April 2015

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Water is Life

A world without water is a world void of life. Mars is a perfect example. Humans need water to survive—and not just for the physical health benefits it offers. Water is crucial for the growth of plants, for bathing, cooking, cleaning, making mud to build bricks, and so much more.

Last March, Amelia—a journalist for Pumps and Systems Magazine—joined us on a trip to Malawi and Zambia. Seeing the dry, hot African plains with limited water made her realize just how important clean water is.

Side note: Amelia was part of a bible study on the book of John. Ironically, jut before coming to Africa, it was her week to teach the lesson, which just so happened to be about John 4—the woman at the well.

In that story, the woman—an outcast, is getting water from the well. Jesus begins speaking to her and tells her all she ever did; how she had been married to 5 men, and was currently with a man who was not her husband. Why did he point it out? Because it proved she was soul-thirsty. She was looking to fill a void that nothing could satisfy. And as a response Jesus didn’t condemn her. He told her that he could give her living water so she never thirsted again. His water offered life. Eternal life. He was the wellspring she needed.

As Amelia went to Africa, she couldn’t help but compare the two scenarios; the one in the Bible, and the one in present-day third-world nation. Both included a dryness that wears down the soul. Without LifePumps, the African women would often be gone for 12 hours per day, getting water at the well, which would slowly drip brown water into a bucket. After fighting off hyenas and other wild animals, the women would walk miles back to their homes, where they would attempt to feed their children.

Marriages were falling apart because the women were never able to be with their families. Kids were not going to school because they had to pick up the slack at home.

But with the Lifepump, women were able to stay home. Their marriages were doing better. They were able to plant gardens and make bricks to build homes. Kids were going to school. The Lifepump truly brought life to the village.

And Amelia thought about how the Lord does that for us. He doesn’t just satisfy a small thirst within us. He gives us life abundantly. His “water” on our dry souls gives us an all-encompassing life change. And she was able to share that with the Africans she met.

How appropriate that it is called the Lifepump. What a great way to exemplify the values Design Outreach is founded on: The Lord offers life. And like he did for the woman at the well that hot day 2,000 years ago, the water he offers you and I today quenches for more than a moment, in more than one way. It lasts for eternity.

To hear the story from Amelia’s perspective, check out her article in the Pumps and Systems Magazine.





A New Perspective

Dina Tayim recently went on a trip to Africa with Design Outreach. She shared some of her reflections with us, and we thought you would enjoy hearing about it too!

It’s crazy to think our trip was only a few weeks ago. What an incredible experience! It makes everything I’ve done for Design Outreach so real. Seeing the end-user experience was very eye opening. Even though I knew that such underdeveloped communities existed, it’s different now that I have seen it first hand. It’s so weird to wake up in a bed every morning, drive my car to work, complain about gas prices, go through whatever the daily grind might be, knowing that I have personally met—and I’d like to think befriended—people who live in mud and straw huts with limited access to water. It is just so jarring. I haven’t quite figured out how to reconcile my thoughts.

Being able to meet with World Vision, and the pump technicians, and the village community helped me gain a lot of insight into how things work and are managed end-to-end. One week was an extremely short amount of time, so I feel like we got a lot accomplished considering.

One thing that made me slightly uncomfortable (in a good way!) was the language barrier. It was great to bond over learning some new words, but it was really strange being the outcast in a sense. At the same time we were always the center of attention, which was totally expected, but still a little strange. As soon as I started walking over to the kid on the soccer field, I could literally feel every single persons eye’s on me, waiting to see where I was going, what I was going to do, etc. Even at a village in Malawi, all the kids remembered my name when we came back a second time. To me, that enforces the fact that we actually have a lasting impression on the people. They will remember us, and what we did, and most importantly, how we made them feel. And vice-versa. This is an incredible responsibility and I’m honored to help represent DO.

The kiddos made me happy. They are just so innocent and enthusiastic; you can’t help but feel happy around them. They are also the easiest to get along with, and bonding with them was a major highlight of the trip for me. I am also extremely thankful for our awesome drivers, Paul and Maybin. They were incredibly gracious hosts and I hope to keep in touch with them. Nothing really made me sad other than not having enough time.

