What’s New Around Here

I feel like time can fly by here. April for example. It’s just gone. Part of that was that I was away for a week at the end of March, then came home, had two weeks and then Chris left for a two week fundraising and board recruitment trip. He got back Friday, and here we find ourselves with another month under our belts.

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So, what’s been going on around Clean Water for Haiti?

That photo above is our neighbour, Eton, working on the water pipe that we’re running off our property so that our neighbourhood can have access to water. The nearest standpipe is a good distance to walk, so we made an arrangement that if the neighbours dug the canal that would hold the pipe we would install it. Eton’s family will be responsible for monitoring the pipe and making sure people aren’t breaking it. We have a valve inside our property so we can turn it on when the pump is running, and turn it off when the pump is off.

Let’s talk about Chris’ trip. It’s been a few years since he’s done a trip just for fundraising of any kind. And, honestly, in the past those trips have been challenging and kind of disappointing. When we factor the time away from running things here in Haiti, the time our family is apart, and the expenses of the trip itself, it takes a lot to make it feel like the trip is paying for itself. This time around though? Completely different, and we’re so thankful.

He spent about a week and a half in Vancouver, WA, where he got to meet with at least 4 potential board members. All of those meetings were incredibly encouraging and we’re excited to see how our Board of Directors is going to grow and change in the coming months. It’s been our heart to bring people onto our team that have backgrounds in the business and professional world, and all of our current candidates in the US are right there. We are a mission and ministry, but in order to grow we need to have people who have big vision, connections to network into, and the skills that will help us manage, be organized, take care of financial matters, and raise larger amounts of funding.

While in Vancouver Chris got to speak at three different Rotary clubs. Clean Water for Haiti has a long term relationship with Rotary in general and it’s a relationship we highly value. We’ve processed several grants, with our most recent being a Global Grant for filters that we did last year. That project was really successful, which was the other part of Chris’ trip – taking the last few days to go to Tennessee to visit the clubs that participated in that grant project. Everywhere he went he was warmly welcomed, and we’re very excited because all of the clubs he spent time with are looking at the possibility of partnering together on more grant funding for CWH. For Chris and I it’s so encouraging to see that over a decade of work is getting the support of such a great organization and clubs all over the US.

On top of Rotary meetings Chris also got to spend time with Columbia Presbyterian Church. Their missions committee has been a big support of CWH for several years, and we’ve had the opportunity to share with the congregation the last couple times we’ve been in the area. Their VBS has also chosen to raise money for the past two summers, and Chris had a chance to speak to several of the youth groups in the church while he was there this visit. We’re looking forward to visiting in the summer again. Another bonus is that Chris’ parents are in Vancouver, so he got to have a good family visit while doing mission stuff.

So, it was a great trip all around. It’s been incredibly affirming and encouraging to us personally. I think anytime you pour yourself into something you want to know that others see the value of what you’re doing. After over a decade of work, sweat and tears, it feels so good to see people getting excited about everything that is Clean Water for Haiti, and who want to partner with us to impact the lives of Haitian families for the long term. A big thank you to everyone that Chris got to meet with!

While he was away I got to stay in Haiti with the kids and keep things on track. My days were busy, but because of our team here it wasn’t difficult. I’m so thankful for our staff and all of the growth that we’ve seen over the years. It just amazes me when I look back to where we’ve come from.

In the past month or so we’ve been working hard at getting the work yard facilities finished, especially because it’s been getting so much hotter. We wanted to get all the roofs on the work pads so the guys would have shade. At our old place there were some big trees in the work yard that gave some shade. Here all the trees are in other places, so we wanted to get something up before the hottest time of the season hit.

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The biggest work pad where we build the filters is 30×60′. It’s so big. It took the guys a good week and a half to get the insulation foam and tin up. We found this thin foam that has a reflective side on it years ago and used it on the roof of one of our buildings at our old facilities, and it made a huge difference to the temperature under the roof, so we decided to try it under the tin. The upside is that when it rains it dampens the sound a bit too. Though, as I learned when we had a hard rain while Chris was gone, it’s still ridiculously loud. I came out of a dead sleep thinking the world was ending!

