What do you get when you bring together two millennial lead nonprofits with similar values? Clean drinking water for 5,000 Dominicans and Haitians in Sabana Larga de Gonzalo in the providence of Monte Plata.
Schools for Sustainability, Inc. (S4S) empowers communities by establishing sustainable schools that teach integrated water remediation, food production, renewable energies and waste management. The goal is to alleviate poverty, address climate change and improve public health via a sustainable education. 33 Buckets empowers communities by improving global access to clean water through sustainable design, business infrastructure, and education. Our similar goals gave way to collaboration. 33 Buckets brought the engineering skills. S4S had developed strong relationships with the community for 2 years and had a deep understanding of their needs.
We needed $10,000 for the raw materials, labor, flights, hotel, and meals. Our teams collaborated on an indiegogo campaign and raised $6000. We did not hit our fundraising goal, but S4S and 33 Buckets each invested funds they had raised prior to deliver on our promise.
The outcome - hired all local workers to, created jobs, educated the community and clean water for all. The concrete worker, iron worker, and plumber were all members of the community. We created 2 long term jobs in the community by hiring Altagracia and Anderson as the water system operators. They were trained to maintain the system and signed a contact agreeing to their specific responsibilities. We also created a Water Advisory Board consisting of the pastor and President of the community to serve as checks and balances and inform us if there are issues with the filter. My favorite part of the trip was the educational programming with the children and adults on water hygiene.
These trips are life changing because there is no better feeling than helping others. This feeling is enhanced when given the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and experiences, but with similar values. I felt like I found my tribe - people who are interesting in social change and empowering communities. Carlos, a volunteer, states, “I have sat in my hotel room and have written so many ways to describe all of you and the only way I can find is to call you my FAMILY… You have motivated me in many ways... I love you all. Continue to be these amazing people and continue to make this world a better place. Remember that YOU have made my world so much better in a very special way and you have changed the lives of many amazing people.”
The most important and powerful tool we left behind, was not the clean drinking water, but hope. Altagracia is a 32 years old community leader and a mother to 5 children. She said, “Thank you so much. I have lived in this community my whole life and never in my wildest dreams would of imaged our poor community having clean drinking water.”