Daniela Saintil is a calm and quiet young lady who resides in the community of Mankèt Ri Chilo, in the commune of Ouanaminthe, in the North-Eastern region of Haiti. Despite her mild temper, she is incredibly diligent and dedicated to her family. Having been born to a household with meager resources, she has never attended school and has been living with an uncle and a few other family members for a few years. Her uncle is not much more well-off than her parents, but as “payment” for taking her in, Daniela is required to work extra hard to care for her family.
Given her work-load, she doesn’t have much time to focus on self-care and often wears the same clothes multiple days in a row. Fun is also a luxury she cannot afford. She confides, “[My uncle] keeps reminding me that I have to take care of my work”. Her future is set, and the lack of future aspirations beyond her daily chores can leave her feeling hopeless.
On a daily basis she wakes up before the roosters crow to help with the family chores. One of her first duties is to gather water, which used to be the most challenging and time consuming of her daily tasks. In order to ensure that her family has enough water, she needs to fill 6 or 7 jerry cans. Since she only has 2 hands, that meant at least 3 trips to find water. Her average trip would take about 30 minutes one-way to fetch water for her family’s needs (cooking, laundry, toilet, etc.). The closest location was at the El Cana School, which provides a water well for its staff and students. “It’s a private well,” she explained. “When there is class, the well remains closed. We are not allowed to take water to avoid disrupting the classes.” This of course made it even more challenging to use her time efficiently as she was required to plan her day around the schools schedule, or walk further than 30 minutes to gather water from an unclean stream.
In July 2020 her community inaugurated the well they received from Haiti Outreach. This change has made daily life for Daniela so much better. She shared with a wide grin, “Now that the water is closer to where I live, it’s a real relief!”
At 18 years old, Daniela Saintil has never set foot in a classroom. Despite her lack of educational opportunities, she is proud to serve her family and grateful that her toughest daily chore has become so much more efficient. She may even find a moment to have a little fun or even dream of new aspirations for herself.