For many of us, clean water is so plentiful and readily available that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider what life would be like without it. – Marcus Samuelsson
If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. – Matthew 10:42 NLT
In July 2012, the Haiti Mission Team from First Baptist Church, Cadillac, Michigan, made our first trip to Cap Haïtien, Haiti. The 12 of us were given the task of providing a vacation Bible school for 150 Haitian children. We fell in love with the Haitian people during our week there.
It was obvious that the people of Cap Haïtien had many needs, but three basic ones stood out: waste management, latrines and clean drinking water. We learned that as many as 1 in 6Haitian children will not live to see their 5th birthday due to waterborne illness. We wanted to serve God not only spiritually but also serve our brethren in a tangible way. Through prayer, we decided to do something, no matter how small, about clean water.
We researched what had been done in the area for clean water and what would be an efficient way to provide clean water. We found that many wells had been dug but were in disrepair or contaminated. We also learned about the Biosand Water Filter which is a simple, natural way to filter water. It is practical to use and maintain. The Biosand Water Filter uses sand and gravel to filter the water and each filter serves at least 10 people for 10 years. It is being used all over the world, including Port-au-Prince, but not in northern Haiti.
We learned that as many as 1 in 6 Haitian children will not live to see their 5th birthday due to waterborne illness. We wanted to serve God not only spiritually but also serve our brethren in a tangible way. Through prayer, we decided to do something, no matter how small, about clean water.
We presented the Biosand Water Project idea to our Haitian partners, who agreed that this would be beneficial. We made the need known to people in the Cadillac area and planned to start with 30 filters. God saw it differently and we started with 100 filters!
In 2014, we made two trips to Cap Haïtien. Before we made the first trip, we sent two Haitian members from First Baptist Church, Cap Haïtien, to Port-au-Prince for Biosand Water Filter training. These two men volunteered their time and after the training they recruited and formed the Haiti Clean Water Cap Haïtien team. When we arrived in March 2014, we met the team of five workers.
We participated in training these five workers on how to prepare the sand and gravel for the filters and how to install them in homes. They began in-home installations shortly after our first visit.
During the second trip in the fall of 2014 we concentrated on getting a follow-up plan in place to ensure that installed filters were functioning correctly and being used properly. We also instituted a bilingual set of forms for record keeping and a system for information sharing. We met some of the families who received a filter. They told us of their improved health, and asked how their neighbors could also receive a filter.
Since our initial setup, we travel to Haiti once or twice a year to meet with our Haitian team and check out how the project is going. The Haitian team is doing a fantastic job.
Haiti Clean Water continues to prepare the sand and gravel for the filters and place the filters in homes, schools and orphanages. At this time, we have 1100 filters in Haiti. Through a grant, we built a building on church property for the project. This year, through generous donations, we were able to purchase a 3-wheeler to help transport the filters and 100 pounds of sand and gravel to the installation sites.
Each filter costs $128 which includes employment for five Haitians. Without the Haitian workers, we would have to ship sand and gravel which would be very expensive. Each family in Haiti contributes what they can toward their filter, usually between $2 and $5 per filter. Not only are we able to provide clean water, but also gainful employment for our Haitian workers and their families in an area where unemployment rates are as high as 80 percent.
- Lynn Ross
Lynn Ross leads the Haiti Clean Water mission team at First Baptist Church in Cadillac, MI. To donate or for more information, contact Lynn at [email protected].