Cordelia Stewart.

Pure Water for the World - Haiti, Honduras, and Maine

Project Description

Williams Family Internship Fund Recipient

For the past three years, the most influential experiences in my life have occurred on trips to Latin American communities for the purpose of clean water education and sanitation practices. In the summers of 2014 and 2016, I traveled to Trojes, Honduras, working with Water for ME and Pure Water for the World (PWW) as a translator and field scientist. In the summer of 2015, I tested water filters for the indigenous Wayuu community in Riohacha, Colombia to further investigate water filter efficacy. In the summer of 2016, I visited an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti working with Water for ME to clean the water system and with medical doctors on treatments for the children and their caretakers. The trip to Haiti taught me about medical practices in developing countries and exposed me to the intricate connection between health and water. Collectively, these trips have been tremendous learning experiences and have allowed me to gain a clear perception of a variety of different contexts while developing my abilities as a writer, thinker and communicator.

One of the most important messages I have learned from the people of these communities is the value of clean drinking water and education as direct pathways to health. Working for Water for ME and PWW has ignited a passion that drives me to further explore health and educational opportunities in developing countries. Since 1999, PWW, a Vermont-based non-profit organization that works in Honduras and Haiti, has been working to implement filter and sanitation projects to improve access to clean drinking water, and is now focusing on the widespread use of water filtration in schools. Water for ME is a non-profit organization based out of Maine that collaborates directly with PWW to aid in the research and implementation of clean water systems. This internship with PWW in collaboration with Water for ME would allow me to combine my passion for water and health by further exploring careers with non-profit organizations in the fields of global health, medical care, and water sustainability. I see the impact PWW is making on a global scale, and would embrace the opportunity to help spread water knowledge through written reports, peer-review published papers, and continued conversations with PWW in-country employees.

I have been inspired by the duality of health and water, particularly in developing countries, to pursue a career in the field of water sustainability and research with a mentality that embraces the “starfish model”. In the summer of 2014, as I travelled with a group of researchers from Water for ME to Trojes, Honduras to conduct a study for PWW on water filtration in rural homes, our group leader introduced to me the starfish model. The starfish model is based off a story about a man who was walking along a beach when he saw a little girl throwing starfish back into the ocean, one by one. When asked what she was doing, the girl replied, “I have to throw these starfish back into the ocean because the tide is out and they will die if I don’t.” The man replied, “There are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish, you will never be able to save them all!”, but the girl threw one more starfish back into the ocean and explained: “I made a difference to that one”. The starfish model is something that struck me and has motivated me to continue working on water sanitation initiatives and global health projects without looking back.

Each opportunity to travel has been both meaningful as well as formative and I have consequently developed a focus and passion that I hope to continue in my career path after graduation from Bowdoin. I have loved working with PWW and Water for ME and hope to further improve access to clean drinking water. Through this internship, I look forward to continuing our research and am optimistic that our data will be used to further expand the body of literature regarding water filtration systems. This internship would allow me to explore a potential career path in developing sustainable water solutions and will give me an area of expertise as I move forward into the field of medicine or water education and sanitation.

Project Details

  • Date September 22, 2017
  • Tags 2017, Caribbean, Central America, Environment, Social Service, Sophomore, USA, Williams

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