Published: Feb 25, 2013 04:15 PM
Modified: Feb 25, 2013 04:16 PM
Hi, I’m Zach. Two years ago, my 9-year-old brother Aidan and I left our home in Chapel Hill and went to India for a few weeks.
In India, we saw poor families and children drinking very dirty and polluted water that made them sick. We’ve decided to do something about it and are now helping hundreds of poor Indian families get clean water. This is our story.
Five and a half months ago, knowing we would be living in India again, this time for four months, we created a small nonprofit organization called Aztech Labs. And now that we’re in India, I have been doing tons of stuff for Aztech Labs including making its website, aztechlabs.org
Aztech Labs has two goals. Our first goal is to make water filters available to communities in need, like the villages we are working with now in India. Our second goal is to improve the design of low-cost water filters by sponsoring a worldwide award for the most innovative design improvements to water filters.
We started getting super-serious in late December 2012, and our New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to distribute 1,000 biosand filters to 1,000 households. That’s 100 filters each in 10 different villages. My parents told me that this was probably too ambitious of a goal, but I’d rather fail at trying to help 1,000 families than to play it safe and succeed at reaching a much lower goal.
We have partnered with a really experienced organization, the South Asia Pure Water Initiative Inc. (SAPWII), to help with manufacturing and distributing the filters. This organization has manufactured and delivered thousands of filters to dozens of poor Indian villages already, and has been a great partner. It also helps with educating the villagers on how to use and take care of the filters.
We chose biosand filters because this type of filter is cheap, effective and long-lasting. For $32 (the price of about two pizzas), you can supply a household with a water filter that will help keep them healthy for about 25 to 30 years. These filters stop around 99.99 percent of parasites and 80 to 99 percent of bacteria. We also chose the biosand filters because they do not require electricity and are easy for villagers to maintain.
We’ve already collected $5,000 of corporate donations for filters, which has been more than enough to help one village. We’ve visited two villages recently. The first already had filters installed a few months ago by our partner, SAPWII. The villagers looked very happy with their filters. They were taking great care of the filters and told us the filters were keeping them from getting sick. The second village, still in need of filters, is the first village that we’ve committed to help. There was a crowd of more than 100 people waiting for us there when we arrived. I talked to them, and now I can’t wait to help them. We’re currently less than $1,000 away from providing filters to a second village, so we’re trying to get donations.
Our biggest fundraising initiative right now is a UNC vs. Duke donation competition. Please see aztechlabs.org/unc-vs-duke
if you want to learn more. There’s a fixed donation of $25 in this UNC vs. Duke competition. We chose this limit to make it possible for anyone to participate, and to prevent a super rich alum from single-handedly determining the outcome of the competition and spoiling the fun for everyone else. We thought of this idea because I like UNC, and Aidan likes Duke, the rivalry is heating up now as the ACC basketball season is wrapping up, and we realized that the rivalry could be a fun way for people to get involved in helping poor families stay healthy.
Big things are at stake in this contest, both for UNC and Duke fans, and for my brother and me. Whichever university’s fans contribute more will see their school colors painted onto the filters going to a village. Aidan and I also have a private side bet. If Duke fans contribute more money, then Aidan wins. If UNC fans contribute more money, then I win. I sincerely hope UNC fans come through here because I’m agreeing to do some pretty humiliating things if the Duke fans prevail. In addition to wearing a Duke shirt for a week to my seventh-grade classes, I’ll have to kiss the ground in front of the James B. Duke statue on the Duke campus. Aidan would get off easy if UNC fans contribute more. All he would need to do is wear a UNC shirt to his fourth-grade classes for a week and eat a burrito at UNC’s Qdoba while wearing his Duke shirt. Complicated, high-stakes stuff, I know, but that’s what rivalries get people to do, don’t they?
Please consider joining the competition. We -- and the families we’re trying to help in India -- can use all the support we can get. Thank you!
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