Michael Wahl is a 40-year-old missions pastor who made it his duty to ensure healthy and sanitary living for people in developing nations. As part of his work he helped install water filtration systems in some of the poorest parts of Haiti where there is no running water or bathrooms. During his time in Haiti, he began to notice something that troubled him.
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“A mama was holding on to a baby that was naked and the mom bent down and picked up fecal matter with her hand and threw it out of the house after the baby had went and done her business on her,” Wahl, who lives in Georgia, told FoxNews.com. This was not an isolated case and Wahl knew that his efforts to bring clean water would be moot if this extreme poverty was bringing people into such close proximity with human waste.
Dr. Joseph Rahimian, an infectious disease specialist and NYU Langone, told FoxNews.com that there are a whole host of deadly diseases, bacteria and parasites that can be transmitted through stool contact and “anything that reduces the transmission of those diseases will be very helpful.”
Knowing this, Wahl decided he had to do something to help avoid illnesses that are easily avoidable.
The solution was simple: a diaper. But the execution would prove to be much more difficult.
Disposable diapers were too expensive and without a proper sanitation department in Haiti, there would be no safe place to throw them away. After careful research, Wahl ruled out reusable cloth diapers because the materials typically used can also trap bacteria.
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Wahl decided his best option would be to research fabrics and start making diapers himself. With the help of his wife, Starla, and their friends, they came up with DriButts, a breathable diaper that they say doesn’t trap bacteria.
“It is made out of athletic Dri-FIT material,” Starla said, adding, ”the one that we use is a polyester spandex blend for the outer shell and the inner shell is a polyester lining.” The insert that is placed inside the diaper is made out of bamboo.
To help make DriButts a reality, the couple reached out to two Georgia companies, Slingshot Product Development Group and Supply.com, for funding and establishing contacts. Slingshot even arranged to have the diapers mass produced in China, but at the time it would take months before they could get started. Wahl, however, knew he didn’t have months to wait so they did things the old fashioned way – sewing the diapers at their kitchen table. Together, they made a whopping 700 pairs.
Each diaper costs $15, but the company asks for $30 donations so that they can send two diapers to families in need. In addition to the diapers, the families learn the importance of proper disposal of waste and how to clean the DriButts.
Families are taught to wash the diapers with soap and water and hang them up to dry, which should take about 40 minutes. They should throw waste in latrines or bury it in areas where people don’t go.
Dr. Rahimian said that this information is crucial because without knowing how to properly dispose of waste, the diapers would, in effect, be pointless.
The company believes in transparency and sends photos of the families it’s helping to donors and ensures that their money is not going to waste. In addition to training, recipients of DriButts are monitored for a year to make sure that they are using the diapers.
In an effort to raise awareness, the DriButts team is taking to social media with their #StopTheCrap campaign, which is going on tour across the US.
Michael and Starla strongly believe that their company is saving lives. For more information, visit DriButts.com.