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This 15 year old created a water purifying system that is used across the world


*six-two 35 under 35 changemaker of 2018 – young leaders of tomorrow category

Two years ago, at the tender age of just 13 years old, Rachel Brouwer created a system that would change what we know about purifying water forever. It’s safe to say that Rachel is no average teenager…

Having idolised Malala Yousafzai her whole life, Rachel Brouwer was already a young changemaker with a keen eye for making the world a better place. But her call to action came on a hike with her family, where they were overwhelmed by the number of contamination signs that marked the rivers and streams. Having already been aware of the cholera outbreak in Pakistan and how it affected women and children, she realised how widespread the issue of contaminated water was, and set off to make a change. Her goal? Make water safe to drink for people in developing countries the world over.

Rachel got straight to researching ideas and speedily came up with her own design for a solar water pasteurisation system. Her first prototype was made completely from materials found inside her home. Initially, she created a water filter – but she then realised that didn’t kill the bacteria, just removed it. Desperate to figure out how to kill the bacteria that was removed so that the water was fully safe to drink, she designed a tubing system that would use the sun to heat water to a certain temperature to kill bacteria using UV radiation, and an accompanying indicator using soybean wax with changing colours that indicate when the water is heating up, and when it’s safe to drink. 


Rachel’s invention won her a gold medal at Canada’s national science fair. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she was invited to join the Canadian team at the International science fair in Arizona. Her systems have been successfully tested in Pakistan, Kenya and Uganda, and her incredible contribution to science hasn’t gone unnoticed by her idols – she received an e-mail from Malala Yousafzai herself, congratulating her on her achievements. 

Lets just take a second to remember that Rachel is just 15 years old…


Rachel has proved you don’t need a huge budget to create something life-changing, and it’s for this reason We Foundations co-founder Craig Kielburger, our young leaders of tomorrow judge, nominated Rachel as one of our 35 under 35 changemakers of 2018. Wanting to make the world a better place always starts with your own determination, proving that achieving the extraordinary is actually totally doable despite age or background.

To learn more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative, and to see the individuals who made the list, head here.