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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 18 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 18

The gift of water

A youth-oriented nonprofit brings clean water to those in need

BY AMY ASMAN


A team effort
Hands4Others, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit, is looking for Northern Santa Barbara County teens to join its effort to bring lifesaving water purification systems (pictured in the blue building here) to villages in Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF BLAZEPR

Come fall, Hands4Others co-founder Spencer Dusebout hopes to have several new Water4One clubs at high schools up and down the Central Coast. The newly formed clubs would organize fundraising events in their respective communities to pay for the installation of lifesaving water purification systems in villages throughout Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Dusebout and his friends Jack Davies and Scott Schurmer founded Hands4Others five years ago after traveling together to Belize.

“We saw people living in such great poverty,” Dusebout said. “What really struck us was seeing the women and children walking hours to get dirty water.”

The three boys, who were high school students at the time of their trip, talked to their parents about doing something to help people in need. Eventually, after a lot of planning and hard work, they launched Hands4Others.

“Hands4Others’s mission is about getting young people especially to look beyond their selves and to be aware of what’s going on in the world,” Dusebout said.

Dusebout, now 20 years old, said American teenagers spend approximately $179 billion on consumer goods each year.

“We’re a huge market that really spends money on ourselves,” he said, adding that if U.S. residents between the ages of 12 and 27 spent $77 each on water purification, they could solve the world’s water crisis.

“I find that, in general, young people really want to help. They want to get involved in something they can believe in,” he added.


Lend a helping hand
Young people interested in starting a Club4One at their schools can contact Spencer Dusebout at spencer@hands4others.com or visit hands4others.org for more information.

Water4One clubs give young people the chance to do just that. Since the organization started in 2008, clubs in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Denver, Alabama, and Scotland have raised money through bake sales, marathons, walks, soccer games, and dances.

Hands4Others provides its clubs with the resources and tools needed to create an event. The clubs pick villages to sponsor and then get to work on raising money.

“We provide them with a loose platform, but we’re more than happy to let them come up with their own ideas. We tell them, ‘You guys go for it!’” Dusebout said. “Some of the ideas they come up with are even better than the existing ideas.”

Hands4Others takes the money raised by the clubs and works with Water Missions International to provide villages in 15 countries with water purification systems and educational material on how to keep their water clean.

Dusebout said he used to think all he had to do was build a fresh well, but he learned from the engineers at Water Missions International that a typical well only lasts for about two to three years before it gets contaminated. When the wells go bad, the women and children go back to using the dirty water that was making them sick. The Hands4Others-funded water purification systems use a sand filtration system and chlorination to clean the water and rid it of disease-causing microbacterium.

“It takes water you wouldn’t even stick your hand in—I’m talking brown, brown, disgusting water—and turns it into clean water that you can drink,” said Dusebout, who’s tasted the water himself on trips to villages across the globe.

The nonprofit’s clubs and members can go on these trips as well to see their dollars in action.

“Those trips can be life changing,” Dusebout said. “Watching people in the village [that the clubs helped sponsor] take their first drink of clean water will stay with those kids for the rest of their lives.

Contact Managing Editor Amy Asman at aasman@santamariasun.com.