RipplAffect: Miamisburg woman’s nonprofit helps people around the world get clean drinking water

Narcisa Mikov (in blue) with villagers in Kenya. The white buckets are distributed with easy to use water filters that last for many years.

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Narcisa Mikov (in blue) with villagers in Kenya. The white buckets are distributed with easy to use water filters that last for many years.

Living in a nation of plenty, it’s difficult for most Americans to comprehend living in a country where the most basic of needs, like access to clean drinking water, are rarely met.

Born in Croatia, Narcisa Mikov of Miamisburg, decided she needed to do something to give back after she was cured of stage 3 lymphoma in 2005.

“I had a huge mass in my chest, and it was literally choking me,” Mikov said. “We decided to ask all of our family and friends and church members to pray for me.”

The effect of this request was miraculous as it started moving across the globe. By the time Mikov had her first chemotherapy treatment, the tumor had already shrunk significantly, and her surgeon said, “Someone must be praying hard for you.”

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A piano teacher at Miami Valley School, a property manager and a mother, Mikov went on with her busy life. But she had been left forever changed by the cancer diagnosis.

“Because my husband worked for World Vision International, I knew there were many children around the world in need of basic food, medicine and even water,” Mikov said. “I had to find a way to help.”

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Narcisa Mikov of Miamisburg is the executive director of RipplAffect, a local nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all people across the globe have access to clean drinking water. She is shown in Kenya carrying water with local children. CONTRIBUTED

Narcisa Mikov of Miamisburg is the executive director of RipplAffect, a local nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all people across the globe have access to clean drinking water. She is shown in Kenya carrying water with local children. CONTRIBUTED

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Narcisa Mikov of Miamisburg is the executive director of RipplAffect, a local nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all people across the globe have access to clean drinking water. She is shown in Kenya carrying water with local children. CONTRIBUTED

Mikov knew the statistics; about every six seconds, a child under the age of 5 dies because of a lack of access to clean drinking water.

“Here we were living in Dayton and we had so much,” Mikov said. “I was very disturbed that so many others didn’t even have clean water to drink.”

Mikov and her husband decided to initiate their first water project by getting water filters distributed to people living in countries that needed them.

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“We started our first fundraiser for Haiti after Hurricane Maria,” Mikov said. “We sent about 333 water filtration systems that could be used for 10 or more years.”

Realizing that the filtration systems would have to be easy to use without requiring electricity, Mikov found a US-based company. Sawyer, that was manufacturing a system that fit the bill. Water could be filtered in a bucket and be ready to drink in minutes.

“Each filter can support a family unit of five to eight people for many years,” Mikov said. “Haiti was first, but we realized there are a few countries in the world where clean water is a constant need.”

In 2018, Mikov and her daughter, Nicole, who attends Spring Valley Academy, traveled to Kenya in east Africa with other students and teachers from the school. The group had raised funds ahead of the trip and brought 500 water filters with them.

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Spring Valley Academy students Devaney Ross (L) and Justin Bekowies are shown holding dirty water from a poluted water source in Kenya and clean water after it has been filtered.

Spring Valley Academy students  Devaney Ross (L) and Justin Bekowies are shown holding dirty water from a poluted water source in Kenya and clean water after it has been filtered.

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Spring Valley Academy students Devaney Ross (L) and Justin Bekowies are shown holding dirty water from a poluted water source in Kenya and clean water after it has been filtered.

“That trip really gave us perspective,” Mikov said. “We saw first-hand the reality of the problem.”

Shocked to see people in villages drinking brown, dirty water and water sources that are often shared with cows and other animals, Mikov was distressed.

“Seeing a woman carrying her baby on her back getting that dirty water, all I could think was that water could kill them both,” Mikov said.

Once she returned to Dayton, Mikov decided to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clean water to all people around the world and ultimately saving lives. “RipplAffect,” a nod to the power of people doing small things to make a big difference, was born.

“We all got home and agreed, we had to do more,” MIkov said. “We had to help as many people as possible.”

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Narcisa Mikov (L) with her daughter Nicole, now a college student. Nicole joined her mother on several mission trips to distribute water filters to needy countries.

Narcisa Mikov (L) with her daughter Nicole, now a college student. Nicole joined her mother on several mission trips to distribute water filters to needy countries.

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Narcisa Mikov (L) with her daughter Nicole, now a college student. Nicole joined her mother on several mission trips to distribute water filters to needy countries.

Since the organization was founded, Mikov, who is executive director, said she has been amazed at how many people they have been able to touch through their efforts. From small villages of a few hundred people to more than 4,000, RipplAffect has changed the trajectory of lives. The organization has distributed filters to people in countries like Kenya, Haiti, Yemen and Uganda. The all-volunteer group has also stepped up after hurricanes devasted areas of the United States, in Louisiana and in Puerto Rico.

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“We are so excited to have won a $50,000 grant through the Sawyer Foundation,” Mikov said. “We also raised another $50,000 in our own community. This will provide safe drinking water for another 50,000 people.”

Mikov knows that simply distributing filtration systems is not sufficient over time. People need to be educated about not only the proper use of filters, but also about the importance of always drinking clean water and how it relates to staying healthy.

“What is key for our current and potential supporters to realize is the fact that no matter how daunting and complex these issues are, every action or contribution amounts to a real difference,” Mikov said. “We know and have the solutions to most of these issues, but what remains is having the good will and genuine compassion in our hearts to act, be an agent of change and to do so practically.”

For more information, visit www.ripplaffect.org.

Contact this contributing writer at banspach@ymail.com.

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