As this 2023 year wraps up, we wanted to take a moment to reflect with you. This was TAP’s second year as a non-profit organization, and it was filled with building foundations for our future and longevity as an organization. Our board of directors and volunteers have worked hard to establish promising pathways forward, and we are so very grateful for every hour invested in this tedious, yet important work.
This year we also celebrated many exciting firsts! In July of this year, TAP’s board Chairwoman, Dr. Cheryl Richardson, was able to make her first trip over to Uganda to meet, train, and further establish relations with our WRDC team at Ndejje University. Cheryl specializes in public health and she was able to make pertinent observations and perform training with our research team on the ground. Cheryl also visited one of our research/project locations in Southern Uganda. Water needs and public health concerns are intrinsically connected, and having a health expert on our team is essential. This trip was foundational for our organization, and we're thankful for Cheryl’s health expertise, the observations she was able to make, and her contributions to our on-the-ground work in Uganda. Lydia, the primary lab technician at the WRDC, stated during a debriefing session, “We are social beings, and we now know each other. We cannot undo that. We have entered each other’s lives, and we have relationships now that we didn’t have before.”
Ndejje University WRDC Partnership Established
This year, we established a working partnership with Ndejje University and their Water Research and Development Center (WRDC) in Uganda. The partnership was officially solidified on April 25, 2023. The WRDC team, formed in the same period, is actively laying the groundwork for projects to be implemented in 2024. Comprised of Rhodah, Sule, Lydia, and Elijah, the team is dedicated to researching and proposing solutions to water issues in three different communities in Uganda.
In one such community in Southern Uganda, the WRDC is addressing the challenge of acid ground water, with a potential innovative solution. This particular village has access to 2 water sources. Of the two sources, one source is contaminated with bacteria, and the other is so acidic that it burns the people's skin. Upon research and water testing, the WRDC team determined that the water this community has pumped to an elevated tank has a pH of 2.7 (hydrochloric acid has a pH of 2.2). This is essentially, acid water. The last few months, the WRDC has been putting together project proposals and testing potential solutions to be implemented in the near future.
Singiro is becoming a pilot location as our team has learned that acidic ground water is not just a problem in the village of Singiro, but it's an issue throughout the Singiro region of Southern Uganda. If a solution can be found for Singiro, there is potential for scaling the innovative solution to other areas in the region dealing with the same issue.
Inspiring Future Leaders - Educational Enhancement Program Launched
This past year we also participated in three after-school programs in the Nashville area. These sites included Dupont Tyler Middle School - facilitated by the YMCA, Old Hickory Community center - facilitated by Metro Parks and Rec, and Northwest YMCA. Our team was able to offer 4 unique sessions at each of these locations, whereby students were able to create models of water sources and get their hands and minds submersed in topics concerning sustainablity and the preservation of our worlds resources. We had a great time with students and are looking forward to more afterschool times next semester!
Our team was also able to visit and present at schools in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Tennessee on the topics of sustainability and global water accessibility. It has been fun and interesting hearing student responses and observing their engagement regarding such topics.
This past November we also attended our first official STEM Conference as a non-profit. The TSTA (Tennessee Science Teachers Association) Conference is held annually in Murfreesboro, TN. STEM teachers and school administrators from around TN attend this conference to network, collaborate, and glean from experts in the field. Josh Kurtz (TAP Founder/CEO) was given an opportunity to speak in a breakout session at the conference, and the dialogue produced by teachers was productive and enlightening for both session participants and the TAP team who attended. Overall, it was a great experience; we met some wonderful teachers and administrators. We’re hopeful for future classroom collaborations!
Giving Towards Change - Holiday Giving Opportunity!
In the words of board member, Cheryl Richardson, following her time in Uganda, "So many of us take water and basic hygiene for granted. We turn on a faucet, or wave our hands under a faucet, and water comes out. We shower as often as we like - more than once a day if needed. We drink water whenever we want. In fact, many of us don’t drink as much as we should, but it’s not because it is not available; it’s because we choose not to. Because we have access to most everything we need, we never stop to think about what life would be like without it. I have seen what life is like without water."
If you've seen it with your own eyes, you know that life without water is extremely challenging. However, this isn't where the story has to end. We can be writers of a new narrative, and a new future - full of hope - for a community in need. If you're looking for a year-end cause to give to, please genuinely consider the work TAP is doing. We are gearing up for a busy 2024, as we plan to begin the implementation of the WRDC personnel’s proposed project solutions within the coming months. If you would like to give or participate with us in any way, please reach out! It was a great year of foundational building for us, and YOU and I together, can be the positive change this world needs.