Amity residents John and Michelle White formed a “Mission to Haiti” to help Haitians gain access to potable water.

To raise the funds the Missions Ministry is hosting a Beef ’n Beer ’n Water dinner on Sept. 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. in Quinn Hall, St. Columbkill, Boyertown. This will be the kickoff for their fundraising efforts.

To purchase tickets, go to www.stcolumbkill.org

In addition, the Whites will be visiting schools throughout the area to raise funds in a program called “Change for Haiti.” This will be presented as a service project that will help students earn their service hours in order to graduate from high school.

“Change for Haiti” is a simple project where students collect “change” in their house and put it in a water bottle. They can also ask friends, family, and neighbors to also fill up water bottles from change.

“As a retired teacher, I am really looking forward to visiting the high schools and middle schools in the area to present this project for earning their service hours,” said Michelle.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere with 80 percent unemployment and drastic living conditions.

“We are going to Haiti to build a water filter factory,” said Michelle White, founder of HEART for the Nations. “Our first project in Haiti was in 2010 following the devastating earthquake. At that time we were able to purchase 50 water filters from a factory in the Dominican Republic and distribute them in the Port-Au-Prince area. We have completed our research to determine the need for filters. With God’s providence, we found land for the filter factory and a Haitian, Pierre Petit-Frere, a civil engineer to operate the factory.”

Pierre Petit-Frere reached out to the Whites for help in his country. Employed by DINEPA, (National Directorate of Drinking Water and Water), for 10 years, he said that despite the government’s efforts to provide clean water for the people, more than half the population does not have potable water. He asked the Whites for help in building a water filter factory to aid the suffering people of Haiti.

Haiti, part of the main Caribbean, shares the island with the Dominican Republic. It is the poorest country in the Americas. With nearly 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line (less than USD 2 / day), and drought for most of the year, the country faces food and water insecurity.

According to an article in Le Nouvelliste newspaper on July 11, 2019, citing the latest FAO report, the country ranks first in the region with 4.5 million undernourished inhabitants.

Most of the population lives in rural areas where they lack basic social services such as electricity, health, education, drinking water. It is a country that is often struck by disasters, putting it in an even more vulnerable situation. For example, the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, had caused about 300,000 casualties; the cholera epidemic introduced as of October 2010 has caused more than 10,000 deaths (men, women, and children) in nearly 1,000 of cases reported; hurricanes every year causing: floods, destruction of gardens, destruction of drinking water systems. That is why a water filter project in Haiti is desperately needed. It will be the first ceramic water filter factory in the country.

Currently, some people in Haiti are provided with water filters imported from other countries by NGOs (Non-Governmental Agencies). Haitians have been dependent on missions work by foreigners for over a century and this does not help the people become self-sufficient. The construction of a water filter factory, operated by Haitians, will be a big step for their health and will provide ongoing jobs.

“I got involved in ceramic water filters in 2002 when I traveled to Guatemala,” said White. “While there I met with an organization, Family of the Americas, building their first ceramic water filter factory. They showed the filter and how it removes 99.95 percent of all bacteria including fecal coliform, total coliform, giardia, and cholera. Since polluted water is the number one health crisis in Guatemala, it seemed like the best way to help improve the health of poor people. I sensed that the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘You can do this. Give them a cup of Water.’”

HEART for the Nations is a 501(C)(3) non-profit whose main purpose is raising funds to purchase and distribute ceramic water filters to families most in need. They have helped 10,000 people in Guatemala get potable water. On a recent trip to Guatemala, they discovered that now the filters are very available and affordable for the people in Guatemala, so they decided to put their efforts on helping the people of Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere.

John White said that “By providing a filter, we hand out ‘fish’ for a person each day, as the saying goes. Now we are helping people ‘to fish’ by establishing a water filter factory in Haiti that will employ Haitians. This is a very good step for the people of Haiti to help themselves and establish sustainability for potable water.”

Also working with Heart for the Nations is Fr. Guency Isaac, Parochial Vicar at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Reading, who is helping them as translator and guide on their trips to Haiti. Fr. Isaac was born and raised in Haiti and has family in Hinche, Haiti, located in the Centre Department. It is here in Hinche where the filter factory will be built in partnership with Doctor Sylvain, cousin to Fr. Isaac, from Montreal, Canada. Doctor Sylvain has formed an NGO in Haiti that owns 2.5 hectares of land on which he plans to build an orphanage, school, and medical clinic. His organization has invited HEART to build the factory on his land.

Bishop Jean Desinord is bishop of Hinche Diocese of Haiti and will help identify the families in the Centre Department who are most in need of filters. In the Centre Department, there are 60,000 people in need of potable water. He is also helping HEART to obtain a grant for $20,000 from the Loyola Foundation to help construct the factory. In addition, they will need another $20,000 to finish and equip the factory.

Jesus said in Mark 9:41: " 'If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not lose his reward.' "

Heart for the Nations (HEART) is a non-profit 501 (C) 3 based in Douglasville. To join this ministry contact the Whites at mwhitehfn@gmail.com or jwhitehfn@gmail.com. For more information visit www.heartforthenations.info.

The Whites thank sponsor Dierolf Plumbing and Water Treatment, Gilbertsville.

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