Grand Goave, Haiti, had a river through the middle of the town that was extremely unsanitary and filled with trash. The community needed water purifiers to help prevent illness caused by drinking or using dirty water.
The EWB/AWWA/WEA UofL team brought two M-100 water purifiers down to Grand Goave in 2014. These purifiers were run by a 12-volt DC power source and could purify as many as 10,000 gallons of water per 8 hours using a handful of salt. It used the electricity to ionize the salt and chlorate the water while pumping water through the purifier. The byproducts of this process created a concentrated bleach that could be used to sanitize kitchen utensils and kill bacteria in contaminated water. Since the pumps were small and relatively simple, they could be integrated into the existing water systems. One of the pumps was installed in a school that doubled as an orphanage. There was a well near the school that water could come from, but the water wasn’t sanitary. The UofL team helped to install a tank at the school where water could be collected and then purified by the M-100. The team also installed an M-100 in a local community leader’s house. The community leader, Tiga, had a tank on the roof of the house where the purifier was placed. He had a well on the property where water could be collected and then purified in the tank. Tiga was a trusted partner of the WaterStep organization and allowed people in the community access to his supply of clean water via a spicket outside the house.
In conjunction with installing the purifiers, members of the chapter also educated people of the Haiti community on how to use the purifiers, the effects of unsafe drinking water, and the importance of health and hygiene. Everyone in the community was invited to the school to reinforce concepts of sanitation. The chapter members taught about the spread of disease and germs and showed the benefits of safe water in preventing sickness. One way they displayed the spreading of germs was by putting glitter onto a volunteer’s hand and then had people shake hands around the room. This demonstrated how germs are transmitted and helped to teach the importance of a clean lifestyle. They also did hand washing demonstrations to further help community members practice sanitary habits.
Overall the trip was successful, and the students returned to Louisville having installed two water filters and made great partnerships with those in the Grand Goave community in Haiti.