Student Non-Profit Enters Phase Two
Children play amongst the trash and human waste on a Lido beach
Five SDSU MBA students, including Zach Parker, wrote a business plan for their Management 743 class that eventually turned into a real non-profit organization called Walu International. The goal of Walu International is to provide the citizens of Lido, Papua New Guinea with clean drinking water and compostable toilets.
The plan was launched when Parker, looking for a good spot to surf, was directed to Lido. When Parker arrived, he was horrified at the lack of sanitary facilities and the lack of clean drinking water.
In November 2009, Walu International held a fundraiser to purchase the supplies for the toilets and three water purification systems, with the intent of implementing them in early January 2010.
As with many things in life, the implementation didn’t go as planned. Prior to the trip, Parker contacted non-profit organization SurfAid International to ask their advice and, with their input, Parker scrapped his original plan in favor of using the trip to engage and educate the citizens of Lido.
Since English is widely spoken, language translation was not needed and that was of major importance when Parker called several meetings of the townspeople. Rather than telling the citizens what Walu intended to do, Parker instead got their feedback as to what they saw as their most pressing issues within the community. Walu’s goal was to engage the people of the community so that they could recognize community problems on their own with the goal of empowering them to find their own solutions.
SDSU student, Zach Parker, asks the women of Lido about issues in their community
Engaging the community has been encouraging. Parker reported that one of the community elders told him that Walu was the first organization to ask the community what they wanted rather than to force a solution on them. While the lack of electricity also ranked as a major concern, the community acknowledged that using the beach as a toilet/dumpster and their lack of clean drinking water were problems that needed to be addressed.
UV rays naturally emitted by the sun neutralize some harmful bacteria if water is exposed to sunlight over a prescribed period of time.
Parker returned to the U.S. in mid-January realizing that Walu had more work to do. The group sent the mechanical water purification systems they had originally planned to use back to the manufacturer and arranged for a third trip to Lido this summer.
During the third trip, Walu will determine which method of water purification townspeople would like to use, helping to secure the necessary materials and assisting in implementing the process, if need be. Additionally, the group will be educating the people of Lido on the use and construction of composing toilets where waste can be turned into a natural fertilizer source.