Everett native, Nicci Renouard, is returning to attend the Cascade High School Class of 1983 40th Reunion, but that’s not the only event Renouard is back in town for.
Nicci and her husband, John Renouard, are both founding members of the WHOlives organization, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing clean water to developing communities in a self-sustainable process.
WHOlives was first created when the Renouard’s eldest son went away on a missionary trip to Tanzania and saw the great distances community members had to walk to retrieve water for their families. This inspired John to develop a way to bring clean water to these rural schools and communities. After a vivid dream planted the seeds in John’s mind, he went to Brigham Young University and worked with engineering students on their capstone project, a culmination of a student’s learning, to develop a drill that could be transported easily and used efficiently. After a year of trial and error, the Village Drill was born. That very first drill brought to Tanzania is still operating today and the Village Drill has been used across the planet with Uganda and Kenya having the most active sites. Their name outlines their mission; WHO is an acronym for “Water, Health, Opportunity.”
According to WHOlives website, the Village Drill can drill up to 45 meters a day (average aquifer depth is 42 meters), and the two-piece, portable design means the drill can be taken through undeveloped roads which big rig trucks cannot traverse.
Nicci shared that up to 85% of donated wells from various nonprofits or government agencies end up derelict. WHOlives focuses on drilling and building wells with the community they are serving, meaning everyone is involved in the building process and will know how to repair their wells long after they have been built.
“Our approach is to not give a handout, but a hand up.” Nicci said. “We love the resilience of the human spirit.”
By decreasing the time community members previously had to spend collecting water, there is school attendance increase, small businesses that rely on water to thrive have more opportunities, health and sanitation is improved, and sustainable jobs are created.
WHOlives operates off of a very basic idea: water is a basic human need. Despite the amazing work done so far, 2.1 billion people still wake up each morning without access to clean water. John and Nicci Renouard will be hosting a WHOlives event on Friday, September 15th at Lakewood High School Theater in Arlington at 7 P.M.
The event is free to attend and will outline the impact of the Village Drill, bringing water to communities, and the story of the 2,000 young girls WHOlives have rescued from trafficking.
For those interested in the WHOlives mission, more info can be found at wholives.org.