The vast majority of the 100,000 people who call La Gonave home have no access to clean water. Wells from days-gone-by are broken, and most spring water sources are contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms. Most people on the island must walk long distances to get their water, and the water they do bring back to their families is usually teeming with germs that can make them sick. Typhoid fever is endemic here, cholera still looms like a threatening shadow, and one out of every three children is infected with intestinal parasites. Sadly, tainted water is currently La Gonave’s second leading cause of illness.

Making dire matters worse, great time and energy must be expended just in retrieving their (dirty) water, cutting severely into time that could be spent in attending school, attending to crops, or running a family business. Many villages have no well. Some have wells that are broken. Many children do not attend school because of the hours they travel on mountain footpaths to fetch it from distant wells or ground springs, in buckets that can weigh up to forty pounds.

Providing close, clean water is not just humane and important… it is urgent. This is today’s reality for the 12,000 families who call La Gonave home.

Starfysh focuses on three basic categories of need: 1) purify contaminated water, 2) harvest and store rainwater, and 3) provide wells for villages who do not have one.


Water Purifying Filters

There are many ways to purify water. One way is to let the sun do it (SODIS).We are teaching people that if they fill a clear soda bottle with water and place it on their roof in the sun for six hours, that water will be safe for them to drink. (To learn more about SODIS, go to The limitations of this method are that it is limited to small volumes of water and the six hours it takes to purify each half-liter bottle of water. Starfysh has experimented with other purifying technologies, but we have found that most of them have drawbacks in La Gonave’s unique situation.

One technology we have found to be extremely effective and accepted by the people of La Gonave is bio-sand filtration ( Though it is possible to make them out of concrete right on site in a family’s home, we have found that the most time-efficient, cost-efficient way of getting bio-sand filters into the over-10,000 homes across the mountainous terrain of La Gonave is to use a commercially manufactured, light-weight yet heavy-duty, stackable bio-sand unit called Hydraid® One truck flatbed can easily haul 100 filters at a time. We still need to haul heavy sand and gravel, but no concrete. The filters are easy to install and require no electricity.

As of 2016, Starfysh has placed lifesaving bio-sand water filters in the homes of over 1,500 families. We project these filters will last at least ten years. Our vision is to see a unit in every home on the island.

Each $125 gift will provide one family with a lifesaving bio-sand water filter which will provide them clean, safe water for ten years or more.


Rainwater Harvesting

Each year La Gonave receives six to 10 feet of rainfall, rain which makes gardens grow and restores underground aquifers. Much of this free freshwater, however, is lost to runoff down to the sea.

But there is a 4-month dry season every year on La Gonave (December-March), times when home gardens go die out and livestock gets skinny. In recent years, we have experienced 5-6 month dry seasons which, needless to say, has caused both a nutritional and economic hardship in this already-hungry place.

What if we could resource families to catch and store enough rainwater during the wet season to tide them over the dry season?

Our first step toward this vision has been to install rainwater catchment systems in Life Garden and at Makochon’s new school. The 12,000 gallons of water in the school’s cistern will be plenty of water to sustain the school’s garden and trees. So far, we have 8,000 gallons of rainwater cisterns at Life Garden. When dry times come, Life Garden will continue to nurture young trees for future planting.

Phase one of our “Rainwater Harvesting” vision is to see every large building on the island (schools, churches, etc.) storing water harvested from its roof. Phase two of our vision is to see small rainwater cisterns next to every home, storing the free freshwater that drops to its roof during the rainy season.

Every gallon of caught rainwater is a gallon that does not have to be fetched from a distant source, and so it stands to reason that catching rain can free up children to attend school and parents to attend to other important tasks.

$3,000 will provide for the supplies and equipment (concrete, guttering, etc.) to construct a large, 12,000 gallon community cistern next to it’s largest building (school or church).


Village Well

Many communities on the island of La Gonave do not have a well, which means that villagers (usually women and children) must walk many miles every day to fetch water. In our visits to many villages on the island, we run across old, non-functioning wells whose communities did not have the resources to maintain them.

Digging a well is one thing. It is quite another thing for us to walk away from that well expecting that it will last. Indeed, research proves that half of all previously-dug wells in Haiti are broken and inoperational within a year after it has been dug. If we are to take our work seriously, we must not be satisfied with quickly digging wells and moving on to the next village. Which is why, as in everything else we do here on the island (starting schools, training teachers, training farmers, etc.) we must do the harder work of pouring into the lives of the communities we seek to transform. Community development must be an integral part of all we do. Resourcing and empowering village leadership to care for the well into the future without the need for outside help… this is the true measure of our work. This kind of well-drilling costs more in the short run but produces wells that will last not months or years, but decades.

$17,500 will provide a village with a well. This includes 6-9 months of on-site community leadership development, well drilling, construction of a secured well-house, and a village-wide celebration.