In Haiti, clean water is a luxury. A luxury, which can literally change the course of a person's entire life.
Meet baby Winsley and his mother, Julianise. Winsley was born with hydrocephalus, a medical condition also known as "water on the brain", in which an abnormal amount of fluid is absorbed in the brain, causing enlargement or swelling of the skull. The condition has the potential to cause tunnel vision, vision impairment, mental disability and even death.
For the past several months, Julianise has traveled from her home (about a 20 minute trip on a motorcycle), to the Danita's Children Medical Center in Ouanaminthe, three times a week for Winsley to receive therapy with missionary and recreational therapist, Sarah Conque.
Despite his physical condition and enlargement of his head, Winsley's vision has remained in tact, is able to communicate and has made great progress in therapy. This past December, Winsley was able to have a surgery crucial to the progression of his health by having a cerebral shunt placed into his ventricles to drain the excess fluid causing the increased swelling.
Although Winsley was receiving excellent medical care, his living conditions are some of the most rural found within Haiti. Winsley and Julianise, along with their 97-year-old, grandfather live in an extremely poor village of Savane Longue, in the Nord-Est region of Haiti, in a mud hut also know as their home. Until a mattress was recently purchased for them from funds raised by Sarah, the dirt floor was their bed.
As expected, people living in an environment such as this, typically do not have access to drinkable water. Sarah was already so intricately connected to Winsley and his story from her role as his recreational therapist. When she discovered the condition he was living in, her heart was broken and she began to seek out ways to bring him additional help.
On a trip home to the States, Sarah went to visit the church she attended while in college. That particular Sunday there was a missions booth in lobby of the church. Sarah perused the booth and came upon table for an organization called Global Effect, who partners with Filter of Hope to bring clean water to people all over the world. Sarah was given two filters and immediately knew who the recipient would be.
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of accompanying Sarah, as she brought the filter of hope to Winsley and his family.
We watched in bliss as the first few drops of clean water fell into the steel cup. The family sat in amazement and disbelief as Julianise took her first sip.
Immediately joy and laughter broke, and the cup was passed around for everyone to enjoy the sweet ecstasy of a glass of water free of bacteria and disease. This convenience will not only prevent them from contracting life-threatening illnesses such as cholera and typhoid, but it will allow Winsley the ability to continue to develop and grow in a healthy little boy.
As we said our goodbyes, I my heart filled with gratitude to have met and become friends with someone like Sarah Conque.
Someone who goes above.
Someone who goes beyond.
Someone who goes forth.
"Truly I tell you, whatever you have done for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25:40