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Fountains of Hope

Nonprofit Provides Clean Water for Millions

Writer / Heather Hunter
Photographer / Linda Oldiges

Fountains of HopeBill Farrar, founder of Fountains of Hope, was always destined for adventure. By age eight, he was student piloting a helicopter pulling banners around Tiger Stadium under his father’s instruction during Detroit Lions football games. He was so small that a sandbag balanced his weight.

Years later, the boy just big enough to handle the helicopter’s controls would come under machine-gun fire in Kenya, nearly lost an arm there, and helped hospitals filled with people suffering from diseases like typhoid and cholera – all with a singular goal to provide the world with safe water. Bill and his wife, Kathy, run a non-profit ministry called Fountains of Hope International (FOH). They install purification systems that provide a supply of clean water to millions of people in 17 countries and counting.

“Every 45 seconds, a child in a developing country dies from waterborne disease,” says Bill, founder and Executive Director of FOH. “Our mission is to serve God by providing safe water and community development.”

The chain of events that led Bill to found FOH started with his upbringing. Carmel natives may remember the heliport that belonged to his father, Bud Farrar, once located near US 31 and 146th Street. In fact, Bill’s first aviation job was with his father in the family’s company, Helicopter Airways of Indiana.

Bud required Bill to get an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic’s license before officially earning his fixed-wing and helicopter licenses. Over the years, Bill honed his technical and engineering expertise through jobs with companies like Allison Engine Company and United Airlines. He also strengthened his faith through lifelong work in ministry. “All of these tools in my toolbelt add up to a background that has been wonderful in Fountains of Hope,” he says.

Bill’s first experience installing on-site purification systems came in 2005, when he flew to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina relief. Inspired by the impact the purifiers had on hurricane victims, he started FOH at the encouragement of a life coach. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

“FoH incorporated in July of 2009,” says Bill. “On January 12th of 2010, the massive earthquake in Haiti took place.” United Nations relief workers caused an outbreak of cholera, an often-fatal water-borne disease. “We were able to go into the cholera-infested villages, treat the water with our filtration systems, and save thousands of lives.”

Fountains of HopeFOH installs McGuire water purifier systems, which use ordinary table salt to produce chlorine. The process starts with electrolysis, a technique that uses an electric current to separate sodium from chloride in salt molecules. Chlorine is created by the reaction and the gas is injected into the water to kill bacteria and micro-organisms, then gassed off before drinking.

Farrar crafts his systems for durability and ease of use. Each water purifier only weighs 24 pounds, which makes them easy to transport to rural areas. They are fully operational in a day and treat up to 3,600 gallons of water per hour. The only materials required to power one are a 12-volt battery, a solar panel, and a small amount of table salt. “With a quarter cup of salt,” Farrar explains, “you can give 500 people a gallon of water every day for many years to come.” Other than replenishing the salt, the tanks need almost zero maintenance.

The FOH systems are particularly unique. Each setup consists of a two-tank system designed by Farrar. The dual tanks allow one tank to undergo the purification process while allowing the community to draw from the other one. A single FOH purifier will provide a community with 182,500 gallons of safe water per year for a decade.

On their next mission trip, the Farrar’s will travel to Zimbabwe, where Bill and Kathy were married. The couple originally met stateside through the Zionsville Great Banquet, a spiritual retreat. Kathy, an Zionsville elementary school teacher, then attended a large party Bill was hosting. It’s a fond memory for Bill.

“She stayed behind after the party and said she wanted to help me clean up, but she was really scoping out my house to see how clean it was,” he says. “What she didn’t know was that I’d been so busy, I decided to hire a cleaning service before the party…so the house was spotless. And that’s all it took!”

Bill and Kathy were married in a small chapel in Zimbabwe while staying in a castle during their honeymoon. They now live in the Farrar family homestead in Carmel, where Bill stores and assembles his mechanical supplies in a massive garage built by his father.

On FOH trips, Kathy takes the role of educator. “Installing the purifier systems is only half of the job,” says Bill. “Kathy helps with the ministry and teaches health and hygiene classes to the women and children drinking the water.” Coupled with the filtration systems, Kathy’s work saves lives by stopping the spread of water-borne disease.

The Farrar’s have recently been forced to postpone several of FOH’s mission trips due to another disease: COVID-19. “FoH had to pivot by going deeper into the communities we already had access to,” explains Bill. “In the countries that were locked down, people had no income. They were starving and they couldn’t feed their children.”

FOH sprang into action to provide food to families in need. “We have a way to get a pallet of Pack Away Hunger food into Haiti that feeds 7,128 kids for only $250,” says Bill. The food, which comes in dehydrated packets, is easy to prepare and packed with nutrients.

Fountains of HopeThe organization is also sponsoring schools, helping children continue their education despite their parents’ financial situation. “A donation of $100 per month covers schooling for up to 30 kids – both the teacher’s salary and the food for everyone to eat,” says Bill. Their largest school, in Haiti, now boasts 360 students.

Right now, the best way to help FOH is by becoming a regular monthly donor. In addition to funding education, pallets of food, and water purifier systems, regular donations will allow FOH to fund its latest venture: filter buckets, which are $50 apiece. Since the purifiers are often installed at schools, children carry water home in open buckets or jars. Filter buckets allow children to re-filter the supply they take home, preserving its safety.

Bill is especially excited by this extra step to help the friends he has met through his work. “The kids and adults I’ve met have really stuck with me,” says Bill. “To see the joy that comes from a resource like clean water… it’s truly amazing.”

Another way to support FOH is to buy tickets for the organization’s annual Hues of Blue Winter Gala, which will take place on December 4th, 2021. Guests will enjoy free cocktail drinks, the Cool City Band and a special dinner while dressed in blue cocktail attire. Local businesses are also encouraged to donate auction items for the evening.

To help Fountains of Hope further their mission with a regular donation or a ticket to the event, visit https://www.fountainsofhope.org/.

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