For decades, John Vavruska has volunteered to help provide clean water and proper sanitation in developing countries around the world. An engineer in the environmental and waste treatment technology field, John finds great satisfaction in making fundamental services a reality in rural communities.

Long-time volunteer bridges several aid organizations

Serving in the Peace Corps in the early 1980s, John surveyed for, designed, and built gravity flow water systems in the remote foothills of the Himalayas. Twenty years after completing a project in the Nepalese community of Nirmalidanda, a check-in visit revealed the system needed repairs.

Back home in Santa Fe, John was raising money for the repairs when he had a chance meeting with a Waterlines representative at a community fair booth. Established in 1986, Waterlines was a nonprofit organization contributing technical support and funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in 15 developing countries. The nonprofit sunset its operations in 2021, transferring its remaining assets to WEFTA. John’s meeting with Waterlines resulted in a contribution of matching funds from that organization to assist with the Nirmalidanda repairs. That was the start of a fruitful partnership.

Father/daughter adventures along the way

John soon became a Waterlines volunteer and later a board member. He travelled to Panama, Ethiopia, and Morocco to check on installed water systems. In 2013 and 2014, John journeyed to Ethiopia with his daughter, Anna, to check on spring protection systems. He counts those father/daughter adventures  among his most memorable volunteer experiences.

Now retired from a career in chemical and process engineering, he holds out the possibility of volunteering with WEFTA in the future, once again bringing his considerable experience to bear in developing sustainable water and sanitation projects.

John Vavruska with village children in Ethiopia