At the end of the summer, I traveled to Haiti to spend a couple of weeks visiting projects with Heifer Haiti staff. For previous posts on my trip, see my page.
From the time he was a child and on into adulthood, Louis Desira walked to a river two kilometers away from his home in Maniche to get water for the day. The round-trip walk lasted at least an hour and a half, not counting the time it took to put the water into containers.
Now, thanks to Heifer's From the Ground Up project, Louis shares a water cistern with four other families, all of which are members of CODEDPE. The cistern is located at a church next door to Louis' house, which provides much easier access than the river two kilometers down the road.
Louis is a tailor, and a good one at that. He specializes in pants and dress shirts.
"Now I have more time to make clothes," said Louis, who has been a tailor for more than 40 years. "I don't have to stop making clothes to go get water."
When I asked Louis if that means he can make more clothes to sell, he quietly replied, "No, it allows me to make a better product and make my customers happier."
In addition to being more convenient, the cistern also provides access to cleaner water. According to a report from Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, the New York University Law School's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, "close to 70 percent of the entire (Haitian) population lacks direct access to potable water at all times" and "the problem is actually worsening..."
Although Heifer's is known for its expertise in livestock management, our projects extend even further than that to meet the specific needs of the community. In Haiti, that means Heifer's projects might address a community's lack of access to water in one way or another, as is the case with Louis in Maniche and also with Prosper Kunius and Telfort Monestinein Terrier-Rouge.
Prosper and Telfort are members of the Livestock Cooperative of Terrier-Rouge (KOET) near Ouanaminthe and the border with the Dominican Republic. In addition to receiving two bulls to improve the quality of their cattle, the cooperative received a water pump and a generator so the animals can have a consistent water source.
"Our members are very satisfied with the water pump," Telfort said. "It helps us keep all the cows alive because during the dry season, we would lose cows (before)."
Louis, Prosper and Telfort are just a few of the people working with Heifer to not only secure access to basic needs like food and water but also to lift themselves out of poverty. To learn more and to support Haitian families, please visit the web page for Heifer Haitis newest project, REACH.