Tuesday, April 13, 2010











Well, I need to make some comments about the last trip because I am leaving for the next in just a few days.

The last one was to accompany Lou Hagler. Lou has been working with Living Waters based in Mississippi. They are an organization bringing filtered water to small towns and villages in numerous countries. They have about 20 installations in Haiti. Their site is http://www.livingwatersfortheworld.org/

Lou asked me top assist in the installation of the solar panels which will generate power for the water filtration system The system should be able to generate 300 gallons of filtered water a day.

Some of the photos are of the solar panels being assembled and mounted. There is a power cord that goes from the panels, through a building on the property of the church and then across a street to the building where the installation will be set up.

Another project we undertook was to clean the water "system" at the church. The system was installed several years ago and consists of a cement cistern (in some previous photos you can see it next to the kitchen). People, generally the women who cook for the church, take water from the cistern. They use a plastic bucket that has a string on it, lower the bucket into the cistern and take water. The water is then placed in several larger plastic tubs which they use to prepare food and wash dishes.

Sometimes, people will dip the bucket into the cistern and drink directly from it.

The cistern is filled very night by turning on a valve to take water from a main line coming down from the hills about 15 miles away. The piping system was installed in 1976 through the collaboration of several vilages, towns and priests living in the area. In my post of April 2, I mentioned this pipe and that I would elaborate....

The pipe is PVC and is above ground in some places and below in others. In some places above ground, the pipe goes through streams, swamps or areas where water collects. Along the way, the pipe has cracks in it. The water in the pipe is under pressure and is flowing at a good rate due to the fact that it is a long distance and is gravity driven. Because of this, where there are small breaks in the pipe, air and external water are actually pulled into the flow of water by a venturi affect. This introduces parasites, microbes and bacteria into the water system.

Additionally, at the source in the hills, the "pool" or "basin" where the water comes up from the underground acquifer is open. People bath in the water, animals defecate and urinate near and in the water.

So, to make a long story short, the water coming into the cistern at the church where we stay is not very clean.

From the cistern, the stored water is pumped up to two 300 gallon plastic storage tanks; each one on the opposing ends of the roof of the Rectory. From here, the water is gravity fed to showers and sinks in the bathrooms. One toilet functions by flushing, another requires buckets to flush.

This system at the Rectory was installed about 6 years ago (best estimate from my conversations) and has never been cleaned.

One of my tasks was to close down the water system, scrub the cistern with soap and water, and spray chlorine throughout it. Part of this cleaning required the two 300 gallon plastic containers to be emptied of water, disconnected from the PVC piping, lowered to the ground, soap and water cleaned and then sprayed down with a water and chlorine solution.

This took 3 days. Finding a brush, finding a ladder, finding a rope... all simple things to find here, took thought and planning.

There is a boy who spends time around the church. There are several children who come and go at the church. They really have nothing to do. Some are in school, some not. Some are beyond school age and since there is nothing to do, they come by the church. I suspect they also come around seeking something to eat. There were times when we were mounting the solar panels and I suddenly realized there were ten or twelve children just standing around watching. I guess watching two guys drill and attached pieces of metal is interesting especially if there is no TV, there are no toys, there are no balls to play with.

Maybe it's their way of procrastinating. Once they get home and change out of their little school uniforms, they have to put a five gallon plastic bucket on their head and walk two miles for water. Or maybe they are holding off as long as possible having to saddle up the donkey and go lug bags of charcoal home so their mother can cook dinner. Funny how kids of 7 or 8 are the same all over the world... hate chores.

So back to the boy.... I don't know his name. I do know that everyone calls him "tete". That's french for "head". I asked and was told it is because he has a big head. My suspicion is that malnutrition at a young age or perhaps poor caloric intake by his mother when she was pregnant may have caused this. In any case, tete is willing to help out when asked, but you really have to stay on him. Besides the clothes on his back (I don't think he has much of a wardrobe), tete's prized possession is a small battery operated radio. If you ask him to do something, he sets off to do it. But 10 minutes later you'll find him tuning in his radio while sitting on the steps.

Tete helped out by climbing into the tanks and scrubbing them. He also went into the cistern and was instrumental in cleaning out the slimmy leaves and capturing the frog that was swimming around the cistern.

After the tanks were cleaned, I asked the Priest what I could give tete or his family as payment for his help. I was told that tete came from a very, very poor family. We agreed that a 50 pound bag of rice and a gallon of cooking oil would be good payment ($30 value for helping out for 3 days).

The Priest was going to another larger town the next day and I asked him to get a few bags of rice and oil. When he returned, another Priest and I took the Toyota truck and drove out to tete's house. Along the way, I had to stop and let the Priest drive as the road had become so bad, I didn't think I'd be able to get through.

Tete lives with his mother, father and 6 brothers and sisters. We explained that tete had worked hard and helped us clean the tanks and that his payment was the rice and oil. His parents were beside themselves that tete was bringing home a 50 pound bag of rice and gallon of cooking oil for helping us.

The next day, I asked tete and his cousin to start cleaning an enclosed area near the church. I'd like to have it cleaned and perhaps have some people start a garden there. After a few hours, tete and his cousin came to get me. When we got back to the enclosed area, I found several of tete's brothers and sisters and his mother cleaning up the area.

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