It’s often the individual threads that make the most compelling stories. Welcome to “Humans of Handprint,” a special segment dedicated to shining a spotlight on the incredible individuals who are the driving force behind Handprint’s impactful journey. We delve into the lives, passions, and experiences of these remarkable people, discovering the heart and soul of organizations that thrive on the dedication and inspiration of its diverse team.
Join us on this journey as we get to know the faces and voices that breathe life into Handprint’s mission, and witness firsthand the profound impact they have on the world.
In this chapter of HoH, we sat with Philip Kitcher, CEO of WAH, while he shared with us his journey and experiences.
How did the Water and Health Foundation start?
The Foundation started 10 years ago to help provide clean water access within schools, health clinics and hospitals. They hoped to build a sustainable and reasonably cheap way to filter water and to provide access to it for a large population. To achieve this, an emphasis was put on using as little materials as possible and making the filters easy to maintain and use.
The Foundation started in Kampong Chhnang province, which is in central Cambodia. They had connections in the province so were able to manage with their small team of 10 people. Furthermore, the province is predominantly agricultural, farming and fishing. The disparity between those living in underserved communities, in the rural areas, and the urban areas is quite significant, so the lack of access to clean water was high. Still to this day, there is a lack of clean water, but WAH is fixing that issues village by village.
“There was an unacceptably high rate of women in emergency situations that were not being handled in the way that they would in a more developed part of the world.”
As they developed and gained more relationships in the area, WAH began to realise there was a very high occurrence of maternal mortality. WAH works very closely with the local hospitals and authorities as well as Singapore hospitals. In collaboration with professors and overseas nurses, they have run emergency training programs, dealing with all the key healthcare issues.
How has the Water and Health Foundation grown?
The Foundation has developed more programs tackling the UN SDG of education and gender equality for all. Education scholarships are provided for primary, secondary and tertiary students. Primary education is a priority as it gives opportunities for students to get a higher education. Focus has been added on gender equality and providing opportunities for them. Providing role models for women from rural communities gives those who wouldn’t normally have opportunities, the chance to go into education.
“The scalability of the program in clean water and medicine is very much an objective of ours.”
They have started working with local health and education authorities to invite groups from other provinces to come and spend team time with us. They conduct training, missions, and educational scholarship programs, so that there can be benefits outside of just one province.
The main challenges to growing bigger and entering more provinces is the amount of people in the organisation and funding. WAH has some incredible partners that help them in a number of ways in terms of skills transfer, from social enterprise pilots to Microfinance specialists.
So, who is Philip Kitcher and what motivates him?
He initially started with wild aid and conservation around the illegal trafficking globally. A friend of his was founder of WildAid in the UK, and got him involved in marketing campaigns around the world. Kitcher was involved in advocating against rhino ivory horn trading, the trade in wild birds, sharks over the years and continues to advocate and advise with wild-aid that’s developed into much more climate action and marine and terrestrial part protection.
He joined WAH to use his marketing experience to make a difference. He covers the role of providing a strategic pipeline of finances into the operations in Cambodia. Based in Singapore as a Pro Bono CEO, he facilitate discussions and financial support to allow them to continue to deliver the impact that we are able to deliver in Kampong Chhnang. Working with all the partners and universities, he provides remote training.
“Seeing the tangible impact of a small organisation that was doing a lot with very little and that didn’t have any bureaucracy. Seeing how we targeted raising funds that would have maximum impact.”
After joining, seeing the foundation’s impact, motivated Kitcher to keep doing his work. A project he found very influential was how one water system could prevent many water borne diseases. It helps the families who didn’t have the money for medicine focus on education. The tangible results gave him a sense of hope and purpose. Jane Goodall has been a huge influence on his work, giving him a message of hope and working collaboratively to make a difference. Other powerful leaders have also empowered him to never give up and achieve his dream.
“It is only together that we can come up with solutions.”
How can individuals and organisations support and get involved with the foundation?
- Teachers are always needed, so people with an enthusiasm to teach English are always welcome.
- Anyone who wants to offer their skills as a volunteer is always welcome.
- Funding from individuals and corporations is needed to facilitate the building of a water system.
Want to know more? Read https://www.wahfoundation.org/