Water is life. It is something we cannot live without. The simplicity of washing one’s face from a running faucet, showering and bathing in an enclosed environment, boiling water for tea or coffee or using running water to flush away our bodily waste is common to most of us.

Unfortunately, for many Haitians, what we consider a normal practice is unimaginable. Children as young as 5 years old are forced to walk two to three hours in one direction and then back again just to gain access to water. This water has to meet the basic needs for their entire family. Despite growing concerns and a recent cholera outbreak–alleged to have been caused by Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers stationed next to the Artibonite River, which has claimed over 7,000 lives and counting–sanitation systems in Haiti remain in poor condition, denying thousands access to one of life’s most basic needs–clean water.

In 2011, Community2Community (C2C) joined forces with one of our partner communities and took on the challenge of restoring clean water in Petit Gove by launching our Water Distribution System Initiative. The initiative is designed as a gravity-fed water distribution system that provides our mountainside partner community and surrounding areas access to clean, potable water. In less than two years, it has already helped a densely dry population of approximately 16,000 gain access to water. In addition, C2C has worked with other partner communities and constructed over 14 latrines and distributed aqua tablets throughout Petit Gove in a joint effort to fight future outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

We invite you to join us on Friday, May 10, as we continue to build forward together by participating in our “Hope and a Future–A Celebration of Hati.” This free, inspirational and cultural experience officially inaugurates May as Haitian Heritage Month and introduces C2C’s “Ayiti Marche.” The festive “Ayiti Marche” (Haitian Kreyl for “Open Market”) will bring a multitude of Caribbean and American businesses and organizations together for a cultural exchange of information and services of interest to the Caribbean community. Those in attendance can partake in the taste and sounds of Haiti while exploring Haiti’s rich artistic and cultural contributions through various vendors and artisans. Festive Haitian music will be playing throughout.

Once the conch shell blows, we invite you to gather with us as the celebration continues with musical performances from Haitian music icon Emeline Michel, international cultural artist BelO and Haitian jazz ensemble Mozayik with Melanie Charles. In addition, the festive event will also include “Friends of Haiti,” an array of local artists presenting an eclectic mix of inspirational, jazz, R&B and Haitian music, along with spoken word and dance expressions to tell “The Story of the Water.”

Proceeds from the celebratory affair will help us continue our ongoing efforts to restore clean water to the towns in and around Petit Gove. In 2012, we completed phases one and two of the Water Initiative, and with your help and participation, we are confident that we will meet our goal of completing the entire system by the end of 2013.

The most pressing challenge Haiti faces in moving forward is clean water. “Hope and a Future–A Celebration of Hati” highlights C2C’s and our partners’ efforts in making a real difference by working alongside our brothers in sisters of Haiti. A Haitian proverb says, “Men anpil chay pa lou.” Its translation is, “Many hands make the load lighter.” We invite everyone to come learn how they can help Haiti move forward by volunteering, providing technical assistance (in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, etc.) or becoming a C2C Neighbor (to monthly support the completion of the water system).

So join us and let’s build forward together!

For more information, visit www.Community2Community.info.