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The guys love that the spaces are all covered, and so do we. While Chris was gone all three roofs got finished, and we were able to clean things up and move some things into place. We now have separate spaces for building filters, washing sand, and a workshop where we can weld filter molds and any other things, and do any other bigger projects like carpentry stuff. Evens is working on installing the fans out there this week, which will be one of the last steps. We get a nice breeze most of the time, but when we don’t and it’s the middle of the hot part of the day it’s stifling, so the fans will give some air flow.

Two weekends ago I was finally able to move all my tools out to the workshop and get things set up so we can finish the last things that need to be done in the house over the next month. This meant that the space under the stairs in our house were finally freed up for their initial purpose, which is pantry space. The shelves had been doing temporary duty in the kids rooms while we wait for closets to be built, but we put some other shelves in their place and moved the actual pantry shelves in place, and moved all the pantry stuff to that space, freeing up more room in our storage room. That was a happy moment because we’ve had some unexpected storage issues that I’ll talk about in my next post. Moving my stuff off the front deck also meant that we could finally get some chairs out there and have it available to sit with visitors who stop by the mission.

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While Chris was away I had some of our extra construction guys help me put in the flower beds around the house. It might seem frivolous, but a) it’s a hobby that Chris and I have that helps us decompress with everything else going on, and b) Haitians actually take a lot of pride in their homes when they’re able to, so our staff and others respect it when we look after the facilities that we’ve been blessed with. Everything that we do as a finishing step gets noticed by our staff, and they were all excited and commenting on how nice things were looking. I see them walk a bit taller and their pride in working for the organization grows a bit as the facilities continue to get developed.

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I got all the doors painted, finally. No more primer. Before he left, Chris had one of the bosses put in the office and kitchen door stairs. While he was away I had the guys build a patio off the kitchen side of the house. We’ve had a lot of people asking about classes, but don’t have the facilities to host people yet. Having the patio means that we could actually have a place to cook and eat with the students while we teach on the front deck. The wood forms are so that I can plant things that will climb, like beans. The twine was to help with that, but between the dogs and our son it didn’t last for more than 24 hours on the one you see in the pictures. Back to the drawing board on that one.

It’s so nice to see stuff getting done. Our next step is to break ground on the guest house/training center. We’re working on final plans and should start staking out the septic and foundation in the next couple of days.

The last new, exciting thing is that we got our new to us passenger vehicle! Our SUV that we’ve had since 2010 is getting a complete motor rebuild, and then we’re not sure what we’re going to do with it, or how long that will even take. Our van is okay, but has some mechanical issues. Having a smaller vehicle that has 4 wheel drive again is such a blessing! A missionary friend of ours found it for a good deal and took care of the purchase and shipping into Haiti on our behalf while on sabbatical a few months ago, and it just arrived last week.

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We did have a bit of a shock a week and a half ago when one of our employees called on a Sunday to tell me that another employee had been in a bad motorcycle accident. Fritzner had been coming down the mountain from his house to go to where he stays during the week so his commute to work is easier, and the brakes on his motorcycle weren’t working. He ended up stopping by crashing into a house and being knocked unconscious for the whole trip to the hospital. He has a lot of cuts on his face and a gash in his head, but also broke the bone under one of his eye sockets. We’re thankful for a visiting team of surgeons at the local hospital who were able to operate and fix him up a couple of days following the accident. Chris was able to visit him yesterday and said he’s doing well and will be recovering for a while, but he’s still here. The accident could have been so much worse.

That’s the latest news from here! Hope you’re all having a great week.

~Leslie

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Simple Small Things

It is the little things…

The depth and width of the problems here in Haiti are, it seems, unsurmountable; unless you pay attention to the little things; the simplicity of the little things in life that makes the complicated manageable.  This is one of the reasons that gives my work here at Clean Water for Haiti meaning and a purpose.  This is not to say that a clean water resource isn’t a big thing because it is huge, tre gwo (very big); it is the rainbow at the end of the storm.  What it does say is even when complicated, unexpected, or problematic situations or events occur, I find that in paying attention to the small things the big things just don’t seem all that overwhelming; they are manageable.

