Sweet Water Outreach is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to water purification in third-world countries.
Sweet Water was started around the kitchen table of the executive director, John Blevins, and is still very much a kitchen table organization. John Blevins is a civil engineer and worked for twenty-five years building wastewater and water treatment plants in America. In 2012, as he was becoming increasingly aware of the dirty water crisis in third world countries, he was offered a chance at an early retirement. The summer he retired he traveled to Africa for the first time and tested multiple sources of water. Confirming the statistics that he had seen, every test proved positive for bacteria. This bacterium, at best, is creating stomach difficulties for the mass population, and at worst, is carrying serious diseases like cholera and typhoid. John became convicted to use his skills to bring clean water to those living in third-world countries like Africa. Together with his family and a few close friends, he began his journey. He researched and read and the doors opened wide for him.
In the summer of 2013, John and his daughter Mary-John, headed to Africa for two months with water filters and high hopes in tow. As they endeavored to teach the African people the importance of clean water, they learned an equally significant lesson in the importance of community and patience. That summer they installed several small household filters and a few larger ones for some of the churches they had contact with in America. Halfway through the trip, Mary-John became very sick with a bacterial infection. Immeasurable lessons were learned that summer, and John and Mary-John became immersed in the problems of hygiene, healthcare, and water in Africa. Now John and his family were personally invested and willing to scale the overwhelming difficulties. They had experienced the realities first hand and could not now ignore them.
Once home, John started a non-profit for the specific purpose of water purification and at Mary-John’s request, named it Sweet Water Outreach. While sick in Africa, Mary-john read Exodus 15:25-26, and knew that Sweet Water was to be the name of the project. In 2014, John, his daughter Maggie and a friend, Phoebe, spent two months in Africa to continue Sweet Water’s work. Sweet Water is working primarily in Kisii, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; striving to become a part of these communities. In 2014 Sweet Water Outreach received their official 501(c)(3) status, making Sweet Water a tax deductible organization.
Sweet Water has chosen a grassroots approach; they are a kitchen table organization. Not just the Blevins’ family kitchen table, which is where Sweet Water was born, but also the kitchen tables in the communities they serve. Sweet Water’s goal is to become a part of the community, producing a project that the people will take ownership of – a project they are willing to protect and maintain. It is important for clean water to become a part of the education system and with the support of the local community and the international community (you) – to be successful in creating a new local mindset about water, while also creating access to clean water. Allowing community education to be the forerunner to our construction and installation projects, Sweet Water’s hope is to create a sustainable project that will continue to grow long after our work is finished.