Whew, was 2020 a wild ride or what?! Last year, at this time, we eagerly welcomed in the new year, basking in the delightful memories of our 20th birthday celebration, when long-time supporters, staff members from all countries, board members, and volunteers gathered together in Vermont to share stories and memories. We were excitedly planning our 2020 volunteer service trips, a Bike-for-Safe-Water Events, and so much more. But 2020 had different plans, and we quickly found ourselves working from our homes, getting to know this new online video tool, Zoom, while a microscopic virus spread rapidly around the world, testing each of us in entirely new ways.
We welcome the arrival of 2021, complete with 2020 vision. We are able to reflect upon lessons learned during an unprecedented year. While COVID restrictions, destructive hurricanes, and political unrest resulted in lock-downs and adjustments to plans for PWW teams in both Honduras and Haiti, teams did not let these obstacles stop their critical work.
In March, team members quickly pivoted, unleashing creativity, shifting programs online (when possible), reducing sizes of training programs and moving them outside (socially distanced with face masks, of course) when online was not possible. PWW teams were given authorization to continue work, as local government leaders recognized the critical nature of safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices to protect families’ health and future. PWW teams were called upon to help with the distribution of masks and deliver training protocols to educate families about COVID-19 protection practices. Teams created videos, posters, television and radio ads with critical health and hygiene protection information. They continued installing clean water filters, latrines and handwashing stations to support communities. In Honduras, they jumped in to help with hurricane relief efforts. PWW teams were as busy as ever. You made that possible!
As we shifted into COVID-response mode, concerns about funding hovered near. Yet, incredible donors, including you, stepped in, gave generously, and enabled our teams to keep moving forward. Your gifts empowered thousands of children and their families with the critical tools and education they so desperately need to protect themselves, not just from the coronavirus, but from a host of other dangerous pathogens they face on a daily basis.
You stepped in, shared generously, and transformed lives, in spite of a global pandemic disrupting all of our lives. We are humbled by your generosity and deeply grateful for your continued support.
With your help, in 2020 we reached over 3,000 people with life-changing safe water programs.
- Our implementation teams brought WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene education) programs to more than 700 families.
- Teams constructed rainwater harvesting systems and built latrines and touch-free handwashing stations at rural schools. The 250+ students who attend these schools will return to a safe, reliable place to use the bathroom, wash their hands, manage their menstrual cycles, and drink safe water. And, these sustainable WASH facilities will continue reaching thousands more students long into the future.
- Shifting to a virtual platform, PWW training teams, continued their lessons, sharing WASH educational trainings with over 200 teachers, who now have the tools to incorporate WASH concepts into their class curriculum when schools re-open.
- And, in spite of lockdowns, PWW teams adapted their monitoring processes, reaching out to families by phone (or in person, socially distanced, when phones were not possible) to follow-up and ensure the families’ safe water and sanitation tools are continuing to be used consistently and correctly, while reinforcing essential hygiene practices and linking messages to COVID-19 protection.
What’s more, when two destructive hurricanes wreaked havoc on Trojes, the PWW Honduras team partnered with local agencies to deliver relief support, including clean water filters and hygiene necessities. Thanks to the support of so many generous donors, our hurricane relief efforts continue into this new year, repairing entire community water systems that were destroyed by the hurricanes and restoring reliable access to safe water to the hundreds of families who were impacted.
What’s in store for 2021? While the new calendar year did not put this incessant virus to rest, it is providing glimmers of hope on the horizon. In the meantime, our teams are continuing forward, working with unwavering commitment to bring safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to children and families who remain in high need.
This year, we have plans to reach 400 families in Haiti with safe water programs, including essential hygiene education, as well as support two large community schools with reliable access to safe water, gender-specific latrines, handwashing stations, hygiene education and menstrual hygiene education. (learn more)
In Honduras, we are continuing our hurricane relief efforts. We are also enhancing the reach and content of our WASH educational programs, including virtual programming. We have partnered with 14 underserved communities, customizing programs to meet each community’s unique needs for sustainable WASH solutions. Our toolbox continues to expand each year, ensuring appropriate WASH solutions for communities served.
With so many working virtually, we are hosting some fun with PWW’s inaugural Health, Hope & Opportunity Virtual Auction to be held in honor of World Water Day, March 18-22, 2021. We have some fabulous items you’ll definitely want to check out. Visit our website and follow us on social media for the latest updates.
*Pictured right: A sneak peek of a custom, handcrafted, responsibly-sourced chocolate piece that will be featured in the auction. Thank you, Chipper Confections!
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who remain passionately committed to keeping PWW teams going strong, doing their best work, even during a truly unprecedented time. Thank you for investing in safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all. Without you, this critical work would not be possible.
Wishing you and your loved ones good health and prosperity. We look forward to another impactful year together!