Haiti is a beautiful yet severely impoverished country. Its infrastructure is so weak, it is not even considered a third world country, but a fifth world country. Its population, at 10.32 million in 2016, is extremely dense for a country that’s only about as large as the state of Maryland. The average life expectancy is only 49 years. The majority of the population lives in abject poverty, with 59% of the population living on less than $2 USD per day and 24.7% living on less than $1.25 USD per day. Only half of Haiti’s children attend primary school and only 29 percent of Haitians aged 25 and above attended secondary school.
All these facts are dire enough, yet Haiti has been dealt some tough blows in the past few years. First, there was the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 that claimed an estimated 300,000 lives. It’s estimated that some 3 million people (nearly a third of Haiti’s population) were impacted by the earthquake. Then, six years later, while Haiti was still in recovery, the unthinkable happened: Hurricane Matthew struck the coast in October 2016 and devastated Haiti once again. Homes were wrecked, communities destroyed, and 1.4 million people were left in need of dire emergency aid.
One of the largest areas of need following the hurricane was clean and safe water for drinking, cleaning, and bathing. Missionaries around the globe are working to provide this most basic of resources. For instance, Water Mission is collecting donations to assist those in need. The Dominican Red Cross dispatched 29 of its staff members with three water trucks and five water treatment plants to distribute 700,000 liters of clean water to communities affected by the hurricane over the course of a month.
In first world countries, clean water is a given. California may have received a wake-up call with having to cut back their water usage during a period of extreme drought, but even that pales in comparison to the importance of a reliable clean water source in Haiti. In Haiti, water is everything. Water is life. Every drop matters. Water is a necessity for everyone, but when it is so readily available in most places around the globe, not everyone sees it that way. “Clean, reliable sources of water reduce the spread of cholera and other water-borne illnesses, and it makes it possible to do everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and washing,” reliefweb.int reports.
This post is not meant to be a lecture, but rather a public service announcement of sorts. The next time you leave the shower on while you’re brushing your teeth, think of all the water that’s wasting. The next time you take a sip of clean water, think of how lucky you are to have access to that. Just don’t take your access to clean water for granted, because (even though it should be), it’s not a common resource all around the world, and if you feel so inclined, consider donating whatever you can to the relief effort. Every little bit helps.