Bellaire/Southwest Houston Rotary has awarded a $5,000 grant to Pure Water for the World – Haiti to provide sand-filtered clean drinking water to the children of a small village there. Club President and Bellaire City Manager Bernie Satterwhite announced the grant at a late January meeting of the service group.
Other South Texas Rotary clubs are joining in the collaborative effort, with a district goal of providing clean water to more than 100 Haitian schools by July 2009. John Collier of West University Rotary Club and John Nadolski of Sugar Land Rotary are co-chairing the district’s effort. The projects are implemented by Pure Water for the World and Management Sciences for Health, with funding from the Safe Water Institute, Rotary International, various mission groups, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“Providing clean drinking water in Haiti is one way we’re implementing this year’s Rotary International mandate to make dreams real for the world’s children,” club spokesperson Nan Wagoner said. U.S. Embassy statistics identify diarrhea as a leading cause of illness and death in young Haitian children, and it is believed that clean water and good hygiene practices can reduce such waterborne illnesses by up to 60 percent.
The club’s latest project feels very personal to Bellaire Rotarian Surpris Cherazard of Mass Mutual Financial, who is a Haitian native and plans visits there for progress reports to the club during the coming year.
“When you are blessed to be here, it is hard to imagine what life is like for the little ones in my home country,” Cherazard said. “So many are sick and die because of dirty water. I am very grateful to my Rotary club for having the heart to help them.”
The Pure Water for Haiti Campaign aims to improve the lives of children and their families by providing clean water and hygiene training through schools in the Cite Soleil area, in addition to the bio-sand filter systems, and works directly with the community in partnership with church mission organizations and local NGOs. Training for staff at the partner schools and clinics teaches good hygiene, use, and maintenance of the water filtration systems, and provides visual aids and workbooks for the hygiene curriculum. Haitian children learn how to save lives through good hygiene practices, while receiving clean drinking water and an opportunity to fill bottles of water to take home.
According to the Embassy of the United States of America in Port-au-Prince website, the Pure Water for Haiti campaign reached approximately 65,000 children and their families with BioSand filter facilities and hygiene education as of November 2008, and the ultimate goal is to spread the filter/hygiene program into homes so that the families can stick to the use of safe water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
Information regarding the Rotary International organization is available online at www.rotary.org.