Amanda Schwartz from PIH’s Boston office recently returned from a trip to Haiti with charity: water. To commemorate World Water Day – March 22 – read a post about her trip below.
When I went to Haiti last month with the team from charity: water, I knew that I would see a changed Haiti, one much different from the country we had visited last year. Indeed, we became witnesses to a kind of misery that is new to Haiti – already the poorest country in the western hemisphere – the kind of misery that lives in buildings turned to rubble turned to tombs, and the kind that lives in hundreds of thousands of Haitians who have lost everything. It was desperately hard to look away from the areas where hundreds of thousands of Haitians are now living under patchwork covers of sheets and tarps, knowing that the rains were on their way. It was even harder to know that there were hundreds of these camps tucked within the broken city, all in need of access to very basic rights (food, water, medicine, dignity).
Haitians have lacked access to the very basic right to clean water long before the January 12 earthquake. It was this need that first brought charity: water, a New York City-based nonprofit, together with Partners In Health (PIH) and our Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante (ZL), in a partnership to build community water projects. Over the past two years, our partnership has improved access to clean water for over 20,000 people in some of the poorest and hardest-to-reach communities in the Central Plateau of Haiti by providing latrines and household and community-level water.
Following the earthquake, charity: water knew that Haiti needed their support more than ever. So in February, we trekked out to eight more communities in desperate need of improved access to potable water. In some cases, these particular communities have grown tremendously in population--since the earthquake, the average household size in these areas has grown from seven people to ten people. Over the next year, PIH and ZL will be expanding our water and sanitation program by implementing projects in these eight communities--nearly triple what we have historically completed in a given year. We are deeply grateful that charity: water is helping us to do this.
While the charity: water team and I returned to the U.S. having witnessed a new kind of misery in Haiti, we also returned convinced that there is a new kind of hope there too. It is this new kind of hope that is enabling PIH and ZL to help the Haitian government build back better, and it is this kind of hope that is allowing us to grow the programs that are delivering access to basic rights that have long been needed. Today is World Water Day – a day dedicated to promoting awareness about the global need for improved access to potable water. To celebrate, charity: water is launching their Unshaken Haiti Campaign in order to raise the funds to support Partners In Health. They are launching their campaign with a special video, and will be showcasing the communities that we visited.
Watch the story of Haiti today: the story of hope: