Haiti Water Project January 13-19, 2012
Day 1, Jan 13
we arrived on time in Port-au-Prince, Aimond was there to pick us up within 20 minutes. It has become pretty routine to pass immigration, get your luggage, pass customs and then run the gauntlet of porters as we make our way to the car port where you wait for your ride. Aimond took us directly to New Life School.
The well crew we hired had already taken the well apart and were waiting for us. They explained the parts of the pump and then took-off for another town to buy parts. We proceeded to use our equipment for the first time to clean the well. As always, there were a few kinks to workout in our system. After we stopped all the leaks in our pipes we pumped the well 3 times to remove mud and sediment. It took a few hours but we finished just as the well crew returned. They helped us chlorinate the well and then began reassembling the pump. It was interesting watching the pump go in. The big event was when the handle went on and the crew chief pumped the well for the first time in over 12 months. We celebrated with a Prestige beer as all the kids from New Life School watched on. It was very tiring working as a rough-neck all day but it was equally fulfilling to see the results of our work.
We packed up the tools and then Steve, Aimond and I sat down to a delicious chicken and rice dinner prepared here at New Life. We joined a group from St. Louis who a were on their last night of a one week visit. We shared views of the world and shared some of our experiences in Haiti which makes for good dinner conversation. After dinner Aimond left for his home and Steve and I settled into our room here at New Life School. It was a beautiful night, light cool breeze, running water, shower and a bed. Who could ask for more. I spoke with Cordella and then listened to my iPod while gazing at an amazing display of stars in the sky. Off in the distance I could see lights from the village on the hill which resembles NY if you squint your eyes.
Day 2, January 14
After a shower and a good nights rest we awoke to the too familiar sounds of roosters. The night was cool and accommodations at New Life are quite comfortable. We had the pleasure of sharing the breakfast table with a group of people who are in Haiti for a variety of reasons. One man was making a documentary in the refugee camps, two women from Sweden departed after 3 weeks of applying their nursing skills. Kyle, whom amazed us with stories of his global travels a full-time missionary is presently working in Haiti to install a well. A family from Michigan was working at New Life and visiting Haiti for the first time. The people we meet on trips like this are always inspiring.
After breakfast we pumped the chlorine from the well at New Life, examined our test results and declared it safe to drink. As we pumped the well we also leveled the ground to improve drainage. There were several special needs children in wheelchairs parked under a near-by tree watching as we worked. After sharing some smiles we made them feel comfortable and they drew closer to us and helped pump the waster. It impossible to put into words the experience of watching a child in a wheelchair, with physical deformities, laugh as they pump water by hand. the satisfaction on their faces was more than we could have hoped for. We can't wait to share the photos and videos with everyone who made this project possible.
Aimond arrived, we met with Miriam, the New Life Director, who is now serving as the CDC Ground Coordinator for the Cholera outbreak in Pestel. Steve, Aimond and I tried to offer suggestions based on our water knowledge and began researching cholera water testing methods for her. She is in desperate need of financial support to carry out her work. She is a very resourceful and dedicated women so I know she will make a difference.
We departed New Life and began our trip to Verrettes in Aimonds truck full of our water equipment. The roads outside Port-au-Prince have improved since our last trip in 2011. We passed through country sides of rice fields, banana farms and small villages. The dense urban areas all appear to be congested areas where people come to sell their produce and buy supplies. We didn't see another white person during the 4 hour drive. We arrived in Verrettes very late, 9PM. Our friends were waiting for us and had a warm meel ready as soon as we arrived. We ate, talked over some cold beer and then sat outside to marvel at the star filled sky. We settled into our rooms, retreated under our mosquito nets and quickly fell asleep.
Day 3, January 15
We worked all day installing the water system in Verrettes. We employeed 9 local men to help us dig trenches, mix cement and install the pipe. Overnighted in Verretes.
Day 4, January 16
We returned to the Good Samaritan School. We finished installing the final pipe fittings, sinks, electric conduit and then we tested the pump we brought with us. The water is 17 feet below the ground surface so the pump was too small. We worked until dark in between enjoying some time with the children at the school. We overnighted in Verrettes.
Day 5, January 17
Awoke, had breakfast and departed for Gonaives. We tested water at the Star Orphanage which now has an amazing solarpowered system we would like to duplicate at Verrettes. We drove back to Port-au-Prince and for the second time, by chance, we spotted Vestal (Amicia's husband, director of Good Samaritan School) on the street as we were driving by. We picked him up, parked the truck at Aimonds, cleaned up and made some phone calls to our families back in FL. We were happy to hear about the story published in the Palm Beach Post about our trip and were able to read it online READ MORE....
Then we went out for dinner in Port-au-Prince. As usual Rick was adventurous and had Lambi (conch), Steve had chicken as did Aimond and Vestal. We shared a good meal, talked about our future plans. We said good-bye to Vestal and returned to Aimond's for the night. Rick quickly fell asleep as Aimond and Steve sat outside talking late into the night.
Day 6, January 18
Our last full day. We awoke at 6AM when the electricity went-out. The quite woke us leaving only the sounds of roosters. We enjoyed some very good coffee, toast and fruit as we made our plans for the day. We even did a load of wash. We found the Port-au-Prince NAPA and bought 2 new batteries for Aimond's truck without which we could have not delivered our water equipment to Verrettes. We visited the Haiti Geologic office, Steve purchased a geologic survey of Haiti and even had a chance to speak with the director. We took water samples from 3 more wells, stopped by New Life to pick-up a package we will take back to FL for Miriam, and then we meet Gigi at her home for dinner. She prepared an amazing feast of jon-jon rice, maccaroni, grilled chicken, steamed vegetables and hand squeezed juice which Rick raves about all the time. We enjoyed the view from the 5th story roof of Gigi's apartment house which offers a beautiful view of the mountains and the city below. We left in time to sample one more well and then returned home to pack and organize the equiment we will leave with Aimond.
Day 7, January 19
A rule of thumb to remember when in a developing nation, always be prepared for the unexpected. The most mundane tasks which seem routine in the USA can be monumental adventures. After awaking and discovering the car had a flat tire, electricity was out and we had no jack, Aimond ran out to find someone to repair the tire. After 14 minutes we took off quickly, dodged traffic jams in downtown Port-au-Prince and we managed to make our flight back to FL with 15 minutes to spare. Aimond felt so bad and tried so hard to always watch-out for our protection and success of our work. We arrived at the airport, ran the gauntlet of security checks made it to the plane. We regained our composure after we settled into our seats on the plane.
We will add more detail and upload more photos tonight or as soon as we return home on Thursday.