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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Hope flows from student-run, clean-water initiative

 
 

It’s been a little over two years since Brian Lamb found himself staring out an airplane window, mesmerized by the curvature of the earth and the body of water below him. He asked himself how one person could make a difference and in a moment’s time, he realized that his answer was one word – water.
On Feb. 1, 2012, the day before Lamb’s 19th birthday, he founded Replenish, a ministry devoted to providing and distributing clean water resources across the globe. Now, the junior university studies major is in the process of gaining a 501(c) nonprofit status with hopes of growing his ministry to meet the needs of those without access to clean drinking water.
“I felt with how severe the global water crisis is and how popular bottled water is – if we could somehow correlate the two into one and get a ministry, I [thought] something like that would definitely take off, ” Lamb said.
The fall of his freshman year, Lamb gave a classroom speech over the TOMS “one for one” business model, which matches the number of goods purchased by customers and provides them to individuals in need. The model inspired him to do the same, he said.
“You can get something for yourself and give back at the same time,” Lamb said. “That’s brilliant. Why can’t we do that with every purchase we make?”
For every bottle of water sold, Replenish donates one water purification tablet, which can provide an individual with one liter of clean water. For every case of bottled water Replenish sells, a life straw is donated, which provides one to three years of clean water. Lamb said he either distributes the resources himself or sends them to Rotary International, nonprofits, non-government organizations, Christian ministries and missionaries who can then distribute the items to those in need.
“[The life straw is] a portable filter that you wear around your neck like a necklace,” Lamb said. “And you can go to any contaminated water, like a lake – you can even drink out of your toilet and you won’t get sick. It purifies like 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and even measles.”
Lamb said he initially planned to sell and donate cases of water. He realized more people could be reached if he could lessen the high overseas shipping cost from water weight.
Replenish has impacted 12 countries, predominately in west Africa, but also in South America, Haiti and the Philippines, Lamb said.
“Rather than physically donating water, we donate resources to purify the water they already have, so in my opinion, it kind of takes donating to the next level,” Lamb said.
Leighton Jack, senior marketing major, learned about Replenish in its beginning stages, but recently has been in contact with Lamb as they are both entrepreneurs in residence at Startup Aggieland.
Jack is a member of The Wells Project at A&M, a group that promotes awareness of the world water crisis and raises money to drill wells in parts of Africa and South America.
“As a college student, as a young person in general, on any official endeavor, people almost think they need permission from somebody to be able to support it, and Brian [Lamb] is somebody who has kind of taken the horse by the reigns,” Jack said.
Jeff Brown, local real estate and construction management owner, lends a portion of his office space in downtown Bryan to Lamb to temporarily store his inventory.
Brown said Lamb doesn’t see age as an obstacle, but an opportunity. He said Lamb’s ambition answers the question, “Why not me?”
“It’s always encouraging to see young people that want to serve and want to do for others,” Brown said. “Whenever we hear that, it’s encouraging to us because we think we have a generation here that has a global awareness that no other generation has.”
In June, Lamb had the opportunity represent his ministry and to go to Haiti along with Living Water International. They gave away Life Straws and provided more than 500 people with clean water. He described his experience of seeing the extreme lack of resources people had as “surreal.”
“This is the 21st century,” Lamb said. “You think things like that aren’t going on. It’s ridiculous.”
Lamb said Replenish is a ministry of his Christian faith. He partners with ministries around the word that are able to distribute his water purification resources.
Michael Cozzi, senior marketing major and friend of Lamb’s, said water was a metaphor for a different kind of nourishment.
“The thing about this ministry is that it’s getting clean water and that’s great, it helps save lives, but what Brian [Lamb] does is he uses the water purification to not only help physical needs but also to meet a spiritual need,” Cozzi said.
Cozzi said he encourages other students to think about what they can do with their passion. 12

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