Do we practice what we preach?

I was just left a comment about one of the pictures of Olivia – the one of her “helping” Daddy at the water cooler, and it was a good question so I thought I would quickly post in response to it. 

Q: just curious looking at these water pics…what filtration system do you guys use? Is the water bottle just a container or do you drink kuligen at home?

The water bottle that you see is in fact a Culligan bottle, but an old one. We believe in practicing what we teach, which means that the only water that we drink and use for cooking in our home is from the same filters that we produce in our ministry. If we aren’t willing to use it why should we expect others to? 

In the picture you can see Olivia playing in a basin of water in front of our filter. It’s one of the granddaddys in the filter world weighing in at over 300lbs before the sand and gravel were put in it. Chris has helped or been responsible for two redesigns since that model that have reduced the filter size. I’m pretty proud of him for that, especially considering that the first redesign is the commonly accepted Biosand filter design worldwide. The most recent design was just done early this year and Matt is just finalizing the technical drawings so that they can be sent around the filter community and hopefully adopted because they reduce the needed materials for production and installation. 

Our particular filter is 7 years old. We use it every single day. That’s the only drinking water that we and any mission guest ever drink. We don’t make special water runs for those that are visiting. Never. And, we never get sick from our water. We have a well on site that we know is contaminated simply because it’s shallow and we see what falls into it. We have only ever added a few drops of bleach to filtered water for about 3 days when Olivia first came home. Since then we haven’t worried about it and she has only ever had a 24 hour stomach flu that was just going around the area. 

Next to the filter in the picture is one of our Culligan bottles on a bottle tipper. We teach that catching containers need to have a small opening at the top to help stop cross contamination. It’s easy for little hands and things to get into buckets if they aren’t watched. Olivia has already developed a fascination with the water bottle and the funnel that usually sits in the top of it. The tipper usually sits right under the filter spout – what the water in the above picture is dripping out of. The water goes right into the bottle. If we need water for cooking, we just tip the tipper and fill up the pot or bowl. 

Our drinking water gets put on the water cooler that you saw in the Whirling Dervish post. We used to put jugs of water in the fridge, but found that it was more power efficient to run a water cooler on a timer from 8 am to 8 pm than it was to continually be opening the fridge for water and cooling what was just put in. Chris is all about power conservation and I’m thankful, especially when it means I can run a fan on high all night long. 

If you would like more info on the Biosand filter and what we do at the mission I would encourage you to visit the mission website at If you click on the picture of the filter on the home page it’ll take you to a page that shows a cross cut of the filter so you can see how it’s put together and understand more of how it works.

Any more questions? Please send them my way. We love to share what we’re doing with people and show them that there are some very simple, effective technologies out there that can make a world of difference in the life of a family.


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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

4 thoughts on “Do we practice what we preach?

  1. Very interesting!!! How is the water filtered at Project Help? We never got sick, and the only time the water was bad, was one time we had tadpoles shooting out of the faucets and showers. We thought it was funny, but I know that my mom thought it was disgusting. I just remember having to go to Le Xaragua (I know totally spelled wrong…), to take showers and to get drinking water. makes memories… :-) Who painted the mural on the filter? It is beautiful! I hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Hi, Leslie – I’ve been stopping by your blog since I was in Haiti over the summer and I love the many photos most of all! Another blog that I read regularly has a section devoted to photography and one of the features is an on-going series which tries to explain very simply all the complexities of f-stops and apertures. Plus, the whole site is just great reading – hope you enjoy!

  3. thanks for this! My little question generated a very interesting post!! I’m sure this is not the focus of your mission, but it would be wonderful if more missionaries/ development workers in Haiti ALSO adopted biofilters… a simple way to walk closer to those that they serve and a easy way to move away from companies that make a profit off a basic human right.I like that there is the movement for Pwodiksyon Lokal in Haiti specifically aimed at engaging the’boujwa’. a smart way to encourage them (comfortably) to get involved in social change. It would be beautiful to see biofilters in houses of all shapes and sizes in Haiti!!

  4. Rebekah – I have no idea what their filtration system is there. Sadly, we’ve tried to get them using the filters at the clinic but the staff just didn’t go for it. I was just there yesterday for Olivia’s vaccinations and saw one of our filters sitting abandoned in an office. Grrr. We love working with people from the medical world because they tell us that most of what they end up treating here is water-borne and completely preventable. We encourage medical people that we know to write prescriptions for filters and have started seeing people doing this which is really encouraging.Annonymous (because you haven’t left your name!) – It isn’t specifically part of our focus to get missionaries and development workers using the filters, but many do. All of the missionaries in our personal friendship circle use them exclusively, and quite a few outside of that because of word of mouth. We have some friends that work for the US state department and they use filters in their home exclusively as well. Chris and I sometimes laugh at the strange mix of people we’ve connected with. it ranges from missionaries, to upper class families, to UN workers, to state department workers and on. Many people that are here over the long term see how effective the filters are, that they feed into the local economy and that they really are an “appropriate” technology for Haiti – meaning they meet the education level of the average user, use local materials and don’t rely on replacement parts or electricity to function. Thanks for your interest!

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