Connect & Collaborate

Connect & Collaborate with Icosa - Providing Necessities

August 17, 2013

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Providing clean water and proper sanitation to villages in Africa is no small task. In 1995, Charles Banda dedicated himself to the cause, founding Freshwater Malawi to serve his people by supplying safe drinking water and preventing disease among the poorest in his country. 

Jan Mazotti had the honor of meeting and interviewing Mr. Banda last October. This week, we learned that Charles Banda died unexpectedly, after a recent diagnosis of liver cancer. He leaves behind his wife, three children and a legacy of many lives that were saved and changed by his efforts with Freshwater Malawi.



In his honor, we bring you the interview once again. We hope you are inspired by his passion and the incredible work being done to bring clean water to the poorest countries. The organization is widely respected throughout the country, where 24 out of 28 districts have conducted water and sanitation projects. Freshwater Malawi focuses their efforts exclusively in the country of Malawi and Freshwater International helps with support to Malawi and eventually to bring the same efforts and success to other countries. The goal is to address one country at a time, learn from each effort and move on until all of Africa is supplied with safe water and sanitation.

We hope you’ll listen this program and if you are moved, donate to help Freshwater Malawi sustain their efforts.

If you would like to learn more about the Freshwater Malawi project, look for the documentary film Water First: Reaching the Millennium Development Goals which highlights the importance of clean water in relieving poverty and empowering people. You’ll also find an article in ICOSA magazine aboutFreshwater Malawi and maternal/child health.

While many people take safe drinking water for granted, 884 million people worldwide do not have clean water. 40% of rural Malawians rely on unsafe water.


In our second half hour of Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA we return closer to home

It’s the start of a new school year which means parents are scrambling to buy school supplies – and teachers are scanning their budgets to buy school supplies. Many teachers end up spending close to $1000 of their own money each year to supplement classroom supplies.
That’s why, in the second half of today’s show we’re talking with Stephanie Welsh, the Executive Director of RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching).

While RAFT doesn’t necessarily supply pencils and erasers, it is a source for all kinds of materials that inspire hands-on teaching and learning. Although at it’s core, RAFT is about education, sustainability factors in by partnering with other organizations to up-cycle their unwanted materials. In order to stock the RAFT warehouse with items for every conceivable project, they ask us all to look at things we no longer have a need for and find a use for them beyond their intended purpose. Teachers then transform those items to hands-on activities for students.

If you’re wondering what they could use, the answer is everything! They’ll take anything from paper tubes, fabric, foam core to scratched CDs, jewel cases, water bottles and file folders… any standard items that are easily duplicated and sorted. Welsh says, “We haven’t met many things we can’t use.”

As part of her job, Welsh visits various companies and organizations to determine what might be useful…

She says, “When I go out to different companies to see what they could donate they say, “Oh no, we don’t have anything you would want.” and I say, “Well can we just look around your warehouse? Would you mind giving me five minutes? …  People think I’m crazy when I come out, they’re like, “Really? Are you that excited about our trash? I say, “Oh yes! I am!” because it’s not trash. It’s something that has great educational value. We just have to step back and take a different look at it. “

With these assorted supplies, RAFT has created more than 600 activities to inspire teacher and students. RAFT also offers classroom space for professional development, and their mission is to support teachers in common core standards.

That’s meaningful sustainability.

Any educator in the state of Colorado can shop the RAFT warehouse and purchase items at 80% – 90% all the time. Membership is $25 per individual per year,  Groups of ten or more registering at the same time can join for $20 each. A day pass for those uncertain if they’ll be back in Denver is $15.  Reasonable pricing, considering most teachers spend at least $500 of their own money on classroom supplies each year.

Learn more at

Tune in each Saturday at 10:00 AM on  KNUS 710– or download our podcast on the KNUS podcast page.