July Update from our Summer Team

July Update from our Summer Team

Greetings, again from Dertig, South Africa!

We last wrote a couple weeks into our project, when we finished teaching the first set of lessons to grades 3 – 7 at the primary school. With help from the secondary students, we have finished teaching all of the lessons to the learners. The last lesson included a demonstration of the water filter, distribution of PureMadi cups to the kids, and the administration of post-intervention surveys. We donated eight water filters to the primary school, one for every grade because even though we only taught five grades, we want every student to have access to clean water to drink.

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June Update from our Summer Team

Hello from Dertig, South Africa!

This year, PureMadi’s student team is made up of three undergraduate students and one graduate student. Margaret Lambert is a graduate student within the Curry School at the University of Virginia, getting a Masters in Teaching for Secondary Science/Biology. Lizzy Watkins is doing a fifth-year Masters through the Curry School as well, in Secondary Social Studies. Helena Gallagher is a third-year undergraduate student and returning team member, doing a double Government and Religious Studies degree within the College of Arts and Sciences. Rupa Nallamothu is a first-year undergraduate student who is undeclared, but looking to apply to the McIntire Commerce School or perhaps pre-med.

Kulisa Social Solutions community partner Zain Halle with the University of Virginia team Lizzy Watkins, Rupa Nallamothu, and Helena Gallagher (left to right)

Kulisa Social Solutions community partner Zain Halle with the University of Virginia team Lizzy Watkins, Rupa Nallamothu, and Helena Gallagher (left to right)

The team has had a great first couple of weeks on the ground! All three of us have a combined passion for children, education, and especially clean water education. We are delighted to have written, printed, and bound a Teacher’s Guide before our arrival in South Africa. This Teacher’s Guide, developed with the help of PureMadi and various other University of Virginia and national organizations, will be part of our impact when we depart South Africa. We are leaving copies with the teachers we have worked with, in the local primary and secondary school.

A beautiful welcome party by the women of Dertig for the team

A beautiful welcome party by the women of Dertig for the team

Already, the teachers are so thrilled to work with us. They are exceptionally welcoming. The women of the Dertig area have set up very nice tables for us, cleaning their classrooms meticulously and setting out refreshments. One teacher even left us a great big bucket full of fresh chalk, should we need it while teaching!

The teachers are such active participants in our lessons that it is truly remarkable. They translate for us, since some of the children’s English skills are a work-in-progress. One teacher was thrilled about one of our lessons in particular. We have the kids make a “Water Cycle In A Bag”, to leave in their window. The sun makes some water evaporate and condense on the sides, and kids can flick the bags to make it “rain”. The kids love the creative nature of the experiment. The teacher came to us after class, saying “I am so happy I learned something from you today”. She was excited to see the Teacher’s Guide and we look forward to leaving it with her.


We also have some great translators from the local secondary school. Students in Grade 11, 10, and others join us for teaching our lessons. We see them as invaluable mentors to the younger students. We also hope to demonstrate for them diversity in possible careers after school. Many children in South Africa only wish to be a lawyer or engineer. With our academically diverse student team, we hope we are showing them other alternatives!

The ladies of Dertig

The ladies of Dertig


The kids are so, so smart. They are all such incredible individuals. We try to incorporate lots of group work and brainstorming in our lessons, since their education system is structured a bit differently. We have received incredible suggestions this way. A third grade student told us that a good way to save water would be to wash your body with half the water you usually would, and save the rest in a bucket to water the plants! These kids are so perceptive, and so willing to learn.


We are busily preparing for the community Water Day that we intend to host on July 3rd! We are inviting local leaders in the Department of Education, the local tribal government, and of course our tireless supporters at the primary and secondary schools. We will be giving tours of PureMadi’s Ceramic Water Filter Facility, selling filters, doing activities with the children, and so much more.


We cannot wait to tell you more!

5 Facts to Know About the Water Crisis

1. 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water.

In 2015, 663 million people, or 1 in 10, lacked access to safe drinking water sources. Nearly one-half of all people who are forced to rely on unsafe drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa. 

2. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.

Preventable waterborne diseases wreak havoc on communities by causing death, wide spread infection, and cognitive and physical impairment among the young; it is a staggering waste of human potential.   

3. Globally 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation. 

4. At any one time, one-half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied with patients suffering from waterborne diseases.

5. As announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015, the water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation). 

Many organizations are attempting to find solutions to this problem, from drilling wells and building slow sand filters, to creating point-of-use technologies, such as household filters and disinfectant tablets. PureMadi is proud to be one of these organizations; we are putting the solution in the hands of  communities by building ceramic water filter factories, employing locals, and enabling them to produce and distribute ceramic water filters that will purify a family’s water for 3-4 years.


      World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2015) Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2015 Update and MDG Assessment.
      World Economic Forum. (2015). Global Risks 2015 Report.
      Water.org http://static.water.org/pdfs/Water%20Crisis%205-10.pdf