Xavier Magazine

A Good Drink

There are those who talk about saving the world, and then there’s Allison Tummon Kamphuis. Since June 2008, she has overseen the distribution of 60 million PUR packets—a Procter & Gamble product that purifies dirty water in about a half hour—around the world, and plans to distribute 100 million packets in the next year as P&G opens a second manufacturing line. The investment comes in spite of the fact that the PUR packets aren’t adding anything tangible to the company’s balance sheet. Kamphuis, a 2007 MBA graduate, is a senior specialist for Children’s Safe Drinking Water, a nonprofit organization created by P&G. More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and as a result 1.8 million children die from diarrhea-related illnesses each year. A PUR packet removes intestinal bacteria and viruses when it’s stirred into 10 liters of water (about 2.5 gallons). That’s enough to last a family of five a day.

“I feel very fortunate to get to contribute to something that contributes significantly to helping people’s lives,” Kamphuis says. “This has an immediate impact. It’s tangible.”

P&G began the program in 2004, after the PUR packets failed to catch on as a traditional retail product—unlike the brand’s other water filter products. The packets are sold at cost—about 3.5 cents each—to nongovernmental organizations that hand them out in emergencies or sell them along with other health-related items.

Before joining Children’s Safe Drinking Water in 2008, Kamphuis spent about 12 years managing clinical pharmaceutical trials for P&G all over the world. The Canadian native has been based in Cincinnati since 2001, and she leapt at the chance to take on a new role after getting her MBA and having two daughters. Despite the new job’s wide reach, it involves little travel, and she’s one of just four people operating Children’s Safe Drinking Water. “It’s a small nonprofit enterprise inside the global company that is Procter & Gamble,” Kamphuis says. But it makes a huge difference in the lives of people around the globe.

Xavier Magazine

Profile: Leon Chartrand

Master of Education, 1998; Master of Arts in theology, 2000
Executive Director, Jackson Hole, Wyo., Wildlife Foundation
Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Cincinnati

Bear Theology | Leon Chartrand is a bear biologist and a theologian. “A rare combination,” he admits. “But there is definitely a connection.” Chartrand’s mission is to convince people the lives of all beings can be better by taking a theological view of the world.

Transformation | Chartrand began thinking this way a dozen years ago. He was 27 years old and backpacking in Glacier National Park in Montana when he was startled to spot a grizzly bear. “It was life changing,” he says. “Things made sense to me. My place in the world. My sense of connectedness to the land. The sense that the world is much bigger than my ability to understand. It was a transformative moment.”

Fear and Fascination | Chartrand received a master’s degree in education in 1998 and a master’s degree in theology in 2000. He went on to get a doctoral degree in phenomenology and doctoral certificates in theology and ecology at the University of Toronto. He became a bear biologist and executive director of the Jackson Hole, Wyo., Wildlife Foundation. He also founded Bear Wise Wyoming, which promotes ways for people to live compatibly with bears and other wildlife. A key way, says Chartrand, is to think theologically. “To put it into a theological perspective, consider that we’ve long identified fear and fascination with the notion of The Holy. Interestingly, there’s a correlation between people being drawn toward bears because of fear and fascination.”

Bear Politics | Chartrand uses the term “bear politics” to explain that bears stir conflicting emotions in people, especially in areas like Jackson Hole, Wyo. “You’ve got people who are passionate about saving the grizzly bear from becoming extinct, and then you have ranchers trying to make a living on land where bears will sometimes kill their cows and threaten their livelihood.”

Age of Conflict | “I am primarily an eco-theologian,” he says. “My interest is trying to relate our ecological relations to the land with our theological relations to God. The two go hand in hand. The reason I focus on the bear is because it brings out the challenges of people sharing the same landscape with a grizzly bear.” Chartrand offers a history lesson “to understand why theology is needed” if people are going to be compatible with bears. He points out that “bears were once the monarchs of the landscape—what I would call the Age of the Bear God.” The arrival of humans brought about a second age that included “bear shamans” using bears as symbols. Today, he says, we’re in the Age of Conflict, “where people have a problem sharing the landscape with other beings that have the skill, but not the conscious ability, to compete with us.”

Mystery and Meaning | Chartrand says people have “stripped bears of their mystery, and so we’ve lost a lot of what we’ve been drawn to them for—their mystique.” He says such loss has broad implications of what it takes to live on the land and, for example, solve environmental problems. “We tend to think the answers are scientific and technological, and while that may in part be right, the primary answer has to be in our ability to preserve mystery, because that’s where meaning comes from,” he says. “Meaning is associated with mystery, so that’s why we need to have a much more theological view of the world. That takes a kind of theology that’s more rigorous than science and requires us to think in a
different way than we’ve ever done before.”

Xavier Magazine

Blogging from the Desert

On April 5, Nate Showman posts a simple eulogy on his blog to the two men in his 3rd Platoon who died just days before shipping home from Baghdad. It was the least he could do.

“The knowledge that their suffering is over is some consolation, but the fact that they were so close to being back home with their loved ones has irreparably and deeply cut us all. We loved them both, and it has been and will always be one of the greatest honors of my life to have served with, led and had as friends SPC Durrell Bennett and PFC PJ Miller. I lack the words to put in context the depth and breadth of the sacrifices these two made.”

Showman, a first lieutenant who graduated from Xavier in 2005, set up in late 2006, just before deploying to Kuwait in early 2007. The site, titled “On Soldiering,” is where Showman shares the sights, sounds and reflections of his 15-month tour.

The blog starts lightly, describing preparations to leave and his first impressions of the Arab world. There’s some attempt at humor—posting pictures of soldiers trying to pat the ranging camels—and art with photos of a brilliant sunset over the desert.

But the postings grow more serious and somber as his work and responsibilities escalate. One post from July 29 offers intricate details of an operation to capture an Iraqi cell member who’d been hounding his unit for weeks. They get the guy, but the trip back to their quarters is harrowing.
At one point, he marvels at the opulence of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces where he goes for training and muses at the comfort enjoyed by the soldiers stationed there while he and his men endure mud, sand and random attacks.

Showman’s parents, John and Mary of Fairfield, Ohio, anticipated his mid-April homecoming by keeping up with his blog. The postings offer an extra point of access into his life that most soldiers’ parents don’t have. The fact he started a blog was no surprise to his mother.

“He’s always been very articulate and a good writer,” she says. “I really respect my kids, and we raised them to want to be independent thinkers and not afraid of questioning and being who they are.”
On March 17, Showman gets political as he describes watching two Blackhawk helicopters lift off with the bodies of four young soldiers:

“I don’t know what … the politicians in their polished offices and glassy skyscrapers will decide to do with this problem called Iraq. We are holding a snake by the tail here; as it wriggles and writhes, we attempt to keep it from escaping while simultaneously attempting not to get bitten. Continuing to hold the snake gets costlier every time it bites, and the black birds carry home more bodies. Yet if we let it go it will breed, and its offspring will be stronger and more lethal than it and will hunt us.

“These questions are debated by those echelons above me and my men; down here in the trenches, it’s as simple as it can be—capture or kill them before they can blow us up.”