Pathfinders Diary: Leaving Haiti, and starting work in Ecuador


Pathfinders ProjectBy Liz Moody

After a month of laudable work building latrines, promoting public health, and improving their machete skills in La Fond-Jeannette, the Pathfinders bid farewell to Haiti. They left Haiti in the same style in which they had entered it, which is to say with several hurdles and plenty of adventure. After an early morning hike to the bus stop they found that on that particular day the bus had left much earlier than anticipated, which meant another hour’s walk to a different stop. Finally, they caught a ride with a passing truck, piled snuggly on with thirty-five other people and several thousand pounds of oranges. An eight-hour bus ride and two flights later, they arrived in Ecuador, where they will continue working to promote good public health and prevent disease, though with a different focus—water.

The Pathfinders’ work in Ecuador focuses on all aspects of water, including digging wells, installing water purification systems, repairing existing water systems, and helping to educate about clean water, hygiene, and sanitation. They are partnering with Water Ecuador, a nonprofit devoted to providing clean, affordable drinking water to disadvantaged communities. 

About Water Ecuador
When American medical student Alex Harding was volunteering in a Muisne, Ecuador, hospital in 2006, he noticed a disturbing trend. Week after week, children came to be treated for diarrhea, vomiting, and internal parasites—all illnesses caused by unsafe water. Being ill was almost a normal part of life in Muisne, and residents were extremely concerned by their water quality, but lacked the resources to effect change on their own. After a year of research, fundraising, and team building, Harding returned to help residents construct a water treatment center, and Water Ecuador was born.

Water Ecuador believes that “a water program should be designed to last forever” and is focused on solving the water problem rather than offering temporary fixes. The Water Ecuador team found that existing water treatment approaches commonly used in developing countries were often cumbersome, and this has prompted Water Ecuador to seek innovative solutions that are effective, can be swiftly implemented, and will endure for generations. Community involvement is an integral part of the work; before beginning a water center, Water Ecuador meets with locals to gauge interest and identify interested individuals or groups to partner with for on-site support. Water Ecuador realizes that education is a large part of sustainable development, and works to inform people about good health practices, prevention of waterborne disease, and water conservation. Overall, Water Ecuador is devoted to empowering local stakeholders with the knowledge and resources to build a healthier community, a humanist philosophy that’s good to the last drop.

For more information about these projects, visit Water Ecuador and the Pathfinders’ blogs.