A KIND-hearted couple have travelled the world giving the gift of clean water to those who need it most.
Gill and John Griffith set up their own charity, Grifaid, six years ago and have since distributed more than 20,000 water filters to people in 40 different countries.
The couple, of Burdon Road, Cleadon, have just returned from a three-week trip to Rwanda and Kenya, where they met up with some of the people they have helped.
Mrs Griffith said: “Clean water is definitely something that people here take for granted, but seeing the difference that it makes to the people who we give the filters to is just wonderful.”
•See more pictures from the Griffith’s trip here
The couple’s mission started when John was a member of the Cleadon and District Rotary Club and saw an article about water filters.
After the article peaked their interest, the couple found out that the company making the filters had gone out of business, and that they weren’t very effective anyway.
They decided to start from scratch and make their own.
Mr Griffith, 75, is a retired engineer who use to own his own textile company, Griffith Textile Machines, in Washington.
He was perfectly paired with Mrs Griffith, 67, a retired biology teacher, who used her scientific skills to test the water after her husband designed the filters.
The couple, who have three children and six grandchildren, have designed a small filter for families to use at home, dubbed Aquafilter Family, and a larger filter, dubbed Aquafilter Community, to be used in schools, clinics and villages.
Mr Griffith said: “We’ve built 20,000 of the small filters and more than 1,000 of the big ones and they’ve been very well appreciated by the people who’ve received them.”
Mrs Griffith added: “We actually met when we were both teaching in West Africa in the 1960s, so I think we were more aware than most people about the conditions that people are living in.”
“Going over to see the difference that the filters are making is fantastic. The dirty water that people in these countries have to drink can give them typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea and sickness and these filters are making a big difference to people’s health and lives.
“The people are very proud, they just want the best for the families.
“When we went to Rwanda and Kenya and saw that the filters they were given four years ago were still going strong it really meant something to us.”
The small filters cost £35 and the big filters cost £250, meaning that it costs about 15p per year for one person to have clean water to drink.
The couple raise money from Rotary Club donations, and fund-raising, as well as selling filters to charities around the UK.
Now, they are starting an appeal in the hope of sending 1,000 more filters to Syria.
Mrs Griffith said: “We’ve done a lot of travelling and meeting the people who use the filters makes it all worthwhile.
“Last Christmas, we went to Gambia with some filters and some of the people there gave us a Christmas present, which was six oranges and six bananas. That was all they could give us but it was so lovely.
“We also received a report from the Department for International Development about us taking 600 filters to Haiti. They said it was the best bit of aid they had ever received there.”
•To make a donation, go to www.grifaid.org