News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 12, 2013

Safe and refreshing: Protoype makes transporting water more sanitary

TERRE HAUTE — As David Fischer placed his prototype PackH2O on the back of a woman in a Haitian village, she burst into tears. Confused, he looked at his interpreter to see why she had started bawling. He was told that it was the nicest thing she owns and she couldn’t believe someone gave it to her.

That was before the PackH2O had 150,000 units worldwide in 21 countries.

The PackH2O is a $10 alternative to the traditional bucket used by women and children in impoverished areas. PackH2O  aims to aid in the transport of clean water from the watering area to the village, said Fischer, CEO of Greif, the company that developed the PackH2O and a Terre Haute South graduate.

“Greif is a packaging company built on the culture of the golden rule and giving back,” he added. “I know all too well the chemicals that go into making those buckets that people use to carry water in. It is a huge hazard for the people who are drinking it.”

After seeing first-hand the means of transporting water in third-world countries, Fischer and his company joined a water task force to help impact the world.

The goal was to develop an inexpensive, transportable and flexible means to transport water sanitarily, he said.

By design, PackH2O features tapered sides, padding on the straps, a spout to conveniently dispense water, a wide mouth to poor water into, a football-shaped bottom so it can stand independently and a liner that is kept sanitized by letting it bask in the sunlight.

Through the developmental stages, Fischer and company visited three communities in Haiti to try out a PackH2O prototype. After the locals tried a PackH2O out and gave feedback, Greif integrated changes as needed.  

“The feedback has been great,” he said. “When I visit those villages now, people come up and say that when they go to the water well with the backpack, other villagers ask them how to acquire one.”

With help from their partners, Fischer said he hopes to reach one million units worldwide within the next two years. The final goal is 100,000,000, but that will be only 5 percent of the global need, he added.

Some of the PackH2O partners are Operation Blessing International, Habitat for Humanity International, Clinton Global Initiative, Partners for Care, CxCatalysts and Partners in Health.

Along with getting partners to support the product, PackH2O has been recognized by institutions around the world, he added. Out of all the awards it has won, the biggest is Popular Science magazine’s Best of What’s New award, he said.

All recognition aside, Fischer says he has a general interest in benefiting other people around the world.

“Becoming a CEO of a company and making money is a good goal in life,” he added. “My greatest accomplishment, however, is helping people in impoverished areas of the world.”  

To donate a pack, visit the company’s website at www.packh20.com and go to its “give a pack” section.

Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and dustyn.

fatheree@tribstar.com
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