Posted by: Wasrag | September 8, 2010

Rotary Club “Haiti Water for Life” celebrates 200th Well

Photo by Rénold Estimé

In April 2010, Rotary Districts 7020 and 7090 celebrated completing the Haiti Water for Life Project’s 200th well in the Artibonite Valley.  Approximately 100,000 people obtain potable water via these wells, spring cappings, and cisterns.  The project started in 1997 with the vision of Rotarian Roy Sheldrick of the Rotary Club of Ancaster, Ontario.  He contacted local Rotarians working at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital (HAS) in the valley who were members of the Rotary Club of St Marc. Local Rotarians motivated in part by the experience and publicity of these wells established Rotary Clubs in Verrettes and Petite Rivière de l‘Artibonite.  All three clubs were instrumental in reaching the 200 well goal.

Coordinated with HAS’ Wells and Water program, local communities contact one of the clubs or HAS. A Rotarian or HAS Wells program staff member explains the program requirements.

Photo by Rénold Estimé

A university trained person inspects the community proposed site to see that it is likely to yield water and that there are no contamination sources nearby.  If selected, the community organizes a well committee to obtain title to the site and oversee management and maintenance.  It must set up a system and bank account for collecting repair fees.  Community members provide security and water during the construction. Ongoing maintenance is assured by local plumbers trained in pump repair by the Water for Life project.  A repair parts bank stocked at HAS provides quick access to needed parts.  If water quality needs to be checked, a water testing lab is available at cost.

Well Mango Kalen #1, March 2005 (by Dawn Johnson)

The wells proved their worth in St. Marc in August 2003, when a flash flood took out the city water system.  The Rotary wells were virtually the only source of safe water until the system was repaired.

Roy also brought The Wells and Water head, Renold Estime (now a Rotarian and proud Paul Harris Fellow)  to Hamilton, Ontario city Public Works officials for training.  As a result of this interaction the City of Hamilton decided to organize and run an annual Water for Life

Walkers in Hamilton - Photo by Norma Sheldrick

Walkathon on World Water Day, with all proceeds going to the project. The 6 walkathons to date have raised $108,000.  School children and adult walkers have experienced the difficulties of walking 2.5km to a water source and carrying a bucket of water back, plus education about water in their own city at theHamilton water purification plant and training center. Public Works officials have drawn attention to the need for clean water in developing countries through their city website and event publicity.  Thus not only two Rotary Districts, but two areas in two different countries have grown to better understand their own and each other’s potable water challenges through working together on this momentous Rotary project.

Photo by Rénold Estimé

By 2010 Roy Sheldrick and Haiti Water for Life have raised over $1,300,000, from Rotary clubs, church groups, organizations, and other groups. The Rotary Foundation has contributed over $600,000 in a 3-H Grant and Matching Grants (including for purchase of a drilling rig).  On April18, 2010, the Rotary Club of Ancaster hosted a celebration dinner for the commencement of drilling the 200th well. When asked if he will now stop, Roy responded, “There are 500 more villages in the Artibonite Valley. They need clean water and effective sanitation facilities. There is so much to do. My daughter has agreed to take over when I can no longer facilitate the work. Together we will succeed.”

Submitted by: Robert (Bob) Bruce, PDG, The Rotary Club of Waterdown, OntarioDawn Johnson, President, The Rotary Club of Verrettes, Haiti.

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