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International Day of the Girl 2019: A Q&A with One of Water Mission’s #WomenInSTEM

Today is a day for celebrating how girls around the world thrive when they have access to clean, safe water and sanitation!

October 11 marks the International Day of the Girl Child, a day designated by the United Nations in 2012 to highlight specific challenges faced by women and girls, along with promoting their achievements and human rights.

Women play a massive role in improving our world through their work and innovations, and Water Mission’s female experts in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are no exception. The work they do directly impacts the education, health, and livelihood of girls worldwide. When girls have access to clean, safe water, they have more time to study and attend school. As their lives improve because of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions, so do the health and productivity of their entire communities.

Taylor Edmonds and Jessica Mahan test water in a community in Kenya

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.” At Water Mission, our #WomenInSTEM reflect this ideal as they use their skills to bring safe water and sanitation to communities around the world – with love, excellence, and integrity.

One of our “unstoppable” engineers, Taylor Edmonds, recently took some time to answer questions from several girls, shedding more light on her experience as a woman in STEM and her work with Water Mission.

Taylor and Water Mission Kenya staff determine water quality

16-year-old Lanae Turner and her sister, 10-year-old Laniece, were surprised to learn that there were women engineers and information technology (IT) specialists in our Charleston office.

Lanae: There are not a lot of women doing stuff like that. I’m definitely inspired by them! I know those areas have a lot of benefits, but they can be pretty hard.

Taylor: It’s great to hear that you are inspired by the many awesome women in engineering, IT, and data analytics. Some stuff can be hard, but it’s also lots of fun to learn about new things and be challenged to think differently.

Lanae: What motivated you to do this?

Taylor: My mom was the one who motivated me to study engineering. She knew that I had a knack for puzzles and developing clever solutions. She also saw my eagerness to help others and knew that engineering could be a great way to do this. Since then, I have been motivated by the many people I’ve met all over the world and here at Water Mission who are striving to help others and share God’s love!

Engineers Taylor Edmonds and Jessica Mahan note results of their water testing

Laniece, who wants a math-related job one day, was interested to hear how Taylor got into her field.

Taylor: It’s awesome to hear that you love math! That was something I had trouble with in school and it is very impressive to hear that you want to do something with math when you grow up. I studied environmental engineering in school. After graduation, I felt that God was calling me to serve in a ministry in Guatemala. During my time there, He showed me how I could use my engineering education to help others. God showed me that there are a lot of people in this world who need his love and also need help getting access to healthy food, a good education, and safe water. I chose to use my engineering skills to help people get access to safe water, which is why I joined Water Mission. Now my job is to partner with our staff all over the world to help them provide safe water to those who don’t have it.

Engaging with community members is critical to the success of safe water systems

9-year-old Eloise Pawley had the opportunity to learn about safe water solutions through a project at her church and was curious to know more.

Eloise: It’s probably hard to separate the dirty water and clean water. How does that happen?

Taylor: The way that the dirty water is separated from the clean water mostly depends on what kind of dirty stuff is in the water. One way we make clean water at Water Mission is with our Living Water Treatment System (LWTS). The LWTS takes dirty water and passes it through different sizes of media. Media is kind of like pebbles or sand. The dirty stuff sticks to the media and gets filtered out, and the clean water keeps going through the system. In the end, we add chlorine which helps kill any other dirty stuff in the water and makes sure the water stays safe for anyone who drinks it.

Eloise: What kind of stuff are you inventing?

Taylor: Some of the new things we’re working on include technologies to remove other stuff from water, like salt from ocean water. We’re also working on how to make our systems more portable so we can get to disaster areas quicker.

Eloise: It would be cool to make an invention that could help others. That’s probably what I would want to do!

Taylor: What an awesome goal it is to want to create an invention to help people! It’s really exciting to hear that you find this stuff so cool. I think it is, too.

From Guatemala to Kenya, Taylor’s work has been key in providing safe water to communities around the world

If you know students or schools interested in learning more about the global water crisis and the best-in-class solutions we’ve designed and engineered to fight it, we invite you to share this post and encourage your friends to get hands-on with Water Mission!

• Our tours offer a first-hand look at the work taking place in our Charleston headquarters.
• Our Educators Think Tank program seeks to inspire future leaders to consider ways in which they too can work towards seeing communities changed through the provision of clean, safe water.

We hope you’ve been inspired by Taylor’s heart for sharing safe water and God’s love to all. You can join her in the mission and help provide safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions to girls around the world by giving to Water Mission today.

Donate and improve the life of girls around the world today.

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