Field Note #188: Seeing the Full Picture
Volunteer Program Manager Emma Henry recently returned from a volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic. There she had the opportunity to build and distribute filters, as well as follow up with families and individuals that received filters within the past year. Emma wanted the chance to share the whole picture of the Dominican Republic volunteer experience and how every detail is encompassed by a greater impact.
Emma joined a student group from Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute along with a few W|W Chapter members from Denver, Colorado on their trip this past June. After spending two days working in our Dominican factory constructing sustainable filters for surrounding communities, Emma’s team traveled to the mountainous province of Moca, where they had the opportunity to hold a filter distribution and WASH (Water And Sanitation Hygiene) program event in the Arrollo Blanco Jamao community. Although school is out for the summer in the DR, the team held their event at a local school and had 20 children from the surrounding community come to learn about proper hand washing techniques, bathroom practices, and the overall importance of clean water.
Our volunteers then held a filter distribution for the surrounding community, where 28 people purchased filters for their personal use. The price of filters is based on the local income of each community; by allowing community members to purchase their own filters, they take ownership of their own health, water filtration, and the sanitation of their filter.
Milly Lora, our Dominican International Program Manager, lead the pre-distribution presentation, in which she explained the contents of each filter, how they are made, and gave an overview of filter cleaning and maintenance. Recognizing the importance of clean water in the lives of their community, prominent leaders joined in taking back control of their water. Figures like the school principal assisted in leading demonstrations, helping others understand the importance of filter maintenance. Volunteers were amazed by the care and attention exhibited by all participants.
Before everyone travels home with their brand new water filters, Milly and the team collect every individual’s information - where they live, their name, and the unique serial number stamped into their brand new filter. This allows the team to check in with communities and individuals to ensure their filter quality and water safety.
Follow ups are one of Wine To Water's greatest means of sustainability in the field, as well as a great opportunity for volunteers to connect with those they serve. Emma and the team traveled to a rural community for a few surprise check-ins, allowing our volunteers and staff to meet with families and individuals about their filter.
Throughout the follow up process, some families and individuals shared how their filter impacted their lives. The stories that volunteers get to hear are truly inspiring, contributing to the heart of Wine To Water's work in the field. For instance, one woman had purchased two filters that she kept in her home. When asked why she had two, she explained that she holds one for a health clinic in the community. This powerful example of community and love for others is something our volunteers will never forget.
Our team was amazed to see and understand the full picture of our organization's work in a single trip, witnessing the process from start to impact. From building the filters to seeing the radical change it brings to the life of a family and community, our volunteers can never forget the power of clean water.
To join one of our teams for a volunteer trip of your own, please visit winetowater.org/serve!
- Haley Banks Harwood, W|W Intern