IT WAS the horrific sight of red welts and open sores that moved Amore-Pacific Malaysia Laneige brand general manager Foong Winnie and Global Peace Foundation chief executive officer Dr Teh Su Thye to do something for the children of Kampung Binjai, an orang asli village in Pahang.
In sharing the inspiration for “Waterful Sharing Campaign”, an effort to bring filtered drinkable water to underprivileged communities, Teh and Foong said the children first showed symptoms of skin rashes after bathing in a stagnant pond.
“That was when we suspected the children may be suffering from bacterial infection due to the presence of parasites in the water,” said Teh.
Those with ready access to treated pipe water may take their daily supply of fresh clean water for granted at the mere turn of a tap.
Dr Teh (left) with Foong are joining forces to provide rural villages with portable water filter systems that can hold up to 50 litres of water.— RICKY LAI/ The Star
But in most rural villages, clean water is a luxury. Most times, villagers have to either dig their own wells or hike for long distances to collect water from hilltops.
Even then, the source of this supply is easily contaminated through deforestation, agricultural activity or natural disasters such as landslides and flash floods.
The bottomline is without access to clean water, livelihoods and health suffer.
One concern is the long-term effect of drinking contaminated water containing traces of pesticides and fertilisers which have seeped in the ground and is later washed into the streams.
Over time, these chemicals can damage internal organs like the liver, lower immune systems and cause cancer.
As these communities are small, it was not seen as cost-effective to introduce piped water.
As an alternative, Laneige distributed 20 portable water filter systems to affected villages with help from Global Peace Foundation.
These filters work through a hollow membrane technology which allows clean water to flow through while trapping other sediments and substances.
Kampung Ulu Geruntum, Kampung Ulu Geroh and Kampung Poh in Perak and Kampung Padang in Pahang are named in the programme recipients’ list.
“Each filter can contain up to 50 litres of water and a single unit can be shared among a cluster of three to four homes,” said Foong.
Laneige has spent RM200,000 within the last three years to fund the campaign.
Foong said the company would be putting in an additional RM100,000 this year, adding that the company would endeavour to carry on with the initiative for as long as possible.
To support the campaign, they released a YouTube video featuring responses from interviewees on what they think about washing their faces with muddy water to raise awareness on preserving water sources.
“When we first started, we were inspired to do as much as we could as a corporation to ease the villagers’ worries and help them access clean water,” said Foong.
Having progressed thus far after four years, he said it would be a waste to stop at this point and hinted at expanding the programme to more states.