Ecole Nationale De Gens-De-Nantes, Haiti
The 330 students at the École Nationale de Gens-de-Nantes school in rural Haiti were no stranger to the perils of the water crisis. For years, the school and wider community suffered without a direct water source after their hand-dug well ran dry. Residents were continuously in search of water, often trekking miles in the hot and humid Haitian sun to the closest water source. During the dry season, even this faraway water would be scarce, causing the residents to wander the wider region in search for anything that would quench their thirst.
Residents, especially the students, felt emotionally and physically exhausted by the incessant search for water. Their bodies were tired from carrying 10-gallon drums for miles. What’s worse, they were psychologically strained from the constant need and illness that plagued their community. Water that the residents gathered from the questionable sources was often not safe for consumption. Children were especially susceptible to sickness from the contaminated water, falling ill to bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. Parents felt trapped in a cycle of endlessly searching for water, becoming sick from their water source, and spending their already stretched budget on medicine and treatments.
Phylogenetic Necuis is the local school’s 57-year-old director. He said,“The children were wandering everywhere to look for drinking water when the pump was not working. During their [recess], a child was searching for water and was hit by a motorcycle while crossing the street to purchase water. He was treated in a hospital for his recovery but fractured his leg.”
Community leaders reached out to our team for a preliminary evaluation in order to establish whether a water project was feasible. Upon visiting the community, our staff witnessed the residents’ great need. In addition to the gift of safe, accessible water, our staff prepared the community to steward their well moving forward by helping them form a water committee. This committee, made up of three residents, will be responsible for the well’s day-to-day maintenance in addition to keeping in contact with our team. By continuing the relationship between us and the community, residents can rest assured knowing that their well is sustainable and provides quality water. The staff also held sanitation and hygiene lessons for the community so they could learn how to use the new, safe water to better their overall health. Over the course of several interactive lessons, residents and students learned a wide variety of new techniques to prevent the spread of disease, including handwashing.
Mr. Necuis is relieved that his students will never be in harms way while gathering water at school. He shared his relief: “Children no longer have to risk their lives to collect water elsewhere because it is available at school.” He and the rest of the school staff are excited to watch their students flourish, unhindered from the burdens of the water crisis.