Approximate Population Served: 15,000
First thing out of bed in the morning, what do you do? Put water on to boil for coffee, brush your teeth, take a shower, use the toilet, rinse out your mouth, take your vitamins, get your kids doing much of the same. A bit later you might fill your pet’s water bowl, water the plants, mop up a mess. Now–take away all the water involved, and you get a taste of what it’s like to not have our most crucial resource. Without water, we won’t have access to other crucial resources like food, electricity, oil. We ARE water, as is most of our planet. It’s something we take for granted–but families and children where Colorado Haiti Project serves didn’t take it for granted, because they didn’t have access to it.
Need: The impact of clean drinking water is a huge factor in reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Water-borne disease accounted for up to 80% of the cases seen in Petit Trou’s health clinic. To get better, closer water, the community needed good wells. So we began with 12 wells in 2008. Lack of available water was a constant burden in the life of every family. Carrying water from a spring above the town to the home is generally the job of children and women, and most St. Paul’s students spent up to 2 hours carrying jugs of water before ever arriving at school in the morning.
Many Coloradans donated money that matched a significant grant from the Anschutz Foundation to begin water projects in Petit Trou. After drilling and installing 12 wells, we then learned something about development when there was a setback. Some wells stopped working, weren’t maintained. They were OUR wells, not the people’s wells. So we began working with community members to establish standards for hygiene and sanitation, to engage each well zone in taking ownership for their water and their wells. Today, both the Colorado Haiti Project and St. Paul’s Parish are working with the local community to establish long-term local governance and maintenance of the wells.
Since December 2011 two local Haitians, Jude and Jean-Donald, have been working with community members to train volunteers in well maintenance and transfer physical and financial responsibility to the people in each well zone. They maintain the wells, and most importantly, train and get other community members involved in water hygiene and development. Click on Jude’s picture to see more of his story.