|UMCOR partnership gives Haitians keys to clean water|
Sharlene Jean offers treated drinking water to a child
living in a makeshift camp in Gressier, Haiti. UMNS photos by Mike
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Jan. 24, 2010 | GRESSIER, Haiti (UMNS)
In 20 minutes, Sharlene Jean learned how to save her community.
Jean, one of the thousands of Haitians living out in the open
since an earthquake destroyed their homes Jan. 12, learned to take muddy
river water and turn it into clean drinking water with PUR, a water
purifying powder developed by Procter & Gamble Co.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, working with GlobalMedic,
brought the key to life-saving water to Jean’s community, encamped in an
"Safe, clean water is central to all we do. It is one way to make sure
people do not get sick,” said Sharad Aggarwal, executive with UMCOR.
Crutchfield offers samples of treated drinking water to people living in
the Gressier camp.
PUR is one of several ways GlobalMedic, a Canadian
first-response organization, helps furnish clean water. The group is
also distributing tablets that replenish electrolytes in people who have
become dehydrated and water purifiers that can work on a bigger scale.
A grant of $20,000 will help GlobalMedic distribute 6 million
packets donated by Procter & Gamble to people who have lost
everything. One packet of the dry ingredients mixed into 2.5 gallons of
the worst water imaginable washes out the “germs and worms.”
Jean was on the front lines of the tight circle that wound
around a volunteer demonstrating the process. She watched closely as he
explained the ratio of packets to gallons of water. She quickly learned
the stirring technique, making sure the powder was well distributed in
the plastic bucket.
After waiting for the water to still, she carefully strained it
through a cloth and was amazed at the ugly sediment left behind. A wide
grin flashed across her face when she was offered a taste. She was
happy to share cups with the others.
Quick and easy
Purification is quick, simple to do and requires only a clean
bucket, Aggarwal said.
The United Methodist Church has an emphasis on global health,
so these types of projects are a good match, he said.
UMCOR works with organizations like GlobalMedic to bring quick
response after a disaster.
“GlobalMedic will be here for a short time; we will be here for
years,” Aggarwal said.
The power of watching dirty, brown river water turn into good
tasting water was not lost on Jean. After the team provided most of the
community with a drink of water and handed out boxes of the packets, she
led the group up the rocky hill to a smaller group of family and
Smiling proudly, she demonstrated how one small package of
powder was the answer to their prayers.
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service on
assignment in Haiti.
News media contact: Tim Tanton or Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville,
Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents of a temporary camp at Gressier get a taste of purified
A simple process
A relief worker demonstrates how to purify water.
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