Giving Back — March 04, 2019


by Susannah McQuitty

A man in Haiti carrying water back to his home

After the earthquake in 2010, Haiti’s water sources were both stressed and contaminated. The need for long-term, sustainable solutions is great, but so is the hope supplied by clean water that funds schools and outreach opportunities.

First HWI filtration system installed: 2012
Current number of installed systems: 7
Targeted areas: Schools in both urban and rural locations

A river in Haiti, clogged with trash

Story Spotlight: The School in Cité Soleil

Our group from walked along the outskirts of Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti—one of the largest slums in the world and considered the worst in the Western Hemisphere.

“Don’t make a big deal of taking pictures,” said Wesley, HWI’s Country Director for Haiti and a local of Port-au-Prince. “They don’t like it.”

We only walked around the periphery, but the tension was palpable until we filed into what looked like an old stable. We could hear, even before we went in, the children shouting their lessons and singing. As the pastor led us through the building, he opened the doors to show 20 or so children, packed tight into each stall with a grinning teacher.

Every head turned, and the children began to laugh and call to us in Haitian creole. Once in a while we even heard a sweet voice or two shout “Good morning!” or “How are you?” in English.

The contrast was incredible. Here, right on the edge of a world-renowned slum, was a school full of children in hand-sewn uniforms getting an education—all thanks to a clean water store that was helping fund the classes.

Schoolchildren in Haiti, waving to visitors

The power of perspective

Every little bit counts for something. We can often be discouraged by the fact that there’s “only so much we can do,” but only so much means the world to someone who has next to nothing. We all have something to contribute to empower the next generation to be better than ever before.

The condition of the classrooms we walked through—the dirt floors, the chalkboard hanging from the open-air rafters—was jarring, but it was beautiful. The heartbreaking reality is that not all children receive that opportunity, but in the middle of that reality, there is good.

Good, because even when the teachers are paid only once every five or six months, they keep teaching.

Good, because leaders like the pastor at the school are moving in their communities.

Good, because the story doesn’t end with heartbreak.

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