Friday, September 18, 2015

Two Worlds Apart - Same Mission

Living in San Diego, California I find myself in the middle of three time zones. The Fiji Islands are 5 time zones to the West, and Liberia, Africa is 7 time zones to the East. Right now it is 10pm Friday in San Diego. In Fiji it is 5pm Saturday, and in Liberia it is 5am Saturday.

Keeping track of clean water projects on opposite sides of the world is a bit of a brain teaser, but I'm starting to get the hang of it.


Liberia is the 4th poorest country in the world and the need for clean drinking water is profound. Yet, thanks to a collaborative effort being orchestrated by the non-profit "The Last Well," Liberia is on track to have clean drinking water, border to border, by 2020. 

I have the privilege of working on the water filtration part of this project. Using the Sawyer Point One filter, the most rural areas of Liberia will now be able to have a sustainable clean drinking water supply. My job on this project is to document the impact of the Sawyer filters on water-borne sickness, education, work days, and medical expense savings. I'll also be training the teams who will be installing and following up with the filters to ensure their sustainability.

The Liberia project came about as a direct result of the water filter project we have going in Fiji with Give Clean Water. Since 2008, Give Clean Water has been installing Sawyer Point One filters in the rural villages of Fiji. Give Clean Water's commitment to sustainability has been a journey where water filter installations, follow up, continuing education, and data collection have produced a world leading model of health change with Sawyer water filters.


The results of the Give Clean Water project in Fiji have opened up the door to replicate this model of sustainability in Liberia Africa. 
To be clear, Give Clean Water's project in Fiji, and The Last Well's project in Liberia Africa are two separate entities. 

The three areas I will be focusing on are: 
1. Working as a consultant for Sawyer focusing on sustainability and data analysis with water projects around the world.
2. Continuing as the Founder/Chairman of the Board for Give Clean Water.
3. Serving as the International Outreach Pastor for Newbreak Church.

My life verse reminds of what is possible with the water project around the world. "To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20) If we can think it up, God can do immeasurably more!

It's gearing up to be an exciting year ahead!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reality Check in Fiji

These past few days have been full of so much excitement...signing the MOU with the Fiji Ministry of Health...strategizing on plans to bring clean drinking water to the 1200 rural villages of Fiji who drink contaminated water every day.

Nothing gives me a reality check more than to drive to the interior of Fiji and experience some of those rural villages. That's what I did today. 1 and 1/2 hours from Nadi, up steep mountains in a 4 wheel drive vehicle, we reached our destination. You can't believe that tiny roads like this would actually lead anywhere. But then, almost out of nowhere, a rural village appeared. It was like stepping back in time to a land one could only dream about.

The villagers still get around on horseback, and they get their water supply from the tiny river that runs through their village. I didn't take a water sample kit to know this water was not suited for drinking. With animals dropping their feces all around, this water was a walking time bomb! No wonder it is one of the Typhoid hotspots in the Western Division of Fiji!

As we walked into the village, we were greeted with a warm welcome. The village had gotten word that Give Clean Water was coming to bring them clean drinking water. I was humbled by their hospitality, and by the idea that Give Clean Water was part of changing their lives forever. I sat there with a deep conviction of the calling placed on my life, to solve a country's water crisis problem where half the country currently drinks contaminated water every day.

It's times like this when my heart is branded with determination to right this injustice! Children and adults should not have to die over something that is so easily solved. Give Clean Water, in partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health has the solution! We just need to raise the money to accomplish this.

As I get ready to board my flight back to the United States, I'm reminded of just how rich we are as a country. We have all the resources necessary to change the world! So my calling is not only to solve a country's water problem, but to help you be a part of that awesomeness!

If you have followed the story of Give Clean Water and think it's a cool thing, I want to urge you to become a monthly donor. Let's raise up an army of people who will be able to say, "I was a part of solving an entire country's water problem!"

$25 per month for one year, gives a family a sustainable clean drinking water solution for the next 10+ years! Saving the lives of children is totally worth it!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Historic Day for Give Clean Water

It's been a few weeks of great expectation for this day to happen. I arrived at the Fiji Ministry of Health this morning and was greeted by the Deputy Secretary of Public Health. What an amazing leader she is!

After a few minutes of prepping, we went into the Ministry of Health conference room and was met by the law representative and the media specialist. It was all sort of surreal as we sat around the large conference table. As the Memorandum of Understanding was unveiled, I got quite excited to see the document. Within a few moments, the Fiji Minister of Health entered the room. He is a very nice man and a great leader for Fiji. He asked some questions about the water filter we use, and then we began to sign the Memorandum of Understanding document. We signed 3 copies and then had a cool photo session.

