When Golden resident Brian Kluth's family founded the Sandi House charity, the goal was to help impoverished women in Uganda get an education. But as Brian and his wife, Mary Ellen, spent time …
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When Golden resident Brian Kluth's family founded the Sandi House charity, the goal was to help impoverished women in Uganda get an education.
But as Brian and his wife, Mary Ellen, spent time visiting with the families of many of the girls they were assisting, they were increasingly struck by how much these families were struggling to meet human needs that are even more fundamental than education.
The Kluths say they saw many of the families lacked access to both clean water and electricity and relied on inadequate and event dangerous power sources like kerosene lamps and open flames for heat and light.
“These mothers and children and even little babies are squinting their eyes and the smoke is everywhere and it's just a really big problem,” Brian said of the smoke that comes from the open flames used for cooking in many homes.
The dangerous potential consequences of such situations became painfully apparent for the Kluths when they learned about one group of children that died in a fire started by a kerosene lamp.
“We started to think about what we could do about these problems,” Kluth said. “And we told them we didn't have any solutions but we would try to find them.”
That effort first led the Kluths to Sawyer, a Florida company that produces a miniature water filter kits that removes over 99.9% of all bacteria from water. The kits, at $50, could also be affordable for many Americans to provide as a donation. That was important because most Ugandans only make $1 to $3 a day.
Over the next two years, Brian and Mary Ellen collected donations to provide over 10,000 people with access to the kits. Another year of searching lead Brian to the SolarAid lamp, a $10 solar-powered lamp that was already being used in other areas of Africa.The couple's latest discovery came closer to home when they learned a Fort Collins-based company called Envirofit had invented a portable wood stove that retailed for about $40
“We tested it with 30 families and they were all like this is amazing,” Brian said. “It produces 80% less smoke, uses 60% less wood and cooks twice as fast as an open fire.”
Having located those solutions, the Kluths are now setting about getting the products into the hands of as many Ugandan families as possible in the new year. Last month, they officially launched their new organization, called Healthy Charity, to work toward that goal. The Kluths also began a press campaign that has included filming segments for major TV programs like ABC World News Tonight.
“We really think this could go big,” “If we can help 1,000 families that would be amazing, if we can help 10,000 that would be incredible, and if we can help 100,000 in several years that would be wonderful.”
Both Sandi House and Healthy Charity operate under the ceritified 501c3 status umbrella of Faith & Learning International, an Illinois-based organization that provides administrative and accounting support systems to charitable organizations. Faith & Learning International is also certified by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an organization that accredits organizations according to evangelical standards.
The Kluths say their focus is on getting publicity for their charity while attempting to raise funds to distribute as many products as possible on their next trip to Uganda at the end of May. They are also planning a Valentine's Day event called the “ungala” that Brian is billing as a chance for those wanting to contribute to the Healthy Charity to do so without having to get dressed and spend money on a big expensive gala.
“You just stay at home and watch a video about what we are doing and make a donation,” Brian said. “And we will be able to raise more money by not spending money to put on a big fancy gala.”
The Kluths also have longer term goals, including a desire to eventually share their knowledge and expertise to help other organizations provide such products to communities around the world.
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