This whole weekend has been an incredible experience.
On Thursday we learned that Kristen, the national director for FFP on the Dominican side, was coming and bringing a portable water purification system with her for us to train on and use. After hours of driving and a couple mishaps, she arrived safely to the FFP house in Croix-des-Bouquets on Friday morning. She had also called a friend named Brandon to fly in from the States for the weekend just to train us on this system and to help us out in an initial distribution. He is actually the guy who designed the thing! It was such a blessing to have him come down and train the staff and help us take it into the mission field and give people clean, safe drinking water.
So Brandon arrived early Friday afternoon and actually trained us after hopping two flights to get here! He broke down the system and told us how it worked and each part and how to prime it and get it up and running. It is somewhat of a complex process but hey, clean safe drinking water is a complex issue here in Haiti. The system has four filters that the dirty water must pass to be distributed out of the spigots on the end. The first is a sediment filter that takes all the mud and other large pieces of junk out of the water. The second is a carbon filter that filters it further while adding taste to the water so it doesn’t taste bad coming out. The third is a virus filter that takes any and all harmful bacteria and viruses out of the water. The fourth is a UV light that is an extra measure as it also kills bacteria and viruses. This system is a strong filtering system; we were told that you could put it into brown muddy water and it would purify it completely!
On Saturday, those of us who weren’t wrapped up in teaching at the Men nan Men complex went with Kristen and Brandon to an area near the boarder of the DR where there were about 150 or so homes that were mostly shack-like. When the Haitians were displaced from the DR many of them passed through this “town” first before branching out to other areas. They have a well that is very deep and hard to draw from as their only source of water and it’s not safe to drink. They drink it anyway. So we set up the system near the ocean where a spring could be reached and started purifying the water as Dessalines used the blue KIA truck to transport people and water buckets/jugs/bottles back and forth. It was such a beautiful and joyous sight to see women and children being provided with precious water that they could not only cook with safely, but could consume without fear of getting sick.
After we had serviced the families who were available, we went to another village about 15 minutes away from the Men nan Men complex. This time we used a well that they drew washing water out of. It was interesting to hear one of the elderly ladies loudly proclaim that they have never drunk this well water because it was dirtier than their pump that was just across the field. But as we got to work and were the first ones to drink the purified water that came out of the system, their guard dropped and many people came running with buckets and gallons and other water vessels. That same elderly lady who complained brought her five gallon bucket to fill! Again, a beautiful sight to see people being provided with safe water to drink and be nourished by. Pastor explained that the pump that they use across the field is still not safe to drink, but they have to drink it anyway. So many villages are in a similar state. Clean drinking water is a huge problem in Haiti. I once heard the statistic that only 50% of Haitians have access to clean drinking water. That percentage includes the people who are forced to walk 5 miles or more each way to buy purified water from a town. This is not acceptable!
We are all so thankful to Kristen and Brandon for taking time out of their busy schedules to help Haiti in this way. Now that Brandon has trained the FFP staff, we can go into other towns and villages and provide FREE clean drinking water to needy people! As I think about such beautiful work I remember what James 1:27 says; “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” These people are definitely in distress and have been orphaned and widowed by the world. They need our help. Something as SIMPLE as clean drinking water that won’t potentially kill you is so easily accessible in the US. I can’t think of a time where I was in real need of clean water and couldn’t find it or buy it in the US. The work that Brandon has done in these few short days will continue to bless Haiti for months if not years to come as we take these systems both near and far. God cares about clean drinking water for his children and so do we.
In the grand scheme of things, this act that has passed may seem small to some people, oh yay a couple of families in a third-world country got some clean water that will last them maybe a week if they really try to save it.. But I say no, this is more than that! This is hope! This is a small way that Haiti can advance! This is huge because God is involved.
Please continue praying for me and for FFP as we seek to know the needs of those affected by the hurricane and do our best to give them what they need.
God bless you all. Thank you for continuing to read this blog and support me both monetarily and prayerfully.