Updates from Yangon

Dear C’s
I’d like to inform you our team updated.
Shae Thot Project
Office has been set up ends of last month and start some activities in Magway. In here the main issue is hiring staff for project. Some activities were started last month but some positions are still vacant.
I have to travel Magway the day after tomorrow to meet with Division government minister and to conduct to new staff.
Yangon Office
there was a small meeting this morning with ACF, Solidirites and Thirst Aid for developing of IEC material and content on tailor designed (for people who are illiterate). As a result of meeting they have asked Thirst Aid to order the pamphlets and stickers that will be appropriate for their target community. Thirst aid will conduct ToT for all hygiene promoters from the various organizations in Sittwe on first week of June. Moreover, Thirst Aid was invited to conduct another training at Save the Children Learn project. the training will be in July.
For the time being, most of the INGOs in Sittwe are planning to distribute soon and some have already distributed. World Vision, Marlin ,IOM and Amda have already distributed 3500 filter units to their project area.


Filter training in Sittwe

Dear Mark,
I would like to say thank you and everyone who participated in our
WASH and use and care of ceramic filter training in Sittwe yesterday.
The training went well, especially for those who have already sound
knowledge in WASH sector. We all went to not only focus on the TOT
(training of trainers) aspect but also to discuss the appropriate approach
for applying what was learned in the community.
I taught them how to use all of the training materials. The education flip
chart could be used for those in the community that are
illiterate. Please let me know if the other organizations need my
assistance for education materials or for ceramic water filter information.
I am looking forward to hearing about the ceramic filter distribution in IDP camps.
Thank you again for your help in facititating my training in Sittwe.
Have a nice working day.
Thin Nwe Soe
Dear Ma Toe Toe,

Thank you for your support and training yesterday, I have had great feed back and it will be a real support to our distribution of ceramic filters.
The IEC is with one of the consortium members and we will be sure to use it when communicating with illiterate beneficiaries.
We will keep you updated on our progress with the distribution and look forward to working again sometime.
Thanks again,
Best regards

Numbers don’t tell the whole story

280,000 Ceramic Water Filters (CWFs).

That will be the total sold and distributed in Myanmar by mid-summer of this year, with the most recent order for 20,000 units going to the Rakhine state for the Rohingya, yet another persecuted ethnic group.

Hypothetically, this number of CWFs correlates to 1,400,000 people who now have access to sustainable, safe drinking water and an investment of well over US$7 million dollars from outside resources.  Not bad for a program started by a couple of do-gooders who were just bicycling around the world when they got waylaid by a bunch of orphans in an improvised medical clinic on the Thai/Myanmar border.

But those are just numbers and while they might be impressive to some, they don’t tell the real story.

The real story is that the project continues to thrive despite the fact that those two crazy bicyclists who started the project have been out of Myanmar for two years.  That a housewife named Thin Nwe Soe has turned into a dynamic leader and just won a US$300,000 contract for Thirst-Aid to promote hygiene education for the next 3years.  That a young adult named Aung Aung took over the laboratory duties at Thirst-Aid and has helped come up with a formula that revolutionizes the manufacturing of ceramic filters.  That a consortium of NGOs all have banded together to insure that all of the Rohingyan refugees will have safe water – provided by ceramic filters made in Myanmar, not imported Proctor and Gamble disinfectants or Swedish made plastic straws, or any other import – and that 5 pottery factories in Myanmar that were once in danger of going out of business now thrive and employ hundreds of local people to produce CWFs.

The real story is that a couple of goofy cyclists with a bit of time on their hands and a lot of practical experience with just making things happen were in the right place at the right time.  That a tsunami and a cyclone that killed thousands, led to an outpouring of goodwill that helped millions.  That given a chance, there are people all over the world that will seize the moment, and turn disaster and opposition into an opportunity to make things better.

The improvised medical clinic on the Thai/Myanmar border – still going strong.

The orphans, most of them accounted for and doing well.

Thirst-Aid – still rockin’ it.

Many thanks to all of you who helped make this happen,


Team Building Report from the Team in Myanmar

Happy New Year.  I’d like to report  you about our team  review meeting in Dawei.

Motivation and De-motivation.

Get a chance to apply what new idea
It  is gradually significant of what are we in specialization and talent.
The best thing for motivation is “team Spirit” that make us enthusiasm
and more commitment to achieve our goals. Ready to serve as a
volunteer even budget shortage.
Learning opportunities come up frequently.

De motivation

So far, nothing special matter for de movation but sometime feeling
insecure of budget shortage.  On the other hand, that make alert for
us to realize what we have to prepare for surviving.


As a team, acceptance of cooperation with USAID , Shaethot  project .
This is the opportunity to enhance our competencies and technical
skills. In previous times, we mostly focus on implementation of our
project objectives but now we all become how to explore where are
funding source. ( Understand, sympathy of C’s roles).  The another
results is organization was well organized gradually and some office
policies which support for the organization established. Funding
raising process may complicate and lengthy sometime but we understand
that to get 250000 $ is not easy to get. For the  office program,
networking with other organization is more expend than last year.
Quality assurance for cwf is better than old day because of the
manufactures convinced how important of cw. First they think to get
quality cwf is good flow rate, no black layer in cwf, but now they
convinced the quality cwf means can eliminate bacteria , good flow
rate and strong physical appearance. To get quality cwf  consists of
good ratio of raw materials, firing system.  For the monastic project,
in this time the community participation a little less than compare to
other monastic projects but one thing this time is health talks were
effective to pass the hygiene and health information to community .


Organization Register,  FE  bank account of organization , financial
policy and  code of conduct are essential for dealing with new donor
especially USAID, strict funding source. The shortage of  supply(
cone, CS) to manufactures make threat to control of roles of
thirst-aid participation to get quality cwf.

