Last updated: July 1, 2014
In the early 2000s, Walt and Diane Parrish spent five weeks in Uganda teaching solar cooking. The members of the Rotary Club of Fresno, Calif. also demonstrated a Water pasteurization indicator, or WAPI, a rudimentary thermometer that shows when water is heated enough to be safe to drink.
The World Health Organization estimates 1.8 million people die each year from diarrhea; 88 percent of those deaths are caused by unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene and are concentrated among children in developing countries.
After returning from Uganda, the Parrishes knew they wanted to help in some way.
"You're immersed in a community and understand the depth and breadth of a problem, then you return to our wonderful life here and say, 'What now? What is there we can do to help out?'" Diane Parrish says. "We thought the WAPI would be a good one.
"It's small. It's portable. It's easy to use. Regardless if they're cooking on an old- fashioned stove or if they're using a rocket stove, they all understand the benefit of using it. Any way they heat their water, they can use this."
In two years, volunteers from high school Interact clubs, which are service organizations, have made 19,000 WAPIs from raw materials bought at a discount. About 18,000 have been distributed in Mexico, Bolivia, Ghana, Ethiopia, New Guinea, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Iraq. Walt Parrish will travel to Mexico later this year to hand out several hundred of the devices. The project is a combined effort of Fresno area Rotary Clubs and high school Interact clubs from throughout the state. Schools that have participated in this project are: Clovis West High School, Buchannan Hich School, Clovis, Ca. Bullard High School, Duncan High School, Sunnyside High School, Fresno, Ca, Kerman High School, Kerman, Ca. Granite Hills High School, Porterville, Ca. Marimount High School, West Los Angeles, Ca. Pacific Grove High School, Pacific Grove, Ca. UCLA, UC Santa Cruz. As the project continues to grow Rotary Clubs from throughout the United States support the effort through contributions of time and money.
During the month of May 4400 WAPI's were shipped to the Central Missinary Diosese of Vigevano, Italy for redistribution by their humanitarian programs in Africa. In a preliminary out reach project 50 WAPI's were sent to Lt. Bill Starz in Iraq. He is teaching Solar Cooking and water pasteurisation to Iraqi families. It is hoped that during the course of the next few months this project will expand.