Reece Grant: an inspiring beginning

31 July 2015

The Reece Grant recipient and additional grant recipients have just been announced, and we’re so excited to introduce the three projects set to improve water sanitation conditions for the communities who need it most.

The Reece community water initiative aims to improve quality of life within underprivileged communities by providing clean water supply and improving sanitation – a task that would simply not be possible without the hard work of dedication of plumbers. The Reece Grant will help three inspiring Australian plumbers and builders kick-start their dreams to help communities across the globe achieve a basic human need no one should have to live without - clean water.

Read below and get inspired as we reveal the winning projects and speak to the Reece customers who are excited to use their knowledge to improve sanitation facilities in underprivileged communities.

Reece Grant winner:

  • $15,000 – Justin Morris

Additional Reece Grant Recipients:

  • $5,000 – Timothy Brideson
  • $5,000 – James Millis

 

Reece Grant recipient: Justin Morris

Justin Morris from Notting Hill, Victoria has been awarded $15,000 for his submission to improve India’s complex sanitation issue. For his project, Justin is partnering with the We Can’t Wait foundation and putting the money towards the construction of toilet facilities and sanitation education in schools in Nasik, India. Construction will start in September, and Justin will head to Nasik for a ten-day assignment in October.

Reece Grant Justin Morris 2 Main winner   Reece Grant Justin Morris Main winner

Tell us about the current state of sanitation in India.
Lack of toilets in India is the number one cause of disease. This issue is the leading cause of students (especially girls) dropping out of schools once they’ve hit puberty.

Currently, 200,000 schools do not have toilets and another 400,000 schools have toilets that are unusable. The school we’re supporting, Jila Parishad Prathamik School, has more than 650 students who we hope will benefit from the new facilities and hygiene education.

Why did you choose this particular project? 
We Can’t Wait is a client of mine and I’ve been doing small-scale community projects with them for years. I’ve always wanted to do more, so when We Can’t Wait was looking to partner with someone for a school project in India, I put my hand up straight away. A week after expressing my interest, I received the Reece Grant email – it couldn’t have come at a better time.

What will the money go towards?
We’ll be installing 12 toilets and hand washing facilities, two 1000-litre water tanks and the necessary water filter systems to ensure the school has access to an ongoing clean water supply.

How important is education in the quest for maintaining sanitation?
Half of the puzzle in India is finding a way to encourage residents - who have been brought up in a culture of open defecation - to use the toilets.

We hope that by teaching kids about the importance of washing their hands and proper hygiene, they’ll pass on their knowledge to their parents and encourage them to install a toilet into their home. Change needs to happen from the bottom up. 

What part of the project are you most excited about?
I’m looking forward to seeing the excitement on the kids faces when the new toilet blocks are up and running. Having a proper working toilet is nothing for us, but everything for them.

What is your plan for the future?
I see this trip as the start of something much bigger for myself, both on a personal and career level. A year ago, I would’ve put this type of project in the ‘too hard basket’, but with the help of the Reece Grant, I now understand that a little can go such a long way with these communities and this has inspired me to do more.

 

Additional Grant recipient: James Millis

Villages in the hills of East Timor are prone to landslides and flooding, and they’re also one of the hardest areas to access, making recovery a slow and lengthy process. Spring water is the main water source for four communities living in the mountains, but keeping the water free from contamination and transporting it to the villages is challenging, with community members spending hours a day carrying water.  

Red Cross, with support from the Friends of Manatuto program, have restored two of the four villages with proper facilities to access the stream, water filtration and toilet facilities. Additional Grant recipient, James Millis from Edithvale, Victoria is putting the money towards finishing the project, which will begin this month.

Reece Grant James Millis

Why did you choose this particular project? 
I found out about Friends of Manatuto through family friends and heard that they needed support to complete the three-year project. The Reece Grant came at the perfect time for me to get involved.

What will the money go towards?
There are enough funds to finish restoring the third village, and begin the fourth in six months. The money is going towards tools and equipment to test the water, install proper water transport facilities and construct toilet facilities.

How do you ensure long-term change?
An important part of the job is actually teaching the community to be self-sufficient and run the water sanitation and transportation systems themselves, rather than us do it for them. That way, when we leave, the community will know how to fix problems when they arise and can pass their knowledge down to the younger generation.

What part of the project are you most excited about?
Making a difference by helping out a community that would otherwise be totally overlooked. It’s one of those places that don’t receive enough funding or support, so it’s nice to be able to help make a lasting change.

What is your plan for the future?
Once this project is underway, I’ll be looking to dedicate a week per year to supporting underprivileged areas using my plumbing skills. Realising how many people you can help with such little effort is a huge eye opener.

 

Additional Grant Recipient: Timothy Brideson

In 2013, the biggest typhoon ever recorded made landfall in Tacloban, Philippines, killing 5877 people. More than 1000 are still missing. The government has been slow to rebuild and there is still a lot of work to be done.

Additional Grant recipient Timothy Brideson from Mt Waverley, Victoria is using the money to help rebuild toilet facilities at a damaged school in Tacloban, on a 14-day mission in January.

Reece Grant Timothy Briedson

Why did you choose this particular project?
It’s actually a project that I was invited to go on with John Tucker (Queensland-based award-winning builder) and his team before I received the grant funds.

Tacloban is the hometown of the infamous Imelda Marcos, the widow of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos who is well known for her lavish spending. Given this association, the town suffers from a lack of government funding and support, as a way of payback for Imelda’s flamboyant spending habits and wealth.

What type of work will you be doing?
Mainly, plumbing and roofing, plus teaching the local tradesmen how to cyclone-proof the infrastructure – many of the buildings are built by hand and don’t stand up in the face of a natural disaster.

What will the money go towards?
Building materials for the construction of two classrooms, a nurse’s medical room and a toilet block at one of the schools. At present, children are overcrowded and the sanitary conditions are extremely poor and subject to the spread of disease. These works will help stop this, and the improved conditions will provide a better environment for education. We’ll also be educating the students on the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

What part of the project are you most excited about?
Being part of a passionate team and helping those in need. John Tucker is a true expert in missionary projects and knows this stuff inside out, so I’m looking forward to learning from the best.

I’ve never been involved in a project like this and I’m sure it’ll expand my perspective on how lucky we are in Australia, as well as how my skills can be of assistance to underprivileged communities.  

 

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of these three exciting projects in the upcoming issues of Outlet. 

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