Ever wonder how you can turn undrinkable water into clean, drinkable water for a village full of people who really need it? Well, we know a guy who has done that — quite a few times, and he can tell you exactly what it feels like to watch a village's reaction as their only source of water goes from dark to light — and safe to drink. His name is Jon Rose, read on for his Waves For Water update from Q'ero, Peru.
Alpaca and Q'ero hut
Deep Andes Valley
Me and Denise with village chief
There is a specific moment that happens every time we do a water filter demo for a community in need. I call it the “Light Bulb” moment. Their eyes widen… jaws drop… and they stand taller – proud like. It is magical. I forget how magical it really is sometimes because I am so close to it. Here’s a quick snapshot of what this moment usually looks like - we take a local water source that sometimes looks the same color as an IPA beer, run it through the filter system that we built in a matter of minutes (with nothing but a 5 gal bucket and a knife) and viola -- out comes crystal clear potable water. It is amazing… But the best part is that it’s real - no illusions, just a perfect shiny example of technological evolution. And the proof… Well, using the most extreme example, it’s about as simple as this – we go into a community where people are dying… we do our program – they stop dying.
Denise and a village elder
Horse and hut
Lots of colorful outfits in the Q'eros
But it’s the “Light Bulb” moment that makes my heart expand every time. Watching people’s reactions when the only water source they’ve ever known, goes from dark to light is priceless. I recently got the opportunity to do a project with a few of the Q’ero villages in the Peruvian Andes. An incredible woman by the name of Denise Kinch reached out to us and asked if we’d be interested in partnering up with her to provide these villages with clean water. Her foundation, Vanishing Cultures, has been working with these particular villages for 20 years, aiding them on many fronts. She has also studied and practiced their spiritual belief system for just as long and is now a renowned teacher of such ways herself.
Our tents withe a pack of alpacas behind them
Typical Q'ero hut
Valleys for days
Village elder thanking me :)
She has devoted much of her life to helping this community that most of the world doesn’t even know exists. I’ve done this long enough now to know that there are indigenous communities all over the world that have slipped through the cracks and are literally receiving zero help of any kind. Mostly its due to proximity – just getting to the Q’eros is a feat. The physical difficulty alone cuts down the abilities of many aid groups and if no one goes; then no one knows they exist, let alone the problems they face. There are pockets like this all over the world and ever since starting W4W I have loved finding these pockets. It may just be habit from my days of surf exploration, but really I think it comes from a bigger notion, one that strikes a very deep chord. It’s the notion of the “forgotten ones” – the people around the world that for whatever reason have found themselves in the shadows. There are out there in the farthest corners with the same basic needs as everyone else, but there’s no ears listening to them. I absolutely love my work and no matter who the recipient is, it always boils down to this – humans helping humans with the basic needs we are ALL entitled to. That said, I get an extra level of expansion when we get an opportunity to help the “forgotten ones”.
Woman teaching other woman how to assemble system
From a W4W standpoint this journey was right up our alley – rugged adventure + humanitarianism… it’s what we’ve always done and a perfect example of our philosophy in action: Do what you love to do and help along the way. Thanks to Hurley and badass lens-man, Tom Aiello, this journey was documented. I will let the video do its job at sharing the rest of this epic mission with you. Please check it out… and if you feel inclined to share it, I’m very grateful for it! Also, big ups to Rob Machado for creating/playing the closing song for this video!