Phoenix Rising Alumnus Is Changing the World

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For most seventh graders, a goal might be getting better grades or having a new iPhone. Phoenix Rising alumni Noah Medrud, 12, Bald Hills, is dreaming bigger: He wants to bring clean drinking water to the world.

Noah, now at Ridgeline Middle School, and his father Wayne recently traveled to India where they helped train 120 people representing 40 NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in how to build biosand water filters.

The project was a collaboration between the South Asia Pure Water Initiative and Friendly Water for the World, an Olympia-based nonprofit. In India, where one in three families struggle to put clean water on the table, their work has the potential to make a huge impact.

“The Minister of Health and the Minister of Water Resources came down to the ashram where we were teaching,” Noah said. “They issued a memorandum of understanding that they would get biosand filters into 16,000 schools.”

At one school they visited, a well-intentioned NGO had put in a septic tank  — uphill of the village well and quite close to it. A test of a water sample was designed to change color depending on the purity of the water.

“This sample turned black,” Noah said. “You couldn’t see through it. I wouldn’t want to drink it.”

The experience made a big impression on Noah.

“I know now that we live in luxury compared to most people,” he said. “I don’t take things for granted the way I used to, like water. We think we can just open up the tap and water will come out. Not necessarily. We think we’ll have power any time we turn on a switch. They have rolling power cuts every so often. You may have hot water three hours out of the day as opposed to hot water any time.”

Both Noah and Wayne are excited about participating in future projects.

“There’s a big potential that we could be going to Uganda sometime in the summer,” said Wayne, “to use an ancient Chinese well-drilling method, along with a hand pump from Pakistan that has some unique properties. Two of them have already been done in Uganda with great success.” Meanwhile, Noah continues his role as one of the youngest board members of Friendly Water for the World.

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