Plan for the 2014

Before the new project start, try to get register even not, at least
temporarily registration. After set up of new project , prepare for
the next funding.  Explore Cooperation of other NGOs , Agencies and
network. At present, cooperation with ACF, in fact back and ford
conversation stage but hope to work with them. we try to start the set
up of volunteer network for team because of the idea came up from my
weekend class students who want to deliver service to community. For
the scaling up of cwf sales to community, the director of state health
department willing to distribute cwf in Tanintharyi , so I have to
engage with U khin Sein Lin. According to the prime minister , they are
seeking for grant to distribute cwf in school.

Please let me know if you want me to do something for thirst aid 2014.
May you all healthy, wealthy and accept my love and tenderness to all
family members.

Thin Nwe Soe


Here are some interesting articles on water that we thought you might enjoy!


I appreciated your article on Dr. Allgood and the wonderful work that he and World Vision are doing to bring the people of Myanmar safe drinking water.  It warms my heart to know that Proctor and Gamble continues to function in the genuine best interest of people around the world, ever sensitive to their needs.

However, I think it might be also worth mentioning that long before the poor of Myanmar came up on PG and USAID’s radar, many grassroots organizations were there helping Myanmar nationals help themselves.

Two such organizations in the field of safe water were Lily Pad and Thirst-Aid, both of which operated on shoe-string budgets to help indigenous potters learn how make ceramic water filters out of local resources. Both then went on to help local entrepreneurs market these filters to those who could afford them and worked with NGOs to help provide them for free or at subsidized costs to those less fortunate.  Thanks to these two organizations and those who helped support them, over a million people in Myanmar have received the means to create their own, sustainable, safe drinking water.  With seven operational factories, Myanmar now has the largest ceramic water filter production capacity of any country in the world.

I think it’s great that in today’s world people like Chelsea Clinton and Justine Timberlake are willing to take time out of their busy lives to endorse humanitarian aid and I hope that with the help of publications such as Condé Nast they’ll have the opportunity to learn not only about Fortune 500 companies that do good but also about the rogue do-gooders who have long been doing so much with so little.

Curt and Cathy Bradner

Founders – Thirst-Aid






I know it’s been a long time since we’ve written a personal email to you.  2012 has been an exciting year as well as one filled with transitions. 

 Early January found Curt and I in Asia visiting the Thirst-Aid projects and staff as well as the New Myanmar.  The change in the people’s attitudes was already noticeable.  Let’s hope they make their transition toward democracy and an open economy peacefully. 

Late January found us in somewhat of a quandary.  After months of planning for a new project in Uganda and after months of hearing “Don’t worry, the funding is a foregone conclusion”, we learned that in fact, it wasn’t. Disappoint would be an understatement.  Devastation was perhaps a more appropriate word.  So we did what we’ve often done in the past when faced with unexpected obstacle.

In February we climbed on “O” our trusty tandem and took a bike tour in Thailand, revisiting the tsunami area as well as stopping in to see some old friends and supporters.  The bike tour gave us the time to put some perspective on Thirst-Aid and to clean out a few cobwebs that had begun growing between our ears.  We returned to Myanmar with renewed energy and purpose to encourage the team to follow their visions instead of relying on ours and decided that perhaps the canceling of the Ugandan project was a blessing in disguise.

In March we returned to the US to reconnect with our daughters and granddaughters as well as welcome Zoe Rae, the newest addition to our family.  Curt began working in the private sector as a means to acclimate to life in the US and as he often puts it, as “therapy for too many years in the non-profit world”.

In April I said goodbye to my mom who died peacefully in her sleep at 88.  And we were honored to have Eddy Pijpstra the creator of our first website “Bamboo Bikes” and one of our oldest supporters visit us from Holland.  I also began my part-time job as Zoe’s grananny, one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had.  

And now it’s May, our garden is growing and our backyard is ready for visitors.

In case you were wondering Thirst-Aid is still a huge part of our lives.  In Myanmar the projects are being run and managed with great aplomb by our staff.  Besides keeping the day to day operations and projects going, Toe Toe is designing Community Health Fairs that she’ll begin introducing this summer in village tracks around Mandalay, Yohar has designed a display stand and advertising so he can test the filter retail market in Yangon and Mandalay, Aung Aung continues to work with the filter producers to make improvements to the filters and Sandy is getting ready to launch PHEP (Primary Health and Education Project) the program she created.  For our part, we keep the day to day communications with staff, funders, and partners.

As always we want to thank you all for your support not only for Thirst-Aid but to Curt and I, we could not do what we do without all of you.



Thanks, Curt, Cathy and the Thirst-Aid Myanmar Team.


Truck ferry hydration

Whenever a driver or "sapeya" (from an older British word for a bus attendant, "spare") working on one of Yangon's truck ferries becomes thirsty, they call upon their knowledge of which of their stops feature supplies of free fresh water for quenching their thirst. Among these different stops, the cleanliness of each water supply likely varies. This particular stop's cleanliness is fairly ensured, as the water within this 20-liter bottle is supplied by the monastery across the street that is fortunate enough to have its water supply filtered by a donated Reverse Osmosis machine.

Driving a vehicle all day long without the benefit of functioning air-conditioning would make anyone thirsty. However, the nature of the spare's job is such that dehydration can strike very quickly if one isn't careful: hanging on to the back of a truck under the blazing sun, repeatedly yelling which stops will be included upon their route. Although in such a position it is almost impossible to keep one's water at a cool and pleasantly drinkable temperature, spares know their vehicles well and can get quite inventive about stashing their recycled one-liter water bottles within arm's reach.