Fairbanks First UMC Supports ‘Hippo Rollers’

There is a very traditional way of getting water in many parts of the world.  Persons, mainly women and children, will walk some distance to a water point outside of a village or town.  There they will fill up five-gallon buckets or jerry cans with buckets and walk back home.  It’s a trip they may make more than once a day.

There are long term side effects.  The heavy loads place strain on their skeletal frames, causing long-term damage.  Because only five gallons can be collected at a time, much of the day is spent collecting water.  It keeps persons from education or occupations. 

That is where the Hippo Water Roller comes in.  It is able to carry four times the amount of water as a jerry can, saving much time.  It requires far less effort to roll the container along the ground as opposed to carrying it, saving wear and tear on bodies.  Plus, it’s designed to cope with rugged terrain.  The end result is that women and children are empowered and suffering is reduced in areas where the rollers are used.    They cost approximately $100 (US) to produce and ship.

The Hippo Roller was introduced to Alaska by the United Methodist Men, namely Walt Hays, Jim LaBau, and Jim Newton.  They even met Grant Gibbs (the Project Leader for  the Hippo Rollers) at a Johannesburg train station in April of 2008 and were immediately impressed by his compassion for the poor of Africa and how such a simple technology can help meet basic human needs in so many places in the developing world.

The SPROUTS of Fairbanks First UMC heard these stories and did research on the Hippo Water Roller Project, even speaking with Grant Gibbs of the Hippo Roller Project.  Under the leadership of Clarice Moore, these 4th-6th graders raised $5,500 for the Project with more to come with a Special Easter Sunday Offering.  This was a tremendous response and means that 60 or more families will now have a roller to safely transport clean water for their use.

Some may remember that the SPOUTS group raised funds to underwrite forty-one PETs (Personal Energy Transportation) four years ago.  PETs provide the gift of mobility and dignity to those who are unable to walk in developing countries.

St. John UMC in Anchorge has one of the Hippo Rollers which was brought back by Jim Newton.  Look for it at Annual conference in Homer to “see it in action” and learn more about this technology.   You might also want to get in touch with Clarice Moore and hear what happens when older elementary children are involved  in the mission of the church.