The first community is a larger one called Gressier. It is on the national highway, about twenty minutes east of Leogane on the way to Port-au-Prince. I was in Gressier a few weeks ago and talked to a man there who had lost his home in the earthquake, and was being considered as a recipient for our rubble clearing efforts. After Jen (the person in charge of doing rubble assessments) talked to him to get the info she needed, I asked him if he’d be willing to talk with me for a bit about water problems in the community. He obliged, and we did. He mentioned that Gressier had serious problems with cholera, and that he felt that biosand filters would be very welcome by the people there, so last Friday we went in for an initial data gathering mission.
|A little boy sits outside his home in Gressier.|
|A woman in Gressier washes clothes as kids swim in the background.|
|Kids running away from me as I explored Gressier.|
|Reginald (left) and Elivert talking to one of the Oxfam employees at the contaminated source in Gressier.|
|Hygiene workers painting the Gressier source with health info - "Don't drink river water." "Don't poop near the river." "Treat the water you use."|
|A girl in Gressier waits for her turn to collect water.|
After thanking the Oxfam employees, we stopped off for a quick bite to eat before we left Gressier en route to our second community - Carrefour Dufort. At lunch, once again the Haitians proved their warmth of spirit. The lady who made and served us our food at her little roadside shack was so happy when I told her I thought her food was great that she came over with another healthy serving of it and loaded up my plate for no extra charge. She was beaming as I wolfed it down, and followed it up with a complimentary sack of water for me. Really sweet.
We had chosen Carrefour Dufort as our second community to investigate because we had heard that many people in certain parts of Dufort were drinking river water. Reginald knew the specific community in question, so we once again followed a river to find it. The community is called Barrier Jeudi, and it sits on the outskirts of the city, in a very rural setting. It is nestled against a bend in the river, and from the beginning it was very clear that the river provided many of the water resources the community needed. People were washing their clothes in it, and bathing in it. While still dirty, the river was noticeably cleaner than the river in Gressier, which can be problematic because it can lead people to believe the water is safer to drink. Indeed, unlike Gressier, I saw many holes dug around the banks of the river in Barrier Jeudi, which is common when people are drinking the water from a river. They dig a hole near the water's edge, and slowly the water will flow through the sand into the hole, having some of the mud and silt and particulates removed in the process. Unfortunately, it does little to remove bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.
|School's out and the kids head home in Barrier Jeudi.|
|A young woman and her friend washing clothes by the river in Barrier Jeudi.|
|A toddler in Barrier Jeudi washing clothing.|
|Goats, girls and grass in Barrier Jeudi.|
After saying our goodbyes to him, Roselyn, and the old woman, Elivert, Reginald and I bid farewell to the community and walked back to the tap-tap, snapping some photos. All three of us were excited, because while what we'd discovered that day was sad, even a little shocking, we all three also had that swell of energy and motivation that comes when you feel you can truly help people that need it. No final decisions have been made about which community we will start in, but Reginald and Elivert are on their way back out to Barrier Jeudi today to get more information about the surrounding communities. Hopefully soon we'll have our decision made on which community will be our beneficiary community, and we can begin to work closely with the community leaders to get the ball rolling and the filters delivered and installed. It's great to see things start to come together. To quote Reginald, grinning from ear to ear as we walked back to the tap-tap from Barrier Jeudi, "BSF rocks!". Indeed it does.
|Celebrating with Reginald after a good day's work.|