- By Chuan Zhi and Fa Jian
- Jul 28
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Rev. Fa Jian (Dale Ryan) recently returned from Belize where he worked for 6 months to help impoverished communities get clean drinking water. Through this inspiring interview with Dale, we learn about sanitation challenges faced by rural communities in Centeral America and get a glimpse of Dharma in action.
An Interview with Rev. Fa Jian (Dale Ryan)
Dale Ryan (Rev. Fa Jian) has had a long time interest in developing and deploying economical water filtration systems in areas of the world where fresh water is scarce or altogether nonexistent. Learning that Belize had program to eliminate water contamination problems within two years, in the winter of 2012 he and his wife, Kara, headed down to San Mateo, Belize, where he knew there were serious problems with sanitation. “To make this trip possible we gave away all our belongings and sold our car and house in order to fund the trip. We ended up staying in Belize for 6 months to deliver water filters to villages without clean water.”
When he arrived in San Mateo, he met Destiny. Her village had already lost two children that year because of a tainted water supply and, as Dale says, “She was on her way to joining them.”
Dale explained that there is no sewer system in many countries of Central America. Toilets empty straight into the water below the houses. Sometimes water lines are run into a village, only to be run under the water. When any leaks develop in the water pipe, the water becomes contaminated. This often happens within just a few days after the pipe is put in place.
“The residents received their filter systems after sitting through a short training on sanitation, how to use the filter, keep it clean and back flush the filters. They also were shown a demonstration of the filter. We took very dirty brackish water and ran it through the filter then took turns drinking the purified water.
“The filter is a Sawyer water filter. It is a membrane filter that was originally used for dialysis, so as a water filter, it gets the water incredibly clean. It is guaranteed for one million gallons. Instead of replacing the filter, it is just back flushed with clean water when the pour rate becomes slow. It will filter about a gallon a minute, which is plenty for a household to have fresh water for drinking, cooking and sanitation needs. This filter is technology which has caught up to the problem.
“The brackish water is poured into the 5 gallon bucket and gravity fed through the filter into a clean water container or drinking glass. The system we provided comes with the filter, tubing, bucket and back flush syringe. Some of the pictures are of the volunteers assembling the units.”
I asked Dale if he has tried to find someone to sponsor his work since he no longer has anything left to sell and is “living on vapors staying at a friend’s house”. He replied, “I learned a lot on that mission, mostly by making mistakes. I expect to be going back again this year. I have been funding this on my own and really don't mind doing that as I am not very good at asking people for money.”
Before he left San Mateo, he spoke with the Minister of Health and was assured that they would follow up on Destiny to make sure she recovers.