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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Human Services, International, International Development, Youth Development

Mission: To install rain catchment systems providing disease-free water for indigenous schools where bad water spreads disease and claims young lives..

Geographic areas served: Indigenous Peoples of Central America

Programs: Providing inexpensive rainwater collection systems to reduce the occurrence of illness related to drinking polluted water in developing areas of central america.

Community Stories

10 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Allene B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I worked with Joe and OSDW on the installation of the organization's 100th and 101st water tanks (these two were placed at 5-Mile School near Almirante, Panama). What a rewarding day for the 200+ children, their teachers and the indigenous community members whose lives revolve around the school. It was a rewarding day for us as well, knowing the difference these catchments will make in the health of the children, which will improve their school attendance and their future overall. Joe and his OSDW team and other volunteers are all to be commended for jobs well done.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

This was my second volunteer trip to help Operation Safe Drinking
Water. These people are getting the job done. No one receives a salary or compensation. The leaders, Joe and Maribel Bass, work 14 hours a day and live among the people they're helping. They also donate before asking others to. I saw the lives changed. I talked to school principals who told me of greatly reduced absentee rates from sickness due to having safe water. Fewer indigenous kids miss school from sickness, and fewer give up and drop out because of chronic sickness from bad water.

I'll donate another rain catchment tank and go back again to help install it next year.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with Project Clean Drinking Water during a college service trip. The founders, Joe and Maribel, are the real deal. They have devoted their whole life and all their resources to bring safe drinking water and medical care to the villages in the Bocas del Toro area. The villagers' anguish as they and their children suffer from cureable diseases and drink unsafe water for lack of a better option is huge, and exacerbated by the fact that hospitals are not willing to help indigenous people. The villagers' lack of allies makes the help of Project Clean Drinking Water all the more vital to improve the villagers' lives and bring hope for a better future for their children, who will miss fewer days of school due to illness. It's a bare-bones operation that gives everything to helps the villages.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

OSDW installs water tanks for indigenous families and communities near Bocas del Toro, Panama. I helped with the marketing and the website, but most satisfying I went on several trips to install water tanks. It is a simple process to give communities clean water and it makes a huge difference in their lives.

Review from Guidestar

joshfiveson

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Safe Drinking Water is an organization unlike any other within the non-profit field and represents a unique opportunity for individuals to truly make a difference within the lives of others. Based in Bocas Del Toro Panama, the organization works tirelessly to deliver food, medicine, and most importantly, safe drinking water systems to the indigenous people within the region.

Joe and Maribel Bass are pioneers in the fight against one of the greatest threats to human life within the world, unsafe drinking water. In my extensive work with the organization I have had chance to personally witness the level of passion, dedication, and compassion that drives the organization forward. Bocas Del Toro is more commonly known as a region where tourists and ex-pats alike venture to enjoy the Caribbean weather coupled with national geographic worthy scenery. Joe and Maribel, on the other hand, were drawn to the region for a higher calling. Living in small, eco-friendly home, the couple works day in and out to provide the community with the basic resources of life that they so desperately need. Alongside their small staff of locals, they actively locate the various schools and villages within the region that are in need of clean water. But aside from these factors, one of the more definitive elements of Operation Safe Drinking Water is how the organization is funded. As it continually becomes more commonplace to find "charitable organizations" using as much as 50% of its donations to pay salaries, people are becoming unsure where their money is going and whether it is actually being used to make a difference. With Operation Safe Drinking Water this is NOT the case. As a member of the Operation Safe Drinking Water staff I have seen the inner workings of the organization, and just like the president and founder of the organization, I received no salary. 100% of the funding goes to the people who so desperately need it, as it should with a true charity. This provides a sense of confidence unmatched within the field and ensures that your donation is used for the purpose you intended.

Ultimately, if you are looking for an opportunity to make a difference within the world, to change the lives of others, or even to take a break from the rigors of urban life – Operation Safe Drinking Water is the organization to seriously look into. Operation Safe Drinking Water is an organization where the president works alongside volunteers, where people have the chance to look into the eyes of the men, women, and children they are helping, and ultimately where lives are changed. Any amount of effort, whether via donation or volunteering, directly changes lives; the only question is, how many would you like to save today?




