: Blue Heart Charity

Discussion Forum

Funds from other organization

By Humana People to People India Posted on Wed 27 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Dear Eugene,

we really appreciate your commitment and work for the people.
As you are a registered body you can access funds from other funding agencies and as Depti said you can also look for more network and NGO's working in same field.

keep the good work.

Kusum

Blue Heart Charity location and contact information?

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Wed 30 Mar 2011, about 10 years ago

As Mark Steele related, your website is expired. The PWX affords the opportunity for small, all volunteer groups to partner with similar organizations, but we need more information on your mission statement, objectives and strengths.

I am particularly interested in learning of the on-going performance of the wells that have been installed. Any maintenance issues, who is responsible for repairs, are there periodic reports from the communities served?

Thanks,

Blue Heart Charity location and contact information?

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Fri 01 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Hi Michael,
We are changing web service providers at this time. (Poor timing I guess)
The first wells were installed in 6/2009. The last time I was there and inspected the wells, was 6/2010. At that time all wells were working just fine with the exception of one. When we installed that well in 6/2009 it pumped clear water right away but after that it began to suck sand. So on my second trip in 11/2009 we dug it deeper. In 3/2010 I received word from my contact in Siem Reap that the well was sucking sand again so we added it to our work list in 6/2010 and we pulled it and moved it. I will inspect it when I return this May and hopefully it will finally be pumping reliably. In general I get updates from my contact in Siem Reap and I return and inspect the wells usually twice a year and repair as needed.
Thank you.

Sharing your experience

By Blue Planet Network Posted on Wed 30 Mar 2011, about 10 years ago

Thanks for your work in Cambodia!
I think your direct, hands on volunteer model is extremely important world wide, especially in combination with PWX.

How have you documented the status of your past wells?

I noticed your web site URL had expired. But I did find a great video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTvJOSaopac

How many projects do you think your can oversee in one year?

Do you have ideas about how your experience could help more small organizations get started creating water is communities in other countries?

Sharing your experience

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Fri 01 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Hi Mark,
I keep a list of the wells we produce with the GPS coordinates for the well and I visit the wells each time I return to Cambodia and record their status.
The webpage has moved to a new location. (blueheartcharity.vpweb.com) We have not had a chance to rebuild it yet but it will happen soon. The video you found is one of 4 on that site that was produced by one of our supports. In fact she is the person that got me started in Cambodia.
Currently I can handle two projects a year that require me to be on location. As we expand our board of directors the BHC will increase capabilities and thus support more.
For your last question, I will have to think about that for awhile. I am still learning a lot myself.

Thank you.

Sharing your experience

By Blue Planet Network Posted on Tue 12 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Thanks, Eugene, for your replies to this and the other questions.

I think your experience will be valuable for many other small, new organizations. There is an enormous need for people like you to be able to access info on how to facilitate long lasting water projects in almost a do-it-yourself formula. This will spread to communities and allow projects to start springing up organically.

Sharing your experience

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Wed 13 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Thanks Mark,
I am glad to be in consideration for this membership. I have already learned a few things just from the application process. I hope to have more opportunities to learn and to share what I have learned with others.
Eugene

What education has been required for the ongoing use and maintenance of the wells?

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Wed 30 Mar 2011, about 10 years ago

Welcome to the wonderful screening process of PWX. We all learned so much from it.

My focus is education, as we have heard so many stories of wells being given to similar villages, and after the charity leaves, the wells fall into disrepair.....and are no longer used...... this maybe part of Mike's question above, if so please feel free to answer in either place :-)

I also noticed in your video, there does seem to be some pipes from the roofs into some sort of storage containers and I am interested to know if they are collecting rain? Off topic, maybe but I am interested.

What education has been required for the ongoing use and maintenance of the wells?

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Fri 01 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Hi Caroline,
I understand. I have observed this myself and it is one of the reasons I chose to take charge of my charitable contributions and form the BHC. My original plan / commitment was to continue to return and maintain the wells myself even if we did not have the funds to install new wells. However I have been more successful than I had expected and we are able to produce more wells than I expected. Our goals are to install 16 new wells this year. Because we are continuing to work in the same area it is physically possible for me maintain the wells but someday the number may be too great.
Yes they do collect rain water. Sometimes they just put a piece of corrugated metal in a large cement pot to do this. I worry about the way they store the water as they usually have no lids for these containers. RDI filters (clay pot style) can be purchased in the area for ~$20 but I don’t see anyone using them.
Thank you.

