Thousands Helped in Haiti
By Amy Bailey
Ten thousand people, farmland, animals, missions, schools: all of these have been positively affected by just one Pure Water, Pure LoveSM project in the Haitian city of Gonaives. In a country ravaged by natural disasters, deforestation, and poverty, thousands now have access to clean, safe water, and it’s changing lives.
In 2013, Tad and Janis Walton of Bellevue Community Church in Belleview, Idaho, hosted two Haitian university students, and that one act of kindness blossomed into a partnership with Michel Morisset of Eben-Ezer Mission in Haiti. Tad and Janis were then encouraged by WMU® to apply for a Pure Water, Pure Love grant to bring clean water to the area. In the years leading up to the project, the area had only one functioning well that was drying up and one dwindling canal that fed agriculture when possible. The water from the taps was undrinkable. Janis says visiting the area before the new wells was difficult. “We had to make sure to keep our mouths closed when we took a shower, and we had to brush our teeth with bottled water. The only drinkable water came out of a bottle. This is what many Haitians rely on to drink. Then they haul what they can to do the rest. They will walk for miles to do this.”
With their PWPL grant request, the missions team hoped for two irrigation wells and a potable water cistern. What they received, however, was so much more.
There are now four fully functioning wells and piping on 1500 acres. Just recently, a state of emergency has been declared for the area due to drought. Springs, wells, and rivers are drying up in surrounding areas. But Eben-Ezer still has water! And because of the drought, they anticipate serving more people and fighting a potential famine from the probable lack of food production. But with PWPL, the local people know they can access water without fear of bullying or being charged for it, as is the case at other wells. The people see the ministry as a place of love and safety, and they are daily exposed to the light of Christ as they meet their most basic needs.
“I have been so excited to see how they have not just drilled wells, but have continued to improve them, adding pumps, towers, and even solar to one of them,” says Janis. The wells have also helped the ministry’s orphanage. Previously, children would haul their water down a dirt path, or draw it from the dirty canal, for bathing or laundry. Now it is piped in and they have immediate access. And the newly-installed solar panel over the pump makes water available even when the electricity is out, which is often.
In one recent well visit, Janis found families at the pump filling basins and buckets and doing laundry. As the adults scrubbed clothing with their young children by their sides, animals were nearby drinking from the runoff. Everyone and everything is benefiting from the wells. “They now service over 10,000 people, irrigate 100 acres, and water animals,” Janis says. And the partnership formed between Bellevue and Eben-Ezer turned into more than a coordination of a well-digging project. Janis and Tad now serve in Haiti full time, and their ministry has grown in new directions, due in part to the PWPL grant and their relationship forged with the Haitian people.
To learn about ways in which you and your church community can help, visit the PWPL website where you can find group ideas, water facts, and more stories about previous projects.
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