She says:" If your why is strong enough, then you can run for a long way." For the #THIRST FOR LIFE project, Veronique Bourbeau wants to run from Egypt to South Africa. The goal is to raise awareness about the issue of insufficient clean and available drinking water. Prof. Askwar Hilonga initiated this project, through which 1000 water stations are to be built. His aim is easy: to inspire and empower!

Kilala Water station Kilala Water station Glory Mushi at work [Foto von Christina Ablus, DTP]

"We believe that the human network is the strongest power in the world in our generation. Networking means telling others about others and others telling others about you". To tell a story is probably the most powerful and touching way of communication. And I want to tell you about Prof. Askwar Hilonga. Welcome to be inspired and empowered.

"I remember my father told me that when I drink stagnant water in the valleys (in Swahili, "Maji yaliyotwama korongoni au Maji ya Lambo") – which was very dirty – I should assume, he told me, that it is "a tea with milk" (chai ya maziwa), tells Prof. Hilonga.

In 2021 still, one in ten people do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. Clean drinking water makes a difference between life and death. And water is life. One of our essential goals should be to ensure the availability of safe drinking water for everybody. Prof. Hilonga himself struggled with several diseases, mainly related to dirty water. The region around Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro describes an exceptionally high fluoride concentration in drinking water, which can cause fluorosis. But even better-known diseases such as typhoid fever are still diseases today that arise because of poor drinking water. In a small village, Gongali, near Lake Manyara in North Tanzania, Prof. Hilonga grew up. He was able to attend the University of DaresSalam by the support of the Seven Days Adventist Church Gongali. Later he went to South Korea to do his Ph.D. He is always asking: "What does my Ph.D. mean to my community in Tz?". He is the creator and founder of Nanofilter TM, a waterfilter using nanotechnology that provides safe and clean drinking water, in Swahili "Maji Safi na Salama"! It removes 99.999 % of impurities (bacteria, heavy metals, various pollutants) from the water. The Nanofilter TM innovation won the WHO Health Prize.

Nevertheless, the water filter alone was not the goal. He established the Gongali Model Co. Ltd company for innovative activities to empower and impact people's lives. He wants to inspire young people "to develop innovative and sustainable business ventures and initiatives that empower their community". By October 2020, the Nanofilter project has created 127 jobs for young women in waterstations, which are placed all over Arusha. For many young women, it is a way to earn an independent income. In these waterstations, filtered water is sold in refillable bottles at a low price. The aim is to provide access to clean water to as many people as possible. Beyond Tanzania, ten Nanofilter TM waterstations are located in Kenya and twenty in Zambia.

TAHUDE (Tanzania Human Development Foundation) in Arusha, Tanzania, an NGO (non-profit organisation) of the Gongali Model company, is launching the #Thirst for life project starting on 22nd July. #Thirst for Life wants to build 1000 nanofilter-waterstations throughout Africa, from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa. The goal is to reach as many people as possible and raise awareness. The project is in partnership with Veronique Bourbeau. She will be running this 13000 km cross from the north of Africa to the south. Veronique Bourbeau describes running for herself as breathing. She says:" If your why is strong enough, then you can run for a long way." Her Solorun through Africa will raise attention to provide safe drinking water.

The aim of Prof. Askwar Hilonga is easy: to inspire and empower! His book "The story of a journey of an African Innovator – From Gongali Village to London & BEYOND" describes his journey (The profit made with his book supports the #thrist for life project)

Prof. Hilonga and his wife Ruth Elineema Lukwaro were my bosses when I worked at their company Gongali Model CO. Ltd and its NGO TAHUDE during my volunteer service. Prof. Hilonga and his wife, Madame Ruth are people full of energy! They always comforted, cheered up, and motivated the people of their surroundings and me. They showed me that a motivational project I am committed to, and I want to do, is worth any work! Every day we employees were reminded to think big and got motivated to act bravely. To me, they are two wonderful people. I was so excited to work with them! They and the whole company have inspired and empowered me.

Do your best, and the outcome will be great. What is your greatest motivation? For what do you want to stand up?

* Quotes from the book "The story of a journey of an African Innovator – From Gongali Village to London & BEYOND" by Prof. Askwar Hilonga