What education has been required for the ongoing use and maintenance of the wells?

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Tue 05 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

I am interested what the cell phone use/penetration is in the areas where you are installing wells? If not today, down the road this may be the means of educating and sending maintenance reminders to remote villages where you have installed a well, or where we work on a rain collection and storage initiative. I have been working in this space and see a great deal of potential, so I do look forward to your reply?

What education has been required for the ongoing use and maintenance of the wells?

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Thu 07 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

They seem to have great cell phone coverage in that area. In fact I have been from Siem Reap to the southern coast and many people use cell phones reliably. My understanding is that the phones do not cost much and they purchase chips that enable the phones to operate for some time, (sort of pay as you go) and the chips also do not cost much.
I like the idea of using cell phones to educate and track maintenance.
Thanks
Eugene

Structure of Org

By Humana People to People India Posted on Tue 05 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Dear Eugene,

I believe you have started working with water for the sake of community benefit and I appreciate your initiative, Its good time you met Mr. Rajesh from PWX, I want to know more about organization structure do you have a good team or you all are volunteers?

Kusum

Structure of Org

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Thu 07 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Our organization is small. Only 2 board members and the rest are volunteers. We are looking to expand our board membership and have interested candidates at this time. I have 2 volunteers in Cambodia and Thailand and 5 volunteers in the USA. I do some work with a local Rotary club and the Intel Foundation as well which has involved a lot of people in fundraising, planning and awareness activities.
Thanks
Eugene

Structure of Org

By Team Blue Posted on Tue 12 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

You mention Rotary and Intel as supporters of your efforts. Can you tell us more about the nature of these relationships? Our Chagrin Valley Rotary Club has been a supporter of Katie Spotz, Blue Planet Network and PWX for several years. We just completed a major fund raiser last Saturday night a portion of which will go through PWX vetting before designation to a Central American PWX member. What experience have you had with Rotarians that possibly might be expanded with PWX membership? Also, tell us more about the Intel status as they are also a very creative organization dedicated to helping others.
Thanks,
Roger

Structure of Org

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Wed 13 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Roger
My experience with Rotarians has proven to me that they are a very capable and generous group of individuals. They seek value for their charitable contributions. They want to know that you’re helping people that need help in a way that is durable and sustainable. There are also willing to help with other resources such as contacts in other countries information about fund raising cycles etc. They have funded BHC projects in Cambodia. With PWX membership potentially they would be interested in supporting even larger projects.
As for my relationship with Intel, I have been an engineer and or an engineering manager for the Intel Corporation for 20 plus years. Because of that I have access to the Intel foundation and I can apply for grants and funding from other various programs. Occasionally I speak at their campaigns to help spread awareness interment volunteering. Thus individuals from Intel have volunteered for the Blue Heart Charity and more have expressed interest in volunteering in the future.
Thanks.
Eugene

Sustainability and synergy

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Mon 25 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

It often amazes me how much a small organization such as yours can make such a difference. What you have achieved is truly amazing.

But when I read that you were returning to repair wells and the infrastructure, that worried me. Ideally, this should be something that members of the local community should be doing. Unless you can find a way of getting the community to carry out the servicing and repairs, none of your projects will be sustainable - they will always be dependent on you returning to make repairs.

Of course it is not always easy to raise capacity of community members who have been deprived of education to the level where they can fix or repair well equipment. But if you do not achieve this, you will find yourself devoting more and more time to repairs and eventually you will not be able to achieve this when enough wells have come on line.

To make the scenario more sustainable, the has to be some way of funding the remuneration of the persons who can service the wells and equipment. Ideally, that should be self-funding. But this is hard to do if all you are providing is well water that is not filters and that still has to be carried to each house. If you were providing water that is cleaned and piped to homes, the possibility of imposing a small monthly charge would be more feasible. The charge could be used to pay for the servicing of the equipment.

