Worker wins water aid trip

A SUPERMARKET worker has returned from a trip to Africa where he played a hands-on role in improving the lives of villagers. Simon Durent, 33, was part of a four-strong team of Stevenage-based Asda employees that travelled to Malawi in south eastern Afric

A SUPERMARKET worker has returned from a trip to Africa where he played a hands-on role in improving the lives of villagers.

Simon Durent, 33, was part of a four-strong team of Stevenage-based Asda employees that travelled to Malawi in south eastern Africa, to support the pioneering work of ethical water brand Thirsty Planet and its charity partner, Pump Aid.

Simon and his group helped Pump Aid officials to build a water pump in a village, giving the community its first supply of clean, safe water so they do not have to walk huge distances several times a day to collect water from unprotected wells, putting themselves and others at risk of disease.

The pump Simon installed is based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese design that costs just £250 to build. Many of the components are made by the community using easy-to-find materials such as plant fibres, so once in place it is entirely self-sustainable.

Simon said: "The smiling faces of villagers when the pump was ready to use are images I will cherish for ever.

"It was an emotional experience, and that pretty much sums up what the trip was all about. You don't appreciate what an impact such a relatively simple bit of kit can have, but the gratitude they showed was amazing - you could tell the pump had literally transformed their life.

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"Another highlight of my time there was having the opportunity to spend a day and night with a local family, sleeping on the floor of their mud hut. It was fascinating insight because we got to see how they live on a daily basis, and just how hard they work to survive."

Simon was given the opportunity to go on the trip because he was one of four top-sellers of Thirsty Planet in the country during a special promotion when he worked at Asda in High Wycombe.

Paul Martin, managing director of Thirsty Planet's parent company Waterbrands, said: "The pumps make a huge difference because without them, villagers have to walk miles to the nearest water source several times a day - and even then, the water may be dirty or contaminated.

"Our aim is to supply clean water to 10 million people in Africa by 2015, and thanks to the hard work of people like Simon, we're well on the way to reaching that target.

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