Meal-a-Day in Cité Soleil, Haiti

4,000 children die every day from illnesses related to impure drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. Meal-a-Day considers providing pure water to people in developing countries one of the most important services we can be involved in.

Cite Soleil kids

A street in Cite Soleil where a number of filters have been installed.

Recently, a $25,000 grant was made to Pure Water for the World in Haiti to help bring water filters and sanitation education to 1,000 homes in Cité Soleil. Cité Soleil is a sprawling slum near the Port au Prince airport that is home to 250,000 people. It has no sewer or water system and is considered to be one of the poorest and most desperate places on earth.

Meal-a-Day directors believe it’s important to follow up on how the money contributors give is used. During a recent trip to Haiti we were able to go to Cité Soleil to see the water filters in action and talk with some of the people benefitting from this program. We also visited the Pure Water for the World assembly shop to learn how the filters are made and stopped by the newly refurbished PWW lab to see how the filters are constantly checked for effectiveness.

Very fine sand for filtration

Very fine river sand is the basic material used to filter the water.

Washing filtration sand

After washing, the sand is allowed to dry before being placed in a plastic container.

Drying sand for filtration system

After washing, the sand used for filtering is allowed to dry before being placed in plastic container.

Kids get a drink of purified water

The neighborhood kids gather round for a drink of pure water.

Happy kids

These kids will almost certainly not be among the 4,000 children that die each day around the world from waterborne disease, thanks to the work of Pure Water for the World and Meal-a-Day supporters.

Pure water test

Pure water is something the first world takes for granted but is thankfully received in a place like Cité Soleil, Haiti.

Water purification lab

Quality control is one of the reasons Meal-a-Day continues to support PWW in Haiti. Each lter is tested 30 days after installation to make sure it’s working properly, then periodically after that.

Education and monitoring are essential components of Pure Water for the World’s program. Community volunteers learn how to make sure that the filters are kept working perfectly. Each volunteer becomes responsible for five families. They collect samples of water to be tested in PWW’s lab, monitor how people are using the filters to avoid contamination and instruct owners on proper sanitation. Several people we talked with reported a dramatic decrease in episodes of diarrhea and other stomach ailments after using the filters and following a sanitary regimen in their homes for several months.

Sanitation class

Community volunteers learn how to teach others basic sanitation and proper filter use. For example, it is critical that people use the spigot on the water jar and not dip into the water.

Sanitation chart

Each home is given a laminated chart that summarizes good sanitation practices.

Hand washing how-to chart

Proper hand washing is a key to good health.

Director Steve thanking volunteers

Meal-a-Day director Steve Johnson thanks the volunteers for their work.

Plastic containers for filters

Plastic containers and other parts ready to be assembled to make more filters.

Serial numbers

Each filter has a unique number so that water samples can be tracked.