Just this past week we experienced a refresher course in this thought process firsthand.  Things had been going rather well over the past months.  We have a full staff, all happy campers.  We started construction on our new facility, all on schedule and with minimal kinks in the chain.  We are the recipients of a much needed and generous Rotary grant which will ensure continual filter production through the end of the year, all good news for our staff and the communities in which we serve.  It seems we were even in the good favor of Mother Nature as we experienced an unusual extra month of continued pleasant weather; all temperatures under 85 are most certainly considered God’s blessings here in Haiti.  And then came the week of unrelenting complications, all roadblocks to our sense of peace and well-being.

On Monday of that week, Leslie and Chewie started out for Port au Prince in one of our work trucks, a long and arduous drive in the best of circumstances, and only made it a few miles down the road when a tire went flat.  Not usually a big problem, unless the spare is flat. By the time Leslie gets back home, she is really sick with fever and a sick stomach and goes straight to bed.  By that afternoon, I was sick with the same symptoms.  Never a good thing when the two admin people are sick at the same time.  Later that day the other work truck came down sick as well.  So we were then two vehicles and two staff down.  We can handle this, no problem.

The next morning our van presented symptoms of ill-repair, and by that afternoon it broke our hearts to witness the van being towed off to Port au Prince for a major repair job.   To add to the dilemma, our motorcycles were feeling a bit puny themselves; out of all of our vehicles, I believe we were down to a couple of the bikes, and of course there is always a tap tap.  Leslie and I missed all of this excitement because we were still sick in bed.  In a matter of just over 24 hours, our little piece of paradise became a paradigm for disaster …. A comedy of headaches and a choir of disgruntlements.  And the temperature hit over 90 that same day.

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In the midst of all the mess, it was the little things that kept us going; it was the little things that rose through the ruckus and shined their happy faces, as if God was sending a beacon of light to say, “Hey, I got this.”

One of the first things I noticed was the staff and their concern for my well-being.  I would get up in the morning and attempt to make it to our morning prayer time, but that didn’t last long.  They knew I felt bad and their smiles on the third morning, when I did make it through, reflected their concerns.  Kind words are free and compassion is long reaching …. Simple small things.

Our in-house mechanic jumped right in.  He worked long and hard hours, as if the whole functionality of our organization depended entirely on him.  The whole time he smiled as he shook his head.  Stepping up to the plate to get a job done is simple enough, commitment is a step further, and smiling about it all the while.  Smiles are easy, especially right slam in the middle of aggravation …. Simple small things.

The morning we had no vehicles, the overall aura of the group could have easily been one of stress and worry.  However, that was not the case here at Clean Water as ripples of laughter and comraderies drifted over from the work yard.  It is easy to let happiness slip away from us when things go awry.  Laughter brightens dark days and doesn’t take a whole lot of work …. Simple small things.

One afternoon I overheard Alex and Olivia attempting to play jump rope out in the yard.  Now, that is something that absolutely takes three people, but Alex was giving it a good go, while Olivia tried and tried again to get one good jump in.  I managed to go outside and help just for a bit, before I got weak again.  Helping others, even if it is just turning a rope, or offering a glass of water, or perhaps even a squeeze of a hand will put a song in a heart …. Simple small things.

One of the nights Leslie and I had a Bible Study/Birthday celebration for one of the ladies in our group.  The fellowship of friends and the sharing of a meal, also easy to do, will cheer a soul…. Simple small things.

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Lastly, as I sat out on my deck towards the end of this disastrous week, I watched in awe at the beauty around me.  A cool breeze, waves lapping at the shore, the smells of spring flowers attracting bumble bees and humming birds, and a brilliantly colorful Haitian sunset – all free, all gifts of God, that made me catch my breath and silently utter praises of gratitude …. Simple small things.