After the signing I presented the Minister, the Deputy Secretary of Public Health, and some of their staff with their own water filters thanks to a kind donation from Sawyer Products. (Sawyer rocks!)

Following the signing, I spent some time with the Deputy Secretary, discussing logistics on how we'd install filters and do follow ups if we were to receive a million dollars or more. I am super excited that the infrastructure is already in place for us to accommodate this kind of donation! The Fiji Health Ministry has a pretty robust infrastructure. Now all I need to do is find that donor! "To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine"...Ephesians 3:20!

After our time in Suva, we drove 4 hours to the other side of the island to the town of Lautoka where we met with the Western Division Health Inspector and talked about all the Typhoid hotspots that exist right now. He mentioned how great it was that there has never been any more Typhoid outbreaks in any villages in which Give Clean Water has installed water filters! I am very moved by that fact and know we are making a great difference in Fiji!

Tomorrow, we're off to visit two villages where our October team will be installing filters. I will meet the head man and health workers, and take some photos of the villages in preparation for the October projects. After that, I'll be off to catch my flight home. 

Epic day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day One in Fiji - The Road to the MOU Signing


Today I arrived in Nadi, Fiji and headed over to my home away from home, the Raffles Gateway Hotel, right across from the airport. The staff is always so friendly there. I had a continental breakfast and waited for our Give Clean Water staff person to come pick me up so we could travel to the Capital city of Suva. 

The drive to Suva is beautiful as you pass through the Coral Coast, but poverty is also everywhere I look. Wages are low and costs are high in Fiji. I know everyone probably pictures Fiji as beautiful sandy beaches with palm trees everywhere. Well...there are a few resorts that look like that, but overall, Fiji looks kind of tired and run down. I like to describe it as Tijuana with palm trees. That said, Fiji has some of the friendliest people in all the world! I love it!

After a 3 hour drive, we arrived in Suva, the rainy side of the island. It’s green for a reason as it rains almost every day. Imagine Florida heat, with Seattle rain. Because of the constant rains, the roads are pretty bad.

We decided to go by the Ministry of Health office, just to make sure we’d be in the right place tomorrow for the MOU signing. After a brief stop, we met up with a local pastor who works as an accountant for many Fijian businesses and government offices. We asked him if he could help us with our registration to become a Fiji non-profit. Right now, Give Clean Water is a US based non-profit only. He said he’d introduce us to the right people tomorrow. I’m saying a prayer for that meeting tomorrow!

Now it is 7pm here in Fiji on Tuesday evening. It’s Midnight back home, just cracking into Tuesday. I’m feeling like it’s midnight too! It will be an early bedtime tonight!


Tomorrow morning is the big day! I can’t believe that the Fiji Ministry of Health is adopting Give Clean Water as their “Best Practice” for treating their rural water problems! I’m humbled by the opportunity, and “on a mission” to raise up an army of donors who will help us solve Fiji’s water crisis with a sustainable clean drinking water solution!

If you are reading this and haven't become a donor, I'm after you! $25 per month for 1 year gives a family a sustainable clean drinking water solution for the next 10+ years. Click on this link to become a monthly donor! 

Change the world with us!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Give Clean Water & Fiji Ministry of Health MOU

I'm sitting at my gate at LAX, waiting to board my flight to Fiji. This Tuesday, I'll travel to the capital of Fiji to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between Give Clean Water and the Fiji Ministry of Health. This is a very historic moment for Give Clean Water.

Give Clean Water has become Fiji's "Best Practice" for treating Fiji's rural water problems according to Madam Deputy Secretary of Public Health, Una Bera. The MOU gives the full backing of the Ministry of Health for the installation, data collection, and monthly follow ups for each family who receives a Give Clean Water filter. This is an amazing development in the sustainability of Give Clean Water's work in Fiji.

Each village in Fiji has a local health worker living in it who does a monthly report on the health of each village family. With the Give Clean Water MOU, the health workers will now incorporate water filter follow ups with each family as part of their monthly reporting. They will document changes in health, while providing continuing education of the operation of the water filter, making sure the families are using and cleaning their filters every day.

For the past 2 years, Give Clean Water has piloted this program in the Western Division of Fiji where there were many Typhoid outbreaks. Filter usage dramatically increased when the local health workers were involved in the follow up process. So much so, that the Fiji Ministry of health wanted to formalize our partnership with a MOU! To date, there have been NO reoccurrences of water borne sickness in any of the villages that received a Give Clean Water filter system!

