By Jennifer Urbanski
Clean water is critical for all life! Water is often taken for granted in countries where it is abundant and clean. My eyes were opened this year to the challenges people in Haiti face in obtaining safe water to drink, as well as for all for other important necessities in daily life: cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, bathing, caring for animals, raising food, etc.
Haiti Outreach, Rotary International, and local Rotary clubs in both Haiti and Minnesota are working together to solve this clean water access problem. A team of Rotarians from Minnesota visited Pignon, Haiti this February to see the project’s progress, including myself. The entire trip was inspiring and affirming that this partnership is moving toward long-term success!
One particular community visit that stood out to me was in Ba Tinot. Their well was inaugurated this past December and has 29 subscribing families who have stayed current on their monthly payments. Furthermore, all of the homes in this community have proper latrines to keep the water safe from contamination. Their dedication to quality maintenance was made even more evident when their guard fell ill. In response, the committee stepped up and took turns monitoring the well in his absence until he was healthy enough to resume his duties.
On a personal level, the water management committee treasurer, wearing a crisp white dress, beamed with pride as she shared how this clean water has made her own life much easier and healthier. Prior to their inauguration, they used to travel a great distance to a small river. She explained that the stream water was not safe, and many in their community battled cholera. Her voice cracked as the tears welled up in her eyes while shared: “Men kounye a… li te sispann.” (But now… it has stopped.) Everyone fell silent for a moment as the reality of her statement resonated with them. The committee president finished by thanking God and the people who helped fund this project.
The many experiences from this trip solidified my understanding of the need, the value, and the commitment to long term success of this partnership and project. I hope that these lessons can be carried forward to other parts of the world where potable water is scarce so that more lives can be saved from suffering.