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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Water for the world 

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  • SEDGWICK — When Americans walk into the kitchen and turn on the faucet, we take it for granted our glass will immediately be filled with cool, clean water.However, for more than 800 million people across the globe, finding clean water isn’t this easy. Every 18 seconds, a child dies due to a lack of clean water, and the water crisis claims more lives annually than all global wars and violence combined.It was an issue that was laying heavily on the heart of  Joe Uhlman of Sedgwick. He said many times in Third World countries, children may walk up to 10 miles twice a day just to collect dirty water from stagnant pools — water that will eventually make them sick.“It was really depressing,” he said. “They know it’s bad, but there’s nothing else.”That’s why Uhlman decided to start his own charity called “Waterfull.” The Sedgwick-based charity has been in operation since March of this year, and it seeks to drill wells for people who have no access to clean water.While traditional charities rely on donations, Uhlman said Waterfull sells a product — bottled water — and donates all its profits to drilling wells.Uhlman was inspired to start his own bottled water charity after hearing a statistic from the United Nations estimating it would cost $30 billion to end the global water crisis. Since this is only about a third of what the world spends on bottled water in a year, he thought selling bottled water would be a good way to provide clean water for poorer areas of the globe.And Waterfull doesn’t just stop at drilling wells — the organization teaches locals how to drill wells for themselves and leaves them a kit so they can continue bettering surrounding communities.“I teach people who want to learn,” Uhlman said. “... They’re able to make a career out of this.”He said the water crisis is most severe in Africa, but people also are suffering in areas of South America and Asia.The organization recently traveled to Rwanda to work on two water projects, providing more than 4,500 people with access to clean water.His goal for the charity is to eventually drill one or two wells a month, providing clean water to about 36,000 people a year.“That’s enormous,” Uhlman said.Right now Waterfull bottled water can be purchased at several local stores, such as the Caddy Corner in Sedgwick and True Value in Hesston. Uhlman is seeking other stores who would be willing to carry the product on their shelves.For more information about the charity, call 207-4501 or 215-0101, email joe@waterfull.org, or visit www.waterfull.org. 

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