There are 1200 rural villages in Fiji who drink contaminated water every day. Together, this partnership will change the country of Fiji forever!

You might wonder how you can get in on all the awesomeness? If you've been following the Give Clean Water story over the years, you've seen first hand the thousands of lives that are changed each year. We are raising up an army of people who want to change a country with us! Become a monthly donor and let's do this! 

$25 per month for 1 year provides a family with a sustainable clean drinking water solution for the next 10+ years! It's easy to do...just click here to visit the Give Clean Water website. In a couple of minutes, you'll be a part of changing a family's life forever with the gift of clean drinking water! When you become a donor, you will receive a photo and brief bio of your family, along with the GPS coordinate of their house so you can view it in Google Earth! Pretty cool!

So what are you waiting for? Let's change the world together starting with the country of Fiji!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Finally, a small camera that delivers amazing images!

People ask me all the time, "what kind of camera should I buy if I'm looking to upgrade from a point and shoot?" I've been a Canon fan for quite some time. Although I LOVE my 5D Mark 2 and quiver of lenses, that rig weighs a ton. My search for a smaller camera with great image quality has always come up short, until recently.

I did my homework and purchased a Sony NEX 6 mirror-less camera. What makes this little guy stand out is its big image sensor. It has a 1.5 crop factor, slightly bigger than the Canon crop sensors. The NEX is small, but delivers amazing images...right on par with my Canon 5D Mark 2.

Not only does the NEX 6 weigh almost nothing, the price tag is 1/3 of the price of the 5D Mark 2! The lenses are small too, but deliver amazing results.

I have to say, I LOVE the Sony! I would highly recommend this camera over a larger DSLR. I believe mirror-less cameras are going to be the wave of the future! Seriously, who wants to lug around a back breaker?

The other great thing about mirror-less cameras is that you can buy an adaptor ring that allows you to use all the big lens formats.

I've tried the Nikon, Canon and Sony mirror-less cameras, and to me...the Sony is the clear winner! Another great choice would be the Fuji, although it is nearly double the price of the Sony. For sure stay away from the Canon mirror-less. It is terrible! They are supposed to release a newer model and correct some of their blunders of the EOS M.

For my landscapes, I went for the Sony 10-18. I am including a couple of shots from this camera. Email me with any questions. tropicalphotosbylarson@gmail.com

Keep you eyes pealed for a software class where I will show all me secrets! Comment on this post if you are interested in this class.

Happy shooting!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Good to Great for Social Sectors

I just finished reading an awesome chapter from Jim Collins' book "Good to Great". It focuses on social sectors and is not in his original book. It is available as a stand alone chapter, or an online PDF.

If you are interested in the social sectors of business, this is a great read. Whether you work with churches, NGO's, Boys or Girls clubs, or charities, this is a great read.


Here is a little section about building greatness...


In building a great institution, there is no single defining action, no
grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no
miracle moment. Rather, our research showed that it feels like turning
a giant, heavy flywheel. Pushing with great effort-days, weeks and
months of work, with almost imperceptible progress- you finally get
the flywheel to inch forward. But you don't stop. You keep pushing,
and with persistent effort, you eventually get the flywheel to complete
one entire turn. You don't stop. You keep pushing, in an intelligent
and consistent direction, and the flywheel moves a bit faster. You
keep pushing, and you get two turns then four ... then eight ... the
flywheel builds momentum ... sixteen you keep pushing ... thirty two
... it builds more momentum ... a hundred ... moving faster with each
turn . .. a thousand .. . ten thousand . .. a hundred thousand. Then,
at some point- breakthrough! Each turn builds upon previous work.
compounding your investment of effort. The flywheel flies forward
with almost unstoppable momentum. This is how you build greatness.
By focusing on your Hedgehog Concept, yuu build results. Those
results, in turn, attract resources and commitment, which you use to
build a strong organization. That strong organization then delivers even
better results, which attracts greater resources and commitment. which
builds a stronger organization. which enables even better results. People
want to feel the excitement of being involved in something that just flat
out works. When they begin to see tangible results-when they can feel
the flywheel beginning to build speed- that's when most people line
up to throw their shoulders against the wheel and push.

If you would like to read the entire chapter, you can find it here:
http://www.jimcollins.com/tools/diagnostic-tool.pdf

Enjoy the read, and let's make some greatness!