By Marcia Faye
The irony of townspeople, who during the rainy season have no access to potable water remains a vivid memory for Dhara Shah (BME 4th year) and crystallized the value of the work she and the other members of the IIT Chapter of Engineers Without Borders are doing as part of Haiti Outreach.
In 2008, the mayor of the rural Haitian municipality La Victoire approached EWB–IIT members with a request that they help to design a clean drinking water system for the community of 3,000 people, says Shah, who is the chapter’s director of projects and project manager of the water supply and distribution project. On one of the group’s assessment trips to Haiti, Shah recalls that La Victoire was without water for three days because mud from the incessant rains had clogged pipes comprising the town’s antiquated water system.
“My team and I consumed at least two bottles of water on our three-mile hike that morning while the community members—who can’t afford water bottles—drank out of a dirty river where people washed their laundry and bathed; or they walked those same three miles to a spring,” says Shah. “Not only this community but thousands of towns and cities like La Victoire, for various reasons, don’t get clean drinking water every day. Lack of access to clean water impacts all aspects of the community members’ lives.”