Friday, April 2, 2010

Well, I am now back in STL. It was an intense trip to Haiti. We did not have power much and when we did I was either busy helping Lou, too tired to put my thoughts together or the Priests where I was staying were trying to get caught up on messages on their laptops before the power went out.

I'm going to post some pictures and comments... I met some interesting and resilient people. Before I left for this second trip, several people made comments about why people (in Haiti)have so many children, where is the government, why don't these people do something to help themselves? So I thought I'd spend some time posting how most Haitians live and who they are. Most of this is based on what I see, but I have also talked to some people and have had them tell me their thoughts.

From what I see, the reality is that for the average person, the day starts around 4.30 / 5 am. That is when (at least when I've been there) it starts to get light. During daylight hours, it seems that people are very busy getting things done: collecting water sometimes (and I think frequently) it's quite a walk to and from. Water is carried in buckets (kind of like the orange Home Depot buckets in size) mostly white, some yellow, some blue. They appear to have originally been used for paint or some kind of material. In houses, water is in another smaller container, sometimes in a gallon jug which is usually a reused "Ti Malice" cooking oil container. Most times the cap is still around and the jug can be sealed.

So back to collecting the water. There are lots of women and children who collect water. There are men, but it seems like women and children carry water. Men do other back breaking work and "bric a brac" work... I'll get to that later......

The five gallon buckets are usually carried on top of their heads. Even children carry buckets on their heads. They may not be as large, but a 7 or 8 year old boy or girl will have some container on their head carrying water (and it's a size which I don't think any of us reading this could carry).

The water sources are several. For the most part, I go to an area where there is a pipe coming down from the higher hills where there is a natural water source. This whole topic is a rather long story and I will get to it, but for now I just would like to talk about the water "resources".

The pipe has off shoots and ends in the town of Thomassique. Thomassique is a rather large town about 15 miles from the Dominican Republic. I have been told it has 60,000 people in and around it... I could not even begin to guess if that is right. All I know is that more people are coming up from Port au Prince since the earthquake. I'll post a picture of this little girl from Port au Prince..... I wish I was a photographer....

This water is contaminated to a degree that causes some illnesses among young and older people. It has been tested and in all reality is not intended for drinking. But, they drink it because it is possibly the cleaniest there is.

Another source is streams. There are some streams outside the town. On my way in the first time, there was a little water, but it was not flowing. People were still bathing, taking it (home to drink and cook with), washing clothes in it. You could see algae along the sides where it came to the road or the dirt banks.

The second time I went through, there was more water in the streams and there was flow in some of them. People were still in the water or walking heading to it. This time though, there was a stronger smell of sewage and I suspect it was highly contaminated. It makes sense though because there is no sewage system anywhere and all that waste (including animal waste ... I hope to remember to explain this when I talk about the pipe carrying water) goes into the streams.

The other source of water, and this is from all indications much less common, is wells. I have been told that wells are rare because the drilling costs are high and sometimes it takes a few drills to hit water. Also, I've heard that once water is hit, it is not always clean. In short the costs outway the benefits.

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