There is a Haitian proverb that speaks to appreciating the little things, “Anpil ti patat fe chay” (Many little sweet potatoes make a load); many small things amount to much.  In Luke 16:10 Jesus tells us that if we are faithful even in the little things, then we will be faithful in the bigger things. Yes, we had a rough week, and yes, it was costly, both in time, efforts, and finances.  The point is that the big things didn’t win but they did help us to appreciate the simple small things.

Teaching others ….

There is a saying about teaching that is a proven and unique function of our program.  The saying goes something like, “You can give a man fish and he will have a meal for the evening.  You can teach a man how to fish and he will have food for a life time.  Our teaching philosophy is quite similar. We hold our training classes on an as needed basis throughout the year and as the interest arises from other organizations.

The students will arrive on a Sunday evening, where we do a meet and greet, have a nice supper, and do simple personal introductions so that the students are comfortable with us and each other, as well as answer any questions they may have about our facilities.  The school is for five days, Monday through Friday, from early morning through the afternoon.  There is much to be learned in that short period of time, so the days are stretched thin and jam packed full of information.

We have class time in the mornings held by Chris and Leslie, the directors here at Clean Water for Haiti.  I have a small part to play in that I assemble the text books and prepare the learning posters and handouts.  The students will learn everything there is to know about bio-sand water filters.  We explain the history, the science and biology, the manufacturing, logistics, and marketing and educational aspects.   This way, when they start their own program they will not have to re-invent the wheel and will have the information readily available.

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The afternoon sessions are with our resident filter pro, Thony.  Thony is extremely gifted when it comes to teaching and he can instill desire in our students like no other.  This is the chance for the students to build their own filter from start to finish, from washing the sand, to preparing the molds for cement, mixing and pouring the cement, painting, and installation, all under the tender care and guidance of Thony.

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We do various exercises through the week to help them plan. The students are supplied with everything they need, including a manual, list of tools, equipment, and supplies necessary to begin production.

It is a joy to watch the students grow, not only in their knowledge but also in their hopes and visions for development of their own filter project.  When class first starts on Monday morning, there are expressions of reservations and uncertainty.  They are eager to learn and excited about the prospects.  As each day passes, their visions become more focused.  As they build a filter from start to finish, from intangible to tangible their vision becomes more than an image in their mind, it becomes a reality.

PicMonkey CollageThe students leave here with a diploma in their hand, a wealth of useful information and knowledge, and a set of skills that they will be able to hone and utilize in the production of their own bio-sand water infiltration filters.  More than that, they leave here with a glimpse of hope for what can be.  A vision that we, here at Clean Water for Haiti, also believe in, the provision of a resource for clean, palatable water for all of Haiti; water that is free of disease, bacteria bacteria are microbes. and microbes that destroy the health of their children.

The fish story holds true for us as well.  We can provide clean water to the poorest of the poor, enough for the day or even a week, or we can provide the ways and means to have clean water for a life time.

And it is All About That Sand

It’s all about that sand…. Really!

The old and over used acronym K.I.S.S. most certainly has a proprietary place in the world of our Bio-sand filters as their design and the science behind them is quite simple.  Although the design of our filters has undergone many changes through the years, the main focus has remained constant.  Our goal here at Clean Water for Haiti is to positively address the questions:  Will the design and use of this filter be simple enough to understand, be simple enough that it is not a headache, bother, or extra work to use, be economical to use (as in no power or electricity usage), and be simple enough that there is little to no maintenance over the long term life of the filter.  Lastly, what supplies, etc. will be needed to facilitate the use of the filter on a daily basis?  In answering those questions, it is simple to understand how the bio-sand infiltration positively affects knowledge, design and use, availability, and longevity.

Simply stated, it is all about that sand ….

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There are several distinct layers within the filter:  Diffuser basin, water level, biological level, fine sand, coarse sand, and small gravel.  The only moving part is the unclean water as it passes down through the various layers and is then pushed up through to the tube and out through an exterior water spout.

