Two weeks ago, a powerful storm plowed through Haiti, destroying thousands of tents and battering camp clinics, schools, and childcare facilities. The vast majority of the 1.3 million homeless in Port-au-Prince have little more than flimsy tarps protecting them from the onslaught of additional seasonal hurricanes. Countless "bladders"—large plastic bags continuously filled by trucks for water distribution in displaced persons camps—were also badly damaged.
A reason to give thanks! Clean Water in the city of l'Estère!
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is two days away. Although it has been a very difficult year for many of us, Thanksgiving Day always offers us an amazing opportunity to reflect and express gratitude for the often-overlooked blessings in our lives. Without a doubt, if you are able to read this newsletter, you are blessed in so many ways. And you may ask, how? According to one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen, the answer is very simple; one simply has to realize that life is the best thing ever, and you have no business taking it for granted. The people of Haiti understand this too well.
Having grown up in Haiti, I understand the acute dangers of living without clean water. I remember vividly the small worms that we had to remove by hand in the water buckets in our house. The frequent trips to the local clinic were a constant reminder that each sip of water was a risk. As a result, ensuring that water is safe, secure, and sustainable for my younger Haitian brothers and sisters has always been a personal and professional priority. International Action has granted me the opportunity to do just that.
Dalebrun Esther, our director of operations in Haiti, sent photos along with his update about the situation in Haiti after the earthquake.
I am negotiating with owners of private reservoirs in Cité Soleil. No food or water is available in the worst slum, Cité Soleil. I will focus our work on bringing clean water to Cité Soleil by working with owners of reservoirs in the communities.
In response to the growing demands for clean water from the internally displaced people living in camps throughout Port-au-Prince, International Action has launched a new initiative to fulfill the urgent requests for intervention. We purchased a new water truck, 1,000-gallon capacity, which will serve several camps, clinics, and schools in the metropolitan Port-au-Prince area.
International Action is excited to introduce our newest campaign in Haiti. The Campaign for Clean Water for Schools aims to bring clean water to all students enrolled in schools in Cité Soleil, one of the poorest slums in the capital of Port-Au- Prince. The goal of the campaign is clear: bring clean water to students so that they may focus on their education rather than be debilitated by stomach aches and diarrhea caused by dirty, bacteria ridden water. By focusing on their education, they can rise up and overcome the cycle of poverty that they currently exist in.
In the midst of numerous water projects in Port-au-Prince and provincial towns in Haiti, International Action was made aware of the Haiti Clinic’s dire water situation. There simply was no water. Haiti Clinic, located in Cité Soleil, is a maternal clinic that provides free healthcare to the neighborhood residents. The clinic was in dire need of clean water to meet the needs of its patients and staff. Its patients, mostly comprised of pregnant women and children, were going thirsty during their visits to the clinic.
International Action installed a 2,000-gallon water storage tank at a maternal clinic in the Boston section of Cité Soleil, the most impoverished town in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Our water tank will supply patients at the clinic as well as local residents with clean drinking water. According to the head of the clinic, more than 7,000 people live in the neighborhood. Shelly Chvotzkin – an employee at the clinic – has stated, "This will help us to better care for our patients and have a bigger impact on their lives as well as help us save lives!"
IA CWC team finished the last of three chlorinator installations in the Tokyo neighborhood in the poor Delmas section of Port-au-Prince on August 25. These three systems will provide clean drinking water to the 20,000 residents of the Tokyo neighborhood of Cité Soleil. Each installation cost $175 (more than usual), because the water-holding tanks are difficult to reach.
An escalation of violence between rival gangs in Martissant and Grand Ravine has led the IAWater team to reevaluate where they are installing chlorinators. More than forty people were killed and twenty houses burned in ongoing gang fighting. The team has decided to install four chlorinators in Trousable until the security situation in other areas improves. It has also identified several sites for installations: two in the hills above Pétion-ville, one in Delmas 33, one in Cite L'eternal and several in Cité Soleil.
Dalebrun and his team installed 2 chlorinators in two water towers of 1,200 gallons in the neighborhood of Bel Air. Bel Air, a slum area with a population of about 13,000 people, is located in Port-au-Prince and has much gang violence.
The IAWater team, with a substitute technician standing in for Bastin while he is recuperating, has completed evaluations of water reservoir sites in Jalousie, L'hôpital Fermanthe, Mont Jolie, a school in Cité Soleil, and an orphanage in Kenscoff. The team also evaluated Hôpital St. Catherine's, which is currently staffed by Medicins Sans Frontiers, to assess its feasibility as an installation site. The team will install a chlorinator on each of its two water tanks.
International Action just installed two more chlorinators in Cité Soleil! The School Foyer Elohim requested a visit from us in their school last month to evaluate the site and see if we could provide them with one of our water treatment systems.
Cité Gérard is one of the 47 sections of Cité Soleil. Like many of its neighboring communities, the community of Cité Gérard had been in recent years in a state of dramatic violence. Since 2006, the violence has gone down only to be replaced by rampant poverty. In Cité Gérard, insalubrities, famine, low rate of school enrollment, and a very high birth rate all have kept the population in a grave state of misery.
Last week, I returned from conducting a 6-month post-quake assessment of our clean water program in Haiti. What I saw was truly heart-wrenching. Vast stretches of displaced persons camps and countless makeshift shelters on the street. People collecting filthy grey-water from trash-strewn drainage ditches. Open sewers.