Meet PureMadi: Our Partners who are Helping to Solve the Clean Water Crisis

As you all know, the team here at cocokind is dedicated to not only providing organic, pure, and nutritious skincare, but we are also doing what we can to help change the world. We focus on three main issues: providing meals, clean water, and education to children in need. Our earliest team member, Graham, introduced us to an organization called PureMadi this year, which targets the “clean water” mission that we have. After learning about the incredible things PureMadi is doing, we decided to partner up and be an official supporter of this nonprofit.

We asked the President, Rebecca Kelly, to introduce herself and the organization to the cocokind world, and we hope you learn about their efforts and become inspired just as much as we did!

What is PureMadi?

PureMadi is a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent waterborne diseases through educating, training, and empowering resource-limited communities to produce and distribute ceramic water filters. PureMadi started as an interdisciplinary collaboration of students and faculty at the University of Virginia conducting research on health and water in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Once it became clear that there was a need and desire for a water treatment technology, the idea of building a ceramic water filter factory that employed locals was formed. We get our name from the Tshivenda word for water which is “madi”. Tshivenda is the primary language spoken in the Limpopo Province.

What ignited your interest in PureMadi?

I got involved in PureMadi because of my interest in global health and medicine. The more I learned more about the global water crisis, the more I realized that this problem has a solution that is within our reach. We have a technology than can purify water and we are creating jobs for people who are in great need of them. I love that we are providing more than just clean water, but education and new opportunities to the communities we work with.

So how does PureMadi work?

PureMadi built its first factory at the Mukondeni Pottery Cooperative. The Cooperative is made up of about 50 women who create traditional Venda pottery which they sell by the side of the road. Very few people come by that way as it is several miles off a rough dirt road so the women were eager to have another source of income in addition to being able to get clean water; about 10 women work regularly making filters. I have been lucky enough to travel to South Africa several times. We teach the women about how to make the filters, water, and health, and in turn get to learn about their rich culture, dress, food, and even traditional pottery making. They are quick to teach us words in Tshivenda and we have even cooked for each other using one large pot over a wood fire. Seeing the women’s enthusiasm and the direct benefit that they receive from the jobs and clean water has been incredibly rewarding. We stay at a lodge in a larger city that has grocery stores, shops and a gym about an hour and a half away from the factory and we cook for ourselves using stovetop burners and get our clean water from the PureMadi filters.

What’s next for PureMadi?

We’ve teamed up with Khulisa Social Solutions, a South African NGO, for our second factory and are hoping to finish constructions in the next few weeks.

In addition to many other dedicated students and the continual support of the University of Virginia, the University of Venda, Rotary International and Khulisa Social Solutions, we could not accomplish all that we have without our cofounders Jim Smith and Rebecca Dillingham, as well as Pamela Kelly, Theresa Hackett, Sydney Schrider, Molly Tyeryar, Rachel Schmidt, and Chloe Rento. We are also now extremely lucky to be partnering with Cocokind and are looking forward to our ongoing relationship!