“I used to worry so much about my children. We were sick all the time. Our water was so dirty, and we lived with parasites, diarrhea and fungus. It was just part of our daily lives.”
These are words spoken by Francia, a 41-year-old mother of nine who moved her family from Haiti to the Dominican Republic in search of better opportunities. They soon found themselves in the small, shanty town of Villa Hermosa and settled in a one-room shack that to this day lacks access to running water.
Francia and her kids immediately plugged into the Bethseda Baptist Church, a nearby church that actively demonstrates the love of Jesus to its community by caring particularly well for the Haitian immigrants in the area. Last year, Healing Waters launched a water project at this special church. When she learned that the church was going to start offering safe water to the community, Francia’s first thought was that she didn’t have enough money to purchase the water, even though it was going to be offered at a reduced rate. Still, she went to bed that night dreaming of what she calls “sweet water.”
“I dreamed my children and I were drinking the sweet water. We were very happy in my dream,” she said.
When the church inaugurated the water treatment system weeks later, the pastor asked Francia to come up to the podium. Francia laughed as she retold the details of that moment, saying, “About five different Francias came to the front because Francia is a common name in our community. I started to leave because I thought it had to be someone different, but then the pastor said, ‘Francia Camilo’ and I realized it was me.”
In front of the whole community, the pastor presented Francia with the very first bottle of safe water from the new system and told her that the church cared about her situation and that she would never have to pay for bottled water from the system in the future.
Bethesda Baptist Church not only provides safe drinking water to the community, they have also started a small school that provides undocumented Haitian children with an education. Students learn core academic subjects, Spanish, Bible, and participate in Healing Waters’ health and hygiene programs. Today Francia works as the school’s cook. She prepares breakfast and lunch for dozens of children in the neighborhood every day.
She said, “This community has changed my family’s life. Today is much different than before. My children and I drink clean water. Our health is better. I have a job and am learning new things. My job at the church offers my children a free education and free meals.”
Just as Francia dreamt of sweet water, Healing Waters dreams of physical, social, and spiritual transformation for people and communities around the world. And when we meet people like Francia, we know that dreams really do come true.
Written by Katie Chandler, Director of Training