It’s a cruel irony that this place is surrounded by water, has rainfall what seems like every night, and hundreds of thousands of people have no access to clean water. Sanitation in the tent cities consists of what appears to me to be one port-a-potty for every 300 people. People use the same water to clean themselves, their dishes, their children, and to wash away human waste. This is the last place on earth that was capable of holding off cholera. No wonder it didn’t.
Drinking water comes from some enterprising folks who sell tiny water bags for a few pennies each. Imagine tiny zip-lock bags with drinking water sealed in; essentially a few a mouthfuls per bag. That’s it.
At La Paix hospital where we work, they’ve never had potable water. We’re trying to change that today. I’ve got two hard working guys with me on this team who are determined to get clean water to the hospital – particularly the maternity ward. Throughout the developing world, it’s usually the maternity ward that bears the brunt of poverty, disease, and lack of water. Haiti is no different
The hospital here draws from a deep well that is heavily salinated; another consequence of the earthquake that among other obvious things, disrupted the water table and drastically increased its salt levels. The water they do get is pumped into large cisterns that are exposed to the elements, not to mention some deadly microbes.
Every day in Haiti, people get sick due to lack of clean water. How cruel is that when they show up at the hospital, the situation is just as bad as the tent settlement from where they’ve just come? How can we expect to make a dent in the maternal mortality rate here if we’re delivering babies without clean water?
Six weeks ago we sent down a container full of piping and other plumbing supplies. It’s supposed to show up today. Let’s hope it does so these guys can get to work. Otherwise, we’ll be making a trip to what we affectionately call the “Haiti Home Depot” – an entire blog post on its own.
Like everywhere else in the world, water is life here.
When I see a young mom walk out of the hospital with a healthy baby, I am awestruck at the tenacity of that fledgling life – knowing how high the deck is stacked against her before she even draws a breath, the beauty of her life leaves me speechless.
This work can’t wait any longer.