When we think about global health, it is impossible for water to not be included in the discussion. Annually, safe water could prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea, 500,000 deaths from malaria, and 860,000 child deaths from malnutrition (WHO). Water is the source of life. Water is the source of health. In Haiti, this source is often unsafe and often at a great distance.
Juliet (on the right in the $ hat) lives in Bareau Michel, a small farming community in the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince. This area has no police presence, no public education, and no nearby access to clean water. In fact, community members must walk up to 2 hours down the mountain to find water at a spring and then make the 2 hour hike back up the mountain. This time they are also hauling a heavy bucket of water.
Without nearby access to water, hygiene is difficult, hydration is a luxury, and illness is common. When I visited Bareau Michel last week to share the community’s story and see how the Haiti Water Project might partner with a local church to provide clean water, Juliet took a break from farming to thank me for coming. “I am glad you have come. It makes me happy to see you out here like a Haitian in the fields and when someone comes here, it is the Haitian way to give you a gift,” she explained as she gave me 7 eggs from her family’s chicken in a small tupperware box.
Her generosity caught me off guard so much that I didn’t even think to get a picture so I could share her beautiful smile. Without knowing anything about me except that I was a visitor fumbling over her Kreyol, Juliet gave me a gift that could have been her only tupperware and definitely was a sacrifice for her family at their next meal.
World Health Day gives us the opportunity to unite together to celebrate healthy lives. My hope is that we can give back to Juliet and her community by making our own sacrifices to ensure that instead of walking hours for water every day, she can spend time with her children and instead of regularly falling ill to contaminates in her water, she will have more healthy days and more reasons to celebrate.