RENO — A University of Nevada, Reno, student of Global Humanities gulped down green, murky water drawn from Manzanita Lake Friday using a special filtration straw as part of a competition to raise funds and awareness to provide water filtration devices for children and families in Kenya, Africa.
“I was a little nervous,” said Sierra Lockwood, a senior Psychology Major. “It tasted better than the tap water I get at home.”
Professor Gerold Dermid was supposed to drink the lake water, but asked the class for a volunteer instead. Dermid is teaching his students about global health crisis this year, he said. Part of that will be to participate in the competition to raise money for the Life Straws.
More than 70 students will compete to provide Life Straws to underprivileged people in Kenya. Each class will launch one awareness campaign, execute one fundraising initiative and use social media as the platform for marketing, weekly blogs and awareness.
For every $5 raised, the Reno-based charity organization Think Kindness will distribute one LifeStraw, a device that easily filters 1,000 liters of contaminated water — removing 99 percent of waterborne protozoan parasites and bacteria —to an underprivileged person in Kenya in August.
“Our mission as an organization is to inspire people to come together to make a big difference in some way,” said Brian Williams, president of Think Kindness. “This year, we opted to use water filtration as our next global act of kindness.”
The special straws are manufactured in Kenya, which is why Think Kindness chose to provide aid to that country. Distributing the straws to Kenya would be convenient, Williams said.
Each personal straw filters 900 liters of contaminated water and can be worn as a necklace. LifeStraw also makes family filtration units that filter 18,000 liters of water, providing a three-year supply of water, Williams said.
To prove that a LifeStraw safely provides drinking water, Dermid chose to use water from Manzanita Lake, located on the UNR campus, as part of the experiment. He chose water as the catalyst for this year’s challenge due to the fact that half of all hospital beds in Africa are filled because people get sick from water-born illnesses.
Think Kindness is funded mainly by Mini of Reno, a car dealer — which has promised to match funds raised for the LifeStraw event up to $1,000 — and St. Mary’s Foundation.