Kristen Dalton, Miss USA 2009, traveled to Bayaguana, Dominican Republic with Children International to help raise awareness about the inaccessibility of clean water many children and families face. Dalton worked with Children International, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization to educate impoverished communities on clean-water practices, and assist them in cleaning their primary water source, Los Pomos River.
“Water is the most basic and vital resource there is. It’s heartbreaking to know children living in poverty have limited access to clean drinking water. Many children and families in the communities I visited walk for hours to find clean water, only to store it where it can be contaminated by animals or insects,” said Dalton.
During her trip to Bayaguana, a small city with a large Haitian immigrant population, Dalton was joined by 30 members of Children International’s Youth Health Corps, a group of peer educators teaching their community how to make healthy decisions, and 36 contestants of the Miss Dominican Republic Universe pageant, who all worked together to remove trash in and around Los Pomos River.
After the river cleanup, Dalton joined members of the Youth Health Corps at a seminar for local mothers on the importance of clean drinking water and its proper storage. At the end, she helped distribute water containers to attendees, which will aid in keeping their drinking water clean.
Dalton added, “I met so many children whose families are extremely poor. The village I saw was just a really tiny area of extremely small, wooden or tin huts. The floors are dirt, and many kids do not have beds. It makes me think twice before complaining about the stresses and worries in my life. I have spent mornings worrying about what I’m going to wear. This community is worried about finding clean drinking water and staying healthy since they do not have access to healthcare. Knowing and seeing the differences in our daily stresses frames my perspective and reminds me not to worry about trivial things. I hope by sharing my experience in Bayaguana, others are inspired into action as well.”
While there, government officials took note of Miss USA’s work with local children and youth. Dominican Republic Vice President Rafael Alburquerque de Castro and Secretary of State Manuel de Jesus Perez Gomez commended Dalton for her advocacy on behalf of impoverished children, and applauded her use of her crown to improve their lives and health. On behalf of the children of his city, the mayor of Bayaguana also thanked Miss USA for her activism.
Children International President and CEO Jim Cook said, “We appreciate Miss USA’s hands-on clean-water work in the name of children in need. She is truly a passionate advocate for impoverished children everywhere.”