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December 18, 2007

New Life From Southern Indiana

Second generation now making water filters for poverty-stricken areas


Edsel Richards, a retired worker from General Electric, set up a 10-foot by 10-foot tent in his backyard and went to work with his brother Dallas.

Richards found that volunteers were not always gluing the tubes correctly, which caused the bolts not to line up with the flanges. Many parts had to be thrown out.

So Richards found some old tools and began using them to make sure the parts lined up and to help correct the plastic tubes.

“They know when they get parts from us, they’re correct,” he said.

Eventually, the church basement became available, and the brothers set up shop there. The parts are shipped to them from Underwood.

They, along with other church members, work Mondays through Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. They assemble about 15 to 20 units per week, Richards estimates.

While Richards has never been to a Third World country, he is proud that he can help.

“There are kids over there dying by the thousands, and if we can save one child, it’s gratifying,” Richards said.

McGuire said the group in Clarksville has helped because New Life is in the process of moving into a larger facility.

“The folks down there have been helping us a lot by putting a lot of this stuff together offsite,” he said. They are the only “satellite group” helping with assembly.

This year, New Life is focusing its attention on impoverished areas in Africa and storm-ravished countries. They have a team of missionaries in Mexico, surveying the damage from two hurricanes which hit the state of Tabasco.

Each unit can provide water to thousands of people. The purifiers are generally run by missionaries, churches or humanitarian groups. McGuire said that is what makes their ministry unique.

A lot of people want to donate to an individual in need, he said, but that is not always as cost-effective.

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