By: Albert Juin (WWR Hygiene Education Coordinator)
After the Sunday radio show broadcast on Haitian Mother’s Day, May 26th, it seemed that the whole community of Mirebalais was questioning me about World Water Relief. Because my radio broadcast on hygiene and English is on every Sunday at 1pm and because I always represent World Water Relief, people have begun comparing WWR to other NGOs who come and work within the city and then pick-up and leave, usually just long enough to help with disaster and/or epidemic relief. People are saying that WWR is different. It is staying around for good in Mirebalais. Parents are starting to ask me in which schools we have our filtration systems installed. They tell me these are the better schools to put their kids in.
In my neighborhood there is a “cholera case” named, Olivie. He told the cholera doctor, Efemie that he was going to be 11 years old soon and has never drunk clean water at home or in school. He didn’t know that dirty water would make him sick. On Thursday he came home from school (where WWR filters are not installed) with a terrible stomach ache. Later on that day he started to have horrible diarrhea. That night, his parents took him to the hospital, where they were told that Olivie had cholera. The hospital then transferred him to the cholera center, here in Mirebalais.
A few days later, I heard the news about Olivie and ran to the cholera center to find out what school he went to and to get more details about his case. They let me into the center, but wouldn’t let me take any pictures. I did take some from the outside.
Just last Sunday, on my radio show I talked about how parents are not paying enough attention to the health of their kids. They care more about putting food in the bellies than about the water their kids drink. They don’t know how dangerous dirty, unpurified water can be. I believe that my radio show focus on hygiene and sanitation through the work of WWR and how I have been explaining things is beginning to rub off on people in the community, especially the parents. They seem to want to come together, learn and cooperate, making Mirebalais the modern and healthy city they dream of.
I have had a lot of positive feedback on the plan for parent meetings in the school. Parents tell me they are waiting for WWR to teach them and want to become educated about proper hygiene and health for their kids. Through our WWR radio broadcasts every Sunday, the people of Mirebalais are now realizing the lives WWR is saving and can save.
I talked to Marie Guirlaine R. Charite, the Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and was told that during the dry season (November-April), the spread of cholera decreases, but in the rainy season (May-October) it peaks again. Doctor Magloire, the Director of Epidemiology in Haiti told me that the Artibonite, Northern Haiti and the Central Plateau have the greatest infection rates.
So people are asking me why World Water Relief is not in more of the schools in Mirebalais, since they know that less people would be sick from cholera and other water-born sicknesses. I tell them that if we spread the word about clean water and water for life through purification and hygiene education, maybe more people would donate to WWR. In this way, kids like Olivie would not be sick with cholera because their schools would have the help of the WWR and the water that they drink would be pure and healthy.
Lets spread the word about WWR. I hope one day that my radio station can be broadcast over the airwaves throughout the word and over the internet so that the whole world can learn about the importance of clean water for life and hygiene education through the work of World Water Relief.