NHSI Board Member, Andrew Borden, discusses his experience assisting with the installation of a new drinking water line in Laguille, Haiti.
In August 2015, I was fortunate enough to travel with the Northern Haiti Sustainability Initiative (NHSI) to the Ellie’s Cave School in Laguille, Haiti to assist community members install a new drinking water supply line. Before leaving, I began to envision the school and the surrounding countryside, and wondered how it would impact the progress of our task. When we arrived, the landscape was just how I imagined. The school was situated at the bottom of a steep hill that rose to the top of a jagged ridge, which ran as far as the eye could see. Surrounding the school was a dense, lush, tropical forest filled with trees, ferns, and tall grass. We had originally estimated one day to lay the 2,000 foot water line from the mountaintop artesian well, to the school in the valley below.
The following morning, we set out to work. Noe, The School Administrator, led us up the mountain to start the task of installing the pipe from the artesian well. The hike was breathtaking….literally and figuratively. The path weaved through banana groves, over outcrops of rock, and near the small farms and thatched homes of rural inhabitants. It was an overwhelmingly beautiful scene. As we climbed up the mountain, my mind kept returning to my growing concern about the job at hand. How could we possibly get this 2,000 foot water line installed with the limited resources available? With a final push over the crest, we arrived to a tremendous sight at the artesian well.
Surrounding the well were 25 members of the community, whose homes we had just passed, carrying tools, anxious to lend a helping hand. Before we even caught our breath, Noe set the community members to work, digging a shallow trench and laying out the polyethylene pipe, which had been carried up the mountain. It was quite a sight! People of all ages were doing their part to help out the school. The eagerness and commitment to helping others were something I will never forget.
By early afternoon, the installation of the water line was completed, and before I knew it, we were packing to leave for Cap Haitian. We thanked Noe and the community for all of their hard work and drove away with the satisfaction that the school now had reliable access to clean drinking water. However, during the remainder of my time in northern Haiti, I realized this water line project was just one of hundreds more that needed to be accomplished. Thankfully, I know any future project can be accomplished with teamwork and the fortitude of our Haitian friends.