Last year was a very busy year for Clean Water for Haiti and we barely had time to breathe, so after Peggy moved on we let blogging fall by the wayside. We finally moved in December and suddenly our lives got way easier. Instead of running back and forth between the two sites, making supply runs to Port au Prince and managing workers up to 12 hours/day plus Saturdays, we find ourselves working leisurely 8 hour days in a comfortable office right next to the work yard. It’s a complete change, and it means we can move on to a whole new set of goals and priorities. One aspect is that the director has time to write blog posts. We’ll see how that works out. It’s been ages since anyone has posted, and there are so many things to write about that I’ll have to catch you up in several different posts.
Here is a picture of the new mission property from up on a hill close by. It’s a bit hard to see, but you can see the back and underside of our solarpanels and the 1600 gallon water tank on the roof. The filter construction area and depot are hidden by trees in this picture.
The new power system is a real pleasure to use. Living in a first world country, people inevitably come to take electricity for granted, but for us, until now, it’s always been a battle to keep the lights on. Almost since CWH was founded we have had a battery system with a generator to top up the batteries, and then eventually we added solar panels to the system in an effort to save diesel fuel. Maintaining a system like that means checking the battery charge level several times per day and running the generator whenever the battery level gets too low. Our old system sold with the old property, which was a great opportunity to set up a brand new system from scratch. Solar panels are cheap now, so rather than trying to save money there we bought 9500 watts worth of panels. Haiti gets sun virtually every day, and the result is that we haven’t had to run the generator a single time since we moved here in December and the batteries have never dropped below 50% charge. We just use the power now instead of having to think about it, and no more noisy generator!
We feel like we have started a new phase in Clean Water for Haiti’s work, and it’s got me thinking about the past. A lot has changed in Haiti since we arrived here. When I arrived, there were a few people who had more money that could afford cell phones, but the network was VERY patchy. Many people made phone calls by going to a Teleco office, paying a fee and making a call from there. Teleco doesn’t exist now, virtually everyone has a cell phone, and about 1/3 of our workers even have second-hand smartphones. In the same time period, the country has filled right up with cars and motorcycles. About 1/4 of our workers own a motorcycle, and one of them even drives a car to work now!
The most important changes to Haiti are more than just cell phones and motorcycles though. Life expectancy is increasing, child mortality under 5 much lower than it used to be and more kids are in school than ever before. Of course, we are making progress with water quality too.
Well, that post was all over the place, but I have to start somewhere. Hopefully in a few days I’ll be ready to write a post instead of jumping all over the place. Post a comment to let me know people are reading, and maybe I can use it to figure out the topic for the next post :) I’ll find more pictures for next time too.