Water of Life helps cholera victims in Haiti

By January 13, 2011

Haiti (MNN) — Picture this. You're a parent of a child who's desperately sick. The symptoms are unlike any you have seen before: profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. That quickly gives way to loss of body fluids. Dehydration sets in, and then shock. Now let's imagine you don't have access to any medical care. Where do you turn?

That's the situation with Philémon Antoine, a 13-year-old girl in the village of Corporan, about two hours north of Port-au-Prince. Philemon was infected with cholera. Her father didn't know what to do, so he did the only thing he could think of — he went to the Baptist Church of Corporan, a Compassion International Project site.

Rico St. Paulin, Compassion International Haiti communications specialist, helped translate for us. He tells us her story: "When [her father] came, he found a health specialist. And the health specialist went to the child and tried to rehydrate the child. And after that, they took her to the hospital for treatment." She has since recovered.

Another story doesn't have a happy ending. In the same village, eight-year-old Oberto Joseph lost his 45-year-old father to cholera. The Compassion project was made aware of his case. They tried to get him treatment, but after two days of hospitalization, he died. Now, Oberto and his six brothers and sisters are fatherless.

While these are sobering stories, Compassion International is helping to stop cholera and other waterborne diseases with their "Water of Life" water filtration systems. St. Paulin says, "We have delivered about 263 filters. We made sure each family gets one."

Unfortunately, this is just one village. The need is great across Haiti. Regional Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Edouard LeSague says they're doing more. "We have distributed more than 16,000 individual filters to children and their families. And we targeted areas that are most affected."

Lesague says that's nowhere near their goal. "We actually want to cover all of the projects. And we are in the process of distributing another 50,000 filters to children and beneficiaries."

In the process, Compassion is also providing health education on how to avoid getting waterborne diseases like cholera.

The good news is that parents are turning to Compassion International for help. Since they work through the local church, they're hearing the Gospel. As they do, many are turning to Christ. As one pastor said today, "There is a spirit of revival in Haiti today. Churches have grown 30-percent since the earthquake." Pray that this revival continues.

If you'd like to help with Compassion International "Water of Life" program, it costs just $55. Click here to contribute.

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