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Inventor of Hand-Cranked Washing Machine is Distributing the Low-Cost Device to Refugees


The inventor of a hand-cranked washing machine has traveled to Iraq to distribute the low-cost device to refugees.

Navjot Sawhney created the ‘Divya’ to allow those living in poverty to be able to wash their clothes more easily.

It is thought around 70 percent of the world’s population does not have access to electric washing machines.

The machines are created in the UK and sent to those without access to electricity and water, who would otherwise need to wash clothes by hand.

Former Bath University student Navjot told the BBC the two-week trip to northern Iraq to hand out the machines has been a “completely humbling experience.”

“To give them the dignity of clean clothes is very fulfilling,” he said.

“Some of these families still have members missing, some of these women have suffered major trauma and abuse. It’s just really heartbreaking stuff.

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“Handwashing clothes is restrictive and painful. The Divya means women, who are usually the primary washers, have more time to rest.”

Navjot was inspired to create the machine after witnessing the struggles of his neighbour while volunteering in India, after quitting his engineering job in Wiltshire.

“When you read the news, places like this can seem really daunting but the people here are like everyone else in the world,” he said.

“They just want their lives to go back to normal.

“This is my third trip to Iraq and each time I come it is unique and I learn so much. Every time I’m reminded of the dignity and pride people have in clean clothes.”

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The engineer set up the Washing Machine Project in 2018 and it now has orders from 15 countries around the world. He is working towards rolling the device out in Uganda, India, Lebanon, and Jordan.

“We’re really proud to be here to do our part.”

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