Students Join Together for Mission Trip to Honduras

Posted on February 26, 2014

Seventeen students from Duquesne’s Rotaract Club and the Pure Thirst organization will spend their Spring Break carrying out the University’s mission when they travel to Honduras from Saturday, March 1, through Saturday, March 8, to dedicate a water filtration system.

Pure Thirst is a Western Pennsylvania organization that has been working to bring clean water to a community in Honduras that has never had access to it before. The organization is comprised of Rotaract members as well as students of all ages, businesses and Honduran residents, among others.

Together, Pure Thirst and the Rotaract Club raised $22,000 to purchase the water purification system, which be installed in the Copan region, located in the north west of Honduras.

Student Matt Burnett, former president and founder of Pure Thirst, is the driving force behind the water filtration project, according to Alia Pustorino-Clevenger, assistant director for community engagement in the Center for Student Involvement and Rotaract Club advisor.

“The project actually began because of Matt,” said Pustorino-Clevenger. “When he was a freshman, he came to DU with passion to serve others and was involved with Pure Thirst and Rotary during high school. His dream was to give his peers the opportunity to understand how, in many countries, clean water is not something that is readily available.”

When he served as Pure Thirst president, Barnett worked for more than two years on the project’s plan, gathering support for the project in three Rotary districts in western Pennsylvania. He worked with Dr. Stan Kabala, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education, to develop a course around the mission trip in an effort to provide trip participants with information on water adequacy (do people have enough?), accessibility (can they get to it?), cost (can they afford it?) and quality (does it make them sick?). The course also addresses the environmental, technical, economic and social factors that affect the quality and quantity of water available in developing nations. Barnett also helped to orchestrate active grants to make the project financially possible.

Accompanying the students will be regional Rotarian Janie Braid; Denny Crawford, past district governor of Rotary District 7300; and Louis Zangara, a pharmacist at the University’s Center for Pharmacy Services. They will be joined in Honduras by a team of medical, educational and construction professionals who will help with the project.

The trip will provide a learning experience for the students by allowing them to experience first-hand the difficulties many cultures have with obtaining fresh water. “The project is important because when our students go to Honduras, they are going to become acutely aware of water issues that affect people globally,” Pustorino-Clevenger said. “They will then come home to the United States to address this issue within our own community.”

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