A well-wisher

Kenwood teen hopes to raise $15,000 to build a well in Haiti

Haiti Outreach Executive Director Dale Snyder (left), Brett, and Olaf Minge, Haiti Outreach Board Chair, meeting with Brett as he announced his intention to raise the money for his adopt-a-well project. Credit: Photo courtesy Haiti Outreach

Brett Schoppert knows when he fills up a glass with water at his Kenwood home, he’s exercising a right not everyone has.

Clean water has long been a passion for the 13-year-old. That’s why he decided to raise enough money to build a well and provide clean water to a village in Haiti.

“I enjoy helping people because it just seems like the right thing to do. People who are less fortunate need help,” Brett said. “I wanted to make a direct impact.”

So far he’s raised about $3,000 of his $15,000 goal. To help reach the goal, he and his parents Bill and Wendy are hosting a fundraiser Feb. 7 in Kenwood. The event will feature drinks, appetizers, free valet parking and a silent auction. Brett will also speak about his project throughout the evening.

Brett’s interest in clean water started a few years ago while he was taking a survival class in school. He learned humans can only survive three days without water.

“That really struck me because it seemed like a very short amount of time,” he said. “I thought it was really a crucial basic human need and I wanted to do something.”

After doing some research for his project, Brett found and contacted nonprofit organization Haiti Outreach and decided to team up with their adopt-a-well program in his commitment to raise the funds. By the time he told his parents of his idea, Brett had already formed his plan.

“We were incredibly proud when he told us,” Wendy said. “Brett amazes me every day. He has such a big heart.”

Founded in 1997, Haiti Outreach drills wells in rural communities that don’t have access to clean water and trains the people living there how to maintain the well.

“The main purpose is sustainability,” Haiti Outreach Executive Director Dale Snyder said. “We train them on how to manage it but also having a plan in place to keep it running long-term. It’s the difference between relief and development.”

Over 18 years, Haiti Outreach has raised $12 million, built five public school buildings and more than 200 wells. Brett’s adopt-a-well project will provide a community with a well, a well house to protect it and training for the community to maintain the well on their own.

“There’s great satisfaction in having people not only have clean water — which is itself a miracle —  but they have it within their communities so they don’t have to travel very far to get it,” Snyder said, adding that only about half of the country has access to clean water.

One in five Haitian children die before they reach the age of five due to water-borne illnesses, according to Haiti Outreach.

“Lots of kids have to carry the water for miles and miles, and that keeps them out of school and it’s very hard labor,” Brett said. “And most of the time the water isn’t even clean. It can give them diseases. It’s really not a great situation, but with the well they’ll be able to have close access to clean water.”

He doesn’t know yet where in Haiti the well will be built —  it depends on when the money is raised. Haiti Outreach doesn’t set a deadline on individuals or groups for the adopt-a-well program.

Snyder said it’s rare for individuals to come forward to raise money to build a well. Usually he sees church groups or rotary clubs.

“As a youth it’s even rarer. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s done it with us who’s his age,” Snyder said. “It’s a complete win-win — we have an adopt-a-well program and he’s raising funds for our organization. If we could find 50 people like Brett every year, we’d quicken our yield.”

In the past, Brett has volunteered at Second Harvest Heartland and Feed My Starving Children.

“Helping people is in his nature,” Bill said. “He’s a very, very compassionate and sensitive person.”

Haiti Outreach has featured Brett’s project on their Facebook page and has supported Brett from the beginning. The organization hopes this will inspire other young people to have their own adopt-a-well project.

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Get involved

An open house fundraising event will be held 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 at the home of Pablo Vielguth at 1600 Kenwood Parkway to help Brett reach his goal. RSVP by emailing brettshaitiwell@gmail.com.

Donate online by visiting www.haitioutreach.org/adopt-a-well/bretts-well and clicking “Donate Now.” Make sure to specify “Brett’s Well” as the project to fund. Follow his project on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brettsadoptawell.