In this episode host Dominick Bonny speaks with Carin Smith, a local Rotarian who wrote a grant that will fund a clean water project in Haiti that will benefit about 80 families, totaling about 500 people. Learn about that project and how you can help in this episode of Common Sense.
Common Sense with Dominick Bonny – Haiti and Hanwash Transcript and Sources
Hello and welcome to episode fifty-nine of Common Sense, I’m Dominick Bonny and in this episode, we’re going to meet a local woman who’s doing big things to bring clean and affordable drinking water to families in Haiti. Her name is Carin Smith and she’s a retired veterinarian and a fellow Rotarian. Carin is also a technical writer and a couple of years ago she embarked upon a grant writing project that resulted in her club securing a grant worth nearly a half-million dollars to build a piped water system that will eventually connect several communities in a northeast area of the country and serve a total of about 5,000 people. The grant is funded by contributions from Rotary Clubs and Districts from across the country and a Global Grant from the Rotary Foundation.
The project’s infrastructure will then serve as the base to serve the remaining communities in the area which will eventually be other projects for HANWASH. HAN-WASH, not HAND WASH, is an organization that quote “develops and implements business-based best practices for public and private collaborations to build capacity in local communities to deliver thoughtfully managed and sustainable clean water and sanitation to all the citizens of Haiti.” Once the project is completed, the investments made possible through the first phase will enable 81 households, about 485 people, to connect as paying subscribers to a professionally managed piped water service. In a country where 80 percent of the population makes less than two dollars a day, and the average annual income per capita in 2020 was just twelve hundred and fifty dollars – every cent counts. Another benefit to this project could be a sort of market regulation where existing vendors who chronically overcharge customers with no other option have to rethink their pricing in the face of a loss of a monopoly.
Now if you don’t know much about Haiti and its history, you’re not alone. Many Americans, myself included, aren’t and weren’t taught much about this island nation that is closer to our shores than Puerto Rico, which is an unincorporated territory of the US. And it’s too bad, because the history of the country is fascinating. For instance, did you know that Haiti was the second country in the Americas to win independence after the United States? It’s true. The Haitian people, under general Toussaint L’Ouverture, actually asked us, the first republic to win independence against our colonial overlords, for help in Haiti’s war for independence. But we refused. Perhaps it had something to do with the Haitian revolution starting with a slave revolt… Nevertheless, Haiti won independence from France, and one of the most lucrative colonies in the Americas suddenly no longer provided an endless supply of free coffee, sugar, and other cash crops. Huge reparations were levied by France against the new country for the loss of their property, which was the once enslaved inhabitants of the country, according to the French. What was once the most prosperous colony in the Americas was economically decimated from the get-go. And we, meaning the US, would not officially recognize Haitian independence until 1862. That’s almost 100 years after they won independence. Maybe that has something to do with Haitian history not being high on the list of subjects covered in American history courses. Anyway, the reason I bring up the history of the country is that it provides context to where the country is at currently. As you will hear in the interview, Carin pushes back against this line of rhetoric that anyone who has gotten involved in Haiti relief hears, which is a variation of “Haiti is so messed up, why even try to fix things?” Well, because it’s a country full of people just like you and me, and Carin and her fellow rotarians are people of action. So let’s go to Carin’s home in Wenatchee now and hear how she spearheaded securing this grant to benefit the people of Haiti.
Interview segment I
Stay tuned for more after the break!
Welcome back, let’s get right back to my interview with Carin Smith about the nearly half-million dollar grant she wrote and secured to provide clean water to about 81 families in a northeastern portion of Haiti.
Interview segment II
I’d like to commend Carin and my fellow Rotarians here in the Wenatchee Valley for seeing a need, seizing an opportunity, sticking with it and securing the financial support to make life demonstrably better for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. One of the things I love about Rotary is that it really does offer you the opportunity not only to think globally and act locally – it gives you the opportunity to think globally and ACT both globally and locally. Not only do our Rotary clubs do things like build community parks and run blood drives right here in North Central Washington, but they also partner to make lasting, positive impacts in developing countries around the world. Haiti might be one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. And just because it’s a poor country with infrastructure that needs work doesn’t mean that the Haitian people don’t have anything to offer culturally, artistically or historically. I encourage everyone watching right now to learn more about this vibrant and beautiful country and its culture. I have included many sources where you can learn more about Haiti in the show notes, including a wonderful episode of comedian Conan O’Brien’s newish show titled Conan without Borders where he travels to Haiti and explores the country and its culture. I’d also encourage you to support Hanwash and Rotary’s efforts to provide clean water in Haiti by donating or purchasing wine through the wine to water program Carin mentioned. I am also including a link to where you can order in the show notes and you can find the transcript and sources for this episode on ncwlife dot com. Just go to the full episodes tab and scroll down until you see Common Sense with Dominick Bonny, this is episode fifty nine. Join me next week as we take a look at Tina Nicpac Brown’s Winter STEM camp at the Lake Wenatchee YMCA camp, which took place recently. That’s all for this episode. I’m Dominick Bonny and I’ll see you next time for more Common Sense.
Workshop Lays Foundation For Major WASH Collaboration In Haiti, Project Haiti: https://www.haitioutreach.org/workshop-lays-foundation-for-major-wash-collaboration-in-haiti/
The United States and the Haitian Revolution, 1791–1804, Office of the Historian, US State Department
Gross national income per capita in Haiti from 2010 to 2020, Statista
The History of Haiti, Revolutions Podcast 4.19
Why Was Haiti’s President Assassinated? The Daily Podcast by The New York Times: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/why-was-haitis-president-assassinated/id1200361736?i=1000544919559
Would A $5-A-Day Minimum Wage Make Life Better In Haiti? NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/06/10/137064161/would-a-5-a-day-minimum-wage-make-life-better-in-haiti
Water From Wine: https://www.waterfromwine.org/
CONAN WITHOUT BORDERS: HAITI: https://www.tbs.com/shows/conan/season-8/episode-29/conan-without-borders-haiti