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CNN Heroes: Helping Ukrainians access clean water
00:43 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Survivors of Russia’s siege on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are reporting that some residents are being forced to collect rain and melt snow for drinking water. For Doc Hendley, the water crisis in Ukraine is only getting more urgent.

“Bottled water and sometimes even tap water in these communities is a luxury that most people do not have access to right now,” said Hendley, a 2009 CNN Hero.

His non-profit Wine to Water is sending 12,000 water filters to Ukraine and border areas in Poland and Romania where refugees are fleeing. Hendley says these filters are capable of purifying 2.4 million gallons of water per day, and they could last 10 years. This is Wine to Water’s largest filter shipment in its 18-year history.

With thirst and desperation growing, Hendley fears the situation could quickly spiral out of control.

“People are just scrounging, trying to find something to drink. And they end up trying to take water from an unsafe source. It’s going to give them diarrhea and dehydrate them even faster,” he said.

The filters Wine to Water is providing can clean water beyond US EPA standards, Hendley says, but their size makes them ideal for this crisis.

“If you’re thinking about somebody fleeing from a disaster or a war … the last thing you want to do is [weigh] them down with bulky materials, and these can fit in somebody’s pocket,” he said.

Wine to Water has responded to crises worldwide. And in countries including Tanzania and Haiti they have built sustainable filter factories in local communities.

To respond to the war in Ukraine, Wine to Water got help from the Grand Circle Foundation, which supports charitable projects around the world, to make such a large shipment possible and help meet this basic need for people’s survival.

“My hope is we’re going to be able to get as many people that are struggling to find clean water access to clean water ASAP,” Hendley said.