The procurement and preparation of the sand plays a vital role in the efficiency and long term use of the filter itself.  The sand must be clean of debris, free of organic or bacterial contamination, and free of chemicals or compounds such as salt (as in beach sand).  We purchase our sand locally which not only helps in the manufacturing of the filters, it is also a help to our surrounding communities by pouring money into their economies.  Our staff has the sand selection down to a science and we strive to obtain the best sand available for the optimum use of the installed filters.  The selection of sand is confirmation that it is all about that sand.

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The preparation stage is also equally important.  If you have ever panned for gold in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee then you are a step ahead in this stage.  We wash our sand several times, all the while sifting and grading to accommodate the levels of sand in the filter.  We have come a long way in the washing process, from washing by hand to the design of our sand washing equipment.  The preparation stage is most assuredly all about that sand.

Finally, the sand is ready for its primary and most important function, the actual filtering of the water.   Basically, as the water slowly makes its way through the layers of sand the contaminants will be eliminated through several biological processes along its travels. The simplified explanation for us non-biologist types is that as the water flows, the microbes and bacteria go through a “survival of the fittest” process.  In our filters the good always wins over the bad; the good microbes will feed off the the bad ones that cause sickness and disease, thereby eliminating them.  The microbes that pass through the bio-layer without being eaten can’t survive past the first four inches because there isn’t any oxygen for them past that point. The good microbes will attach themselves to the grains and will become their own little community of bad microbe eating machines.PicMonkey Collage 2

There is one factor about the bio-sand filter that is more amazing than simple.  Since 2001 Clean Water for Haiti has installed over 20,000 filters in country. In each case these communities have little or no access to clean water.  With the installation of our Bio-sand filter, a resource for clean water is in their home and is ready for all of their water needs.

And, it is all about the water that drained through the sand.

Teamwork …. A Shared Vision

Teamwork…. A Shared Vision

There is a Haitian Proverb that states, “Anpil men, chay pa lou.” With many hands a load is not heavy.

Yesterday I witnessed this proverb in action here at Clean Water for Haiti as we poured the foundation at the construction site for our new facilities.  In all the years of my working in the new home building industry, I have never seen a foundation poured quite like this one.  More importantly, I have never been more impressed by a group of individuals coming together in a shared unified vision; the new home of Clean Water for Haiti.  Especially so, as it is was successfully completed in the Haitian tradition of hard work and ingenuity; by that I mean, 18 pair of hands, 10 wheelbarrows, a single cement mixer, 62 sacks of cement, and truckloads of rock and sand in a 12 cubic foot area, in less than 6 hours in the hot sun.  I stand amazed at the wonder of dedication, work ethic, and absolute teamwork of our staff and leadership team.

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This day was a compilation of hours of dedicated planning, creativity, and never losing site of the goal, starting with the unceasing efforts of Chris and Leslie, and our construction management team, Chewie and Thony.   Any successful project, whether large or small, begins with communication and the sharing of expertise, willingness, insight, and critical thinking.    Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  CWFH’s shared vision would not have been accomplished without the joint efforts of this highly effective management team as they directed the individual accomplishments of the whole team.PicMonkey Collage

Let’s see if I can put a visual on the whole process for you.  You pretty much had to have been there to fully get the scope of success that day, but I will do my best.  We have two guys in the trenches where the cement is being poured, we have one guy each  at, let’s say, work stations – cement bags, shoveling gravel, shoveling sand, cement mixer operator, water supplier, generator functions, and mixed cement pourer.  It is like an oiled machine, the cement, gravel, sand, and water go in as the mixer churns, and then out pours the concrete ready for service.

