Dear Friends and Supporters of Clean Water for Haiti:
If you read February’s update, you’ll know that we have some news to share. Have you been eagerly awaiting it? I know I’ve been itching to write this email since the day I sent out the last one. It’s just so exciting…
You’ll recall in past newsletters we’ve talked about the desire to relocate the mission to a different area because of the issues we’ve had in Pierre Payen. A nut shell reminder – we’ve been robbed several times, had volunteers threatened, and the climax was in 2009 when a brand new mission vehicle was lit on fire with almost two years of legal battles following. We want Clean Water for Haiti to be a safe place for our local staff, and our volunteers. As Directors we’re not only interested in the wellbeing and safety of our own family, but also of those that may come to work with us in the future. Who wants to live in a place where we don’t even feel comfortable letting our kids out the gate? Many have questioned if these issues are specific to Clean Water for Haiti, but anyone with any knowledge of the area knows they aren’t. Our workers have even said, “Pierre Payen is not a good community. There are too many vagabonds here. People don’t work together.”
So, we’re moving.
We’ve shared in these updates and the mail out newsletters that we want to be very deliberate about how we relocate. We want to make sure that when we move into a new community we’re doing it right. For almost two years we’ve been working towards that. We started visiting different areas, and finally found an area just up the road about 10 minutes from where we are currently called Chardene. It doesn’t seem far, but it’s far enough to be in an entirely different community. We decided to get off the main highway into an area that’s a bit more rural, but still easily accessible which is a priority because of the work we do. We need to be able to get supplies and not waste a lot of driving time or fuel on deliveries and other work trips. It was also a priority that it was close enough that our current staff could commute to work. We didn’t want to lose people because of the move. As it is now, we have two workers that commute from this area to our current location.
In the past year Chris and I have spent time getting to know community leaders. Chris had a meeting with many of them, including a group of area pastors. From there we spent over a month visiting local churches and introducing ourselves to the people in the area. In all those meetings we explained why we wanted to move, why we liked the area, how the mission was set up, how we operated, how we hired employees etc. These are important conversations to have so that the expectations on all sides are realistic.
From there we started scouting land. We knew that in that area our only option was to start from the ground up. It seemed like a lot of work, but the great thing is that with starting fresh we can take 10 years of experience, and build facilities that will exactly match what our needs are, and in that plan for growth and capacity building over the long term. Often in Haiti you rent or buy a property that’s already been partially developed, and with that you adopt buildings that are designed in weird ways or not structurally sound. It’s exciting to not just be thinking about the present, but also the future of Clean Water for Haiti. How can we do what we do better? How can we do more of what we do? What would make our work more effective and efficient? How we can build facilities that help us host better trainings? How can we host visitors better? What are the facility frustrations now that we can change by starting fresh?
We found a property that we like. It’s peaceful, has some mature trees on it, and has lots of room for us to develop things the way we need. Just this past weekend we had an engineer look at it and he was very pleased with it. Our current property measures at 17 centimes, and the new property measures at 27 centimes. Don’t ask us what a centime is, we just know the new land is bigger than our current site! The engineer said we would find water easily because the water table is high, and said the price the owner was asking was right on par with what we should be paying so we won’t have to waste a lot of time in negotiations. One of the best things is that it’s one entire piece of property. Our current site has a public easement/lane running through it so we have to worry more about security and it really affects how we use space.
So, here we are, standing on the edge of the pool and about to dive in. What does that look like?
Well, Chris and I have literally spent hours hashing through things. Having hard conversations about the process, the missions needs, how we do it… At times it’s been overwhelming, but we pressed on and we’ve developed a plan – a step by step plan to make all this possible. We’re calling it the Clean Water for Haiti Relocation Phase Plan. (Yes, it’s a long name. We just couldn’t think of anything catchier. If you have any ideas, please let me know J)
It looks like this:
Phase 1: Land Purchase & Set Up – approximately $30,000 US
In this stage we’ll purchase the land that we’ve chosen, fence it, dig a well and build the pump house. This phase alone may take several months because of how land purchases work here.
