Calgary couple Cambodia-bound to help tackle unclean with water problem with local invention (June 6, 2013)

Written by Katie Schneider

Published by Calgary Sun on Thursday, June 6, 2013

They say water is life.

And thanks to a Calgary couple’s thirst to help others, the gift of clean water will improve more lives in Cambodia.

As part of an internship program with Samaritan’s Purse, husband and wife duo Ben Wideman, 23, and Hannah, 24, will travel to Cambodia June 21 to spend seven months helping more impoverished people get clean water through BioSand Water Filters, developed by a Calgary inventor.

“Both of us have done shorter term trips to developing countries and we just really enjoyed those experiences,” said Ben, a recent mechanical engineering grad from the University of Calgary.

“We felt like we would like to engage in a longer term placement and hopefully contribute in some meaningful way to people there.

“We both feel like it’s a very important project.”

He said unclean water is a big problem in Cambodia and contributes to diarrheal diseases, but the devices filter out microorganisms from surface water and improve the resource’s quality.

BioSand Water Filters have made an impact in Cambodia for about 12 years, said Ron Orcajada, water program manager.

“We are able to benefit about 120,000 people with safe drinking water each year through our project,” he said.

“Independent studies have shown that there is a 44% decrease in diarrheal occurrence so health is improving through implementation of the BSFs in the communities that we work with.”

Hannah, a behavioural science grad from Ambrose University College, is looking forward to help implement the filters into schools too.

“And I’m really looking forward to the experience to not only meet people with that physical need, but also on a deeper level to teach them about Jesus Christ and the gospel as well,” she said.

Funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the program is offered to Canadian students who have completed their post-secondary education, said Jason Martens, internship program manager.

“It’s a way to bridge them into their future careers to gain experience and skills and knowledge that can then be used in development work or transferred into other areas as well,” he said.

“We are excited about what we are doing, what we are offering and giving opportunities for students to learn and to grow ... but also thankful for the partnership and funding we receive from CIDA.”

In total, 16 interns will travel to one of five countries, including Nicaragua and Uganda.

For more information visit www.samaritanspurse.ca

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