We at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS) are fortunate to collaborate with so many talented and dedicated organizations and individuals who share our goal of bettering the lives of the people in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti. One such individual is Ryan Hreljac. Ryan’s story and the work that he is doing with the HAS Wells and Water Division in partnership with the Rotary Club of Ancaster, Ontario, is remarkable and truly heart-warming.
As a young child, only seven years old, Ryan was introduced by a first grade teacher to the suffering and sickness that occurred around the globe for people who did not have access to clean, potable drinking water. He thought it so unjust that people in Africa had to walk miles and miles sometimes just to obtain dirty water when he could simply step outside his classroom and enjoy a cold sip from the fountain right there. With help and encouragement from his parents, Ryan set out to change this inequity, one well at a time. He did extra chores to earn the money to build his first well in Uganda and as he determined how expensive it would be to achieve this goal, he began to reach out to anyone who would listen to raise awareness and funds to build this first well.
Today, as a Junior in college in Halifax, Ryan’s dream of bringing potable water to those in need has developed into the creation of his own foundation, Ryan’s Well Foundation. Ryan’s Well Foundation focuses on raising funds to enable clean water projects and health related initiatives in African nations and other developing countries such as Haiti. Ryan’s Well has completed over 600 projects bringing access to clean potable water and sanitation to over 685,000 people in 16 developing countries. Ryan speaks on water issues throughout the world and the importance of making a difference no matter your age.
In partnership with Rotary Club of Ancaster and the HAS Wells and Water Division in Deschappelles, Ryan’s Well has constructed and supported 29 wells in the Artibonite Valley since 2007 bringing potable water to thousands. These wells have successfully provided safe water based on proper hydrogeological surveys and testing. The “Water for Life” initiative, started by Rotarian Roy Sheldrick, has seen the completion of 235 wells and water projects throughout the Artibonite Valley. Through provision of safe water sources and community mobilization as well as sanitation and health training, the people of the Artibonite Valley will continue to have increased access to safe water and the capacity to sustain these resources in the future. In addition, Ryan’s Well was instrumental in the construction of 100 latrines in the Pont Sonde area.
At HAS we are extremely concerned about a resurgence of cholera, thus latrine and well construction has continued to be a priority. Phase 5 of the Ryan’s Well/HAS/Ancaster Rotary collaboration has a goal of the construction of 141 household latrines and the drilling and construction of a total 4 new wells. The first half of this project is almost complete. We cannot thank Ryan and his foundation enough for their participation in these projects which have made a huge impact on the quality of life for the Haitian people.