Giving Back — June 08, 2018 in the Dominican Republic – Part 2

by Susannah McQuitty

The team meeting with Healing Waters field staff in the Dominican Republic.

Last week, we heard from James Stork, Paul Garner, and Ben Walker about their experiences in the Dominican Republic with Healing Waters International (HWI). This week, the rest of the group weighs in!

Ken Aldridge and Chris Sabby work on the technical side of, bringing the magic to life. (Taxes are magical, right?) Neither had been to an HWI site before, so it was awesome to hear about the trip from their perspective.

Children at the preschool in El Almendro grinning and waving in their uniforms.

The preschool at El Almendro

For both Ken and Chris, the most inspiring site they visited was the preschool in El Almendro. It was the first stop of the week, and it shaped the rest of their time in the Dominican Republic.

“This site had the largest and most impressive water purification system, and it served the most people,” said Chris. “There was a water store that served the local community, as well as a school that hosts children starting at a very young age. The children were able to eat healthy meals, drink clean water, and have a place to take a shower before they went home, where many of them did not have running water. The school has a health center, psychological center, and keeps track of each student to provide specialized care. It was impressive to see how much of an impact the school had on the children and their communities, especially with limited resources.”

Dominican Republic children enjoying a nap at their preschool in El Almendro.

The preschool began with people who were willing to make sacrifices for the bigger picture—especially Merce—an incredible woman who keeps the school running.

“Merce’s story really stuck with me,” says Ken. “She was a donor living in her native Spain that came to the Dominican Republic several years ago to see where and how her funds were being used. She wasn’t particularly impressed with what she saw, so she stayed and worked to make things better. Now, not only has the water store completely changed the way of life in that community, the preschool now serves some 300 children and has a waiting list with well over 400 names on it to get in.”

A young man sealing a five-gallon jug of clean water in a Healing Waters storefront.

Taking ownership

Another factor of the trip that stood out to both Ken and Chris was HWI’s commitment to empowering those who would benefit from clean water access.

“The water stores are such a point of pride in all of the places we visited,” says Ken. “Community leaders and site administrators all say, ‘Look at what we have, and look at what else we can provide here because of it.’ They have ownership in their water stores, they helped install the filtration system, they maintain the system, they run the store, they reinvest the funds back into their community.”

Even the aesthetics of the water stores were important, Chris noted. “It was very important to the field staff at El Almirante to keep their water facilities in great condition,” he says. “This was obvious when we walked in, as the walls were nicely painted and the water purification system was kept very clean. They mentioned that some of the community members had asked them why they keep everything so nice, since it doesn’t matter what the facility looks like, so long as the water that is produced is clean. Their answer was that it is important to take ownership of what they have and to take pride in what they are doing. That idea stuck out to me because it can be applied in many different aspects of life. It’s important to take care of the things you have and to take pride in what you are doing.”

A drone captures the big picture over a community partnered with Healing Waters.

The bigger picture

The whole team returned to work the next week with a better understanding of how important clean water is.

“It was clear to me that HWI wasn’t only providing these communities with a reliable source of clean water,” says Chris. “The water is only a part of it. They are giving the people in these communities the tools and the knowledge they need to be successful. They are helping to educate and empower the members of each community, which can have an impact that spans multiple generations.”

And that is why we love working with Healing Waters International. They are experts when it comes to promoting sustainable change, and by supporting them, even a tax company can help make a difference. As one of the local pastors said, “Every drop tells a story.” We couldn’t agree more.

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