To cleanse the water

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Rictavious Jones heard all about the aftermath of the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, but it wasn't until his father started making trips to the devastated country that Jones decided he wanted a hands-on way to help, too.

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Cesar Dolores drilled the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket that was part of 1,000 water-purification system units being assembled at Mission Harvest America in 2005. The Florida Air National Guard airlifted the units to Sri Lanka.  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
Cesar Dolores drilled the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket that was part of 1,000 water-purification system units being assembled at Mission Harvest America in 2005. The Florida Air National Guard airlifted the units to Sri Lanka.

The 17-year-old is one of more than 60 youths and advisers who will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., in late May to work with Mission Harvest America to build water-purification systems that will be sent to Haiti.

All the youths are from churches in the Sparta District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, spanning Augusta, Martinez, Evans, Thomson and Waynesboro, Ga.

"I'm blessed by being here in America," said Jones, a member of Stone Chapel C.M.E. Church in Warrenton. "We have things. People in Haiti deserve better conditions, but they don't have them."

Local involvement in the relief effort was inspired by the work of the Rev. Kenneth Carter, the bishop of the 6th Episcopal District of the C.M.E. Church.

"He's worked in Haiti, repairing homes, building facilities," said the Rev. Larry Fryer, the pastor of Stone Chapel. "When he was assigned to Georgia, we took on these projects, too. He's got a heart for this work."

In addition to sending youths to Jacksonville, Stone Chapel has signed up to raise money for additional water filters in Haiti.

Ricky Jones, Rictavious' father, leads the fundraising project. For $48, members of the community can sign up to sponsor a filtration system. Each filter cleans four or five gallons of water in less than two hours, said Henry Myers, the president of Mission Harvest America.

The organization was founded in 1991 by Dewey Painter and has sent filters all over the world in response to natural disasters.

"In every disaster, there are water needs," Myers said. "Guatemala, Liberia, the Philippines, India, Thailand, Mexico. We've sent them everywhere."

When the youths are in Jacksonville, they'll help assemble the buckets, ship packages and organize the warehouse.

"We depend on volunteers," Myers said. "We're one of the best-kept secrets in the Southeast. People like to get involved, not only because they can send funds, but because they can do something."

More than a year after earthquakes struck Haiti, the need is still great, Fryer said.

"It's out-of-sight, out-of-mind," he said. "People move on. But the truth is, people still don't have places to live. They still don't have water to drink."

Jakobian Jones, 12, says that fact should move people to help.

"It's not right," said Jakobian, Rictavious' cousin and one of the 60 people traveling to Jacksonville. "It makes me thankful. "It could have been me over there suffering."

Water filters for Haiti

For more than a decade, Mission Harvest America in Jacksonville, Fla., has manufactured simple water-purification systems using food-grade 5-gallon buckets.

Chlorine is added to the water before it's drained from one bucket to another through a charcoal filter. The whole process takes less than two hours, said Henry Myers, the president of Mission Harvest America.

"It's a real simple system, but it's one of the best weapons for stopping cholera and waterborne diseases," Myers said.

Learn more about the filters at missionharvestamerica.com.

GET INVOLVED

Members of the community can sign up to sponsor a water-purification system being sent to Haiti. Each filter costs $48 and lasts long enough to supply a family of five with water for a year.

Donations can be made payable to the Sparta District of the North Georgia Region C.M.E. Church, c/o Stone Chapel C.M.E. Church, 634 Stone Chapel Road, Warrenton, GA 30828. Call (706) 399-1292 to learn more.

-- From staff reports


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