“To educate girls is to reduce poverty.”- Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
We couldn’t agree more with Kofi Annan. Yet there are so many factors that can keep a girl in a developing country out of school and trapped in a cycle of poverty. And dirty water happens to be one of the biggest!
Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys to be the family member responsible for fetching water and most drop out of school by the time puberty starts because there is no access to a toilet or proper sanitation.* By providing clean water and a health and hygiene curriculum that was developed specifically for young women, Healing Waters is working to make sure that girls and women all over the world are being equipped, educated, and empowered.
Meet Claire. Claire is a fantastic example of an empowered woman who is empowering women. She didn’t always feel empowered though. When her parents moved her and her family from their home country of Haiti to the Dominican Republic as a young girl, she felt anything but. She had to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and attend a new school. And on top of all of that, her parents’ passion to work with the poor was causing a major shift in how she viewed the world.
As Claire began to settle into her new life, she realized that these new situations were empowering her to be who she really wanted to be: someone who could change the world and help the needy. She woke up at 4am every day to help package food for the people in the batey where her parents worked (a batey is a small, very poor community of sugar cane workers), went to school from 7am to 12pm, and then went back to the batey to help.
In 2005, Claire’s family established a school for the Haitian children living in the Dominican Republic who did not have the proper papers to attend school. As an 18 year old who had just finished high school, Claire became the director of the school and still is today! When they first started they worked with 26 children. There are now 139 students that Claire oversees along with 5 teachers.
Claire is currently attending school to become an architect. Why architecture? She wants to help with development projects in poor communities and offer her services to churches and organizations that need buildings. She even remembers telling her mom as a young girl: “When I grow up I want to build a big, big house and adopt all the children on the street!”
But that’s not all. Along with running the school and going to school, Claire also teaches the Healing Water’s young women’s health and hygiene
curriculum, “Clothed in Strength and Dignity,” and trains the leaders who teach it at our project sites all over the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This is one busy and empowered woman!
Claire fully understands the importance of education, especially for girls, and goes above and beyond in educating young women on sensitive, female health and hygiene topics.
In communities where many girls between the ages of 12 and 14 are moving in with men and getting married, early intervention is key. “Their environment is their enemy” says Claire, and the main thing that can help change this is providing education on
By providing communities with a tangible need like clean water and offering education as well, Claire thinks change can come. It is a long-term investment, but empowered women can change the world.
*WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water 2010.” Available at www.wssinfo.org/ and UNICEF. “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” Updated May 2010. http://www.unicef.org/media/media_45481.html
We’re on a mission to end the global water crisis. We build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.