November 2013

Monthly Archives

Two Roads in a Wood

Robert Frost penned a poem in 1920 about a fork in the road and taking the path less traveled.  Sometimes we choose the path we journey in life for ourselves.  We deliberate and weigh the options before us, straining our sight to look down as far as we can, making the wisest choice.  But sometimes we don’t choose the path. Sometimes we are re-routed and the road is chosen for us.  Detours.  Road in repair.  We trust and follow the orange signs, adjust our maps and continue on.

In June, we started down a dirt road to a village in Malawi named Kanyamula.  We met with the townspeople, listened to their stories and promised to come back – with our LIFEPUMP™ and clean, safe water.  But we were detoured.  We will continue to work with the Malawian government to get back to Kanyamula.  The people there are important to us, their story and their need for water touched us, and we want to keep our word to them.  In the mean time, we continue on.  There are still so many without clean water.


If we had gotten back to Kanyamula this month, Malawians in  Zolomondo would not be celebrating right now. There has never been a pump in their town.  The people there collect their water from open wells which dry up during this season.  Instead of searching for another water source, the villagers in Zolomondo have a source – their very own LifePump™.

“Once water was flowing where it never had before, the people were very excited and everyone wanted to pump water. It was an awesome sight, needless to say. As the large buckets were being filled, people would place small buckets and bowls under the pump just to taste the water. They would drink from the bowl and then pass it around. One of the older men in the village asked if we have villages in America, and do we use these pumps there. It was difficult to explain that we have piped, safe water almost everywhere, or electric pumps in wells. We take so much for granted.”


As our nation heads into a season of Thanksgiving, we are giving thanks for a detour and a road we did not choose – all that lead us to a town that now has safe water to drink.  And, as always, we are giving thanks for you.  This is important and exciting work, but we could not design and plan and drill and travel and offer our help without you.

Let’s not stop now.  There are still so many without clean water.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

PR News: Greg Bixler at the Accord WASH Summit


Abe Wright

Design Outreach
Telephone: (574) 527-3448

Press Release

Innovative Engineering Meets Humanitarian Efforts Approach to Provide Freshwater, says Greg Bixler of Design Outreach

Speaking at the 3rd ACCORD Summit on Excellence in WASH, Design Outreach’s CEO discusses how technology is now being used for a humanitarian end in the freshwater sector.

Winona Lake, IN – November 5, 2013 – Greg Bixler, co-founder and CEO of Indiana-based non-profit Design Outreach (DO), gave a stirring presentation at the recently concluded 3rd Annual Accord Summit on Excellence in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) held at Calvin College’s Prince Conference Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan from October 29-31, 2013. The event gathered together the major players in the advocacy to provide sustainable freshwater supply to villages in predominantly dry and arid regions around the globe.

Design Outreach, one of the top innovators in the freshwater movement, joined other major presenters in summit. Bixler presented the topic “Reaching Deeper: The Design Outreach’s New Handpump” where he provided the audience with a brief history of Design Outreach, their humanitarian work in Central Africa, and how they came up with their flagship project, the LIFEPUMP.

“When we first came to Africa, we found a large number of pumps were broken and the few remaining ones needed repair. Most of the pumps were already outdated and the parts are no longer in production,” shared Bixler, who is also a mechanical engineer, graduated from Ohio State University. “We realized that the problem was more than retooling a few spare parts: we needed to design an easy-to-use but powerful pump able to reach deep underground water. We often hear: ‘There is something in the air’. At Design Outreach, we say: ‘There is something underground’. It is water, and we are going to pump it up.”

Working with social entrepreneur and fellow engineer Abe Wright, they founded Design Outreach and came up with the innovative LIFEPUMP, which is capable of bringing up water from deep underground reservoirs in parched lands such as those in Central Africa. The hand-operated pump helped provide potable water to homes not only for drinking, washing and sanitation, but for irrigating farmlands in the countryside as well. Despite being powered only by two hands, the LIFEPUMP can draw water from as deep as 500 feet. Bixler presented how this sustainable solution has worked in bringing, not only water, but also hope to a growing number of villages worldwide.

However, the work is not yet done, according to Bixler. Design Outreach continues to improve the design of the LIFEPUMP, educate people from the village on the role of sanitation and hygiene in community living, and extend their network of partners to save more lives with freshwater production.

“Our industry partners include subject matter experts as well as leading producers of key components to a larger solution. Some have specialized expertise, such as in progressive cavity pumps for instance,” Bixler said. “We are proud to be a part of the ACCORD Summit since its foundation in 2011. This Michigan event will help us to scale up so we can provide thousands more villages with clean water.”

For more information about Design Outreach and their LIFEPUMP system, visit their website,, or watch this video on YouTube.

Interested donors and partners may also connect with Design Outreach through their Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In accounts.

About Design Outreach

Design Outreach (DO) is a non-profit organization which creates life-sustaining solutions for developing countries. DO works with volunteers, donors, and suppliers in creating products that create impact on the fight against poverty, particularly on the forefront of the global water crisis.

Design Outreach envisions developing countries empowered to face the challenges of poverty through properly engineering everyday products. To achieve this vision, DO collaborate with established field partners who are engaged and live with the people who will eventually use the product.  This invaluable anthropological, customer-based approach to product design is the key to the sustainability and scalability of their systems.

Design Outreach can be reached through PO Box 763, Winona Lake, IN 46590 or by telephone 574-527-3448 and email: