WKU students set high goals for Haiti trip

Molly English

After Cody Hutchins and some of his fraternity brothers learned that a child dies every 20 seconds from unsafe drinking water, they decided to try and take action.

The students formed the group Water for Life last semester, and on June 1 members of the group will travel to Haiti for nine days to install water purification systems that have the capacity to produce 38,000 liters of pure water daily.

“Not only are we going to help install the systems, but we are also going to train leaders in the community on the upkeep of them,” said Hutchins, a Mt. Washington sophomore.

The Water for Life team picked Haiti as their destination after partnering with the Louisville-based global water partner EDGE Outreach.

Hutchins contacted EDGE in late November after the members discussed traveling somewhere in the summer for a service trip.

“EDGE told us Haiti was where we could be most useful and will be training us on how to install the water purification systems sometime (in February),” Hutchins said.

The Water for Life team has 16 members going on the $40,000 trip, all of whom are brothers of the Chi Eta chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji.

Although the Water for Life team isn’t directly affiliated with the fraternity, they are still receiving support and help from other brotherhoods.

“At our weekend conference, I spoke to the other chapters, and many agreed to use the Water for Life team as their philanthropy,” Hutchins said.

The group had a slow start with their fundraising. Late last semester, some Water for Life members gave out free hot chocolate on campus and asked for donations. They also hosted a fundraising event with Griff’s Deli.

“We’re really getting things moving this semester,” Hutchins said. “We are currently applying to become an official student organization and have a lot of events planned for the upcoming months.”

The group has no set date for any upcoming events but is in the process of planning a barefoot dance, where the admission will be a donated pair of shoes. There is also a concert and sports tournament in the making.

Over the winter break, members of the group sent out business sponsorship packets within their hometown asking for donations. All members of the group were able to receive at least one business sponsorship.

Louisville junior Brian Campbell was able to contact an uprising magazine in the Bowling Green area, “Bridges,” who has agreed to give the group 20 percent of their advertising profits.

Two of the members going on the trip, Owensboro sophomore Griffin Fruge and Liberty sophomore Spencer Wright, are currently in Europe, but that isn’t stopping them from contributing.

“We get back on May 12, but while we are here, I’m contacting other chapters to see if they could help spread awareness,” Fruge said. “I’m also writing letters to friends and family back home telling them about our mission and what we aim to accomplish.”

The team doesn’t want this summer’s trip to be a one-time event. They wish to make it an annual trip.

“We want to develop and maintain a relationship within the Haitian community,” Hutchins said. “We want to adopt a community in a sense.”

Donations can be made by mailing in checks written to EDGE Outreach at edgeoutreach.com and on the Water for Life’s Web page waterforlifehaiti.org.