Sophomore launches water filter charity

Cole Kawana ’16 established an organization called Clean Water Ambassadors to offer free water filters in poor countries.

The organization will distribute the filters to communities with no clean water.

Kawana was inspired to engage in this distribution initiative after reading about organizations that provided supplies and water filters to communities in need.

When Kawana signed up for the school trip to Rwanda in January, he decided that it would be a perfect starting point, and he took some water filters with him on the trip.

While in Rwanda, Kawana gave 12 filters to Aspire Rwanda, a non-governmental organization that has influence and stations all over Rwanda.

Kawana had a question and answer session with the leaders of the organization and a group of at risk women who don’t have access to clean water. Kawana stressed the importance of the upkeep of the filters and how to properly use them.

“The government takes polls regularly, and we determined who would get the filters regardless of race or location, and solely on level below the poverty line,” Kawana said.

The filters are $50 each and can filter enough water for 500 people a day for five years.

Kawana also gave a digital camera to the leaders of the organization so they can send photos and updates on communities with the water filters. These photos are posted on Aspire Rwanda’s Facebook page.

“I made lasting connections with many Rwandans there and I plan to send more filters to them in the near future,” Kawana said.

Now, Kawana is focusing on fundraising  so the filters can be bought. He relies largely on donations but is also applying for state and city grants.

Kawana submitted documents to the district attorney and the secretary of state, who authorized Kawana’s organization  as a corporation.

Kawana said that he had a couple more forms and documents to submit so that his organization could become a nonprofit.

Kawana is also working with the Community Council to create a new program specially for Harvard-Westlake students and families.

“Harvard-Westlake students travel extensively with school and their families to third-world countries,” Kawana said.  “I hope that I will be able to send these filters through classmates in the near future, making them clean water ambassadors.”