Day 3-Water Truck Day
One of the highlights of our week of mission in Haiti seems to always be the days we have the opportunity to spend on the water trucks. What do I mean by this? You see Port au Prince, a city of just under 1 million people, has no municipal water or sewer service. That means each household needs to have water delivered and stored in a cistern or in the poorer neighborhoods, stored in whatever type of vessel they can find.
Healing Haiti has a mission of delivering fresh water to a neighborhood called Cite Soleil. This is an area of approximately 3 miles by 3 miles square and had an estimated population of 300,000 people. In addition to such a dense population this neighborhood also is run by violent gangs. Almost 10 years ago, Healing Haiti was able to reach a sort of “truce” between the gangs and the police that allows us to deliver fresh water to these neighborhoods for Port au Prince’s poorest of the poor. It’s estimated that the average family in Cite Soleil lives on less than $1 per day.
We have 2 water trucks that operate 6 days per week with 5-6 deliveries per water truck per day. One truck holds 3500 gallons and the other is 2500 gallons. When the water truck rolls into the neighborhood the people of that area pour out onto the streets carrying whatever container might hold water for the upcoming week. In addition to the adults the children seem to come from anywhere and everywhere. They come in all shapes and sizes from the tiniest little walking baby to 10-11 year olds.
As we climb off the back of our tap tap one is immediately barraged with these wonderful kids! They shout at you “po tem” “po tem” which in Creole means, “pick me up” “pick me up”! These kids will melt your heart from the moment you reach down to pick one up. The minute they are in your arms they start to chatter in Creole. Even though I can’t understand a word of the conversation, we have it anyway.
It never fails that one adorable little one will latch on to me for the entire water truck stop.
Back to the task at hand. The water truck process is pretty amazing. As I mentioned everyone comes to the truck with whatever can hold water. There are dozens of 5 gallon pails, pots and pans and on one stop today there was the reservoir portion of a port-a-potty. Can’t imagine how they moved that huge amount of water back to their house.
Our job is to give our awesome Haitian staff a little rest from the daily task of unloading the water. We help everyone line up in a straight line with their containers line up in an assembly line fashion. 2 people man the 6” water hose.
To get a sense of what this really looks like, click this link to an awesome video that was shot while we were out on the water truck.