Sharing Clean Water in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic may only be home to 23 Living Waters for the World (LWW) water purification systems, but clean water has a big impact on the people living there. We recently spoke with Melvin Martinez, in-country coordinator for the Dominican Republic network, to get his perspective on LWW’s ministry.
Melvin (left) is very excited about the sign! (Pictured with Jeff Wagner, LWW Director of Operations)
Melvin has a successful career as an insurance broker, and he also serves in the part-time role of in-country coordinator for LWW. As an insurance broker, Melvin worked with organizations that focused on water in the Dominican Republic, and he found those organizations’ missions very compelling. Although they worked differently than LWW, he remembered, “I liked the fact they helped poor communities with water.” So, when he was approached by a couple of long-time friends about getting involved with LWW in 2014, he said “yes.”
Melvin (right) is seen here with Pastor Fernando Bolario. Pastor Fernando operates this system at The Church School, Baitoa, Santiago, Dominican Republic, which over 100 children attend.
Through his LWW involvement, Melvin has had some stand-out experiences. “I've had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people in my country and in the USA. I have been able to create projects from scratch; visualize a solution for the community and the impact it will have on the people; and then return and see the reality of what was visualized. I have also seen many parts of my country that I didn’t know before.”
There was one system that he thought was truly remarkable. They had a truck for deliveries, four employees, and distributed over 1000 bottles of water each week in 18 communities. He said, “They were beyond our expectations.” The system Melvin is referencing is in Sabana Larga, a rural community along the Haiti border. The town was so remote that when First Presbyterian Church, Hartsville partnered with the community to install the system in 2015, commercial bottlers weren’t delivering there. They had no access to safe water.
The truck is loaded with water for delivery from the system in Sabana Larga, Dominican Republic
Even though the LWW water purification system was poised to make a tremendous impact for the people there, it wasn’t an instant success. It took dedication, creativity and perseverance to overcome some early, significant obstacles. Dick Porter, team leader for First Presbyterian Church, Hartsville, told the story of their partnership in a post on Sept. 26, 2017. (Click here to read it.) Ultimately the partners worked together to overcome their obstacles and establish a water ministry that is now a lifeline for Sabana Larga and several surrounding communities. This system testifies to the fact that although the LWW systems in the Dominican Republic are few in number, their impact on individuals and communities are as profound as any. Every life changed by clean water is a treasure.