Water Lifeline for Quake Survivors

Post a Comment » Written on February 5th, 2010     
Filed under: Disaster Relief

Story by Julian Lukins, Photos by Ray Tollison (World Relief International)

An anxious and excited throng dashes towards the water truck as it pulls up outside the shanty camp of makeshift shelters in Port-au-Prince.

Such dry, dusty camps have become home for thousands of Haiti’s earthquake survivors.  None has any water supply – except for what comes in the 3,000-gallon trucks.

When World Relief’s water truck arrives, scores of women and children carrying buckets and other containers rush forward to get in line – desperate not to miss out on their water ration.  As the water flows, frantic mothers jostle for position to fill their containers quickly – worried that the supply might run out before they’ve filled their own buckets.

In the past few days, World Relief’s team has delivered 20 truck loads of water, a total of 64,000 gallons, to thirsty quake survivors in the camps – literally a lifeline for some 12,000 households living on the very edge.

Living Water

At each camp or delivery location, World Relief appoints a community representative who is responsible for accepting the water and making sure that it gets into the hands of vulnerable families.

At this location, 27-year-old Penel – a local church member – is accountable to World Relief for the water distribution.

Penel explains that he is a Christian – a member of the local Assemblies of God Church.  In this camp and its sprawling neighbor camps, about 700 members of his local church have set up makeshift shelters, built out of tarp, faded sheets, sticks and scrap corrugated metal.  Every day is a struggle to find enough food and water.

“This water is life to us,” he says.

Penel explains that his church – like many other churches – was destroyed in the quake, so now the congregation gathers outside the church, or in the camp, to pray and worship together.

“We share water and food together,” he says.  “As a Christian, I am ready to help others in any way I can.”

World Relief continues to deliver water to the most vulnerable survivors, ensuring they have water to drink, cook with, and bathe with.

At a local orphanage, World Relief drilled a borehole to provide clean water for the children and the community surrounding the orphanage.

“This will make a very big difference,” says Pastor Pierre Alexis, head of the orphanage that is home to nearly 60 children.  “We are planning to invite people from the community to come and get water here.  It is important to show people the real Jesus – the One who cares not only for their body, but also for their soul.  If you follow Jesus, you must show it through your actions, not just say it.”

Clean water – dangerously scarce immediately after the January 12 quake – is absolutely critical, says Warren Wright, World Relief’s project manager at the scene.

“Our goal is to provide clean drinking water that will keep the children free of diseases,” he explains.

Pastor Alexis, a 36-year-old father of four, puts it another way. “Water is indispensable to our balance of life.”

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