Bangladesh: Uncultured Project and Clean Water

upLast year, when we checked on the Uncultured Project was delivering aid to victims of the Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, but Shawn's  efforts to help haven't stopped since. After helping last year, he got sick and returned to Canada, and after a few months there he returned to continue helping out around Bangladesh, along with Save the Children and donations from fans from all over the world.

From Shawn's blog, he reports:

Since I landed, I’ve been trying to complete projects related to Challenge Poverty. As you know, I’ve been working on building that Pond Sand Filter and repairing that school. It’s been nearly 6 months and I want to wrap everything up in the next 72 hours. Yeah…. that maybe a bit ambitious. Fingers crossed.

Shawn accepted donations for this last round or projects, and asked the community of donators (most of which leave video responses to his posts) what they wished their money to be spent on, as shown in the following video:

In the same post, he also tries to figure out what the future of these projects will be, and how he can make these projects self-sustainable, so that he can continue to help out:

The question is – am I going back for a break or for good? Back in January, I wrote that if I can’t sustain this project I’m gonna have to pack up in 12 months time. By “sustain” I want to do this in a way that doesn’t impoverish my parents. My savings are long gone – and I do this by borrowing from my parents. We’re not Rockefellers unfortunately – just regular Suburban Middle Class Canadians (basically like Americans… but we get free health care).

In the latest post on his blog, Shawn noticed that in a video of a speaker at the TED conference, an inventor was showing his product: a water filtering system that can turn murky dirty water into filtered potable drinking water. Michael Pritchard designed the Life-Saver bottle, which could help save the lives of many people around the world, and offered a solution to Disaster Relief: instead of sending drinking water, these portable water filters could be sent so that families can take care of their drinking water needs at their homes instead of refugee camps.

Shawn is familiar with the dynamics of portable water filters because he's seen the LifeStraw, a similar water purification system, at work. He made a video post during his visit to rural Kenya, where he filtered filthy water soiled with cow fecal matter, as a way to show actual conditions of use, where people gather water from any available sources, which may normally include all sorts of contamination, debris and garbage. This is the video he made of his in-field experiment:

Some people called him sensationalist after he drank the water with cow feces after getting it purified, so he explained the sense behind it in a second video, where a scientist confirms how the LifeStraw filter can protect against bacterias and viruses that can be transmitted through water sources, including those from cows to humans:

Shawn clarifies that he doesn't get endorsed or paid for by Life-Straw,  when he speaks out about it is because he believes it is the best solution available at the moment. The Life-Saver costs a lot more than the Life-Straw, but filters less water and has a shorter life-span, and that the Life-Straw comes in a family capacity version. Neither one of the filters can handle salt or chemicals in the water, which could have been something to include in the newer option to improve upon the existing products and justify the difference in price.

The LifeStraw Family costs $35 and filters 18,000 litres of water. The LifeSaver costs well over $100 and only filters 6,000 litres of water. While it might be possible that one day in the future the LifeSaver could come down in cost, the LifeStraw Family is already at this price point and is already saving lives…

You can follow UnculturedProject on Twitter, as he writes about his relief efforts and twits pictures of the new projects and developments in his efforts to make a difference in the world. You can view more of Shawn and Save the Children's efforts in giving aid and relief to Bangladesh through the Uncultured Project's YouTube channel, or see Shawn's mobile video uploads from the field on his other account, The Student.  The best of luck in his future endeavors!


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