Comments ( 3 )

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Carl Robbins 12/18/2010

Thanks Josh, Your leadership was an inspiration to us all on your work-visit to us. We look forward to your soon and long-term return

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Carl Robbins 12/18/2010

Thanks Josh, Your leadership was an inspiration to us all on your work-visit to us. We look forward to your soon and long-term return

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Carl Robbins 12/18/2010

Thanks, Josh, Your work and efforts brought a lot of help to many people. We look forward to welcoming you back!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to give something back? Then I suggest you contact OSDW and volunteer to help install water systems that provide clean, safe drinking water. By volunteering you will also get something back, perhaps a life changing experience, I know I did. I volunteered for several months and as I worked with the indigenous people of Bocas Del Toro I discovered that safe water was the key to better health, especially for the children. You can't get an education if you are sick from drinking unsafe water.

If you are unable to volunteer in person perhaps you could do a fund raiser and help finance this critical life saving cause. 100% of the funds are used for water projects.

Review from Guidestar

Robert F.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have known Joe for over 30 years. The effort, caring, intelligence and energy he and his wife Maribel devote to OSDW and the needs of the community are beyond the comprehension of most. To abandon the comfort, safety, and 'luxuries' of what we all take for granted - in order to serve others- in order to save lives one precious drop of water at a time - exceeds what even the most caring of us can imagine. I have been to their home in the jungle, I have known the children they try to help - the families and the schools. To see people who have literally no hope, no resources, face deprivation and sickness while around them tourists frolic is blinding in its anguish. To look into the eyes of a mother who knows her child may die for lack of even a drop of clean drinking water is not humbling - its paralyzing.

Joe and Maribel struggle every day - every moment - trying to make a difference. They are not going out to restaurants, they are not sitting around the TV at night, they are not shooting around the corner for a latte or to pick up the dry cleaning..... they are just plodding along - committed to try and raise enough in donations to put some gas in their motor and float another water catchment tank to a family school or community in the middle of nowhere.

Many often say - 'Oh sure but how do I know what I send actually gets to the people I intend to help?! - A fair and legitimate concern - I have been there, I have watched what they do, I have seen how they do it.... they dont take a dime - they apply the dime so that others can benefit.

There is a special place in heaven for people like this and I for one am proud to know them, proud to help in whatever way I may and offer my most profound endorsement of the efforts of this legitimate and effective - Operation Safe Drinking Water.

If the indigenous people of the most forgotten area of Panama could do so they would agree.... in that regard I write on all their behalf.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a 37 year old mother of three and a registered nurse. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity and was inspired by the stories shared by fellow church members regarding the OSDW organization. I took my first trip in 2008 to install water catchment systems and help with a first aid clinic. I was so impressed with the people who organize OSDW and what they give-their time, their talent and their love for the indigenous people of Panama-all volunteer. OSDW has provided the people the means to collect clean driking water as well as provided volunteer groups to help with much needed medical needs. Thank you OSDW! You are truely an amazing orgainization.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Functioning as a volunteer RN at first-aid clinics at several indigenous village sites permitted an opportunity to observe the OSDW staff interacting with the population of these villages. While clinics were being conducted, OSDW staff checked function and usage level of previous rain catchment installations. Equally important as the OSDW physical safe drinking water installations are the relationships developed with the native residents. Many smiles and much humor all demonstrated a mutual concern for well-being as well as mutual respect for individuals of vastly different cultures. There are NO monetary rewards for the OSDW staff...only the deep and meaningful reward that comes from knowledge of a job well done and doing work that MAKES A DIFFERENCE. AS a volunteer and as a nurse, this was the MOST rewarding experience of my life. I look forward to making more trips to assist in whatever role required.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went with a group to volunteer, helping install rain-catchment tanks for indigenous schools in offshore islands off Central America, need of safe drinking water. I was so impressed that when I recently retired I went back as a rull-time volunteer. This is an all-volunteer charity, Everyone volunteers. No one receivss a salary. They work with Peace Corps volunteers in remote, hard-to-get-to areas to provide safe drinking water to indigenous schools which have none. It rains a lot down here so rain-catchmetn tanks are a perfect solution. They are simple, easy-to-maintain and last for years. Best of all they refill every time it rains, providing drinking water for indigenous schools and villages.

Comments ( 1 )

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Carl Robbins 05/16/2010

We thank all our many volunteers, full and part time.  As an all volunteer nonprofit that pays no salaries or compensation, we depend on them to help get the job done. One volunteer has been back 6 times. Thanks to you all—medical, dental and water catchment volunteers!