Water With Blessings wins international health award

Sister Larraine Lauter, left, visits with a young girl on one of her visits to Honduras.

Water With Blessings, a ministry founded by Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph Larraine Lauter, was chosen as the 2014 winner of the Clarence H. Moore Award for Excellence in Voluntary Service.

The Clarence H. Moore Award is one of six Awards for Excellence in Inter-American Public Health of 2014, awarded by the Pan American Health Organization Foundation, an affiliate of the World Health Organization. Created in 1989, the award highlights the benefits that the voluntary/nongovernmental sector contributes to the public health mission and to improving the lives of the peoples of the Americas. It calls attention to the achievements of nongovernmental organizations performing work in Latin America and the Caribbean to improve public health.

Water Woman helping bring clean water to Haiti.

Water With Blessings trains women in 21 countries across the developing world to become “Water Women,” learning how to use a simple filtration system to provide clean water to families in their community. There are now more than 4,000 Water Women across the world.

Several Water With Blessings representatives traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept and celebrate the award on Sept. 29, 2014, at the invitation of the PAHO Foundation. The award includes a prize of $5,000, which Water With Blessings will apply to sponsorships for 80 new mothers in the program.

The award letter from Dr. Jennie Ward-Robinson, president and CEO of the PAHO Foundation, says, “The selection of your organization, recognized by an independent jury of professionals, speaks truly to the organization’s noteworthy impact on public health in the Americas.” Winners of other awards hail from Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru. Water With Blessings is the only winner from the United States.

Water Woman helping bring clean water to Honduras.

Clarence H. Moore was the chief of the Pan American Health Organization Office of Budget and Finance from 1957 to 1968 and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation’s executive director from its founding in 1968 until his death in 1988.

Sister Larraine began traveling to Honduras in the early 2000s with a medical mission team led by the First United Methodist Church of Frankfort, Ky. That’s where she met Jim Burris, an architect, and Arnie LeMay, a hospital engineer. Year after year the team realized they were treating the same illnesses, dysentery in the children that could sometimes kill the very young because they ingested water with parasites in it. It was LeMay who said, “We can be treating this water instead of the illness.”

Water Women helping bring clean water to Malawi.

Water With Blessings became Sister Larraine’s main ministry in 2012 and has continued to grow through donations and the support of multiple organizations.

“We want to especially thank our nominator, Sister Barbara Smith, OSB, and our three supporting letter writers: Katherine Wojitan of Mary’s Pence, Gerry Delaquis of Life For All, and Sister Michele Morek, OSU of UNANIMA International,” Sister Larraine said. Sister Michele is also an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph.

Water Women helping bring clean water to India.

The UNANIMA Update emailed Oct. 1 congratulated Water With Blessings, saying, “Several UNANIMA communities are involved in teaching their sisters how to train water women; other communities are making donations and/or helping with fund-raising. You can be proud of our partnership with this fine organization!”

To learn more about Water With Blessings and get involved as a supporter, visit its website by clicking here. To watch videos of Sister Larraine demonstrating the filter, or her presentation in Bowling Green, Ky., visit the Ursuline Sisters’ YouTube channel, by clicking here. 

To view the Water With Blessings video just released by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), click here. The video is an interview with two of the three co-founders of Water With Blessings: Arnold LeMay, Jim Burris and Sister Larraine Lauter OSU.