Water is the matter that makes up our existence, it is a common good, a primary right for all.
As Mandela said “Water is democracy”, it is a key element of the social, economic and political structure of the world, of each single continent and country, yet, 750 million of our brothers and sisters have no access to drinking water.
World Water Day, coordinated by the United Nations has been celebrated for the past 25 years on March 22nd. The day offers us the opportunity to take stock of what our Foundation has done so far on the island of Haiti, in providing access to such a crucial element for each human being.
It is fundamental to access clean water to quench thirst and survive, but also to cook or for personal hygiene and to prevent the spread of serious diseases like cholera, and other diseases which spread due to poor hygienic conditions.
According to a recent UNICEF report, more than nine out of the 11 million people who live in Haiti are living without access to clean water.
Since 2013, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, in partnership with Fondation St Luc, has been supporting the distribution of water to people living in the Slum of Cité Soleil, which is part of the district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city where most of the main water pipelines have been destroyed by the earthquake in 2010. The ABF project named “Water Truck” ensures the presence of two water trucks, six days a week and three times a day, for a total of 122,400 gallons of water a week, allowing more than 300,000 people to benefit from it.
Although the whole of Haiti, from the poorest towns to the most remote and isolated areas is covered by water bodies, no filtration and depuration systems to ensure clean water exist.
Since 2014 and always in partnership with Fondation St Luc, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation has identified five locations (including also the most remote areas) where to install water towers to ensure that free drinking water is distributed to the whole community.
The first tower built and still operating today is situated in Croix-des-Bouquets, within the walls of the Notre Dame du Rosaire school. It provides water for the school needs as well as for the community, thanks to a system of pipes connected to taps located on the outer wall of the school itself. The second tower was built in the community of Abricot (in the Jérémie district), where the St Augustin school is located.
Without water we die. Unfortunately, people are dying still today, all over the world, due to the precarious access to water or due to no access at all. Among our objectives, we are putting into practice the Work of Mercy as stated in the Gospel (Matthew, 25): ‘for I was thirsty and you gave me drink’.
At the same time, our aim is to improve the sanitary conditions, by reducing the spread of contagious diseases and to fight death from dehydration, especially in infants and the elderly.
On the anniversary of the celebration of water as a source of life, let’s look with faith, with courage and determination to what – thanks to your precious help – we still can, want and need to do.
Giorgio De Martino