As one of the world’s top 10 women tennis players, Nicole Vaidisova understands the importance of drinking water to maintain her health and energy. She also knows that many children around the world do not have access to water. It recently was announced that Vaidisova has joined on as an ambassador for PlayPumps Inter-national, a non-profit organization that is bringing water to millions of people in Africa.

“When I heard that more than a billion people in the world lack access to clean drinking water, and every 15 seconds a kid dies from diseases related to unsafe water, I wanted to get involved,” Vaidisova says. “The idea behind the PlayPump is simple: kids play, and water pumps. These special pumps give clean water to people who need it, and give kids a chance to play.”

A PlayPump water system is a child’s merry-go-round attached to a water pump and storage tank that provides clean drinking water and powerful educational messages to schools and communities around Africa. By 2010, 4,000 PlayPump systems will be installed in 10 Sub-Saharan African countries.

Vaidisova learned about the PlayPump system from artist Jay-Z, whose MTV documentary “Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life” showcased the PlayPump system as a creative solution to the world water crisis. As a PlayPump International ambassador, Vaidisova will serve as a spokesperson during outreach campaigns; write a regular Web site column; participate in events; and meet with students from around the world to discuss the water crisis. In addition, she has donated money to install a PlayPump system at a school in a rural African village.

“We are proud to have Nicole playing on our court,” beams Jill Rademacher, president of PlayPumps International. “We know that with her energy and passion we can inspire thousands of others to be a part of this campaign.”

“It is exciting to think that I can help kids be healthy and have fun,” Vaidisova continues. “I encourage everyone to visit to learn how they can help kids get clean water. Imagine $6 can help provide one person with water for a decade; and $14,000 can give a new PlayPump system to an entire village of 2,500 people.”

How the PlayPump Works

While children have fun spinning on the PlayPump merry-go-round (1), clean water is pumped (2) from underground (3) into a 650-gallon tank (4), standing 20 feet above the ground. A simple tap (5) makes it easy for women and children to draw water. Excess water is diverted from the storage tank back down into the borehole (6). The water storage tank (7) provides a rare opportunity to advertise in outlaying communities. All four sides of the tank are leased as billboards, with two sides for consumer advertising, and the other two sides for health and educational messages. The revenue generated by this unique model pays for pump maintenance.

The design of the PlayPump water system makes it highly effective, easy to operate and very economical, keeping costs and maintenance to an absolute minimum. Capable of producing up to more than 350 gallons of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 125 feet, it is effective up to a depth of 300 feet