Cobo stressed that the true challenge of implementing any new technology is cultural impact and acceptance by the villagers, who are nomads and whose practices are grounded in hundreds of years of tradition.
“The real challenge is that they have to change their customs and decide that clean water is a necessity,” he said.
Abubakar said that the system keeps people from drinking impure water, and that more systems would help reduce disease.
For Varga, the most rewarding part of working on the system was seeing the pictures of LiTreS being used in the clinic.
“Opening that email was the best thing ever,” she said. “I still have one of the pictures as my background. It was the most amazing feeling, seeing the impact you can have on those people.”
Cobo returns to the clinic occasionally for repairs and hopes to travel to other villages to address school supply shortages, clean water accessibility and sanitation. Sara and her mother are planning to return to teach women how to create homemade water filters.
Charron and the students are now focused on mass-producing the LiTreS system and providing upcoming seniors all the tools needed to continue improving and implementing the systems in developing nations around the world.
Discussions with Cobo also inspired the student’s most recent achievement, the Eco-Cooker, which is fueled by cattle bio-waste to address the issue of deforestation due to wood burning. It won the Spirit of Innovation Challenge in March, and students will use their $10,000 award to continue its development.
“There are two ways you can go about it,” Charron said. “You can feel sorry about everything that happens or you can do something about it.”