My name is Joey Haas, and this summer, I interned at Healing Waters International as a graphic designer. To kick off my internship, I got the extraordinary opportunity to travel with the rest of the intern cohort to the Dominican Republic to see the work HWI is doing firsthand. During the trip, we traveled out of the bustling city of Santo Domingo to the rural community of Hoyo Oscuro. The pastor of the community welcomed us and shared about the impact the water purification system has had on their community so far.
To try to understand the challenge community members used to face, we went on a water walk where we retraced the steps women used to take five or six times a day to fetch water that wasn’t even safe.
With empty buckets in hand, we headed up the hill to the beginning of the path, which runs up the side of a mountain, winding through large trees. I realized that no one had mentioned how far this walk would be or what kind of terrain we’d face. I trudged along in my strappy sandals, slipping and sliding in the mud as I walked. The path steadily grew steeper, and in frustration, I began complaining about my choice of footwear. What was I thinking?
From a distance, I could hear the faint crackle of running water along, but once we finally reached the creek, I was astonished by what I found. The tiny water hole was full of leaves, twigs, and dirt. We filled our buckets with the murky water and began the descent back to the community.
I struggled at first with balancing my water in one hand, so I stared at the ground intently, trying not to slip with every step. I quickly became frustrated again as the bucket I carried made the already strenuous trek even more difficult. Suddenly, I glanced up in front of me to see a little girl trudging along the path just like me, but without any shoes. This jarred me and humbled me. With a smile on her face, she hopped from rock to rock and encouraged others to follow.
I finished the water walk in silence so I could contemplate my thoughts. I was awestruck by this little girl. I realized that her walking barefoot was something much bigger than just a lack of shoes—this little girl represents courage like I had never seen in my life.
As I reflect on the water walk, that little girl of Hoyo Oscuro continuously inspires me. I hadn’t really felt the weight of the global water crisis until that day. It’s up to me to return to moments like this as I continue pushing my passion to end the global water crisis, and it’s up to you to join us in the fight to help little girls like this one, so they never have to walk those steep trails for dirty water again.