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That is just the beginning.  The cement is strategically poured into wheelbarrows, already lined up and ready to go with its very own “wheelbarrow handler”.  As the wheelbarrow gets filled, the handler then does a fast jog to the pour site where the foundation expeditor manages the placement and leveling of each load.  The jogs from the mixer site to the construction site, in full sun and heat, was a sight to see and experience for sure.  Later, after a section is filled and leveled, we have a water inspector to make sure the concrete isn’t drying too quickly as he sprinkles down the foundation; without the aid of a water hose, mind you, his hands do the sprinklings for him.  Here is the amazing part – we have a most perfect foundation; one that was mixed, poured, delivered, formed, and tended to all with a unified and commitment to do a job well done.  Teamwork in action …. A lot of action.

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We also had teams behind the teams, participating in this joint effort.  There was me, the trusty mission volunteer who kept everybody hydrated and fed, there was our smallest staff member, Alex, who made sure all the tools were not misplaced (not!) and he also kept us free of baby tarantulas as he kept them under a watchful eye, and the local deli/drive in café, Haitian style, that prepared our lunches to go.  Even the mangos seemed to be dancing with delight.  Every one pitched in, I heard no complaints (except for the mother tarantula) and at the end of the day we were pleased beyond measure …. And that kind of teamwork and the smiles at the end of the day …. Priceless.

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Later that evening, as I thought back to the display of solidarity amongst many, from Alex, to the gracious woman who cooked our lunch, to all of our staff, and management team, I was reminded of an earlier masterpiece of teamwork that Paul talks about in Romans, the Body of Christ.  He says that we all share in one body even though we may not have the same function, but in that one body we all belong to each other.  I know that God sends us signs, He is evidenced in our everyday lives by people, things, and circumstances.  Moreover, I know that God was with us at Camp Marie as we laid the foundation for our new facility, just as we are laying the foundation for good health through clean water for the families and children of Haiti.

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It’s a First ….

This week I ventured out of my comfort zone to the land of Uncomfortable Firsts, and I am ecstatic to report that I am just fine.  I was required to take a Tap Tap from our location here in Pierre Payen to Saint Marc, which in the reality of the U.S. or Canada, this trip is relatively similar to a trip to the local market or grocery store.  However, in Haiti, it is different, and from what I have seen, most daily occurrences that us “westerners” would consider pretty much standard or normal are, more often that not, “different” in Haiti.

For those of you who are not familiar with what a “Tap Tap” is, maybe I should elaborate.  The public transportation system in our area consists of either Tap Taps or Moto’s.  The Moto’s are comparable to a taxi cab in New York City, only worse, and not near as safe because they are motorcycles.  There are literally hundreds of them precariously roaming our streets and have taken over the concept of, “having the right of way”.  Add to that confusion the fumes and endless barrage of horns and beeps, and you have the perfect storm for traffic congestion in Haiti.

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The Tap Tap is a bit safer and a lot more comfortable, however; you must not be bothered by crowds, heat, or body odors of any kind.  These are pickup trucks or vans that have wooden bench seating, if you are lucky, or when fully loaded there are rebar hand railings for those that are standing.  There are rooftop accommodations as well, and this space is also made available for 50 pound sacks of rice or 2 ft. regimes of bananas, no seating and no hand rails.  The bed of the vehicle is enclosed in a metal caging, which I suppose is for the safety of the passengers …

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There are no bus stops or subway stations from which to embark on your journey, and you hail a ride in a manner similar to that of waving down a taxi.  There are no regular or designated stops, therefore; when a passenger needs to get off, they simply tap the top or sides of the vehicle to indicate they have arrived at their destination.  Thus, the name “Tap Tap” is quite appropriate.  In a busy, congested city like St Marc the number of stops made on any given day is incalculable, thus a ten minute ride may very well turn into an hour or more.

My first solo trip was uneventful, thank goodness, with two exceptions.  My ride into St Marc was pleasant enough, except after the third or fourth stop we were basically squeezed in like sardines.  “There is always room for one more” seems to be the way of things, so we did make another stop for a passenger that didn’t seem to mind simply hanging on at the back of the truck.  Just as we were taking off, that same hanger-on rider must have lost his grip and off he went, managing a few rolls before we stopped.  He got up, brushed himself off, and limped towards the truck; all the while everyone simply burst into laughter like that was the best comedy show ever.  Rest assured, this newbie will never be a hanger-onner type passenger.

My ride home was a tad bit quieter.  It was early morning, there was a nice breeze, and a few older ladies were making their way to market with their meager wares.  One lady told me she was on her way to work at a construction site up the mountain.  One lady was proudly sporting her three five gallon water containers that she would pay to have filled.  Once we began to get close to my stop, I started looking for the most advantageous place to be let off.  I tapped once, we didn’t slow.  I tapped twice, to no avail.  Several blocks down my newly found friends must have realized my dilemma and they started pounding the roof and laughing amongst themselves.  What a joy that was.

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I learned a couple of lessons in that one, quick moment.  First, when you need to disembark from a Tap Tap, it must be loud enough for the driver to hear the taps, which often times is a chore in itself as the ride can be rather loud with all the noise, horns, traffic, and chatter going on.  Second, and most importantly, I learned the value of comradery in unfamiliar situations.  Although I am learning more and more Creole every day, these ladies had no idea what I said in English.  Our conversations were brief and even though I knew what they were saying to me, most of the time, I am pretty sure their understanding of what I was saying was extremely limited.  However, we shared smiles and friendly glances, and exchanged, “Bon Jou, kouman ou ye?  Good day, how are you?”  We also shared compassion.  They shared an understanding of my sincere interest in their daily lives and I shared an understanding that they wanted to help me get off of that Tap Tap.  No language barriers, simply sister to sister sharing a ride.    As the truck pulled away, I turned and glanced back as my new found friends waved and smiled.  Certainly not a first, yet just as meaningful just the same.

 

Bon Jou Tout Moun!

Bon Jou Tout Moun!  Good Day everyone!

It is always a good day here at Clean Water for Haiti; however, my favorite time of the work day is our staff morning meetings.  Despite the weather, rain or mud or mosquitoes or dark morning light, the whole crew will come together for prayer, Bible reading, and the workers will receive their work assignments for the day.  It is in our coming together for prayer and devotion that makes this start to my day so meaningful.

We meet in the courtyard entrance area, and as I walk out of my door, I will greet everyone with, “Bon Jou.”  I am greeted with smiles and a hearty “Bon Jou Pegi”.  I am pretty sure they all get a kick out of my southern accent; however, it is the endearing way in which they all say my name, with a long and strong emphasis on the “kee” sound that lightens my heart and gives me a chuckle every time I hear it.  I will then call roll to account for any tardiness or absences.  This, once again, brightens my day as each one will respond with, “Wi Pegi” or “Isit Pegi” or “Ok Pegi”.

We will first form a circle, 17 employees, Chris and Leslie, and myself, and will hold hands while we pray.   Chris will then read a chapter in the Bible, we are currently in Isaiah.  Chris will then go down the list of work for the day.  During our prayer, each one will simultaneously and quietly pray out loud.  It is like hearing beautiful music, in Creole mind you, but beautiful just the same.  I may not know everything they are saying; however, I can make out and understand a word or two and I can hear the thankfulness and love of God in their hearts as we pray.  In this moment, there are no differences, only a shared moment with God.

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The important thing here is that in this moment, the idea of sharing, pretty much stays with us throughout our day here at Clean Water for Haiti.  The staff all share in the day to day responsibilities.  I have yet to see or hear anyone question a work assignment or indicate that that “Is not their job”.  The workers work together for a unified purpose.  We share common goals, and no matter our cultural differences, as a team we work diligently together.  We all know and understand the importance of the work we are doing here.  The production and installation of bio-sand water filters is what we do; however, it is our mission to provide the resources for clean water to those who otherwise would not have that opportunity.  What a lofty goal it is to envision every family here in Haiti with refreshing, clean, and contaminant free nourishing water.  It is this that will enable all good things to follow, like good health and education.

And it all starts with a shared prayer each morning.  Yes, Bon Jou Tout Moun, it is a good morning everybody.