I have been encouraged as we passed villages using the wells we have supplied in years past. There is a certain difference in the communities where we have installed the wells and villages where we have not. Crops and fruit trees are growing around homes, people congregate around wells. There is a change in the attitude people have toward their community and life.
I can’t properly articulate what I’ve seen throughout the island other than saying La Gonave is truly the slums of Haiti (a comment made by our translator). At it’s best LA Gonave provides a subsistence living for those in the mountains able to grow some crops. In the lower regions not even this is available.
A consistent clean water source will always be the primary need for those on La Gonave. Rains come and go, collecting and storing water costs money and is a challenge. We are at the end of the dry season which makes La Gonave look like a scorched moon landscape. Most cisterns are dry and those with little water are happy to share with their neighbors.
In the 30 or so villages we have visited I’ve had a few interesting experiences. We stopped at a cave known at “bat cave” where hundreds of bats nest. Inside there was a little pool of water people were dipping buckets in and taking home for consumption. Of course it was contaminated with bat droppings but in their desperate state it was their only option. We plan to drill a well close by so families in this village can enjoy fresh clean water.
We had a flat tire in Abricot after a two hour ride. This cluster of mountain villages has 25,000 people and no economy , but a soccer field built by a wealthy business man in the US. It’s the only grass I’ve ever seen on La Gonave. While the tire was being fixed we sipped a fruit drink and visited with a man who lost his right leg after being severely burned making charcoal. Because there was no proper medical aid they just hacked it off!
We were able to complete the scouting two days early which provided us ample time to bring out the drilling rig and drill for a nearby village. Thankfully we did hit water at 300 feet, pumping a healthy 8 gallons per minute. Cheers went out from the hundreds of Haitians that watched and waited hoping we would find water, and we did.
Many villages are desperate for water. Most nights we were approached with delegations form villages around the area begging us to come and drill. It is a difficult situation to navigate, but our hope is to reach all Haitians on La Gonave with fresh water. The need is so great because people simply cannot survive without water.