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Water Purification
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In India, the purity of water (or, more accurately, pollution of water) was always an issue for us Volunteers and after the monsoons particularly, for my villagers as well.

The monsoons create temporary flooding which washes all the impurities off the surface of the ground (including human excrement) and out of the runoff channels into the lowest available area; i.e., the well. The well was not an artesian well, but just a very deep hole in slightly raised ground surrounded by a low mud brick wall.

I boiled all the water I used for drinking, brushing my teeth and, of course, the water used in cooking. First I let the sediment settle out (I never looked too closely at the contents of the bottom of the container. "Sediment" is the kindest word I can think of.) Then I poured the clear water off and boiled it for 5 minutes. I also drank rice water, in the interests of maximum useage of water and of cooking fuel. The water in green coconuts is good and safe to drink, too.

As I've said before, nothing is secret or private in a village. My friends knew I boiled my water, allowing it to cool in a porous clay jug before drinking it. I tried to explain why I boiled my water, but it was an impossible task, explaining to a group of people who have never heard of the germ theory.

In a perfect example of incorrect logical thinking, the villagers associated my fair skin color with the fact that I drank boiled water. Light skin is highly prized; the women began to boil their families' drinking water, too, in the hopes of more desirable skin tones and, therefore, more marrigeable daughters.

I suppose you can call it an innovation, doing the right thing for the wrong reason. The disease free/boiled water connection was just too tenuous and long range to demonstrate. Fair skin and drinking boiled water were obvious and immediate. Cause-and-effect were inferred, no matter my protests to the contrary.

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