When Guy Feidman Reshef befriended members of the Bedouin community in his home country of Israel, he learned they were drinking unsterilized goat's milk — and paying a price for it. The nomadic Bedouins preferred goat over cow's milk because of its higher nutritional value, but they were becoming sick with diseases including Brucellosis, which causes severe disabilities, miscarriage, infertility and even death.
As his final project at Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Feidman Reshef knew he could create a solution.
He devised the Sahar, a portable milk sterilization tool inspired by the traditional terra cotta and clay pots found in tribal Bedouin households. The device's name comes from the Arabic word sahar, the time between the onset of night and the dawning of a new day.
The Sahar purifies10-liter batches of milk, without using heat or altering the milk's nutritional value. It utilizes the cheap and accessible UV technology currently used for water purification, sterilizing the bacteria in the milk but leavving its nutritional value unchanged. Most importantly, the device operates on a 12-volt rechargeable battery. In areas without access to electricity, the battery can be recharged with a simple solar panel.
Feidman Reshef has had some difficulty convincing the Bedouins to adopt his device. While a few have welcomed it, others remain steadfast in the superstitions Bedouins are known for, one of which is attributing illnesses caused by goat's milk to supernatural sources, like a vengeful deity.
For now, Feidman Reshef has turned his attention to other parts of the world.
"The problem is much worse in Africa and Central Asia anyway. About half a million people each year get sick from Brucellosis because they use unsterilized milk," he told MNN. Feidman Reshef is currently working with an advisor and an engineer to produce the device at scale at an affordable price, and he's working to make inroads into communities in these parts of the world, where new machines — no matter what value they may add to the recipients' lives — are viewed with skepticism.
"It's not easy to get people in developing countries to use a new device like mine," he explained.
But once they do, Feidman Reshef is certain they'll see it as a real life-saver.