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Clean Water
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Clean Water
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Throughout the world, access to safe drinking water is the most critical element of sustained good health. Clean Water focuses on the highly successful efforts of one humanitarian organization, East Meets West, to bring safe drinking water to rural communities in Vietnam -- led by staff member Richard Brogdon, a Vietnam war veteran who has special reason to help the local Vietnamese community.

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Produced by CEM Productions.

Learn more about the East Meets West Foundation's Clean Water and Sanitation program.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Danang, Vietnam 5:30 a.m.
VOICEOVER
Thirty years after the end of armed conflict, to most Americans the word "Vietnam" is still synonymous with the word "war." Meanwhile the Vietnamese, having survived centuries of war and foreign domination, are looking to the future and striving to build a modern nation. Finally at peace, Vietnam today is one of the world's fastest growing economies, but remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Perhaps the greatest challenge to a developing country is improving the health of its people. Sick adults can't work and sick children can't study. Throughout the world, access to safe drinking water is the most critical element that sustains good health. Yet safe drinking water is still lacking for almost half the world's population.
TITLE
Clean Water
VOICEOVER
In Vietnam, surface water is plentiful but usually polluted by chemicals from agricultural run-off, bacteria, and water-borne diseases. The health ministry estimates that almost 80 percent of serious childhood illnesses in Vietnam today are water related. Water-borne diseases, especially those that cause dysentery and diarrhea, are a major killer of children. Tackling basic problems of this scale requires collaboration of governments, international agencies, and humanitarian organizations working together to improve the quality of people's lives.
VOICEOVER
The East Meets West Foundation is one of several humanitarian organizations addressing the critical need for safe drinking water in Vietnam. Country director Mark Conroy directs the East Meets West efforts.
MARK CONROY [Overseas Director, East Meets West]
We're here to help the Vietnamese develop sustainable projects and programs. Water schemes, some loan programs. Mainly the programs are all developed around children and around education and health, and that encompasses most of what we do.
VOICEOVER
Based in Da Nang city, East Meets West builds hospitals, libraries, orphanages, schools, bridges, damns, and housing. In all, over 150 building projects each year. The most well known projects, however, are self-sustaining safe drinking water systems for poor, rural communities.
MARK CONROY
Over the years, of course, we've done a lot of water which you folks I know are interested in. Most of the programs and projects that were developed in the last 10 years were developed with the Vietnamese. They weren't developed outside, let's say for example in America, and brought here and implemented; they were actually developed in conjunction with working with the Vietnamese with their needs and with their input.
VOICEOVER
In the rural areas outside of Da Nang, even with over 99 inches of rainfall per year, safe drinking water is difficult to find. Many people in Vietnam need to travel great distances, often every day, to find a well with safe drinking water, spending time which could otherwise be used to produce more income for their families. For Vietnamese girls, the exhausting daily job of collecting drinking water leaves the girls less time for studying and homework.
DINH THI HOA
My name is Hoa. I am 15 years old. I live with my mother and four younger sisters and brothers. I am the oldest girl in the family, so I am the family water collector. My mom is very busy with her work and my younger sister is also too busy, so it's my responsibility every day to collect drinking water for the family. From my house to the well is about half a mile. Carrying the water is very heavy for me and the weight really hurts my legs. This is a problem but I have to do it anyway because, if I don't do this, my family won't have water to drink.

Segment 2

VOICEOVER
Richard Brogdon is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a former Peace Corps volunteer who has returned to Vietnam to do humanitarian work. Brogdon is one of thousands of former US soldiers now working to help the people of Vietnam.
RICHARD BROGDON [Project Coordinator, East Meets West]
I came to Vietnam a little over three years ago. I had been out here during the war. In the Sixties, I was here for 20 months. After that tour, I swore that I would never return to Vietnam. It's hard for me to really describe why so many Vietnam veterans return. I've talked with a number of people and, by and large, they tell me that, you know, they feel an attachment. Many people mention the beauty of the country; it's a very beautiful country. And they talk about that, but mainly they just feel that there's something here, that they left something here and so they come for that. I come here to work and I come here because there are a lot of poor people. I come here to help them get clean water.
RICHARD BROGDON
Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. We normally have these meetings because sometimes the cost involved or the work that has to be done for a water project is greater than some people want to spend or to be involved in. Our mission is really to help the people of Vietnam to become self-sufficient and to develop a better way of life. East Meets West will dig a well, will build a tank with a filter system, but you will be responsible to dig the trench from the tank, through the community, and run pipe to each of the house.
VOICEOVER
In some areas, safe drinking water lies only 10 to 50 feet below the surface. But it can still take drilling many test wells before clean water is found. In the coastal, more sandy areas, the groundwater is often salty.
RICHARD BROGDON
This is a small well that we're building here. The cost of drilling a well like this is less than a hundred dollars, so primarily it's the pipe and a couple of workers working for a day or two at the most: it depends on how deep they must go to get the water, good clean water. And we test the water when it comes out to see whether there's sufficient supply, see whether or not the minerals are clear so they can use it.
VOICEOVER
Most drinking water comes out of the ground containing sediment and bad-tasting minerals like sulfur. Before it can be used for drinking, cooking, and bathing, the water needs to be aerated and filtered. This water tower, funded by the Rotary Clubs in New Mexico, provides safe, filtered drinking water to over 300 households in the nearby village. Nguyen Quy is the site supervisor for the safe water projects in Quang Nam province. Working with the local people, his message is simple and clear: Clean, filtered water is essential to good health.
NGUYEN QUY [site supervisor, East Meets West]
We need to make sure the pipe trench is at least 50cm deep to guarantee the quality of the water pipeline.
VOICEOVER
East Meets West provides the pumps, towers, and pipe, while the local community provides the manpower to bury the pipes down the main streets and to each of the 300 households. East Meets West is the only humanitarian organization in Vietnam that delivers water not just to the local well but all the way to peoples homes. It's a collaborative effort, with each family required to buy a water meter and to install their own plumbing before they're hooked up to the main water lines. This is a financially sustainable model with each community electing a water manager who collects a modest water-use fee, usually about 20 cents per week. This small but steady income maintains the water system and pays for the electricity.
NGUYEN QUY
The reason we install the water meter is because we need to know how much water the local people consume and to make sure they pay for what they use. The money is used to maintain the water tank system, to pay for electricity, and to pay the workers who maintain the water tower and water system.