I hope to go back someday.


Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Janet Bixler

Recently, we introduced our new team member Jeff. Over the next few months, we want to take time to introduce our volunteers and partners who have made Design Outreach possible. Today, we would like you to meet Janet Bixler—proud mother of Greg Bixler. She has been a huge part of our fundraising success, and would like to share the impact it has had on her personally.

I have always heard about the poor people across the ocean—especially Africa—that die from famine, lack of clean water, unsanitary conditions, no medical help, etc. and felt sorry for them. But that is as far as it went because I knew I could not do much.

Yes, my church sends children’s dresses, money for mosquito nets, and blankets to foreign countries—but never did anything about lack of clean water. That was always someone else’s problem. When Greg started to talk about this pump project, before it was called Design Outreach, his dad and I had doubts as to how anyone could make such a major impact on this huge problem. Through these last several years, he and his team have made tremendous strides in something that has proven to work. If it weren’t for Greg’s faith in God and his perseverance, Design Outreach would not have gotten off the ground.

Because of the long discussions and Greg’s recent travels to Africa, I became a champion leader for the 100-pump project. I talked to my pastor about this project and how I felt that it was God’s will that we should raise enough money for a pump. I was apprehensive at first since our members are older and on fixed incomes—but they are very faithful when it comes to missions. My pastor suggested that we have a drive-thru spaghetti supper on home football games. I recruited several people to help me, and for three Fridays we had the best spaghetti deal around!

Despite rain and burnt sauce, we raised several hundred dollars. However, we had a long ways to go. Greg came to church and showed some of his recent pictures and talked to the congregation about the project. People started to hand me checks and cash. I was overwhelmed. Whenever I saw someone, I would talk about it and they would hand me money. I carried the DO cards with me and handed them to relatives and friends. I used Facebook and e-mail to inform people of current trips and how things were going. I wanted to keep people up-to-date and informed of the tremendous job DO has been doing. Finally at Christmas time, we offered a match for whatever was donated and used it as a gift in memory of someone’s birthday, Christmas present, or whatever. This seemed to be very successful.

I took some of Greg’s pictures and made them into posters and made a display at church. This showed the congregation that they were real people and real villages.

We did raise enough money and are anxiously waiting to hear when the pump will be installed in Kenya in December. I am planning on making more posters as a follow-up.

There are not enough words to show how proud we are of Greg, (although we are prejudice), and his team in this fantastic job that God has put upon them. I know it has changed my perspective of what we can do as individuals.


Meet Our New Marketing & Communication Specialist

We recently welcomed Jeff Jackson, a part-time marketing and communications specialist, to the Design Outreach team. Jeff comes with a vast array of experience and a deep passion for serving developing countries. Our marketing partners at 212 Media Studios took a few minutes to get to know Jeff—and thought you would love to meet him too. Here is a glimpse at their Q&A time:

Q: What brought you to DO?

A: “I am in the same church as Thom Haubert, (one of DO’s engineers), and responded to the job posting he put on one of our email lines. I would like to think it was divine providence, but I’m sure there was a bit of ‘right place, right time’ thrown in there as well!”

Q: What other experience do you have in this field?

A: “I studied Landscape Architecture and Urban Design during undergrad, and took part in a study abroad international development studio in Ghana, where I saw first hand how design and planning could be used in the developing world. After graduating, I took a job doing Real Estate Marketing, but I never lost my concern for developing countries. I have since traveled to Kenya to take part in a hospital master plan with Engineering Ministries International, and to India to intern with India Gospel League. After my trip to India I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Community and Economic Development to better understand how cities and communities can be formed both physically and operationally. I am thinking about pursuing a PhD in City & Regional Planning—but we’ll see how I feel after graduate school!”

Q: Where are you from? Married? Have kids?

A: “I was born and raised in Columbus, OH. I am currently single but live with 10 of my close friends, who can sometimes count as children albeit in an endearing sort of way.”

Q: Why are you excited to work with DO?

