By Allison Perry ‘08
There’s nothing like a cold glass of water. It’s refreshing, revitalizing and we need it to survive. Yet for some, a simple drink of water can be deadly. In developing nations around the world, millions of people are exposed to and consume impure, contaminated water.
Drinking or using this water for daily purposes may make users susceptible to life-threatening diseases.
After graduating from Geneva in 1977, John Hays began working for the water department in Washington, Iowa. He spent the majority of his life providing clean, pure water to this midwest town, but when he saw an article describing the deadly effects of bacteria in water, he decided it was time to make a career change.
Hays launched an initiative called International Water Management Systems through the Pure Water for All Foundation. Dedicated to providing safe water to people everywhere, this faith-based company provides water purifiers and chlorine generators to developing nations at a decreased cost.
When he became the superintendent of the water department, Hays utilized his expertise and knowledge of water to create a chlorine generator. This hand-held device can purify water for hundreds of people, yet is small enough to transport easily throughout villages and other rural communities.
“I designed this unit to make ‘pristine’ water,” Hays says, and for people in villages throughout Africa and Latin America, this “pristine water” has transformed their way of life.
Families, as well as organizations such as hospitals and orphanages, now have access to water free from contamination or disease.
Hays witnessed this transformation first-hand in Tanzania, where villages served by the chlorine generator experienced a decrease in typhoid fever cases and infant mortality rates.
Now there are over 200 units in 18 countries, and Hays has personally delivered units to villages in Nicaragua, Tanzania and Mexico. But each time he makes a trip, he brings more than chlorine generators to the villagers— he also brings Bibles and shares the good news of Jesus Christ.
“The result of that goes far beyond giving water,” he says. “I am actually seeing physical and spiritual lives being saved.”
The first biopsychology major graduated in 2012 and has been hired as an IOM Tech in UPMC’s Center for Clinical Neurophysiology (CCN).