Stories of Change

A new cistern at the home of Predalus Gilbert, one of the program participants in Haiti.

Water Makes a World of Difference in Haiti

Tulsaint Sermilien knows what it’s like to always be worried about water. “I used to walk over 60 minutes to get water in Digé or at the source at the river Cadet,” he says of his daily walk in his community in Haiti.

It was a dangerous trip, too. Animals had been known to fall on the slippery, rocky road. Children had an especially hard time with the daily journey for water; some in the community have broken teeth falling on the journey. Other times, their container would crack or break during a fall, and they had to watch the water they worked so hard to get seep into the ground.

To make matters worse, carrying water is heavy work. No one could carry enough water back to their house to meet all their needs. It’s just not feasible to carry enough for washing, cooking, watering gardens and sharing with livestock.

“Now God our Father has used CWS through the local association AGEHPMDNG to allow me to have a cistern with a capacity of 3,500 gallons,” Tulsaint says. “This is the biggest grace I could have enjoyed on this earth. Even if I were to work for five years, I would not be able to build such a cistern, seeing the quantity of materials included in the cistern.”

Our local partner, AGEHPMDNG, teamed up with 36 families in the area to meet their water needs. They are in the process of building 12 cisterns–about 15 people will use each one. The concrete tanks are filled by rainwater that is being caught on the roof of a nearby house. PVC pipes connect the roof to the tank.

Each cistern costs about $4,500 to build. That’s an average of $300 per person to take this huge weight off their shoulders permanently. It means having water just a few feet from their door. It means not having to make that treacherous trip every day, and getting more rest because they don’t have to wake up extra early for the trek. It means enough water for laundry, preparing food and cleaning–and having plenty left over for flourishing gardens. In a community where vegetables are expensive and difficult crops to buy, this means more nutritious diets and healthier families. It’s a world of difference.

Here’s what a few other of the people participating in this program had to say:

– “My biggest challenge was water, but today this challenge has been removed thanks to this cistern. It will allow not just my own family to find water close by, but also two neighboring families thanks to funding from CWS to AGEHPMDNG. Now I will be able to produce vegetables at my house, which I like a lot. It is the first time I have seen such importance being given to the construction of cisterns. I participated in a training before the construction started. We have never before seen such things being done in our community. The materials are good in quantity and quality, as the engineer explained to us during the training. I have seen everything being done as was promised during the training.” – Elizanne Supervil

– “I am 62 years old. My husband has been ill for 26 years. I have been the head of the household since then. I have seven children. My biggest grace is that today God sent CWS, an organization that knows the needs of people. I received materials including 120 bags of cement, 140 bars of rebar ½ and many more rebar 3/8, five truckloads of sand and many more materials that I cannot count. Construction workers are working without me paying them. The engineer oversaw site staking without me paying. This shows me the love AGEHPMDNG and CWS have for me and the other families. I am rejoicing because my husband has mental problems and wastes a lot of water–and we used to carry water from far away. Now I have been saved. With this cistern I will start a kitchen garden, my animals will have water, and my family and two other families will use the cistern, meaning that 17 people will find water at my home. I hope that God will bless the team of CWS and AGEHPMDNG for this work that the community is benefitting from.” – Saint-Anie Cimeus

– “I am a masonry worker and an iron worker. I have more than 10 years experience in this profession…As a masonry worker, this is the first time I have seen this quality work being done on construction of cisterns. I give God thanks for sending CWS to the community to accompany us to increase our knowledge.” – Merijil Demetreus