Who's the author? My name is Charley Vlietstra and I'm the Marketing Manager at Tespo. We're going to begin guest blogging in 2018 — featuring real people telling real stories. This is the first of many. Hope you enjoy.
The journey to Seguin, Haiti
On January 19th, 2018, I headed out on a mission trip to a rural mountain village in Haiti called Seguin. The trip was run through RainCatchers, a non-profit organization who's sole mission is to provide clean water to people in Haiti; the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I also brought some Tespo vitamins along with me. Here's the story —
Haiti's clean water shortage: the facts
- Haitian women and children spend a quarter of their lives carrying water, walking an average of 4 to 8 hours daily to get 5 gallons
- Every 15 seconds a child dies from lack of clean water
Water source in Seguin, Haiti
Not only does it take a whole day to collect a 5-gallon bucket of water, but the water that's being collected is filled with bacteria. The village of Seguin sits atop a mountain around 6,000 feet above sea level. In this village there is only one water source: a small pond at the bottom of the mountain. The pond is a collection of rainwater and runoff. There is no sewage system in Seguin so you can imagine the amount of pollutants that exist. The pond is also used for bathing. Consequently, using it as the community water source results in severe illness, and often death.
Raincatcher's mission is quite simple — they bring a clean, practical, and sustainable water solution directly to Haitian homes. This solution, or "raincatcher" is essentially a gutter used to first catch the rainwater, filter the water, and fill the clean water it into a large bucket. Components include:
- Tin to secure the raincatcher to the tin roof, and help water flow into the piping
- PVC piping to act as a gutter and catch the rain
- PVC elbow to direct the water into the filter
- Water filter to provide clean drinking water
- Rubber tubing to help flow the clean water into a bucket
- 55-gallon plastic bucket to act as a water receptacle
Here's the final product:
Sidenote: that's rubber tubing coming off of the end, not black water 😆
Not only do these raincatchers provide clean water to families and surrounding neighbors, they also give time back to the women and children. The 4 to 8 hours spent everyday collecting water from a polluted pond can now be used to gather food, perfect a trade, build a business, or create meaningful relationships with people in their community.
giving Tespo vitamins to seguin
In addition to a clean water shortage in Haiti, there's also a food shortage. This begs the question "how do Haitians get their needed daily nutrients"? As a part of the trip, we brought 5 years worth of Tespo vitamins to help bring health to the community. At this point, my Creole vocabulary was limited only to farm animals - which the kids would teach us on each hike. For example, every time we walked by a pig the kids would make an "oinking" sound, point at it and say "Kochon! Kochon!".
Luckily we had Fritz, our friendly Creole translator who helped explain Tespo — that each one of the Tespo pods contains 31 servings of vitamins in powdered form, and that in order to take a daily dose of liquid vitamins they first needed to apply a Tespo Go to the pod which punctures a hole in the foil, then pour the vitamins into a glass of water and mix generously. It took a little explaining, but once they understood they were genuinely appreciative. One older man even started dancing!
Here are some cool moments:
Seeing the joy and appreciation in their eyes as they received clean water and vitamins was pretty incredible. The country of Haiti and the people of Seguin may not have a lot in terms of possessions, but they are certainly filled with joy and love.
To learn more about Raincatchers, please visit their website at https://raincatchers.org/