Phase 2: Power System Set Up – $30,000
This involves building a generator and battery room, purchasing solar panels and mounting materials, purchasing solar batteries and the inverters to use with the whole system.
We are currently running off a solar system, but we still have to run our generator for a few hours per day. At the new site we will build a larger solar array that will mean we only have to rely on generator power on overcast days. Currently we can weld and do other work like that and it will be the same at the new site. Haiti has lots of sun, so why not invest in a power system that will allow us to use that for many years? The best part is that after a couple of years the system will have paid for itself and from then on we get free power indefinitely.
Phase 3: Guest House & Volunteer Housing – $70,000
On the main floor of this building we will have several rooms that will allow us the same occupancy for training classes and Vision Trips, but be more flexible by giving us space for married couples and allowing us to close off rooms that aren’t in use, rather than having large spaces for small numbers of people. We’ll include a small guest kitchen, a large deck to use as a teaching area during classes and for guests to relax on, a covered outdoor kitchen for the ladies when they cook for training classes (Haitians prefer to cook outside) and a storage room for the building. The upper level will be a three bedroom apartment for volunteer housing that will nicely provide space for individuals or a family.
Phase 4: Workshop & Filter Production Area – $30,000
A new shop! We’ll have more space for all our tools and filter supplies, a welding fabrication shop area to keep tools and materials separate, the filter construction work yard, a sand washing area and much nicer staff bathrooms and showers than we have now.
Phase 5: Director Housing & Office – $40,000
This building will provide housing for our family and will share an almost identical footprint as the volunteer apartment. We will also, for the first time in the history of the mission, have a specific office space. Since things started in 2001 the “office” has always taken up a corner of the house. We know that as the mission grows we need more specific space to work together with our staff so we can do what we do better. Also, for our family and other volunteers it’s essential to have some separation from work and off time, so having a door that we can close to have some privacy has us really excited.
The estimated cost of the project is $200,000 US. I want to really emphasize the word estimate. After our last building project we realized that things almost doubled in cost, but the good thing is that it’s allowed us to be a lot more knowledgeable this time around. We have a better idea about what the major buildings will cost, what cost saving or cost sucking things will be involved and we’ve tried to account for that. As always with anything at Clean Water for Haiti, any extra will go right back into our filter project. We just wanted to be realistic on the front end.
Now it’s time to have that money talk.
I know, I know, like I said last month, it’s never the conversation that anyone wants to have, but it’s necessary.
The bottom line is that this project is going to cost us money. Money that we don’t have yet. Money that we’re going to have to trust will come. We have funds to get started, but as we shared last month, one of our priorities is to get things back up to a 5 day work week.
This past weekend we had the Pierre Payen property appraised, and while it’ll be another week or so before we have the report, we know that we should be able to at least sell it for what we know the new project will end up costing. It is one of the nicest properties in our area, so there’s a chance that the appraisal will come in higher than we’re anticipating. The better news is that as we’ve told people in Haiti about our plans to move many people have come forward expressing interest. We have complete confidence that the property sale will not be an issue. The real issue will be being able to build and move in a timely manner, and this will be dependent on finances.
I was just reading in Isaiah 7 this morning where God sends a message to King Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want – as high as the heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.” God was telling Ahaz to put him to the test, to let him show himself faithful and able to provide. There was nothing that was too big.
We’re stepping out in faith and trusting God will provide what we need, that he’ll move hearts and gather others to come along side Clean Water for Haiti as we move forward. To us this seems huge. It seems overwhelming, but we are asking God to provide. We want to see a brighter, safer, more effective future for Clean Water for Haiti. Will you be a part of that? If you have any specific questions about this project, or anything that we’re doing at Clean Water for Haiti, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Our contact info is always at the bottom of these emails, or you can find it on our website – www.cleanwaterforhaiti.org.
We’ll look forward to sharing updates with you as we move forward. It’s exciting and a little scary, but we have big dreams and are looking forward to seeing those come to fruition.
Unitl next month,
Chris & Leslie Rolling