Local Youth Helps Raise Funds for Sister Cities Essex Haiti
Essex student Max Sarwar stepped up to take on odd jobs this summer, donating the proceeds to the Sister Cities Essex Haiti effort to bring water to Deschapelles, Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Max Sarwar)
Solar panels on the roof of the library in Deschapelles, Haiti, power a pump that brings clean water to area residents. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Grant)
Local kids collect water from a solar-powered well in Deschapelles, Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Grant)
Funding from Sister Cities Essex Haiti provided clean water for the residents of Deschapelles, Haiti. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Grant)
A high-school student who resides in Essex is dedicating his time and efforts to a project that will help the local nonprofit, Sister Cities Essex Haiti (SCEH), complete the installation of a solar-powered well pump at the community library in Deschapelles, Haiti.
Max Sarwar, a senior at the Williams School in New London who resides in Essex, is raising funds by offering the community services such as yard work, running errands, and boat or car washing, among other small tasks.
“I think it’s really wonderful that he is doing this,” said Terry Parkinson, a member on the SCEH board of directors. “He is foregoing a salary for himself to contribute to our organization, which I am more than appreciative of. Like every organization right now, we need support. We need funds.”
SCEH has been working with the community of Deschapelles since an earthquake in Port-au-Prince devastated parts of Haiti in 2010.
The building of the Bibliothèque Communautaire Deschapelles, or community library, was the first joint project of SCEH and the Organization pour Development Economique et Social (ODES), a volunteer organization in Deschapelles.
The community library uses a well for water, which was installed on the property after the library was built. It is a vital water source for those who live nearby. Community members can visit the well three times a day to gather water.
“There is no public water system. There is no electric system in most rural towns and that is true for the town of Deschapelles,” said Jenifer Grant, a founding member of SCEH and vice president of the SCEH board of directors.
In order to provide the electricity necessary to pump water from the well, SCEH had been purchasing fuel to run a generator.
To be more cost efficient in the use of electricity at the library and to operate the water system, the organization recently raised $10,000 to install a solar panel system at the library this spring.
“The only thing they found was in order for the solar system to run the pump, to put water from the well into a holding tank, we had to purchase a solar powered pump,” said Grant.
The cost of the pump is $2,000.
Grant said that with some donations and Sarwar’s contributions, “this will add enough to the pot to enable us to pay for the installation and the pump.”
“I wish I could do more,” said Sarwar. “Compare it to having water any time of the day, they only have limited access to it. I think it will have a big impact for people.”
Sarwar knew of SCEH through his mother’s activities with the organization when he was younger.
“I would go along to events that they hosted and then just recently I was looking to get involved with an organization and it clicked with me,” he said.
Sarwar, who completed his final year learning French as a junior, recently completed a class project on Haiti related to the 2010 earthquake. He also corresponds and speaks French with a student from Deschapelles.
Although he says they are both from “completely different countries and living situations,” their similarities, such as age and extracurricular interests, make his pen pal someone easy to relate to, he said.
With the organization’s mission to engage the people of Essex with the people of Haiti, Grant said, “I’m just thrilled when young people want to get involved with Haiti.”
Those interested in connecting with Sarwar to contribute to this cause can call 860-876-6817.