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Dyson Cuba Bound this Summer for Humanitarian Effort

Feb. 15, 2007

by Sarah Stamper

Dr. L.M. Dyson, Jr., associate professor of real estate, will spend his spring break at an uncommon beach destination: Cuba. He's not headed there to work on his tan. No, he will be installing water purifiers.

Initially, Dyson traveled to Cuba as a journalist in 1999 with colleague Richard Porter and the International Economic Education Foundation. Dyson still journeys to Cuba with wife Doralyn.

Dyson works with a church in Santa Clara, Cuba. "I started because they needed someone to help them with a restoration project," Dyson said about his work with the church. After 107 years the church continues to be in existence. Dyson's wife, Doralyn, also works with the church.

"They love her," Dyson said about the church members' reactions to his wife. "One time I went without her and they kept asking 'where's your wife?'"

In 2005 Dyson built a water purifier for the seminary of Villa Clara, the province in which Santa Clara is located. The 200-gallon tank purifies water for all 75 seminary students. The students spend their weekdays at school and travel home for the weekends. The students take purified water home for their families.

The World Health Organization estimates that every year between 3.5 and 18 million children die worldwide from illness linked to waterborne diseases.

Dyson assembles water purifiers invented by New Life International, a non-profit Christian organization in southern Indiana. The water purifiers are very practical and economical for Third-World countries. According to their Web site, "Using common table salt and a 12 volt battery, the water purifier creates chlorine to disinfect water."

Dyson helped build two more water purifiers for a seminary and nursing home in Havana.

"You have to want to go to Cuba," Dyson said. He explained that Cuba is different than any other Third World country. With the U.S. embargo and the Cuban's communist government, traveling to Cuba is a challenge. Dyson needs two licenses to travel to Cuba, for humanitarian and religious purposes. It is illegal to spend money in Cuba without a license from the U.S. Treasury.

"I've learned more patience dealing with Cuba," Dyson said. Dyson had planned a trip in December but could not go because he was still waiting to receive his renewed license.

Dyson has taught at Baylor for 29 years. Dyson and Doralyn have four children and three grandchildren.

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