, our non-profit partner in Nicaragua, has close ties to the community. Over time, they have established a hierarchy of health care service in the community by recruiting members to be part of a "Health Committee." In El Bejuco, there are about 100 households. From these households, 10-15 individuals were recruited and volunteered their time to be part of this Health Committee. One individual was designated to be the Health Promoter for the community. In El Bejuco, this role was carried out by Marlena. Marlena had no medical training, but she had been educated by AMOS on how to provide basic health services such as first aid, suturing, and even some antibiotic distribution. AMOS designated a small building in El Bejuco to serve as the clinic, and they provided Marlena with an easy-to-use guide on how to assess and treat a variety of health issues. Unfortunately, for a large majority of health issues the treatment was essentially "refer to the hospital in Managua (the capital of Nicaragua)". But still, the fact that a person with no formal medical education could play a vital role in improving the health of her community is a powerful testament to individual capability.

The generic term for workers such as Marlena is "Health Worker," and as global health continues to shift its emphasis towards public health infrastructure and preventing easily-preventable illnesses, the role of such health workers is imperative. By effectively organizing and training community members to take charge and address health concerns, you bypass the need for physicians in these settings and empower the community. Individuals are much more likely to respond and adhere to advice from a family member or neighbor, rather than an "outsider" such as someone like us from PWAP.

To create sustainable models of intervention we must continue to emphasize the need of these Health Workers from the community. Ultimately, the goal of Pure Water Access Project is to identify the barriers to sustainable interventions, and this is a key element of that.

I hope this gave you some insight into the methodology that we use, the same methodology that is recommended by the World Health Organization. We must continue to improve our understanding of these communities' culture and lifestyle in order to ensure that interventions are not wasted, and that the good intentions of NGO's actually translates into tangible health benefits.

As always, never hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter if you have any questions, or would like more information on International Health and PWAP's approach to solving these problems.

Have a great week!
Director of Organizational Development

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We're Back

Hello, friends,

As you may have noticed, we have taken a little break from social media these past few months. This is not due to a lack of effort or attentiveness from our staff. Rather, we believe that in order to make a meaningful, sustainable impact on the world we have to put forth our absolute best effort in every facet of our organization.

I am glad to tell you that the time is now.

We have been working hard behind the scenes re-designing our website, updating our photos, establishing contacts, and much more. Our Tulip Water Filter Project in Nicaragua is already in its fourth month, and we look forward to providing you with detailed updates both here and on our website.

Stay tuned. This blog will now be the main form of updates for you, our supporters, as well as our Facebook page and Twitter account (@ThePWAP). Exciting things are ahead.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Release the World

Friends, we are less than one month away from our departure for Nicaragua. As we make final preparations pertaining to this first study, we are excited to announce a new partnership we have recently made.

Release Sunglasses is a Cleveland based sunglass company that is focused on making people "See The Vision". What's The Vision? The Vision is the idea that the small trials of life should not deter you from making every crazy dream a reality. A reminder to stick with your passion, and to do what you love. Release wants to pass on this vision to all.  The word Release is there to remind you every day to take on your wildest ideas and to let nothing stop you. Follow your own path. Release.

During the week of February 20th-27th, Release will be promoting Pure Water Access Project and donating 50% of ALL SALES to PWAP. Needless to say, this is an incredible opportunity for our organization, and we are thrilled to partner with a company that we philosophically identify with so strongly. So take a few minutes to check out their products at Release and purchase some sunglasses as a donation Pure Water. 

Look good, feel good.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Five Weeks Until Departure

Hello once again, friends. It's hard to believe that we are only five weeks away from getting on a plane and heading to Managua, Nicaragua, but it's true! A lot of hard work has gone in to getting this far, but this is only the beginning. We are thrilled to be heading to Nicaragua to study the efficacy and sustainability of the Tulip Siphon Filter. This first study will lay the ground work for all of our future studies around the globe, and we are looking forward to keeping you informed along the way. While in Nicaragua, we will be blogging and posting videos and photos daily so that you can see exactly where your support is making a difference. Remember, none of this is possible without the support of people such as yourself, and we thank you for that.  Our trip will be taking place from March 17th to March 24th.

In the mean time, we are working to solidify PWAP's long-term future. Establishing chapters at various Universities through our Educational Outreach Program remains a priority, as does increasing our marketing and outreach. We are excited to announce we will be working closely with Students Consulting for Non-profit Organizations (SCNO), a student-led initiative through Ohio State University's Fischer College of Business, over the next few months to help define and reach these goals. Needless to say, this is a very exciting time for Pure Water Access Project and we are so glad to have you along with us.

Stay tuned on facebook and twitter for more updates throughout the week. Also, your feedback is always appreciated, so don't hesitate to continue to reach out to us on any of these platforms!

Have an amazing week, and think about how you can be a part of something bigger.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

T-minus Seven Weeks...

Hello once again, friends! A lot has been happening in the past week with Pure Water Access Project, and we are excited to see so much support coming from the community. Our facebook page and twitter account continue to grow, as does our list of donors. With only seven weeks left until we depart for El Bejuco, Boaco, Nicaragua, we are working hard to ensure that your money and our time and effort is being put towards conducting the most thorough and efficient study as possible.

Many of you have been generous in offering contacts who may be able to help us grow as an organization, and we are also busy pursuing those. In addition to these various people, we are reaching out to local businesses and church groups for potential endorsements. Again, the response has been incredible, and we are so glad to see how many people believe in the cause!

Overall, things are progressing smoothly. We are finalizing approval of the study through the International Review Board, and that will be one of our final matters of business to attend to before departure. Stay tuned on twitter (@ThePWAP) and facebook ( throughout the week.

Til next time,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Progress, progress, progress...

Happy Saturday, people! As we move into the latter half of January, I want to provide you all with some much needed updates on what we have been doing to prepare for our trip to Nicaragua. We will be traveling to the rural town of El Bejuco, in the state of Boaco, to carry out our first case study. This trip will focus on the sustainability and success of the Tulip Water Filter. Our target population will be the small rural demographic that resides in El Bejuco, and we will educate these people on basic hygiene and sanitation knowledge. Once they demonstrate a set level of understanding on this, we will distribute one Tulip Water Filter per household, and educate the recipients on its use and care.
But our mission doesn’t stop there, and this is where our organization differs from so many others. We will perform follow up surveys after three months, and then again one year post-distribution of the filters.  The design of our surveys and the information we will be gathering will allow us to really examine what cultural hurdles we must overcome in establishing a sustainable model of water filtration for people on a large, international scale. The Tulip Water Filter Study is just one of many studies that we will be carrying out, and is focusing on one of just many filtering options available.
From a long-term standpoint, this is the first step in a ongoing process to objectively analyze cultural factors that hinder the sustainability of water sanitation projects. However, there is immediate impact here from your donations, as we are providing approximately one hundred water filters to families who otherwise would never have such sanitation conditions.
With your help, we can make this happen. Please, be a part of something bigger and donate here. Your support means everything to us.
Thank you, we will be updating you on our progress in a week on this blog.