Segment 3

RICHARD BROGDON
After we had established that first water tower, the people across in the island back behind you had no water and they were taking skiffs and rowing across and loading with water and going back. We've learned that the island has 85 families and there's never been any clean drinking water in that area.
NGUYEN THI THONG
My name is Nguyen Thi Thong. I was born in 1927. I am 77 years old. I have been collecting water all my life, either from the mainland or taking it from the well on the island. But the island water here is terrible, full of sediment. It needs to be filtered before we can drink it. So even though it is hard, we have to travel across the bay to the mainland to collect our water. It takes about three hours to go to the mainland and back. Usually I'll go with three other people, carrying about 40 buckets of water per trip.
RICHARD BROGDON
So we built the pipe, we extended a pipe from here across to about 800 meters across that inlet, and then brought water around to the 85 families. I've been to the island two or three times, once while they were developing it, and a couple of times since then, but I'd like to go back to see it and to ensure that they have good, clean water still, and the residents are happy with what they have.
NGUYEN THI THONG
I remember during the war, the Americans bombed the island and then came here to search, house by house, for any Vietcong or revolutionary who was living on this island. The Americans arrived and walked through the village carrying machine guns. They arrested my husband and they took him away by helicopter to Tam Ky. Since that time, I've never met any American soldier who came back here.
RICHARD BROGDON
Hello madam!
NGUYEN THI THONG
So he's a war veteran?
HOANG NGOC TUNG [Project Coordinator, East Meets West]
She say, you are a US veteran?
RICHARD BROGDON
Yes, yes. I was with the South Vietnamese army.
NGUYEN THI THONG
So did he actually fight against Vietnamese or was he an advisor?
HOANG NGOC TUNG [translating]
What did you do?
RICHARD BROGDON
I advised the South Vietnamese army. But I would like to see your house and the water tap that you have.
HOANG NGOC TUNG
She say during the war many boat arrive here and the bombs come down. And the bomb come down and destroy ...
RICHARD BROGDON
Destroy the boats, yes.
NGUYEN THI THONG
And here is a bomb crater, right in the middle of our village.
RICHARD BROGDON
Made a bigger hole. And now it's a pond
HOANG NGOC TUNG
Now it's a lake.
RICHARD BROGDON
This is your house. Do you keep water ... ?
HOANG NGOC TUNG
Yeah, she keep the water in there.
RICHARD BROGDON
In here and here. Yes.
HOANG NGOC TUNG
And to keep it clean.
NGUYEN THI THONG
Now we have clean water, so I keep the dirt out
HOANG NGOC TUNG
You bring the clean water system here and the family had to make the clean water ...
RICHARD BROGDON
Keep the clean water, yes.
HOANG NGOC TUNG
And now she has the clean water [inaudible] and she has more time free to spend more time at home. It's worth bringing the clean water back to the village, and she's very grateful to East Meets West and the local government, to help her village.
RICHARD BROGDON
Course I was sad to hear about the bombs falling in what is now a lake, that's saddening: the number of people killed, the destruction of the boats that wiped out their ability to earn a living during the war. Yeah, I was sad about that. But overall I was very pleased that East Meets West could do what it did in providing water and getting water to a place that has never had water.
DINH THI HOA
Since we have clean, running water at home I don't have any more problems with stomach aches, and I have a lot more time for studying and for helping my mother.
NGUYEN THI THONG
Since I have running water in my house, I'm a lot healthier, and I can spend more time on little jobs that make an income for my family.
VOICEOVER
Through the work of this one humanitarian organization, over 60,000 Vietnamese families now have safe drinking water piped directly to their homes. It is estimated that every dollar spent on safe water saves at least 10 dollars of healthcare costs, treating water-borne illnesses. Safe drinking water helps keep children in school, and society moving forward. Yet there's much more to do. Worldwide, a billion people still have no access to clean drinking water. The impact of this on global health and education is enormous. As great journeys always begin with a single step, East Meets West has proven that it only takes USD$50 to provide a Vietnamese family of five with a lifetime supply of safe drinking water.
MAN
A few months ago I was excited because someone told me that there was an American organization which would build a water system and a water tower, and then I would have clean drinking water piped right into my house. I haven't heard anything about it since.
WOMAN
On behalf of all the people of our hamlet, we sincerely thank you for your support.
RICHARD BROGDON
Thank you! [clapping]
DINH THI HOA
Thank you, bye. Bye bye.
TITLE
Produced by Link TV
TITLE
[end credit]