The problem of contaminated water spurred the team to stand up and do something for the community. Their idea was to introduce the use of ceramic water filters to the residents. "Tinest namin ‘yung water, at nalaman namin na through these filters, napapababa ang coliform from 8 to 1.1,” said Rikki.
River Plains Subdivision is a relocation site in Iloilo City. It is now home to over 1,000 families who have been displaced from river banks and danger zones.
Transportation is quite challenging in this area, which is an hour’s drive from the city proper.
Another issue is access to clean water. There are at least 5,000 individuals living in the community, but only eight wells to provide their daily supply of water.
“State of calamity ang nangyari dito last May, kasi walang tubig. Nagrarasyon yung tubig, every 2 weeks lang meron. Nagkakagulo yung mga tao sa well dahil sa pila,” Richie Jurisprudencia from Village 3 recalls. “Marami rin ang nagkaroon ng skin diseases dahil may E. coli pala ang tubig dito,” he adds.
“Na-assign kami sa community at nalaman namin na contaminated ang water dito,” says Rikki Ba-aco, member of Team Molders. He and his team mates, Jessa Maria Genesila, Yvonne Zhang, Dana Mae Garzon, and Ezekiel Documento, are medical students from West Visayas State University. They are supported by their mentor, Pilar Malata.
The problem of contaminated water spurred the team to stand up and do something for the community. Their idea was to introduce the use of ceramic water filters to the residents. “Sinubukan namin ‘yung technology na nakita lang namin sa internet. Tinest namin ‘yung water, at nalaman namin na through these filters, napapababa ang coliform from 8 to 1.1,” said Rikki.
How do the ceramic filters work? The dirt from the water is filtered through micropores, and the silver nitrate kills the bacteria in the water.
The team tapped local potter Rainier Roa to help them design and perfect the ceramic filter. “Masaya ako na nakatulong ako sa mga tao na makagawa ng panggamit nila sa tubig para maging mas malinis. Para hindi na sila masyado bibili ng tubig, kahit na sa balon pwede na sila makakuha ng tubig,” says Rainier.
To hasten the water filtration and provide access to clean water to more families, the team came up with an innovation: the use of mudballs. These mudballs, made of clay, bukashi, and other ingredients, release nutrients when submerged into the wells for at least a month.
Through this project, over fifty families are now equipped with ceramic filters in their homes, and are able to make their own filters and mudballs from scratch.
“Mainam po ito para makabawas sa gastos namin araw-araw, at iwas na rin sa E. coli,” says Lina Rizano, River Plains resident and constant supporter of the group. “Palagi po akong nadalo sa mga seminar nila, wala pa akong absent, dahil kung sila nga pumupunta pa dito para tumulong, syempre tutulong din ako,” she adds.
Rikki says that their project has been very fulfilling. “Malaki ‘yung binuhos nami’ng effort at sacrifice dito. It was not easy at first. Medical students kami, at summer namin ngayon. Ito lang yung time na pwede namin i-spend with our families. Yet we chose to be here. We’ve found a family among the residents of River Plains. We’ve witnessed the bayanihan spirit within the community. We are very happy na hindi lang malinis na tubig ang nai-provide namin sa kanila. Napagka-isa rin namin sila.”
With this, Richie vows, “Tutulungan ko yung mga community leader na ma-serve ang mga filters sa kanilang mga bahay, para healthier Philippines na tayo.”
Team Molders is a National Finalist of Ideas Positive Run 6. This article is part of the #IdeasPositiveRun6 series, which documents the transformation of 13 communities through the innovative ideas of 13 youth teams. Follow their story as they build a healthier Philippines, one community at a time.