Processing Magazine

Nonprofit provides water treatment systems to Haitian villagers

September 4, 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nonprofit organization WaterStep has completed a one-and-a-half-year project with Kentucky State University''s Agricultural Department that provided safe drinking water to hundreds of people in Haiti.

Students from Kentucky State University''s Cooperative Extension Program collected more than 7,000 pounds of new and used shoes from the January of 2011 to July of 2012 to donate to WaterStep''s shoe program, which is the organization''s primary source of funding. After collecting the shoes from various drop boxes distributed throughout the campus and the City of Frankfort, students then sorted and delivered the shoes to WaterStep officials, who sold them to an exporter at the beginning of August.

The money raised from the sale of the shoes was enough to fund WaterStep''s trip to Haiti to complete the installation of a dual tank system in Mirebalais and a new mini water treatment plant in Poulie. The dual tank system, which provides safe drinking water for the villages'' 350 people, put an end to the citywide diarrhea problem. The mini water treatment plant in Poulie provided the city with two 500-gallon tanks and has helped doctors successfully treat patients suffering from the cholera epidemic. Not only were safe, sustainable water systems installed in these two Haitian cities, but villagers were also trained on how to diagnose their water problems, operate the purification systems, and to implement effective health and hygiene practices.

"Had it not been for the dedication and hard work of the Kentucky State University students, the important work in Haiti would not have been able to happen," said Dee Dee Hurt, WaterStep''s Shoe Program director. "These kids really made a difference and should be very proud that they have saved many lives." The students and administrators have committed to a new project with WaterStep starting this fall.