On July 2nd AJSS Louisville went to a orientation/training program with an organization called EDGE (Ecumenical Dynamic Growth Experience Outreach). For those of you who know what “ecumenical” is, congratulations! You are one of the few. The rest of us had to ask. Ecumenical means open to working with all faiths. EDGE is a faith-based organization but they will work with any group regardless of whether they believe in a very different faith.
The first thing we did at EDGE was meet Natalie and Pam. They told us that EDGE’s mission is to provide clean water to the world. Statistics show that 80% of diseases are water-born, hence EDGE’s motto “Water is medicine.” EDGE has a couple of parts to its goal. First, to provide clean water through a purifying system (we’ll talk more about that later), educate about health and hygiene, and to train hand-pump repairmen (which we’ll also talk about later). Natalie and Pam were there to teach us about health and hygiene. We learned how to make simple flycatchers out of a water bottle, some water, and a couple of pieces of fruit. We talked about how to wash our hands correctly (between your fingers, around your palms, around your thumbs, and around your wrists), and Pam showed us an improvised “tippy-tap,” aka a hand washing station. Once we had sufficiently learned about health and hygiene it was time to do a skit. My group did a skit about washing hands, specifically writing a song to the tune of “Call Me Maybe.” Other groups did a bacteria in the stomach skit, a how to sneeze properly skit, and a jeopardy game about nutrition.
Health and hygiene complete, we talked about the purifying system. It’s a chlorinator, which means that it uses chlorine to purify dirty water. All it needs to work is a handful of salt and the system from EDGE, which is about as big as the average arm and can purify enough water for 10,000 people in a day. That’s a lot of people. We went over the parts and how it worked. Then it was time to meet Darrell.
Darrel worked with both the chlorinator and the hand-pump training program. There are over two million hand-pumps in Africa alone, but half of them don’t work. They stand over water but are in disrepair and there is hardly anyone around to fix them. We took a trip to the back of the warehouse where they had a training platform of about six hand-pumps and learned a little about how they worked.
Finally, when we knew what EDGE was about, we learned what we were going to be doing. First, that we would be volunteering at their both at the waterfront July 4th festival and, second, that they were moving to a new building. Our task would be to help them move and organize materials. Then we passed a room full of shoes. At a water-purifying company, it was a little strange. Natalie explained to us that EDGE was holding a shoe drive to a) help drive economies in countries by selling them shoes to b) sell to people there and c) grind up single shoes to make playground floors.
So if you have shoes at home that you’re not using anymore, send them to us and we’ll give them to EDGE!