Two weeks ago I returned from Haiti - and like many who have served there, my heart broke for the people and the poverty they face, worsened by natural disasters, climate, and often times aid gone wrong.
Not only is Haiti a very poor country, but water is difficult to find in Haiti. They can go for months and months on end without rain, in some places they have had 7 months of drought. The landscape doesn’t boast many trees, and because of runoff and erosion there is little surface water to be found. When it does rain, the water flows in trash-filled gutters through towns, alongside roads, and eventually dumps into the sea. Many parts of the country are mountainous and rocky, making well drilling near impossible. That is, if you are able to get a strong enough drilling rig up the uneven, rocky “roads” to the isolated communities. Statistics are not exact, but even before the earthquake, 45% of the population in the whole country didn’t have safe drinking water. And 83% lacked basic sanitation!
One of the things we emphasize at Solea Water is to try and utilize a community’s existing resources and assets, and many, many communities have some kind of broken down, inefficient, or partially functioning water system. In Haiti Solea Water works with a local organization called H-PI, that consists of a group of great Haitian men who are experts in all things water. With them, in a place called Duval 22, we spent one morning inspecting and repairing an old hand pump that served near 500 people.
Without this neighborhood hand pump, women and children, mostly the oldest girls, walk for miles. Every. Day. Sometimes taking multiple trips a day depending on how much weight they could carry at once. They would wait in line at another community’s hand pump, with dozens of other women, to fill up small buckets with water. Or they would go to the water kiosk, about the same distance away, and have to pay often up to 1/3rd of their whole income for water. Then, with the weight of their families needs on their shoulders, they would walk the miles back with all the water they would use for all their household needs, washing, bathing, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and most importantly, it is also their drinking water. And the water they end up with? It’s often contaminated, causing a number of diseases in those who drink it.
With the limited number of places to get water in the first place, one hand pump’s failure has a huge impact. It makes hundreds of women and children walk further to get water and over stresses the other wells, often causing those pumps to break next.
So, in repairing this one hand pump in Duval 22, our small actions could be contained in just a few hours. But the impact that this had on the people, the neighborhood? It ripples out until we can’t see it anymore.
This one well, that was providing clean, safe drinking water for the community has such a profound impact on the lives of the individuals served by it, so much so that we can’t even understand them all.
This kind of work is only possible with your help. You can do anything for clean water - run, bike, race, cook, throw a party - use whatever you want to tell people about the water crisis in Haiti and around the world.
Ready? Start a fundraising campaign here!