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One volunteer: Richard Böhland, Global Communications Leader, CBS & HVAC Segment, Xylem

“We strongly believe in social engagement and corporate citizenship.”

Richard remembers all the smiles. “You directly see what difference you are making, and all the happy kids directly pay you back with smiles all over,” he beamed. “You couldn’t resist smiling back all the time.” Inspired by the experience, Richard proudly declared, “Whatever happens, there are now two water towers up and running in the Philippines. Every day 2,000 people now have access to clean water because of this initiative, because of our teamwork. ”

Short description of your / your company’s main area of work, your years in the industry, any awards or major projects or achievements you’d like to share.

Together with our partners and customers, we tackle the planet’s most challenging water issues. We’re 12,500 people unified in a common purpose: creating innovative solutions to meet our world’s water needs. Developing new technologies that will improve the way water is used, conserved, and re-used in the future is central to our work. We move, treat, analyze, and return water to the environment, and we help people use water efficiently, in their homes, buildings, factories and farms. In more than 150 countries, we have strong, long-standing relationships with customers who know us for our powerful combination of leading product brands and applications expertise, backed by a legacy of innovation. Especially in Commercial Building Services, we can contribute to a more environmental friendly future through our highly efficient pump solutions, combining ecology and economy in market leading solutions.

How did you get to know about Waterdrop?

We developed the idea of Waterdrop as we strongly believe in Social Engagement and Corporate Citizenship; it is part of our Corporation’s DNA and Values, we successfully live our employee’s social investment program Watermark since years. It is about time to give our external partners the chance to contribute as well.

Why did you choose to participate?

Waterdrop is an opportunity to bring doing well to the world and doing good business together in one single initiative.

What did you expect to experience before the trip started? And what was your first impression when you finally arrived? How did you feel?

We were very curious to see if our partners share our passion in solving water and being engaged for communities in need. It wasn’t clear if the excitement we felt for the idea of Waterdrop would be shared by all volunteers as well. Arriving in the Philippines gave a very first strong impression about a country that is very different from any European country – we couldn’t wait to contribute and start building our first water tower.

Building water towers in elementary schools: Tell us a little bit about your experience – both building the towers and working with the children.

It was an overwhelming welcome from all the school members and its community. Lots of smile, laughter, excitement, optimism and happiness. You couldn’t resist smiling back all the time. Very happy teachers, professional non-profit partners who absolutely knew what they were doing. It was a very special experience in my life. You directly see what difference you are making, and all the happy kids pay you directly back with smiles all over.

What were the major challenges you encountered and overcame during the trip? (i.e., heat, sanitary conditions, tiredness, etc.)

There is a very long flight, there is a jet lag and there is a rather significant climate change. That can make you feel exhausted, and that is not always funny. But it is absolutely worth doing it.

What’s your single most valuable moment or experience from the trip?

The moment when the towers are built, and the kids start using it the first time, also using what they recently learned about the WASH-Program. Pure happiness that I don’t think I will forget any time. Still gives me a smile now when I think of it.

How was the relationship building and teamwork with the other participants – both from your country and from the other countries?

It was very nice to see how the group from Germany, UK and France connected to work hard to achieve the common goal. Great team spirit, great work, and also great time! Of course there were some language barriers – but everybody worked to successfully overcome them. Fantastic intercultural experience. That trip created a common spirit that still lives today. Such an extraordinary experience unites for the rest of your life.

Now that some time has passed since your Waterdrop volunteer trip, has anything changed in your life? What is your favourite memory?

Whatever happens – there are now two water towers up and running in the Philippines. Every day, 2.000 people now have access to clean water because of this initiative, because of this teamwork. That fact, that memory and that feeling is fantastic. Over and over again, every day when thinking of it. 20,000 liters day by day.

Would you recommend this Volunteer Trips to your colleagues or do such a trip again?

Absolutely, this is a once-in-a-life experience that I will never forget!

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience that we didn’t ask?

I want to thank all participants once more for joining this volunteer trip, for their contribution, passion, engagement, team spirit and their hard work. It’s not always easy being away one week from home and family, especially when travelling around the world with rather short notice. And I would like to thank all of them for sharing the passion in solving water, doing something extraordinary outside the regular day-to-day business. This team really enabled us to do a difference. A fantastic team spirit, a fantastic experience! Many special thanks also to Watermark, its representatives and non-profit partners who enabled us to experience all this. You gave us the opportunity to make a true difference and sustainable, life-changing and life-saving impact! You guys rock!

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