Haiti Partners Overcome Adversity to Share Clean Water
Carrefour, Haiti, climbs up the side of a hill directly west of Port au Prince. One
city flows into the other. Street signs provide the only indication of a change in locale. In Carrefour, sits Notre Dame Guadeloupe (pictured to the right), a large Catholic church with approximately 600 members and a school educating 400 students. The church also serves the community with water drawn from a reservoir 300 feet away. Until the 2010 earthquake, the water was clean and safe for drinking. Despite contamination nine years ago, the reservoir has remained the primary source of drinking water for the community.
In early 2019, Father Joseph Duvillage met members of the Living Waters for the World (LWW) team from Holy Spirit Haiti Mission (a ministry of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Huntsville, Ala.) and told them Carrefour's story. Bob McCoy, representing the Holy Spirit team, and Father Joseph, representing Notre Dame Guadeloupe, signed a covenant that would restore health to the community. Together the partners planned to install a water purification system.
Father Joseph (top center), pastor of Notre Dame Guadeloupe, and Bob McCoy (bottom left), from Holy Spirit Haiti Mission, join LWW’s in-country team and the church’s water committee in planning the installation of their water purification system.
Unfortunately, violence within Haiti hit its peak around the time the partners planned to install the system. The situation was too threatening for the Huntsville team to travel. Bob McCoy recalled, “We had to make the hard decision not to go. This was the first time ever that we cancelled a trip.” The Holy Spirit team knew their partners were ready for the installation, and they didn't want to let them down. So, Holy Spirit Haiti Mission and LWW's in-country network crafted a Plan B. Having worked closely with LWW’s in-country team in Haiti, Bob knew they had the ability to step in and lead. Ancy Fils-Aime, Bertone Kercelin, and Lucson Celestin have served LWW water partners across Haiti for more than a decade. As Haitians trained in LWW's system and processes, all partners benefit from their knowledge and expertise. Bob spoke of the team with high regard saying, "They want your trust and will earn it. Their integrity is impeccable beyond measure." He felt confident they were the best people to take the lead in this exceptional situation.
(Left to right) Bertone Kercelin, Haiti In-country Technician; Ancy Fils-Aime, Haiti In-Country Director; and Lucson Celestin, Haiti In-country Technician
Bertone got through the blockades to retrieve parts and supplies shipped to Haiti months before by the Holy Spirit team. In late November, he was finally able to acquire the water tanks, PVC pipe, and plywood needed to build the water board. At last they were ready to teach Notre Dame Guadeloupe church members to install the system that would provide clean water for Carrefour. They led all the typical elements of an installation - and some atypical ones. Lucson had the challenge of laying 300 feet of PVC pipe to get the water from the reservoir to the water building. He also had to install a remote starter for the pump that the planning team wasn't 100% certain would work. Nic Price, the engineer on the Holy Spirit team that designed the wireless remote, felt overwhelming relief and joy when Lucson called him and declared "it all works!" After completing the health education lessons, they ended with a great celebration – in this case a full mass and water system consecration.
Father Joseph (third from right) consecrates Carrefour’s new LWW water purification system
The water purification system that will provide safe drinking water for citizens of Carrefour, Haiti
Ancy spoke on behalf of the installation team. Bertone read a letter from the Holy Spirit Haiti Mission team. The choir sang a rendition of "Use This Water" in Creole as taught in the health education classes. Father Joseph blessed the system and raised a cup of clean water thanking God for this great gift. The water distribution window opened to the crowd, and women rushed forward to have their empty bottles filled. Clean water was shared with all present, and God permitting, clean water will continue to flow for generations to come.
Notre Dame Guadeloupe is the latest of 22 water partnerships between Holy Spirit Haiti Mission and Haitian communities. Fortunately, the situation in Haiti has improved and the Holy Spirit team plans to visit partners in Haiti, including Carrefour, this January.
Living Waters for the World (LWW) is a nonprofit that trains volunteers to build partnerships teaching the installation and maintenance of water purification systems and health education programs. Most LWW water purification systems are located outside of the United States in community settings such as civic centers, orphanages, and churches. Volunteers have also partnered with homeowners in rural Appalachia to install home-based systems.