PENN YAN — A Torrey man who has helped several rural communities in The Democratic Republic of Congo access safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities is planning another trip to the African nation later this year.
Leon Fontier’s first two trips were supported by the Corning, Penn Yan and Kinshasa-Kingabwa Rotary Clubs which helped him secure a grant from the Rotary International Foundation.
On those trips he established a team of local workers who produced:
• 40 potable water wells
• 8 latrines for public and private use
• 7 Ferro-cement water tanks
• 3 placenta pits for maternity/health clinics
• 3 medical waste incinerators for maternity/health clinics
• 4 hand washing stations for schools
• 4 complete rainwater harvesting schemes for schools
Now, he’s preparing another trip with support from Rotarians in Belgium and Luxenbourg who have adopted another village where he will train another local team to modernize the systems for health and education in the community of about 5,000.
Fontier, a retired metal artist and owner of Fontier Designs, with family ties to DR Congo, established Habitat Technologies Solutions Congo to solve the water and sanitation crisis in the African country after he visited the area with his family in 2010.
HTS Congo also established a partnership with the Church Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo, and the archdiocese of Mbandaka in Congo.
HTS Congo has also created Technologies Appropriées pour le Congo, a partner organization that gives the organization a permanent presence in the country. “TAC dramatically increases our ability to reach new markets and communities with our services and offer continued support to past recipients,” he explains.
The DR Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world despite its abundant natural resources, which include a rare element used in minor components of electronic devices. But decades of war, political corruption and poor infrastructure continue to disrupt the economic development in the country of more than 70 million.
According to Fontier, only one in five Congolese people have adequate toilets, which results in contamination of drinking water sources.
He says HTS Congo is committed to breaking the cycle that has resulted in nearly one in 10 children dying before their fifth birthday, and he’s seeking additional donations for his projects.
The work that’s planned for this project will be used as an example for future projects.
Fontier will be working with TAC to handle many of the details for the new project, but he will be traveling there in the spring. The Belgian group will travel there in February to take a closer look at the dire needs in the village.
For more information about HTS Congo, visit www.htscongo.org.