Kentucky Nun And Her 'Water Women' Team Wiping Out Cholera Throughout All Of Haiti
MIDDLETOWN, Ky., Oct. 31, 2018
MIDDLETOWN, Ky., Oct. 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- An Ursuline nun from Middletown, Kentucky, has led a successful clean water crusade to eradicate cholera in one entire Haitian commune. Now, she's taking her "audacious plan" to wipe out waterborne illnesses in Haiti -- village by village.
In November 2017, Sister Larraine Lauter and her Water With Blessings' missionary team piloted a unique "state of the heart" approach to provide clean water to more than 48,700 families living in Verrettes, a Haitian commune devastated by a large cholera outbreak in 2010. Six months later, the group achieved results unreachable by the United Nations, World Health Organization and multiple U.S. vaccination attempts: Zero cases of the deadly disease within 18,000 Verrettes households. As a result, one of the largest cholera clinics in Haiti has boarded up its doors.
"This is Haiti's second revolution," Lauter said of her unimaginable undertaking to abolish Haiti's water crisis. "We're going to make history."
Water With Blessings, a Kentucky-based nonprofit, has partnered with Sawyer International to arm selected Haitian mothers – known as Water Women – with Sawyer International PointONE water filter systems that will supply clean water for families in their village. These Haitian heroes are trained to care for the filters as they would a baby – a fundamental component in their mission to eradicate waterborne illnesses there, such as cholera, E. coli and typhoid fever.
"You have to take care of this filter with the same mindset as you would in taking care of a child," said Lauter, executive director of Water With Blessings. "When you talk about a baby, if you're a mother and you're too tired to feed your baby and clean your baby, then the baby and mother both suffer. Same with the water filters. Water Women need to be attentive to the filters' needs. As long as you take care of this filter, you're safe – your family is safe."
Mothers chosen to be Water Women must commit to understanding the importance of properly cleaning the filters and provide training to three additional families in their village. When a mother avows to take on this calling, a sign is hung on the door of her home, stating, "A Water Woman Lives Here."
"We're helping to build communities. We don't just give them a tool, we're empowering them to build trust and relationships and strengthen their communities," Lauter said. "Sawyer water filters are tools beyond just clean water. It fosters commitment and it fosters peace – if it's done correctly."
Water With Blessings was the first nonprofit to partner with Sawyer International for this clean water endeavor in February 2008 and, since then, Lauter has never looked back. In September, the tenacious advocate was honored for her dedicated efforts in Haiti with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award at The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky – home of the late world champion boxer. Lauter joins notable recipients of this prestigious award, including NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Hollywood actresses, Ashley Judd and Geena Davis, Ali himself and his daughter and professional boxer, Laila Ali.
"The work Sister Larraine and her team at Water With Blessings has done to help the people of Haiti is of epic scale and execution," said Darrel Larson, international director of Sawyer Products. "We are most thankful for their faith, perseverance and selfless dedication to help generations of Haitian families receive clean drinking water."
In 10 years, Water With Blessings has registered over 73,000 Water Women in 46 countries. In Haiti, there are just over 13,000 Water Women committed to this heroic calling. They have provided filters and training to 52,000 households in over 150 Haitian villages. Water With Blessings' goal is to equip 25 percent of Haitian households in each village with Water Women, who then dedicate themselves to filtering water for the remaining 75 percent of their village.
Due to the filters' portable and lightweight design, Water With Blessings' achievements have seen unparalleled success, reaching families in extreme remote areas where wells cannot be placed.
"We load up backpacks filled with filters and buckets on motorcycles or load them on the backs of the team, if need be, and take them to people where donkeys struggle to reach," Lauter said. "Because of Sawyer filters, no one else has been this successful."
For its anti-cholera effort, Water With Blessings has raised over $350,000 since November 2017. But there is still a long way to go, Lauter explained.
In addition to private donations, grassroots funding makes up for a majority of the cost to sponsor one Water Woman – which costs about $60. In a country that has a population of 12 million, Lauter estimates $30-$32 million is needed to ensure every Haitian family has a clean water source near their home.
"We're here to equip Water Women as heroes of this second revolution," Lauter said. "This can happen. We can do this."
Individuals interested in helping children and families threatened by cholera in Haiti may donate to Water With Blessings' Village by Village campaign by texting Water Blessings to 71777 or visit: https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/VxV
Founded in 1984, Sawyer has been at the forefront of innovation in water filtration, insect repellent, sunscreen, and first aid. Not only are Sawyer's filters one of the most popular on the trail, they are being used in over 80 developing countries to provide people with clean drinking water. The majority of Sawyer's products are proudly made in the USA in Safety Harbor, Florida. For more information, visit https://international.sawyer.com/
About Water With Blessings
Water With Blessings, a nonprofit based in Middletown, Kentucky, started in a small neighborhood in Honduras 10 years ago with a mission to bring clean water to children and families in developing countries. The organization has grown to 72,000 trained "Water Women" in five countries using Sawyer Products water filters to provide clean water for their neighbors. For more information, visit: https://www.waterwithblessings.org/
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