Monday, November 10, 2014

November 5, 2014

We were amused to drive by the New Youk Snack Bar on our way to the orphanage each day!
 Things went well today although the celebration was a bit chaotic. In any case the system is operating and the water tastes good.
The system after installation of new switch and rewiring
The Life is Wealth education coordinator teaching the girls' leadership team
We have very much enjoyed working with the folks at Life is Wealth. The operators really took ownership of the system and have worked very hard. They attended health and hygiene training in the mornings and worked to learn the system in the afternoons. The key educators seem very enthusiastic and motivated. It was great that we had time to coach them as they taught Crystal's leadership team girls in the afternoons. Certainly the practice was good for them. It was a real boost as well that Pastor Yves attended every education session, even the afternoons with the girls, and was an enthusiastic participant. Crystal was amazed that he did that.

The water building decorated for the celebration
Pastor Yves speaks at the celebration
As I said, the celebration was a bit unusual. Life is Wealth orphanage is located in a fairly tough neighborhood, and Pastor Yves sent some of his people into the neighborhood to let folks know we would be celebrating the installation and beginning of the water system operation. So at the designated time of 2 pm, there was quite a crowd in the courtyard waiting for the event to start. Pastor Yves opened with prayer and with telling the people about the water, why it was important and what to use it for. Our education group led singing of the “Use This Water” song (in creole) and then we awarded certificates for those who completed the education training and for the operators. We passed out cups of water, and there was a lot of grabbing, getting seconds, and no one waited for a “toast”. Pastor Yves is normally cheerful, in charge and very in control, but he seemed quite different during the celebration. We could only figure there were some elements from the neighborhood who were there to mock and cause trouble and
Steve speaks on behalf of Bower Hill Church
he was concerned about what they would do. Unlike most preachers, he kept it very short and did not talk on and on. When one of our guys asked, he said he just wanted to end it and have the outside folks “go away”. It was all a little strange. Once the celebration was over, Pastor Yves returned to his usual jovial self and thanked us profusely for all we had done and the clean water we had provided for the school and orphans. So with hugs all around he sent us on our way.

Instructors and girls with education certificates
Operators receive certificates
In spite of the weird celebration, we have high hopes that this water board has taken ownership of the system and its future success. Also that the three people selected as educators take their responsibility seriously and will actually do some good health and hygiene training in the school and in the neighborhood. Crystal is there and will be reporting to us how things are going until we can get back there to follow up.

While here in Haiti, we have been worrying over a problem at the Camp Perrin site. Two pumps have burned up in a relatively short period of time. Valdes, one of our Haitian colleagues, believed he had the solution in installing a stronger inverter and a different type pump (and I just told you more than I know). We do not know if Valdes solution will solve the problem, but just sending them another of the same type pump certainly doesn’t seem like a good idea. So we all decided it best to go ahead and give Valdes money to implement his plan. He has some time available now so he can go to Camp Perrin and implement the plan right away. With 2 pumps already burned up it is time to try something different. Chavanne, the director of the facility there, is waiting for some help!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 4, 2014

Darenda left for Pittsburgh early this morning, her leadership duties complete. And it was probably a good thing, since she had developed a sore throat and wasn’t feeling all that great. An amazing thing happened on the way to the airport, though. She was riding along with Ancy in the Kia and noticed someone who looked familiar riding alongside on a moto (motorcycle taxi). He looked up and recognized her - I guess there aren’t all that many lady “blancs” with curly blonde hair driving through Port Au Prince traffic in big blue Kias these days. Anyhow, he hopped off the moto and hopped into the Kia - turns out it was Pastor Daniel for whom we installed a system in his Valiere orphanage last year! He rode on to the airport with her and they had a good discussion of what is going on with his system!

Betsy was feeling a little under the weather this morning, but popping some Pepto Bismol seems to doing the trick. When first I saw her, she told me that I might have to do today solo. Thank goodness it didn’t work out that way! Education is a lot easier and less stressful with two of us tag-teaming!

View of Port Au Prince from the Life is Wealth orphanage
We got started at Life is Wealth orphanage right on schedule this morning. Our students showed up relatively on time (at least for Haiti) and the guys got right to work on finishing the system installation.  So it was a good morning. Afternoon instruction consisted of us coaching our four ‘education leaders’ as they repeated the morning’s lessons for Crystal’s group of leadership girls. Everyone got really competitive when we did the exercise where we have them lotion their hands with a fluorescent lotion and then try to get it all washed off so nothing showed under our little black light flashlights. You’ve never seen a group of people wash their hands so thoroughly or for so long! 

Checking for remnants of glo-lotion after thorough hand washing
Pastor Yves instructs the leadership team girls
Creating a water use priority ladder

 At the end of the education session we had help from our students making a colorful banner with the admonition “Good Water + Clean Hands = Healthy Bodies”. The banner will be hung on the water building tomorrow for the celebration. Making the banner’s messy, but everyone enjoyed planting their own colorful handprint and signature on the initially clean white sheet.

Making the banner
We got some help from the girls to make paper chains for the system dedication celebration tomorrow afternoon. They also brought all the 5 and 2 ½ gallon water bottles downstairs and plastered LWW labels on them. So now we’ve got the bottles all ready to go for the first day of system service.

