No Ordinary Water Team
Team FLOW is no ordinary water team. It wasn’t formed by a church. It wasn’t formed by a civic group. Team FLOW was formed by a small group of like-minded co-workers.
Team FLOW members (left to right) Annie Vu, Martin Calderon, and Eldon Graham all work for Direct Relief
Eldon Graham moved from northern California to Santa Barbara, and in the process, left behind his LWW water team at Harvest Presbyterian Church. He brought with him, however, a commitment to improve health through clean water. Eldon works for Direct Relief, a non-profit that mobilizes and provides medical resources to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations. As an inventory control specialist, Eldon inventories the prescription medications that are ultimately delivered to the communities Direct Relief serves. Knowing that El Salvador frequently needed shipments of a medication that treated parasites from contaminated water, Eldon saw an opportunity to address the root of the problem. He said, “At work we treat the symptoms, and at Living Waters we treat the cause.” Providing a means of preventative care at the source is at the core of each Living Waters for the World project. Eldon set to work forming a Living Waters for the World mission team, recruiting co-workers who shared his interest in improving health through clean water. Annie Vu got involved as the health educator. In college she studied health promotion and disease prevention, so she understood the foundational importance of safe drinking water. Martin Calderon joined as the water purification system specialist. Martin, a native of Mexico, was familiar with the challenge of accessing purified drinking water in poor, rural communities. Having lived in Mexico, he witnessed friends and family struggle to provide safe drinking water for their families, at times having to carry water to family members who were unable do so for themselves. Working with Team FLOW was a way to facilitate access to purified water in El Salvador where many of the same water access issues existed. And so, these like-minded co-workers with a commitment for service to others formed Team FLOW.
In the beginning, Team FLOW traveled to El Salvador with a water team from Harvest Presbyterian Church to get a feel for the LWW mission. Pictured here are (left to right) Franco Karzag, Annie Vu, Eldon Graham, and Martin Calderon.
After Annie and Martin trained at Clean Water U in 2017 (Eldon had trained previously), they forged their first partnership with a Compassion International site in Tenancingo, El Salvador. Energized by the success of this partnership and installation, Team FLOW is in El Salvador right now, working with another Compassion International school, in Huiziltepeque to install a water system and health education program there.
The health educator group for Tenancingo, El Salvador, prepares to enact one of the Bible stories that is part of LWW's health education curriculum
The system operator for the school in Tenancingo checks the condition of the water board in preparation for purifying the first batch of water
Eldon, Annie, and Martin don’t have a church community to rely on for funding or volunteer recruitment. They don’t ask their employer to sponsor them. They pay out-of-pocket for project expenses and use vacation days for their travel. Even so, the knowledge that clean water changes lives keeps them motivated to continue this important work.
Although they are a small, dedicated team, they are eager to recruit donors to help fund their mission and volunteers to keep it going into the future. They just haven’t let the difficulties of doing so without a sponsoring body (i.e. a church, civic group, or employer) stop them from doing what they can now. Annie said they are open to having anyone join their team. The lifelong friendships that arise from each project is the highlight of each trip. Eldon added, “More than building a clean water system, we are building relationships.” For more information on Team FLOW visit their YouTube channel here.