A: “I am honored to be able to come alongside the DO team to contribute not just my skills and experience, but passion for meeting the needs of those in developing countries. I’m excited to be used by God in the ways He’s gifted me in order to accomplish the good works He’s set before me.”

Q: What responsibilities will your job include? And how many hours per week?

A: “As of now it’s kind of a mixed bag of graphic design, administration, planning, marketing, communications, and fundraising coordination. I hope to use my skills as an urban designer/community and economic development professional to aid in creating new products for DO. As of now I am part time.”

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: “I have a broad background in the fine arts that I like to dabble in from time to time. I began my undergrad as a music major, and have been playing for most of my life. My main instruments are French Horn and Sitar (I know…weird combination). I also enjoy drawing (graphite /color pencil/calligraphy) but usually have to wait for a birthday, holiday, or wedding to have an excuse to make something.”

Want to get in touch with Jeff? Contact him via email at jeffj@doutreach.org

4th Grade Class Funds A LifePump

The following post was  taken from an article published by Jackie St. Angel on Rumson-Fair Haven Patch

RUMSON, NJ—“Luck is on your side today,” predicted Michael Dunn’s fortune cookie. Dunn of Middletown who is a Seventh Grade student at Holy Cross School, won the cookie and other prizes at the Cardboard Arcade Day fundraiser for charity, hosted by the school’s Fourth Grade. “I think the arcade is pretty cool,” he said, surveying more than twenty games with colorful names such as Crash and Burn, Plinko, Twirl a Whirl and Alpine Slide that the Fourth Grade students built from cardboard boxes. Luck definitely was on the side of the other students in the Catholic elementary school who came away with prizes, both large and small; an appreciation for the creativity of their classmates; and an awareness of the need for clean water in African villages—the catalyst for the fundraiser.

The money raised from the arcade will go to the Hundred Pump Project, a collaboration between Design Outreach, World Vision and private donors, to install 100 Life Pumps in five African countries this year. The pumps will provide long-lasting, clean water for tens of thousands of people in African villages.

The young entrepreneurs exceeded their fundraising goal of $1000. After a preview Arcade Day for families, donations started coming in from parents as well. An anonymous donor offered to match the amount raised. “There is a real possibility that we will reach $3000,” said Fourth Grade teacher, Maryjane Gallo. “The response from the students and from the parents has been phenomenal.”

In addition to having fun and engaging in community service, the project was a valuable learning opportunity for the Fourth Graders who also created posters and spoke to every class to promote the event throughout the school.

“We learned about Guinea worm disease that affects African communities that do not have safe water to drink and read the book A Long Walk to Water,” explained Gallo. “We try to support whatever the children choose for their charitable project and make it more meaningful.”

The idea for the charity of choice began as a dinner-table conversation in the home of Fourth Grade student, Paige Jaenicke of Middletown. Her father, Brian, heard a presentation at his workplace about the Hundred Pump Project. “I showed Paige the website and didn’t think anything more about it,” he recalled. “I was shocked when she told me she had a meeting with the Principal.”

“I couldn’t believe people didn’t have water,” explained Paige Jaenicke. So I thought we could do something about it.” She enlisted the help of her friends Mia Strazzella of Fair Haven, Charlotte Memon of Middletown, and Nina Mazzacco of Rumson to lobby for the charity and Mrs. Gallo who suggested the arcade.

The Fourth Grade students enthusiastically adopted the project and worked together to conceive of and build their games. Stephen Makin and Christopher Stypa of Rumson built Crash and Burn that challenged drivers to steer a car on a moving, curvy road.

Barrett Heine of Middletown and Owen Kenney of Rumson engineered a ball return using a network of PVC pipes for their game, aptly named Barrett’s & Owen’s Arcade. “The first thing they’ll see is a bucket of candy and then our amazing game,” exclaimed Heine who eagerly collected tickets from the players. “It’s awesome,” added Kenney, “because it’s for Africa.”

Holy Cross School, a Preschool through 8th Grade program, delivers a healthy balance of faith formation, academic excellence, and personal growth in a welcoming family atmosphere. Visit www.holycrossschoolrumson.org.