The community of Saillant is located in Fort-Liberté, which is less than 10 km from the border with the Dominican Republic, in the North-East Department of Haiti. Their journey towards receiving a water well began in 2016 when Guerline (an employee of Haiti Outreach) was in the area to inaugurate a well for another community in Saillant called Savane Coco.
Joseph Cherenfant grew up in Saillant, and when he learned that his neighboring community of Savane Coco was receiving a well, he was eager to learn more. He spoke with Guerline at length about the process to follow to obtain a well from Haiti Outreach. Then Mr. Cherenfant organized a meeting with his community at the large Catholic Church of Saillant to explain to them how they too could have access to clean water within a mere 500 meters of their homes*. Having close access to water was a major incentive for them, as it would free up so many hours they normally would spend just collecting water to do other things, and would prevent a slew of illnesses.
The residents were excited by this new prospect and quickly agreed to enroll in the program with Haiti Outreach. They began going through the training with a Haiti Outreach animator to learn more about sanitation and hygiene practices, as well as developing their plan to manage the well long-term. After completing the training program they were ecstatic to have their well drilled! However, when the drillers came they could not locate an aquifer in their community. Instead they only found clay.
At this point many may have given up, but not Mr. Cherenfant. He was not about to quit after they had all come so far! Mr. Cherenfant took some representatives from his community with him to Pignon to tell the officials about the issue. When they arrived, they found out that the Country Director Neil VanDine was not in town that day. Undeterred, they spent the night in Pignon, and came to the office first thing the next day. A few days after Neil heard their concerns, he sent a team to Saillant to test the terrain. It took some effort, but they eventually found the water, and celebrated the inauguration of their well on March 2, 2017!
Not only is the proximity beneficial but the potability is exponentially better. Joseph shared,
“I cannot express my joy for bringing water to my community. In the past, we used to go to the Pafotin River, which is miles from home, to find water, and it was not really of good quality. The animals drank and went to the bathroom in the river. Now having a well near us not only allows us to have clean water in our community, but prevents us from catching illnesses caused by dirty water. “
Today, Mr. Cherenfant serves as the coordinator of the water management committee and manages the Saillant well which serves about fifty houses. For him, the water well management committees are crucial. He expressed, “It is a community led operation, and that is essentia!” Having the community invest in the on-going management of the well gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility, and that makes them want to invest a little more.
At various points in the process, this community could have thrown in the towel. However, thanks to Joseph’s determination to push through the obstacles that overcame them, they have enjoyed nearly three years of clean water closer to home. His community views him as a hero for his diligence and desire to help his community.
*500 meters is less than a 10 minute walk.