To achieve this would be impossible for your organization as it is currently constituted. However, it should be possible for your organization to team up with other NGOs. It seems to me that your organization has a specialty, which is to dig wells, bring wells on line using basic and appropriate technology (from what I understand, you are using hand-pump technology) and to teach locals how to maintain wells and well equipment. Why not team up with an organization that is also involved in clean water provision? You could provide the wells and well equipment and educate a local person in well maintenance and they provide the water cleaning/filtering methods and the pipe bringing the water directly to houses. In combination, this would allow for a sustainable solution as the locals would be prepared to contribute both in terms of labor and monthly payments.

Yes, there are bound to be lots of problems. Pumping water requires electricity which is sometimes not available and usually very expensive in Cambodia. However, new solutions are available, such as solar panels that are produced by Sunlabob, a company based in Laos that provides such solutions to clean water projects.

It is a tough choice - whether to remain small but independent and volunteer based or whether to scale up by partnering with another organization that will not likely be volunteer based and has a different philosophy from yours.

Sustainability and synergy

By Team Blue Posted on Wed 27 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Dear Eugene,

It has been wonderful to get a glimpse of your work via PWX. I greatly appreciate the openness and introspection in your replies.

Just as Dan commented, I too am inspired by the size and dedication of your efforts. Likewise, I'm also concerned about the technical sustainability of your inspiring work.

In your reply to Rajesh's question on "Need and Long-Term Plan", I am very happy that you openly expressed, "As for fostering local structure for maintenance etc, I have not done this. I need to start doing this and could really use some advice as to how to start a program and what kind of program is most likely to work in what situations / conditions."

(THANK YOU for being open about both your accomplishments and need for improvement. I have come across very few groups who openly share what they need to improve upon!)

Dan has given great ideas with regards to a service delivery model which could both help maintain the units and also create some sort financial sustainability/incentive for local to maintain the units. A seemingly successful example/analogy of Dan's point is Husk Power: http://www.huskpowersystems.com/

Albeit Husk Power's focus is electricity and not water (and for profit versus non profit), their service delivery model encompassing of local talent is what keeps the quality, technical, and financial sustainability of their projects in tact.

Because my inspiration during last 7 years has been empowered local experts that implement and sustain rural infrastructure projects, I would like to offer more ideas on involving local talent to ensure technical sustainability:

1. Instead of being the direct implementor, have you thought about eventually facilitating a group of locals to implement projects?

2. As you know, most rural communities have wonderfully dedicated youth who may not have been formally educated but can absorb anything taught to them with a hands-on approach. (In my experiences, there is often much to learn from the robust rural talent pool!) Have you thought about creating a basic curriculum to help knowledge exchange between you and the benefiting communities?

3. Would you like to meet others in the water-related work who have focused on knowledge transfer? If so, I would be glad to introduce to you to those that I know. (I have in mind several experts from Sun Energy Power: http://www.sunepi.org/mission.html)

Thank you.

Sustainability and synergy

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Wed 27 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Eugene,
To the excellent comments/suggestions from Dipti Vaghela I would like to add the possiblity to encourage implementation and maintenance at the local level through training followed by financing of future installations via microlending programs. This could also provide a force-multiplier, expanding the benefits of safe drinking water to many more homes while providing a business opportunity to members of the community . . . sustainability, synergy and grassroots economic development. Microlending is not an area in which I have any expertise, but it certainly seems like a complementary concept.
Thanks.

