From our implementing partner, Waves for Water:
Our filtration systems are portable, easy to use, easy to pack, and effective. One filter can provide 100 people with clean water for up to 5 years.
After launching our initial response to Hurricane Irma, we were cautiously standing by, watching Hurricane Maria’s rapid increase in power, elevating it from a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 5. With much discussion amongst our internal team, we collectively decided that the best course of action was for our teams to remain in St. Croix and Puerto Rico to ride out the storms — which would enable us to rapidly respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and reach at-risk populations as soon as possible.
Our teams fared well through the storm, but many of the islands that were impacted by the first hurricane were further devastated by the second. The countries most impacted by Hurricane Maria were Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico. However, that is not to say the neighboring islands did not feel similar power.
Many of us that come from a developed country such as the US, know these Caribbean islands as the incredibly beautiful vacation destinations they are – with sunshine, nice resorts, and wonderful local vibes. But what isn’t often thought about, are the little communities where a lot of the local people live, that work at all those resorts and tourist companies. We’ve seen them first hand and know the lack of proper infrastructure in many of them. This is not dissimilar to the dynamic during our response, a couple years back, to Hurricane Odile in Los Cabos, Mexico, where all the “Colonias” (interior villages that house almost 90% of the entire luxury resort workforce in the area) were hit hardest, because of their shanty structures and lack of proper development. Many of these communities are living well below the poverty line, and situated just a few miles away the massive luxury resorts its residents work in. The juxtaposition is nothing short of sobering.
We bring all this up because the devastation from the Caribbean Hurricanes is utterly massive in scale and there are needs everywhere. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scale of it all, but from our experience it is best to pick one or two ways to help (in our case that is access to clean water), then target certain areas of need, while letting other groups do the same. So, in an effort to streamline, we will target our focus on these specific underserved local communities, that are so often overlooked. We have incredible local points of contact through the entire region and have already been getting good intel on where to start first.
Together with colleagues from the region, that have become friends over the years, we are launching an emergency response initiative to provide access to clean drinking water.
H2O for Life is not a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) project implementer. We have partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) implementing WASH in Schools projects around the world. Our NGO partners match funds needed for each school project. We also have a generous donor that provides us with an interest-free loan that, along with matching funds, allows for many projects to be started or possibly even completed before total funds have been raised. In rare situations we reserve the right to reallocate funds to alternate project(s).
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