Water, life giving and life taking

In our desire to provide good health and care to the animals on our animal farms in Haiti, we have had the recent pleasure of working with John and Priscilla Ward and Sheila Jannino.  They kindly volunteered to help us because they are experts in chickens, and we are not.   John and Priscilla  have spent much of their lives working in the developing countries of the world teaching the people about how to raise chickens and turning raising chickens into an industry in the countries they visited and lived.  I am certain that they can look back and say and know that  they made their lives really count.  They have bettered the lives of the people who now have a livelihood they never could have had on their own. 

The people of the developing world  have so much willingness to learn about “how to do it better”,  and “how to get a better yield”; with the hope that new knowledge will lead to a brighter future.  Sheila has devoted her life to agricultural consulting all over the world to provide the wisdom and guidance to also make life better for others.  It was Sheila who found us John and Priscilla. Sheila, John and Priscilla recently made their first trip to Haiti with us to help us form our vision for chicken farming in Haiti.  Sheila, John and Priscilla, thank you for coming to our aid to enable the iF Foundation to enhance our ability to help the people in Haiti.

Along the path I have walked these past 6 years, I have had reinforced within me the reminder of the life giving importance of clean water.  Phil Warwick, founder and President of Gift of Water,  was the first person to make this powerful message a part of my psyche.  Phil spent 15-20 years sacrificing and working to provide to the people of Haiti, his two bucket water filtration system.  Phil led Gift of Water with great faith and conviction and nobody really knows how many lives of children and adults he saved by working throughout Haiti to place his water filtration system  in the homes of the people. Thanks Phil for your monumental work and example.

My focus on water has been enhanced in the past few months.  The iF Foundation is excited about two projects about to launch.  The first is a chicken production project that will be used to provide eggs for school children before they start school and also as a business selling eggs and chickens to the community.  The second is a remarkable goat breeding animal husbandry training center being undertaken by A. Nikki Wright and Lisa Gretebeck, two students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  Nikki came with the iF Foundation to Haiti with a World Vets team and decided last October she simply had to devote her life to helping the goats and people of Haiti.  She and Lisa are amazing in their zeal to help improve the blood lines and welfare of the goats in Haiti, thereby creating a better breed of goat that will lead to economic gain for the people.

It goes without saying that both of these projects demand clean water.  Water, the most basic need of all living things.  You can live for several weeks, even months without food.  But you can only live about one week without water.  Haiti has some of the worst water in the world.  What is supposed to be” life giving” is actually ” life taking ” in Haiti.  With the outbreak of cholera two years or so ago, water ironically serves to spread death not life.  We in the west do not usually even think about water.  We go to the tap, turn it on, and presto, you instantly have clean  life giving water! 

As I have thought about Haiti, and the deplorable water situation there, there is something which really angers me.  John Ward wants the water source to be used with the chicken farm to  be “tested” to identify the biological agents  that will rob the health of the chickens.  The water has to be tested.  The problem of course is that Haiti does not have a water testing lab anywhere in the country.  Now so you understand why this upsets me so much, it is simply this:  A country that receives millions upon millions of dollars in economic aid, (billions post earthquake) that currently has a cholera epidemic and a population so filled with parasites from the drinking water her children consume that they often die from it, cannot seem to find the money to build and staff a first rate testing facility that would enable her citizens to have a healthier life.  To me this is an outrage and part of why Haiti cannot seem to ever break out of the bondage she is in.  If this were a health problem in the USA, our government would be chastised into making this a high priority.   Haiti’s own government will not set aside some of the money in foreign aide to build what is desperately needed to make a better life for the citizens.  To me, it is a tragedy beyond words.  I do not know what it would cost to build and staff but whatever it is, lets find a way to do it and  provide the clean “life giving” waters, not the “life taking” waters Haiti now struggles with.

Fr. B

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