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well

This past week our driller, Curt King, arrived on La Gonave with one of our Haitian employees to perform maintenance on the drilling rig.  The Big Red Truck fired up and after two days of tinkering and repairs.  State side we received a long list of items for purchase and replacement.

Over the next two weeks Guts Church interns are working to source materials and supplies from around the country to update the 30 year old drilling rig, and push it through the June drilling season.  These parts will be hand carried to La Gonave by members of the drilling teams to ensure their on time arrival.

Details are checked and then double checked.  On La Gonave there are no auto parts stores to pick up a replacements.  So we must plan for what we need and hope the “bailing wire and duct tape” holds out as we push our equipment and drilling teams far into the mountings in search of water on the island of La Gonave.


Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 11.24.32 AMThis time of year is all logistics.  There is much more that goes into drilling wells then just driving the rig to a site and putting the bit in the ground.  Drilling sites, and road maps must be created, supplies and materials are procured in the USA, and Port Au Prince and shipped to La Gonave.  Endless lists of supplies.  Team trips are formed, meetings held and tickets booked.  Pumps and PVC are inventoried and drilling bits inspected.

 

I am thankful for the team at Guts Church who work hard to help make preparations for the trips, as well as the men who volunteer their time and money to travel to La Gonave and help our people on the ground drill wells.  We are always looking for candidates who may be qualified and have interest in joining a drilling trip so email the info link and we will respond.  Although teams are booked for this year, we keep a waiting list of candidates for the next drilling season.

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The drilling season employs several Haitian men who make their annual wages in June to support their families.  They find odd jobs and scrape by until the next time we see them.  These men are talented and hard working, certainly resourceful.  But they live in an economy with 75% unemployment and no government subsidies.  I am Looking forward to seeing Snaider, Airiant and the crew as they pour concrete pads and install new pumps this June.  I hope the water flows and they have more work installing pumps than they can handle.
We will keep our eyes on the prize.  It’s easy to do that scrolling through photos and seeing faces of those we visited some months ago, who wait for us day by day, waiting for the big red truck to bring fresh water.

HAI06_0004I am reminded of this as we ride motorcycles on challenging trails that we hope will support the drilling rig.  As we attempt to travel further into the island than ever before, we pass children with buckets, some empty and others full, carrying their daily supply of water two hours one way.

People know us on the island.  Not as You Help Haiti but as “Go Machine Rouge”, the Big Red Truck.  People know that water sustains life.  Without it you die.  So Go Machine Rouge is a big deal on La Gonave.  When we ride our motorcycles into a village to investigate the possibilities, hopes are high.

There are so many challenges that we face each year during drilling season, and this scouting trip helped me get my mind right for what lies ahead.  We are thankful for our 35 year old drilling rig because if it breaks we can fix it.  This is within our control.  Unfortunately there are some villages we visited that will not receive water because the roads simply will not support a rig the size of Go Machine Rouge.

It’s heartbreaking to have scheduled a meeting with village officials, only to arrive and tell them we will not be drilling.  With sunken shoulders and long faces they sink into regret.  Maybe another time.

I am so thankful for what Concern is doing to improve the roads around the coast and into low lying mountain villages.  Their work provided access for us to reach new villages in 2011 when we drilled 23 wells in two months.

We also encourage villages to put together a “road work committee” but it is nearly impossible for them to improve road conditions with no equipment, and no supply of good foods and water for crews working.

It is simply mind boggling how on an island so small, people can be completely isolated.  People in mountain villages never travel to the coast, and vice versa.  Road conditions in a brutally mountainous region keep people from sharing information, trading foods or other products, teaching each other, and simply keeping in touch.  Without vehicles, it’s a two day walk to make the 10 mile journey from mountain villages to coastal towns.  And with no way to transport anything, why would someone travel?  The conditions land lock villages and make them natural prisons that keep them disconnected from the world.

I am encouraged one again as we pass through the village of Palma where we drilled and installed wells some years ago.  Its late evening and the sun is setting but there are hundreds of people gathered, visiting while they fill buckets of water for the community around them.  The run off trickles across the path to a large field that is prepped and ready to grow crops this spring.

La Gonave is a bittersweet dichotomy.  To view the beauty of the island but experience the desperation of the people makes me realize it is truly poverty in paradise.  

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