Discova Community Development, Responsible Travel

Bringing Clean Water to Om Goi

November 24, 2021

Back in late September, we announced a campaign to collectively walk 10,000km over 10 days across our Discova business in the hopes of raising $10,000. The purpose – to build a much-needed water filtration system for our community in Om Goi.

Fast-forward two months, with those steps counted, kilometres clocked, and sponsorships collected, we managed to surpass our target and raise almost $12,000.

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported our cause, to spotlight some extraordinary efforts from some of our willing walkers and runners, and to outline the next steps for the project.

But first, a reminder of why we were doing all this exercise in the first place.

trekking in om goi
Beautiful trekking trails in Om Goi

A Community in Need: Om Goi

We have been working with the Om Goi community, in Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand, for the past 8 years. During this time, we have brought much-needed financial and infrastructure support when it has been most crucial.

In recent discussions with community leaders, the issue of a safe water supply was raised, and a need for improvement was highlighted.

Unfortunately, the water supply to San Mamuang, a village within Om Goi, is unclean and contaminated with chemicals and pesticides.

Since the villagers use this water for cleaning, drinking, and cooking, there are many negative consequences. The local hospital reports that many children are contracting intestinal conditions due to the unclean water supply. Many others are developing skin diseases as a result of washing with chemical-laden water.

Playground Om Goi
A successful previous project: the school playground

In the past, we have relied on successful community-based tourism initiatives to raise money through passenger contributions. This has allowed us to raise funds for and coordinate vital projects decided upon directly with the communities.

Successful projects in the past have included constructing a playground for the local school, providing mobile health clinics for almost 600 villagers, and installing water storage tanks in villages across the region. Read more about our previous work in Om Goi here.

However, with no travellers during the pandemic, this revenue stream for infrastructure improvements has dried up.

Yet, the problem of contaminated water is an immediate issue that we wanted to address. So, following discussions with the village leaders, we launched a campaign to raise funds for a much-needed water filtration system.

Rice threshing Om Goi
Rice threshing in Om Goi

10,000 kms in 10 Days

Many volunteers got involved and took up the call wholeheartedly, dusting off those walking shoes and clocking up those kilometres on behalf of a good cause.

Separating into teams across the business, people organised various walks and runs, asking for sponsorship through social media and exploring some of our destinations in the process.

In Singapore, our head office team strode confidently around the island, braving the humidity and encountering a tropical thunderstorm or two.

Our UK team met up in London to take a long amble along the Thames together, stopping to admire the various sites along the way.

Walking beside Thames
Our team in London strolling along the Thames

Our teams across the Atlantic got involved, too, with Regional Product Manager Simon Lindsay and Global Head of Shared Services Prangtip Nanphattharanith both taking long strolls along the beautiful Caribbean beaches of Mexico.

A special mention needs to be made for our Regional Manager for Vietnam, China, and Hong Kong – Bach Tran. Bach went the extra mile, literally, by walking and running 160km around his hometown of Hanoi. As if this wasn’t already going above and beyond, Bach also opted to go barefoot.

On the choice to run barefoot, Bach explains, “the barefoot-running experience is so engaging for my entire body – my rhythm and motion are in sync with the ever-changing terrains. There are no dull moments as running barefoot requires alertness and constant tuning in to your surroundings.” 

“At first, I thought I bit off more than I could chew with my individual target of 160km. Fortunately, with all the support I received after the first few days, I knew it was totally achievable.”
Bach Tran
Discova Regional Manager: Vietnam, China, Hong Kong

Bach continues: “I always wear my hydration vest for every run, and the thought of refilling my hydration vest next time I am in Om Goi brings a big smile to my face.”

“All you need to do is to take small steps forward, and it’s awesome to know that your global team, family and friends are with you every step of the way.”

In that spirit, congratulations are in order for Bach and all our participants across our global family!

Check out our video below for some highlights.

The Next Steps

Our target reached, we’re wasting no time putting into action our fully-costed plan to construct and test the water filtration system.

After consultation with village leaders, 10 days of construction is scheduled to commence on January 17th, avoiding the village’s busy December harvest season.

The timeline allows for a few days to create the foundation at the decided location of the tank, time to construct and install the tank itself, and time to do the all-important testing of the water. This complex filtration process uses sand, charcoal, and stones strategically placed within the tank to clean the water. Therefore, it is crucial that testing is done to ensure the filtration has worked. For this, local officials and engineers will be notified and invited to come and check the system.

Regarding how the money will be spent, most of the funds raised will go towards the materials needed for the filtration tank. This has all already been costed and approved by our team in conjunction with the villagers.

nurses hold educational posters about washing hands
In the past, mobile clinics have educated school children on the importance of washing hands with clean water.

However, one thing we didn’t plan for was to have a surplus of money! Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the extra funds raised will ensure that we can replace the stones, charcoal, and sand once every five years and offer a reserve in case any maintenance is needed.

Furthermore, our helpful Discova Educational Travel team will be heading to Om Goi to engage in some educational activities, running awareness sessions for the village children to understand the importance of clean water. As part of these lessons, they will also be learning the basics of the filtration process and how this will make their local water supply safe.

As always, we will keep partners informed on the progress in San Mamuang, Om Goi, and look forward to bringing the fantastic news of a working filtration system in late January.

In the meantime, the broader excitement for Om Goi and the rest of Thailand is that the country is once again welcoming visitors. Check out what this amazing destination has to offer travellers with Discova in 2022.

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