W.A.P.I... Don't Leave Home Without It!

By Dick Duerksen

This is absolutely the best, most wonderful and blessed project Karen and I have ever done with God.”

A Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) is a simple thermometer that indicates when water has reached pasteurization temperature and is safe to drink. Since water pasteurizes at 149 degrees, well below the boiling point of water, using a WAPI saves time and fuel for cooks around the world.

The first time Bob Tait, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Hood View Church in Oregon, showed me a WAPI, I laughed. It was a crazy idea. “This is not going to help anyone,” I thought. It’s just a clear unbreakable glass or plastic tube with a dollop of colored wax inside and a funny wire dangling down the side.

Bob took a backpack filled with WAPIs on a school-building mission trip to the African country of Zambia. In each of the villages he walked quickly to the closest hut where a mother was cooking over a low fire. The story was the same in each village. Bob, and his WAPIs, were the hit of the day!

A small crowd of village children and their mothers would quickly gather to see what the American was doing at Grandma’s fire.

Bob would kneel down and show Grandma  a WAPI. She would smile kindly and laugh, having no idea what this stranger was talking about. The glass, wire, and wax doolidinger was far outside of her experience. So Bob, ever the resourceful missionary, would pickup one of her metal pots, fill it with water, place it over the fire, and then use the wire to hang the WAPI deep in the water.

Then Bob would explain the work of theWAPI again. “When the bright green wax slips down to the bottom of the tube, your water will be safe.” Bob would say. “Watch.” It was the same in every village. Children and mothers pushed each other aside to  see what the strange contraption was doingin the water pot.

A full minute would pass, then a bit more before the brightly colored concoction inside the tube slipped slowly from the bottom  of the tube to the top.

“Wooooo,” the women would say. “Your water is now clean and pure,” Bob would say.

Usually a local translator joined Bob to explain it all in the local language. As soon as they understood what had happened in the pot, they all danced and sang their thankfulness for Bob’s Gift of the WAPI.

As the celebration settled down, each woman would collect her own personal WAPI and head off to her hut, eager to be sure the water in her pot was pure.

“When you teach a woman how to use her new WAPI, you save a life!” Bob smiles.

Bob, along with scores of volunteers, have now made and gifted more than 17,000  WAPIs to women in 11 different countries. “At 50¢ each, it’s the best gift you can give,” Bob says with a big smile.