Where would you be if you didn’t have access to clean water? Would you be able to go to school with stomach pains, diarrhea, and dehydration? Would you feel safe carrying a 40 lbs. bucket of water through some of the worst slums at night? Access to clean water holds the key to empowering women and young girls to reach their full potential.
A few years ago, her sister was missing excessive amounts of school because she suffered from chronic diarrhea caused from drinking contaminated water. Furthermore, instead of investing in their daughters’ education, her family was forced to spend their savings on drinking water. Thankfully, all of this changed with the installation of a chlorinator in the water supply. Her sister recovered and was able to return to school and Rochelle’s parents were able to save money to invest in their daughters’ education. Now, Rochelle is a nursing student with plans to better the lives of the people around her.
Rochelle and her sister are the lucky ones, many young girls and women do not have stories with happy endings like Rochelle. In Haiti, women and girls are usually the ones responsible for getting water from the water stations and bringing it home. On average, they spend about two hours a day lugging 5 gallon jugs of water about half a mile so that their families can have water to drink, cook, and bathe with. Some young girls are even sold by desperately poor parents into slavery as water carriers. These girls spend their days and lives carrying water for families rather than receiving an education that can give them a chance at a better life.
One of the reasons why this happens is because education in Haiti is largely private. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world but despite most families living on less than $600 a year, necessities such as water and education are not free. Often having to choose between immediate needs and the future, parents choose to use what little money they have for water and food instead of education. What this means is that in a country of widespread poverty, many children cannot even dream to have access to education because their families simply can’t afford it.
International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8th and with that in mind it is important to remember how vital it is to invest in women and their future. By investing in women, we are promoting progress for all and that all starts with meeting basic needs. More access to clean water equals more opportunity for education and a better life for girls in Haiti.
Check out our page on the International Women’s Day website here!