Pétion-Ville Province, Haiti
Water=Life 2016 Haiti Initiative
January 23 - 30, 2016
I hope this summary report offers a brief glimpse into our recent initiative and how your support is changing the lives of people in Haiti.
In five days, Water=Life distributed 120 Sawyer SP180 filter kits to family representatives in 3 communities in Petionville Province: Kenscoff (35 families), Ft. Jacques (35 families) and Boutillier (50 families).* Through these 120 family and church representatives, some 1350+ children, women and men now have access to clean water. These 120 representatives also received two 5-gallon buckets (one for contaminated water, one for filtered water) each with lids as well as a spigot for dispensing clean water. Training Part 1 and Distribution Part 2 were held on separate days.
Training and distribution were structured as follows:
* Registration and welcome with singing
* Bible study and prayer, exploring presence of water throughout Scripture, spirituality and symbolism of water in Scripture, in our lives
* discussion about health and the impact of dirty/clean water, power of Sawyer filter to removes water-borne diseases
* demonstration of kit assembly ease
* demonstration filtering dirty water, drinking filtered water
* testimonials by 2015 recipients
* conversation with potential recipients about cost of system and value to them
* invitation made to be a recipient
* date and time announced for Part Two workshop
* Q&A throughout the session
* registration of committed recipients’ participation, contribution recorded/received
* recipients decide how/where their total contribution goes to helping their community
* honoring and celebrating recipients’ power to choose
* review of filter system and its benefits
* owners assemble their own system with support of advisors and fellow recipients
* role of advisors in recipient’s success explained; follow-up visits/dates for support of best practices identified (at 30 days, 90 days, end of 12 months): “We will not leave you alone” is our commitment
* Thank you’s, prayer and blessings upon recipients and their families
* Q&A throughout the session
Our W=L Haitian Advisors
Last year, I had the privilege of working with three extraordinary individuals who served as our W=L interpreters: Marie Estelle Clermont, Wadson Desir and Jimmy Pierre. In the fall of 2015, I asked if they would serve this year not as mere interpreters but as W=L advisors by identifying individuals in their communities to become a clean water recipient. They enthusiastically said yes and determined the number each community would receive (see above *) and where training would take place.
Kenscoff: Jimmy identified 2 church leaders from a few congregations in the community as well as students and/or student family representatives to participate. Approximately 650 people have access to clean water in Kenscoff.
Colbas: Marie Estelle identified members of her house church congregation. A total of 167 family members have clean water in their homes.
Boutillier: Wadson, with the support of MORS (Moviment d’Orientation Rehabilitation Sociale), a local coordinating board of health, education and environmental groups, identified leaders in his community to attend training. More than 550 people in this earthquake-damaged community have potable water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
Because advisors are familiar with and users of the filter system, they took major responsibility in training/distribution. This was one of our goals: that Haitians leaders empower fellow citizens in their own health and hope. As the week progressed, advisors demonstrated greater ease in instructing, keeping people engaged and inviting active participation.
Advisors asked to have a youth or adult co-advisor assist them with follow-up home visits. These co-advisors will ably demonstrate best practices in their homes by maintaining their filter system over an extended period, and who enthusiastically communicate the benefits they receive from being an owner.
Trip to Clean Water for Haiti
On Thursday, 1/28, the advisors and I visited Clean Water for Haiti, a bio-sand filter (BSF) project in Pierre Payen, north of Port-au-Prince. We spent two hours talking with its current director Chris Rollings and his wife, Leslie. Our goal was to determine if W=L could purchase sand filters to place in schools, churches and hospitals. BSF have no moveable parts or mechanical filter which offers a powerful option for cleaning contaminated water. We learned that Clean Water for Haiti (CWH) works directly with communities placing filters in homes, not in institutions. Filters are not for retail sale but are part of CWH’s community development vision of empowerment and accountability.
In addition to seeing how bio-sand filters work/how they are built, we also learned that CWH has a 30 day, 90 day, and 12 month follow-up visits procedure. CWH also keeps simple records of these visits and any additional support the family may need. Advisors were intrigued that CWH numbers each cement filter and suggest that W=L do something similar as well as instituting 3 follow-up visits with record-keeping. The advisors and I talked how W=L may partner with CHW to get clean water to villages too remote for delivery of the cement filters. For more information about the agency, how the sand filter works, and the agency’s development plan, please go to cleanwaterforhaiti.org
Highlights for the trip
*working with Marie Estelle, Jimmy and Wadson in a deepening relationship of trust and mutual support
*meeting with MORS leaders in Boutillier
*trip to Clean Water for Haiti and the ideas that advisors are generating from this contact
*hearing advisors’ vision and ideas for creating a powerful presence of W=L in Haiti including: creating a “W=L Center” at Successful Institute in Kenscoff for training/distribution and maintenance support; identifying boundaries/expectations for success of filter maintenance and long-term health benefits; advisors commitment to “create a thirst” for clean water action through local W=L promoters
What does all this suggest for our work? At the very least, it includes enlarging our vision, sharing the impact of our work in Haiti, inviting others into our commitment to “nurture the human spirit through the gift of clean water.”