Sustainability and synergy

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Thu 28 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Hi Dipti,
I have given this some thought but still don’t have not tried to implement. Here is the situation. I travel to Cambodia to fund, coordinate and oversee the projects but I use local contractors to drill the well and build the base and install the pump. The labor is inexpensive. The pump and one of the valves is the greatest single expense. The equipment used is fairly simple but it does require gas powered water pump and air pump that is fairly expensive for Cambodians. If I provide the equipment and training, the people I serve would still not be able to afford the parts. That said I am always interested in meeting people that can help me understand more about this. 
My situation with understanding maintenance is that I haven’t found the best fit for my circumstance. Here is the situation. Once the well is completely installed, if it fails shortly after installation, it is usually because the foot lacks a thick gravel base and it begins to suck sand up the well pipe. If that happens we blow the foot again and if that doesn’t work we have to move the well. This has only happened to me once and I don’t look at that as a maintenance issue but an installation complication. (That has only happened once out of 19 wells) Assuming the installation is successful, general maintenance consists of just cleaning the inside of the pump cylinder and the top valve so no expense. Eventually the rubber on upper valve deteriorates and needs replaced but that can be years and the expense is not significant. If the bottom valve fails we have to break and replace the concrete base, (a bit more expensive) but this also takes years and it starts as a slow loss of pump efficiency. Eventually the concrete base will fail and need replaced. (Not the biggest expense but it does cost some money to replace) In short if the install is good the well should work without money for maintenance for 10+ years. When a situation occurs that requires money for maintenance it usually isn’t a great deal of money but it does require some experience with masonry and potentially a fuel powered water\air pump. Originally I thought I would just continue to revisit the wells and as they aged I would spend some of the funds I raise for repairs and give then another 10 years of service. I realize that if I install hundreds of wells over time I will have difficulties with that plan. However I can always visit the wells that are 1 or 2 or even 3 years old and make sure the installation was good. I usually look for a working male in the area and ask them if they understand how to care for / clean the well for regular operation. They usually do as these pumps are very common in the area and are even used in the city of Siem Reap.
What I don’t know is how to begin a community savings plan that will be viable for years given that it may not be needed for years and that the people around the well sites may come and go. Further exacerbated by their financial condition, it is difficult for me to imagine anyone saving or holding even $10 dollars for 1 year. Actual money in the villages is scarce and desperation can make people do things beyond reason.
I want to thank everyone for the time you take to help me understand this better and for all of the offers to help and the many different creative ways to approach this problem. If nothing else I am smarter to have gone through this process and definitely encouraged by all of your offers to help!!
Thank you!
Eugene Nelson

Need and long-term plans

By Blue Planet Network Posted on Thu 31 Mar 2011, about 10 years ago

When Bo (one of Blue Heart Charity supporters) met Jin at a conference, the conversation started. Gene, Bo and i had a long call and i invited them to join PWX.

From my viewpoint and considering the realities of today, being a member of PWX is less about fundraising, and more about collaboration, project management, long-term monitoring, and learning/sharing.

In that vein, here are some sets of questions:

1. What is your relationship to Cambodia? If you are not establishing local, real, self-help potential, you can be seen only as some foreigners bringing help. Where is the local structure caring for the maintenance etc.?

2. What is your long-term vision? You have great passion and it shows in your ability to fundraise for your projects. Your ability to steer projects is aligned with your funding. However, after gaining experience, do you have plans that require larger funding or more organizational ability?

3. Cambodia is not known for its water scarcity. I am sure the local poor need water, and it could be more a quality issue. Please could you (and others like EMW) educate us and help us (the collective) decide where there is greater need?

Thanks,
Rajesh

Need and long-term plans

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Fri 01 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Hi Rajesh,
I don’t really have a relationship with Cambodia. I just started working there because when I was presented with the opportunity, it met our criteria so well. In other words, I look for opportunities to help the most people possible with the least amount of resources. There are so many people in need there and money goes very far. As for fostering local structure for maintenance etc, I have not done this. I need to start doing this and could really use some advice as to how to start a program and what kind of program is most likely to work in what situations / conditions.
My long term vision in general is to expand our board of directors and expand our capabilities. At some point depending on funding maybe breaking away from individual hand pump wells and install larger systems that serve communities. In 2012 I have considerably more vacation time than I usually have so we are targeting and fundraising for a big project then. We are still in the early planning stages for 2012.
There are two kinds of villages where I work. Some of the villages are literally built on both banks of a river and they just continue up the river so they have a great deal of polluted water. Others are in rice producing villages so they have little to no water in the dry season and a great deal of water in the wet season but it is just surface water from the fields. Sometimes they will dig a hole and collect water from that but that is also polluted. Maybe this water could be purified for consumption cheaper than clean water sources can be established. I don’t know.
Thank you.

