Thirst-Aid is an amazing grassroots organization. In 2008 they managed the single largest ceramic water filter emergency response in the world in response to cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. This organization is about empowering and enabling people to help themselves. Education, empowerment, innovation and integration. Please check them out next time you really want your support to make a difference in the world.
We visited Curt and Cathy Bradner of Thirst Aid and some of the water filter factories in Burma last year, and we believe this is an exceptional program. They are both gifted in engineering, and in finding practical solutions. They are also gifted at finding local people who share their goals, and training these people, and then giving them responsibility for the program.
I am a teacher at a school in the Netherlands, we have students who have learning problems. For us it is important to do something for a good couse, but it is also important for us to learn our student something about why it is so important to help others. We came in contact with two great people from the USA who spend all their time in Birma. There they have the organisation Thirst Aid. They build factories where locals make water filters. With every filter they produce, they save lives, because it means clean water to drink! We receive at our school pictures, posters, e-mails and so on and so on, and with those materials we teach our students about Birma, the problem with the drinking water and what Thirst Aid does to help the people there. Every year for the last three years we raise money around Christmas, all the students raise money, and we send it to Thirst Aid, and so we help them help others. Through the personal contact with Thist aid, this really means something to our students and teachers and it motivates us to do everything we can to help them. Last year we welcomed one of the founders of Thirst aid at our school and he thanked all the students in person! He came in to every class and showed his film and pictures he took in Birma, and our students were so proud they could help! It was really great and we promise to go on raising money for this great organisation and their great volunteers!! Elske The Netherlands
I met Cathy and Curt on campsite in Spain. We excanged some insults about our tents and transport and emptied a botle of pernod together. They told me they were cycling around the world and they looked very well prepared on there big tandem. We kept in touch throug the e-mail and after a year I understood they found their place to be in the north of Thailand close to a Burmese refugeecamp, where they did a lot of good work. They asked me to build them a website and after a while they asked me if I would like to teach te children in the refugee camp how to build a website. I'm not a regular hero, I hate food I don't know and specificly don't like bugs. So 'wimp I am" I asked Curt if I would be encountering animals on les or more than four legs. And naturaly Curt sad NO. He had forgotten the pictures of the snake in his basement he had sent me a few weeks before. But to make a long story short. I went up and loved every minute of it (even the encounter Curt had with a very big lissard, that made him screem, there is jusitice in the world you know). The kids were fantastic. To be honest I learned more from them than they dit from me. But I hope I have been an nice distraction from the endless and hopeless situation they were in. A few years later Curt came to Holland and together we had a nice time at my firm and at a school, where he promoted to good work he and his wife are still doing. We don't see each other much, but I'm very fond of Cathy and Curt. And I truly admire the things they accomplish. The don't talk but act! If you are looking for a good cause to spend some money I'm sure they are it. They don't spent much on overhead and the money comes at te place were it can do it's good work. Most of the time they even tell you were they spent your money on. Keep up the good work!!!!! Eddy
I was the Water and Sanitation Manager for the British NGO Merlin in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis for six months in 2008. Providing potable water for the cyclone survivors, who depended mostly on rainwater harvesting from roofs and in small reservoirs, was of great concern. Reservoirs had been contaminated and water storage containers lost. Assets and income to purchase water had also been lost, and coping mechanisms for water shortage had been damaged. Furthermore, even before the cyclone, water from the reservoirs, shallow wells and storage containers would have been contaminated and could not be considered safe to drink. Ceramic water filters made by local entrepreneurs, using mainly local materials and local labor, were one of the best viable options for treating water to remove pathogens. In collaboration with UNICEF, Thirst Aid provided local entrepreneurs with the training and assistance they needed to manufacture high quality filters. Thirst-Aid surveys showed that training the users led to more sustained use of the filters. So, Thirst-Aid trainers trained the staff of UN agencies and NGOs who buy and distribute the filters. Then, these staff train users on the importance of clean water as well as the correct use of the filters. Thirst Aid also provides free inspection of filters and can train client organizations to inspect the filters, thus ensuring a high quality product. Thirst-Aid’s methods include the transfer of skills and knowledge that help local people to set up viable businesses that use mainly local materials and labor. Thirst-Education teaches people the importance of clean water, which will foster lasting demand for the filters. These methods should ensure the sustainability of the intervention and its effects. Not only that, the international staff are training national staff to manage operations in Myanmar so that international staff can concentrate on expanding operations to other developing countries. Thirst-Aid continues to work to refine and improve its methods. Without Thirst-Aid, providing a sustainable source of safe water for cyclone survivors would have been much more difficult. On a tiny budget, Thirst Aid enabled several entrepreneurs to manufacture tens of thousands of ceramic water filters for cyclone survivors, while providing free training and inspection. Thirst-Aid staff, both international and local, showed an impressive dedication to improving the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable members of the population. Dollar for dollar, in spite of the extremely difficult context, Thirst-Aid’s intervention in Myanmar was one of the most effective, sustainable and cost-effective operations I have ever seen, in over 30 years working in water and sanitation in relief and development in developing countries.
I first met Cathy and Curt Bradner when they moved to Eugene in 2005. They previously traveled around the world on a tandem bicycle and landed in a Thai refugee camp where they saw a need for safe water. Using ingenuity they found a way to use pottery water filters made by locals. The project has grown at an amazing rate and after spreading to Myanmar, they now have eight factories employing over 150 people. The Bradners live simply and have devoted their lives to saving other.
Thirst-Aid gets right in with the people. You won't find them staying at a resort or even renting cars. They deliver right to the people. When they showed up after the Tsunami disaster. They found a village home that was willing to let them rent a space for very little money. They walk or ride a bike. This puts them in a position to really know what a village needs and who the true leaders of a village are. Can't go wrong donating to Thirst=Aid. Sharon MacConnach
We know the founders of Thirst-Aid, Curt and Cathy Bradner for more than 25 years. It started with a bottle of wine on a French campground in 1991, continued with Colorado beer during long discussions about how to improve the world in 1994 and led to common water bottle replenishing during a 1999 bike trip in Europe. We have seen the Bradners go to Mynmar and establish Thirst-Aid from scratch in the desire to do something good for the local people. Their vision to make sure also the poor should have easy access to reasonably pure water has been like an obsession. They have developed adequate technology, built kilns and production lines, established relationships and appropriate education to help out with their skills and their energy. While WHO is discussing a human rights-based approach to water Thirst-Aid has already delivered in numerous cases. The technology of locally produced ceramic filters has a great future, please support the organization if you also want to improve the world!
Thirst-Aid is an incredibly resourceful organization set up by two wonderful people. These folks create jobs at their in-country water filter plants, then educate people about the benefits of drinking clean water. Only after the proper groundwork is in place do they distribute these ingenious filters that can keep a family in clean water for many years at a very reasonable cost. This organization delivers the most impact for the least amount of money by creating local opportunity, delivering education and finally ensuring families drink clean, pathogen free water.
We have known Curt & Cathy, the founders of Thirst Aid for about ten years, since their first trip to Thailand and encounter with the Karen refugees there. Since then we have visited with them almost every year.