The television networks have long vanished since broadcasting nightly news stories that followed the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake which struck Haiti on Jan. 12. But the humanitarian effort continues around-the-clock as Haiti struggles to recover and begin rebuilding.
With INX International Ink Co. executive Greg Stromberg coordinating efforts through his CannedWater4Kids (CW4K) project, the collaboration of several Midwestern-based can manufacturing companies delivered an unprecedented response to a crisis that has affected an estimated three million people.
After a first shipment arrived in late February, a second shipment of water supplies is expected to be distributed this week to a hospital and orphanage in Haiti. Mr. Stromberg said a total of four truckloads of the 12-ounce cans of water were shipped, amounting to 6,930 cases or 166,320 cans. Stromberg’s network of contacts led to the cans being produced by three major can companies - Ball Corporation of Milwaukee, Crown Cork & Seal in La Crosse, WI. and at Rexam in St. Paul, MN. Another Minnesota company, Cold Spring Brewery, stepped up and filled the colorful and recyclable cans with pure spring water from a 300-year-old underground glacier.
The can filling and shipments were made possible with funds contributed by Rudi Roeslein of Roeslein Corporation, the St. Louis-based leading global concept-to-completion builder of manufacturing facilities, and from INX International president and CEO Rick Clendenning. Mr. Stromberg said an anonymous donor involved in the shipping industry also contributed to the cause.
George Heake Jr., disaster management and response coordinator for Temple University in Philadelphia, and Montana Rane of Sionfonds for Haiti, coordinated shipment of the cans by working with Paul Timmons at Portlight Strategies, Inc., of Stone Mountain, GA. Mr. Stromberg reached these organizations through a digital exchange with www.aidmatrix.org, a web venue led by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum’s group that matches donor companies with charities. This group was responsible for the first shipment of cans being delivered on a barge that was leased and paid for by Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
“I really want to thank all of the people who got involved and were so generous in providing support for the Haiti Relief Program. I’m proud of the people in our industry and their response to this tragedy,” Mr. Stromberg said, reflecting on the quake that Haitian officials estimated killed between 217,000 and 230,000 people. Another 300,000 people were injured and one million people were left homeless as more than 50 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater on the Richter scale have been recorded.
“It was a heartfelt response to a natural disaster,” said Mr. Stromberg, INX International’s director of sales, national accounts – metal deco. “We started the CannedWater4Kids program because more than a billion people on our planet don’t have access to clean water. The earthquake in Haiti destroyed many key buildings and infrastructure since the epicenter was only 25 miles from the country’s capital in Port-au-Prince. Hospitals and orphanages were affected, as was the water supply, so it only made sense to help in any way we could and our industry partners came through with terrific support.”
CannedWater4Kids is a North American based 501c3 non-profit initiative to generate awareness and fund projects to purify water for children in developing nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a child dies every eight seconds from drinking unsafe water. Proceeds from U.S. sales of CannedWater4Kids are used to support numerous efforts to provide access to clean water for children throughout the world. Mr. Stromberg said 95 cents of each dollar donated goes to fund projects such as drilling wells in developing nations, providing packets that help purify water and with donations to a number of globally recognized clean-water causes.
Individual on-line purchases of 12-packs and 24-packs of CW4K water are available at www.cannedwater4kids.com. Visitors to the site have the option and can donate directly to CW4K as no purchase is needed.