Friday is World Water Day. In honor of that, we wanted to take some time to share several of the experiences we’ve had at HAS, in witnessing just how transformative it is when communities are given access to clean water.
Did you know that half of Haiti’s population, about 5 million people, still lack access to clean water? Globally, a child dies every 20 seconds because of poor sanitation. These figures are startling and upsetting because it does not have to be this way. Clean water is a basic human right and is critical for hydration, for cooking, for staving off illness, and for health. Yet far too many have to walk incredible distances just to access a gallon of clean water.
HAS, with the support and volunteer efforts of Rotary Clubs and other organizations, collaborates with community members to bring clean water and sanitation systems to the hospital’s service area, a population of about 350,000 people. In fact, in 2012, the hospital collaborated with the community to build 11 wells. Over the past 15 years, HAS has developed more than 240 wells, and even more additional water and sanitation projects such as spring capping and filter installation. With an average of 500 people served by each water point, about 120,000 people now have access to wells built by HAS to date – roughly one third of the population our hospital serves. We are proud of this progress, but obviously there is much more to be done.
In our email, we introduced you to Angela and the school children in Verrettes. Now we’d like to introduce you to another family we met in our journey into the community and into the lives of our neighbors in the Artibonite Valley.
Fredner, Jeanette & their son Jamson
Nestled up against the foothills, a relentless sun beats down on a dry expanse with homes scattered here and there in Belanger, a town in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti.
Last August, water arrived to this neighborhood by way of a newly installed pump. Fredner, his wife Jeanette, and their first son, Jamson live a few steps from the pump. In talking with them about how the pump has affected their daily lives, they explained how difficult it had been when they had to walk one kilometer to the nearest water source. The last stretch of the route involved scaling down a steep embankment to draw the water, then struggling back up the hill with several gallons of water. “You would get so tired hauling water, you would have to just stop and catch your breath. My life changed in many ways. Now we don’t have to worry about treating the water. We can wash our hands without worry.”
Fredner and Jeanette’s neighbor, Jezumen stopped by while we were all chatting. She was born and raised about 200 meters from the new well. She stays home to care for her handicapped mother. Now, because the well is near her house, she doesn’t have to leave her mother unattended for a long period of time while she fetches water for the household. “The pump has improved our lives. Everything we do, we do with water. Before, we had to walk a long distance to fetch water. We had to conserve our drinking water a great deal. But now we can bathe, drink, and cook as much as we want.”
What is remarkable is the level of community involvement and support for the well. Neighbors have joined together to form a committee to oversee the maintenance of the pump. Members contribute the equivalent of $0.50 per month to help cover those costs. Even though this won’t cover the true cost of the repairs HAS does on all its wells, it means the community has a real stake in the future of their water security.
Thank you for reading our stories about our neighbors in HAS. From our email, hopefully you learned about Angela, whose words were so moving as she succinctly noted: “We have water year round; this pump has no dry season.”
We hope you’ll consider supporting HAS and making a donation so we can continue to build wells in our community. Be sure to “Like” our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @HASHaiti to keep up with more stories and information about Haiti.