Waves 4 Water works toward global change

Waves 4 Water has a simple mission, to get clean water to every single person who needs it.

People living in impoverished areas die every day from drinking dirty water. While having access to clean water is a luxury that many of us take for granted, there are millions living in nations with no filtration systems in place. Kids drink from the same streams where animals bathe. In addition, there’s no clean water available for surgery if someone is injured, putting the wounded at risk of deathly infections.

The goal is to take existing solutions in the form of portable water filters into countries that need them. There are different options in deciding which filters would be best for each region, based on needs in various areas. Options range from ceramic filters that can be transported by one person, to larger filters that can provide clean water to an entire village.


Waves 4 Water has teamed up with surf company Hurley International to develop a DIY volunteer program called Clean Water Couriers, in which surfers in searching for waves in third-world countries carry filters with them in their luggage. Pack a few filters in your suitcase and either connect with local non-profits in that area or personally travel to villages to set them up yourself. Creating these types of filtration systems are simple: generally all you need are paint buckets (easily found in any country), a knife to make a hole, spigots and ceramic-drip water filters that can be purchased for $25 each or the preferred community filter at $50.

We have also teamed up with large non-profits and government agencies to provide large-scale solutions to areas in need. Waves 4 Water recently set up large filters that have helped to combat the cholera outbreak caused by contaminated water in Haiti that has killed more than a thousand people and sickened thousands more. Similar set ups in poor regions around the world can help provide clean water to the masses.

With these filters, dirty water becomes instantly clean – and drinkable. Lives are saved.

While Waves 4 Water was conceived in the surf community, anyone who travels can help in a similar way. Waves 4 Water volunteers have successfully set up various types of filtration systems in Haiti, Indonesia, Bali, Pakistan, Samoa, and Chile. Each of these countries is being used as a model of success that can be applied worldwide.

The idea isn’t to get one person to drop off 100 filters and call it a day. Let’s try to get 100,000 travelers to each pack 10 small filters, or team up with groups to implement projects with larger filters for an entire village. Then, the world will start to take notice.

“Imagine millions of travellers doing this. Now, we’re making waves.”

The Story Behind Waves 4 Water

Pro surfer Jon Rose was aboard a boat off the coast of Sumatra during a surf trip in Sept. 2009 when he felt a slight shake.

He had no way of knowing that a 7.6 magnitude earthquake had destroyed the city of Padang – with more than 1,000 lives lost and 100,000 homeless – until he came to shore and saw the devastated city.

Jon happened to be en route to Bali to deliver 10 water filters for what would have been his first Waves For Water mission. But with tragedy striking Sumatra, he made his way through the crumbled buildings in the early hours after the quake to get water filters into the hands of rescue workers to help the overwhelmed
country and wounded victims in need of clean water.

It was at that moment Jon’s life would change – and in turn, so would the lives of others who would soon have access to clean water. The eye-opening experience solidified the need for Waves For Water, a non-profit organization aimed to bring clean water solutions to impoverished countries around the world.

Jon’s father, Jack Rose, had started “Rain Catcher”, a nonprofit organization which helps educate villages in Africa on how to catch and filter rainwtater. Jon began to wonder, ” Why can’t this be done in all the surf regions where many of us travel but leave the land no better than how we found it?.” Jon knew in his heart that surfers would give back if they only knew how.

Not long after, tragedy had hit Haiti. The devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and injured 250,000 more. Jon quickly teamed up with actor Sean Penn, to work with the United Nations in getting water filters distributed from military bases into communities in distress. To date, they have brought 11,000 small, portable filters to Haiti (clean water for more than 100,000 people.) Jon continues his efforts in Haiti and around the world, engaging and educating communities in need.

When an 8.8 earthquake hit Chile and sent a devastating tsunami crashing ashore, Jon trained and armed big-wave riders Greg Long, Chilean native Ramon Navarro, and Kohl Christensen with ceramic filters to help people whose water sources had been completely cut-off. The group, working alongside Save the Waves, who distributed over 1,000 filters to devastated communities.

The Waves For Water objective is to identify the problem and quickly connect an existing user-friendly solution. The long-term goal for Waves For Water is to be proactive, rather than reactive. There is no reason anyone should die from lack of clean water… people have already done the hard work and have developed technology solutions that help eliminate senseless deaths. It is our job to make sure that technology solutions and quality education are in the hands of those in need. Individuals who are traveling to poor nations can easily eliminate the distribution challenges most bureaucracies face in philanthropic aid programs. It’s guerrilla humanitarianism at the core, and it works!

For more information on how you can help, visit www.wavesforwater.org

Kate Webster is a travel journalist – travel writer and photographer who travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the places she visits. Born out of a life-long love of travel and fascination with the world around her, is Kate’s inspiration behind her writing and photography. A passion of the ocean has lead Kate to be a part of Global Surf Sounds, as she continues to mix her love of travel and writing to now include surfing. When she’s not bouncing around the world on ramshackle buses, overcrowded trains, or on the back of a rickshaw, you can find her based in Sydney or the Gold Coast, Australia eagerly planning her next adventure.