Need and long-term plans

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Fri 01 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Eugene,
One of the exciting aspects of the PWX concept is that there are a number of non-profit members with differing expertise, providing great opportunities for partnering on programs in addition to funding possibilities within PWX. Some of the current members specialize in low cost filteration methods using locally available materials (and teaching the villagers to make them themselves). Our little group is focused on rainfall harvest/storage using locally available recycled materials, again training/coaching the end users to construct and maintain the systems and teach others to duplicate their installations. Where the water table is easily reached, wells may be the practical solution, but as a member of the PWX you would have other methods available within the group when appropriate.
Bank On Rain is new to PWX, but very enthusiastic about the opportunites to partner with other members. We have seen that "appropriate technology" and sustainability are aspects of projects often overlooked by large NGO's. My read is that the PWX approach makes these basic criteria an important part of every project, as well as post-installation follow-up. Building relationships with the communities can be an important part of each project. How do you select a village to work with?
Thanks,
Mike

Need and long-term plans

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Tue 05 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

When I started the 9 Wells Project in Cambodia, I just started where my friend and guide Judith Golden had left off, in Slorkram Cambodia. The goal was to put one well every .5 miles along both sides of the river that runs through the village and that was going to take at least 9 more wells than she had installed. Turns out they need a bit more than nine wells to accomplish this but that is where we started. While working there I began to explore some smaller villages further away from Siem Reap and have discovered they have a great need for clean water also. To select a site I look for an area in the village where there are concentrations of people / children and suitable sites for a well. I also look for areas that have very few rocks in the soil as it hampers progress and can raise expenses.
Thanks
Eugene

Need and long-term plans

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Wed 13 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Eugene,
Can you supply some of the information we might have been able to extract from your website if it were still functioning? Basic stuff, when founded, mission statement, typical project budget (or a past grant proposal), what you think may be the strengths of your group (a guide for pairing possible partnering within PWX) and anything else you think might be helpful to those of us tasked with the homework assignment of evaluation. Thanks,
Mike

Need and long-term plans

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Tue 19 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Hi Mike
We were founded March 18th 2009
Our Mission Statement is:
Provide aid to mothers and children who lack the basic necessities, in the most durable and cost effective manner.
The best way to look at project budget is on a yearly basis as we have been trying to spend all that we fundraise in that same year. Generally that takes 2 trips per year and we install as many wells as we have funding. 2009 was ~6K, 2010 was ~7K. For 2011 the budget will be ~$8K and we are targeting 16 new wells with that funding. For 2012 I need to raise ~8K just to stay on par with 2011 but I also have more time to spend on projects so I could potentially do something larger if I can raise more funds.
Our strengths would be planning and implementation. I have 20 years experience planning, coordinating and implementing engineering projects around the world. I view these projects in much the same way. (What is the maximum return on investment, what is the most effective way to execute, how do you scope and mitigate the risks, etc.) Our projects are very successful.
One thing that might help you understand us and maybe different about the BHC is that it was founded to provide benefactors with a charity that would use 100% of the funds to facilitate aid for the impoverished. To guarantee benefactors that their contributions were going to solve problems that save lives not pay wages or treat symptoms. We also believe that a small amount of resources, properly applied and managed, can cause a significant impact in the lives of the impoverished. So we look for opportunities to do the most with the least. It is one of reasons I can really appreciate the PWX.
Thanks -Eugene

Need and long-term plans

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Tue 19 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Thanks Eugene,
Blue Heart Charity sounds like a good match with the PWX philosophy.
Mike

Need and long-term plans

By Bank-On-Rain Posted on Tue 19 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Yes, I agree with Mike. I have been traveling and short on time to comment but I have been following everything closely. It seems to me small passionate "can do" small groups like yours can move mountains, a little bit at a time. However with an organization such at PWX where resources including expertise (very much so) are shared we can all help you speed up the efficiency and sustainability of what you set out to and do accomplish.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer and respond to our group.

Need and long-term plans

By Blue Heart Charity Posted on Wed 20 Apr 2011, about 10 years ago

Thank you. It is my pleasure. I am glad to have the opportunity.

Eugene


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