Father/Daughter Kohler Associates Bring Clean Water and Prosperity to Haiti

Father/Daughter Kohler Associates Bring Clean Water and Prosperity to Haiti

Microloans give families the chance to rise above poverty.

Multimedia from this Release

KOHLER Clarity, a ceramic water filtration system, filters 99 percent of bacteria and protozoa.

The S'MORES International team helped this family construct a chicken coop. They will use their loan to expand their chicken operation.

Kohler employees Lisa Burrell, center, Molly Kunst, third from right and Art Stewart, second from right pose for a photo before departing for Haiti.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 2:00pm

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Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Over 80 percent of Haitian citizens live under the poverty line. Only 16 percent of rural Haiti has adequate sanitation and less than one-third have safe drinking water. 

Father-daughter missionaries and Kohler employees Art Stewart and Lisa Burrell travel to Haiti with the family’s mission organization S’MORES International. Though the family has been volunteering in Haiti since 2004, they say never get used to the conditions.

“I was especially struck this time by the lack of access to water,” says Lisa, a customer service agent for Kohler who recently returned from her fifth trip to the country. “To get water, Haitians have to walk long distances to streams, then carry the water back home. To get clean water — well, they don’t.” 

On their latest mission trip, Lisa and Art met with families to whom Art had delivered KOHLER Clarity water filters, donated by the company, during a February 2016 trip. The filters were making a difference, providing up to 40 liters per day of water free from bacteria and protozoa.

Art and Sandy, Lisa’s mother, traveled to Haiti in the early 2000’s and saw the need and potential in the country. Subsequently, Sandy established S’MORES International, a mission that focuses on providing loans to Haitian citizens so they can start their own businesses.

“The residents of Haiti are very determined to build better lives for themselves and their families,” Lisa said. “With an unemployment rate of 60 percent, starting a business is one of the only ways to earn a living.”

The microloans S’MORES offers are typically for around $125 and the recipients have one year to pay the money back, interest-free. Loans have been given for everything from starting a motorbike repair shop to expanding a chicken-raising operation.

“It’s hard to describe Haiti,” Lisa admits. “The need is so great it can be overwhelming but, because of that, even a small loan can make a big difference. And being able to provide Clarity filters allows us to fulfill another critical need in this country.”