How O.A.T. Traveler Sue Billingsley Supports Our Clean Water Initiative

In 2016, photos, videos, and rave reviews of over 20 years of travel with O.A.T. by her cousin and his wife convinced Sue Billingsley of Frisco, Texas, to give the company a try. The trip she chose was Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari. It was a life-changing trip—and not only for herself.

The trip includes a visit to Safe Water Ceramics of East Africa, which is dedicated to increasing access to clean water for the people of Africa. The organization is co-founded by an American pottery instructor who traveled to the region and was deeply affected by the lack of access many Tanzanians have to clean water. She decided to do something about it and created a simple, affordable clay-pot filter that can provide a family with clean water for five years. Sue’s O.A.T. small group toured the award-winning facility where the filters are made by hand and enjoyed a demonstration of how they work.

“They took filthy water from a ditch and cleaned it so that it was safe enough for us to drink!” Sue recalls. “Each filter will clean five gallons of water in 45 minutes and only costs $40. It was such a simple procedure, I was blown away by it. I thought, there certainly shouldn’t be any children with terrible diseases from having to drink that kind of water. For $40, you can change a life, you know?”

She was so moved by the experience, she made a donation on the spot and continues periodically to donate water filters through Grand Circle Foundation. Originally, she requested that the filters be donated to the school she had visited. Eventually, however, the school had all the filters it needed, so now Sue simply asks that the filters be sent wherever they’re needed. “Every penny goes toward the water filters—not one cent is taken out for anything else,” she points out.

Sue has now taken three trips with O.A.T. and is planning a fourth—and one of the reasons is the company’s philosophy of giving back. “We fell in love with O.A.T., and one reason is because of what they do and the things that they support in the countries that they visit,” she says. “For $40, you can change a life, and that’s wonderful. If you can make an impact like for such a little amount of money, do it!”