Making a difference: one water filter at a time

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Gerald Choung, VP of Sales and Marketing

It was a typical sunny Tuesday afternoon in San Diego, Calif., when I got an email that one of my sales folks was planning a partner and customer visit to Puerto Rico. In normal circumstances, travel to Puerto Rico to visit one of our resellers would have been business as usual, but we are—and have been over the last five months—witnessing a dire situation that is far from “normal.” And our friends in Puerto Rico have been experiencing this extraordinary devastation firsthand.

As you know, in September 2017 Hurricane Maria tore through the American territory of Puerto Rico, wreaking havoc on nearly every inch of the island. Power was knocked out, people were stranded by mudslides, and water was undrinkable. Today, there are many who still don’t have power, and will likely not see power working within their community for what may be over a year, which means clean water is not going to be readily available in many parts of the island.

We quickly realized that the meeting we had planned was extremely insignificant compared to the real impact we could actually make for many communities in Puerto Rico. So, we decided to turn our business trip into an operation to help out, as well, both with human resources and capital.  We wanted to help with an immediate and critical need: water.

More than a million people in Puerto Rico still lack running water and are forced to find water in contaminated streams, collect it from runoff and drink from untreated sites. Long after the hurricane, the American citizens of Puerto Rico still face a massive humanitarian crisis.

So we connected with Operation Agua, set up by the American Federation of Teachers with the goal of bringing water purification systems to Puerto Rican families and communities. Pictures cannot do justice to what we saw upon arrival. Buildings in pieces. Power lines downed, rows of trees completely knocked over, and maybe one traffic light half working—just a blinking red light—on the entire island.

We drove from our hotel—which happened to be where FEMA was stationed—to the storm-ravaged town of Punta Santiago.  We teamed with Operation Agua and Operation Blessing and met the people of the town and essentially learned how to be professional water filter builders pretty quickly.  The filters we built went to schools, communities and individuals. We also contributed $20,000 to Operation Agua to help with their ongoing efforts to distribute water filters across the island.

Why are we telling this story? Why should you care? Because we believe that corporations like ESET have a responsibility to come together at times like this and do something in areas affected by situations out of anyone’s control.

It could have just as easily happened to us, or our brothers and sisters. Think about it: if every company just gives a small amount, or turns just one business trip into a mission to provide aid where it is critically needed, we become part of building a “compassion algorithm”—one capable of solving ever greater and more important problems throughout the world.