Monday, July 7, 2008


For those readers who have given their support to the Haiti Water Purification Project sponsored by the Sisters of St. Mary, Sewanee, funds have reached the halfway mark, and part of the Duvon Water System has been purchased. Also, the technician who will train Sister Dorothy at the orphanage in Port Au Prince has been engaged. A battery and other supplies will be purchased when the Sisters and technician reach Port Au Prince. If the collected funds exceed the amount needed, the monies will be applied toward a second water purification system, as the need for water purification throughout Haiti is major.

The Sisters are ecstatic about the response to this appeal and anticipate making a big difference in the lives of children at the Port Au Prince orphanage. Gracious thanks to all those readers and others who have contributed to this project.

On my walk to the post office this morning, I met Rick Summer, one of the supporters of the Sisters’ project who is also on the Water Board Authority here at Sewanee. We exchanged comments about our own lavish use of water. My encounter with Rick reminded me of a poem I wrote last summer entitled “The High Cost of Water,” in which I complained mightily about my water bill here at Sewanee. In the midst of a drought here in TN, we watered our lawn twice a day, used water freely to wash the car, washed clothes daily, and had not replaced the monstrous, aged toilet that seemed to hold 100 gallons of water. In my ironic poem, I paraphrased a conversation in which I groused to my daughter about the high price for the privilege of living on the Sewanee campus and laughed when she told me I should come home as there was no water problem in Louisiana. Remembering the inundations of Katrina, Rita, and Andrew, I countered that I couldn’t believe she said that!

This year, we’ve set our own restrictions on use of water in this household and have trimmed our water bill by a percentage of more than half of last year’s cost—the prudent use of water has become a major household goal. The faces of those beautiful Haitian children who die before they reach the age of three because they drink water infested with worms and disease causing bacteria, haunt me. The “high cost of water” about which I complained last summer boomerangs as a cautionary that complaints often come back to humble you in a different way. It is sobering to consider that the high cost of clean water for these not-so-blessed children in Haiti is LIFE.
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