KareDrew Haiti Foundation
Clean Water for the Orphanage
Posted on March 29th, 2012

My husband Pat and I are enjoying being part (or one component if you will) of the hopeful efforts of KareDrew Haitian Children’s Foundation. I’m writing this post to bring people up to date on how KareDrew is helping to provide Infants of Jesus Orphanage with am invaluable resource.

The Long Drink of Water

Thanks to members of the First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Tennessee, the children and staff of Infants of Jesus Orphanage now have an ABUNDANCE of clean drinking water! Hooray! It was a long time coming, since the idea was born on July 9, 2009, and the first glass of water wasn’t poured until March 31, 2011.

To back track a bit, the project at Infants of Jesus was part of the common nationwide effort of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to purify drinking water in locations throughout the world. The system they use is called Living Waters for the World. The locations chosen, the fundraising, as well as implementation of the system itself is done by members of individual congregations.

When a congregation chooses to take part, even if it has yet to identify a location (which can be anywhere in the world), members of the congregation who volunteer for the effort divide up to be trained. Some learn to test water sources, while others learn to assemble, trouble shoot, and run the system. They also learn how to educate those on site who will be using the system what they have been taught so that the system can be maintained by its recipients.

Once a location has been agreed upon the entire congregation begins to raise funds, and make plans for the systems implementation. The kids of Infants of Jesus benefited when physician Kristina McCain, a member of the Franklin congregation, was in Haiti serving in a professional capacity for Family Health Ministries. She told us about her church, and its desire to take part in Living Water for the World by providing clean water to people who needed it. “Do you know of people who are in need of clean water” Dr. Kris asked? Wow! Did we ever! We took her to visit Infants of Jesus and to take water samples from the orphanage well.

The test results showed that the well water was frankly, Ugh! Kris went back to her congregation with the test results, and the question: “Do we want to take on this project, and provide the orphanage with a water purification system?” The answer came back a resounding “Yes!” The congregation agreed to take it on. The orphanage site lacked something besides pure water. It had no electric power, and no building in which to house the system. KareDrew was able to help by paying for the cost of bringing in the electricity, and also funding the cost of construction for the small building. First Presbyterian would take care of the rest. Within a couple of weeks the project was begun. The electricity was brought in, and construction on the building was underway. In fact by January 12, 2010 it was almost complete. And then the massive earthquake occurred. The orphanage building was so badly damaged that it had to be torn down. The children slept in “tents” made by draping tarps over their plywood dining tables. The little water building fared no better. Under the circumstances the effort has halted while more immediate needs were met.

Tents were eventually provided for the children with the help of the persistent urging of Saude de Portugal, a medical team from Portugal who learned of their plight. Monica, at that time the coordinator of their four member team, kept going to the United Nations cluster meetings on behalf of the children to try get them tents. She was eventually successful. However, following the earthquake, the number of orphanage residents slowly climbed from 40 to 80. The orphanage used a small purification system in the interim. But then one day, shortly after the earthquake, they pumped, but nothing came out. It appeared that the well had gone dry, which fortunately upon inspection turned out to be not true. There was plenty of water, but the shifting of the ground during the quake had cracked the pipes.

First Presbyterian came through again, and provided funds for a new pipe, purchased an electric generator, and a new well pump. Anther wonderful donor who wishes to remain anonymous again funded the reconstruction of the building.

In March, a two part team arrived from Tennessee. They provided educational materials, and showed the teachers some creative methods they could use in teaching the children about personal hygiene, and the use of good water. Then the teen residents who will operate the system received the academic portion of their training.

Those lessons marked the end of the educational teams work, and they went back to Tennessee the next day. The construction and operation team members had arrived the day prior to compare notes with the educators. They oversaw the assembly of the system, and made certain that the teens who were tasked with maintaining the system had learned their lessons, and could operate and trouble shoot.

To hearty cheering, the first purified water was poured on March 31. The next day First Presbyterian team members threw a water party for everyone.

The Living Water for the World system can provide enough water for the drinking, hand washing, baby tending, and cooking needs of the entire orphanage, the students from the community who attend the orphanage day school, as well as their families.

First Presbyterian will also provide 250 five gallon bottles so that the orphanage can earn money selling their excess water. The team from Tennessee will return in a number of months to check the system, and trouble shoot any problems.

In Haiti, as in many parts of the world, when residents of an orphanage reach 18 years of age, they are required to leave. Lesly, the Infants of Jesus director, wants to avoid this. Three residents will reach 18 before the end of this year, and Lesly wants to enable them to remain. (The following quote has been roughly paraphrased from Creole) “These children came late to education. They are still in school, and not instructed to live in the world as adults.” He has been looking for ways in which they can begin to earn a salary while continuing to live at the orphanage and finishih their education.

The water system will help with that effort. The system has the capacity to produce 300 gallons of water every two hours, and there is not much good water available in the immediate area. The student residents should do alright bottling, and selling the orphanage’s excess water, earning both enough to keep the system running as well as earning something for themselves, and their future.

Thanks to all of their efforts, and many, many thanks to the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Tennessee who made it all possible. We raise our glasses of fresh, clean water to all of you. Cheers!

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