Labeling bottles
The guys completed their installation. There was a leak, so they had to go back and fix that, but now all is done and ready to go. Valdes even got started training the operators. The hitch was Rick noticed from photos sent to him that the switches were wired backwards, potentially causing problems with the pump. So after an exchange of emails, a new part was purchased, the board was quickly re-wired and all is well.
Installed water purification system prior to the rewiring exercise

Karl and his best bud
Alan and Betsy relax with friends at the end of the day

The only other hiccup in the otherwise pretty perfect day occurred when we got back to Pacot Breeze where we’re staying. When we arrived we were told that our Haitian colleagues did not have a room reservation for the night and would have to leave. Turns out, the reservation agent made the reservation for Sunday to Tuesday, not Monday to Wednesday. So even though the guys didn’t occupy a room on Sunday, we were being charged for it. We were pretty upset but the poor girl at the desk was just doing her job by the book. As it turns out, their room was still available, so they are staying. We just had to figure out if Pacot Breeze will make us pay for an extra night or not. Finally the manager waded into the whole thing and decided we didn’t need to pay for our Haitian colleagues for tonight after all. All is well that ends well!

We had a nice dinner on the terrace this evening with good conversation all around in the excellent company of our Haitian colleagues. Karl leaves tomorrow morning early so he won’t be here to enjoy the dedication. He’ll be missed.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

November 3, 2014 - Port Au Prince

We're back in the States now but I wanted to report on our latest water purification system installation effort in Haiti. The installation is at Life is Wealth orphanage run by Pastor Yves in the Carrefour Feuille area of Port Au Prince. The orphanage has about 60 children, mostly girls, but Pastor Yves also has a church and a 600 student school as part of the complex. I tried to blog when we were there, but had the wrong login info for Blogger and got locked out trying to get in. So the blog entries were written in real time, just getting posted on a delayed basis! Here goes . . .

Life is Wealth school

Well, it's been a crazy day with multiple "Welcome to Haiti" moments!

Darenda and Betsy came to Haiti a few days early in order to enjoy some of the finer aspects of Haiti with Crystal Funk who lives here a good part of the year and with whom we’ve worked before. Thursday thru Friday were lovely, but they spent Sunday nursing and cleaning up after Crystal’s sick puppies. One of the pups ended up at the vet where Crystal is paying $100/day for a week or so for parvovirus treatment - which the pup may or may not recover from.

The guys, Steve, Alan and Karl, were to come in to PAP Sunday about 2:30 pm. For reasons too complicated to explain, I was on different flights arriving at 1 pm. The plan was for me to wait for the guys in the baggage claim area. So 2:30 came and no guys showed up. 3:00 came and still no guys. 3:30 the same. There was no flight info in the baggage claim area so I had no idea what had happened to them. I had cellular on my phone turned off to avoid big out-of-country charges so I couldn’t get email. Finally I texted Crystal (thank goodness texts worked!) and she immediately called me to tell me the guys flight out of Pittsburgh was cancelled so they were flying to Miami and spending the night there at the airline’s expense. They wouldn’t be coming in until Monday morning. So I left baggage claim and immediately met up with the Haitians who had been waiting patiently in the parking lot to drive me to where we’re staying. The sent someone in to look for me, but somehow I managed to escape notice at at a time when I was trying to look as obvious as possible! Welcome to Hait!

This morning Crystal and Redgie were to pick us up and take us to Life is Wealth Orphanage. First they had a flat tire. Then they got caught up in Port Au Prince gridlock traffic. While we were waiting for them, we figured out that our Haitian driver and coordinator, Ancy, had all the suitcases in the KIA including the one with the education materials that we had to have for teaching and he was on the way to the airport to pick the guys up. We were supposed to start teaching at Life is Wealth at 9 am and the guys flight wasn't even arriving until then! So when we did get to the orphanage, we wouldn't have any of our teaching materials! Welcome to Haiti!

Crystal and Darenda
We got to the orphanage and Darenda sat with the water board to sign the covenant that states our responsibilities as the initiating partner and the Haitian operating partners.

Water Board discussing the covenant
 Then we and our students waited patiently for the guys to arrive so we could get started. They finally got to the orphanage about 11 am along with our education materials (thank goodness!) and we plunged right in (just 2 hours late) - as did the guys. At that point, the training was going ok, but we kept getting reports that the guys couldn't find things they needed for the installation. Welcome to Haiti! The one I specifically heard about was the flow meter. Valdes suggested they could build the system without and he could come back later and put one in. Apparently they found all other missing items. Karl said he and Valdes (Haitian colleague) had the solar part almost done by the end of the day. Our guys are FAST!

View of water building
Teaching went well. We had a class of 7 adults from 11 am to 1 pm. Then 4 of them (including Pastor Yves, head and director of the church, school and orphanage) came back at 2 pm along with about 15 of the older girls, Crystal’s leadership group. So in the afternoon we repeated the morning's lesson for the girls with the Haitians teaching most of the activities. We were really pleased with what a great job they did with the teaching. The girls were pretty shy at first, but they relaxed as we got into it.

Life is Wealth kids
It rained hard last night and we just had another thunderstorm this evening but it sounds like it's stopped raining now. Good for cooling things off for the evening. Time to go up to the 3rd floor terrace with the rest of the group for a Prestige!

Jumping rope

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Haiti island of contrasts


Haiti island of contrasts, a set on Flickr.
Haiti is a beautiful place. It is a beautiful place with lots of people who work very hard to make a living for themselves and their families.

Celebration at Pastor Daniel's Orphanage


Valiere celebration, a set on Flickr.

Here are some photos of the celebration at the orphanage. We praised God, prayed, handed out certificates to the operator trainees and the health and hygiene students and dedicated the new water purification system. Members of the community lined up to receive pure healthful water.