Go to your kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room and turn on the faucet. What happens? Water flows out at a temperature that you choose, of course. Go to the grocery store or gas station and look in the water section to see which kind of water you want to drink today. Some of these products, which comes free out of the tap, can cost more than $3 for a bottle. But it tastes better, right?
Today we went into City Soleil, the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere, to give water to people who have no option of turning on a faucet, nor the means to afford water for their family. Healing Haiti runs a free water truck 6 days a week to give families something they need, a necessity of life. We went today to help distribute the water to these families.
There are several jobs that are needed at the water truck stops. The first is running the hose. You crouch at the front of a long line of buckets as water flows from the fire hose. Your job is to make sure that you fill each bucket while at the same time not spilling any on the ground. During the whole process you have people who are desperate for water- this could be the only water they get for a few days until the Healing Haiti water truck returns- speaking loudly in a language you don't understand as you do your very best to give as many people water. You usually have 2 assistants, one who holds the hose up and another who helps move buckets to the front. They can also take over when your back gets sore from crouching.
The second job is to help carry buckets. Usually women and kids from 8-14 are responsible for getting the water from the truck to their homes in buckets that weigh between 25-50 pounds, depending. Some bucket have handles with the plastic to protect the hands, some of them no longer have the plastic, and some of the buckets don't even have handles anymore. Without the help of the group, they would be left to do the grueling work by themselves. Another aspect of this job is to help the women lift these buckets on top of their heads, which is an amazing feat itself. While lifting the bucket you really need to make sure that you are following the lead of the woman because if you go too fast you will lift beyond what she is lifting and end up spilling the precious cargo, or if you lift it too slowly the same thing will occur. You need to be able to follow her direction and pay attention to what she is doing.
The final job is loving up the kids. When the water truck rolls down the street it is as if someone has sent a message to all the children in the neighborhood that Healing Haiti is there and ready to love up on them. Many of the children in City Soleil do not get the same type of attention that we are accustomed to seeing, so they crave attention from the "Hey you's" that come to deliver the water. Some of these children are restavek children, which are child slaves. Most of them coming to the city with a promise for a better life, but getting much worse than they ever imagined. The love that they are shown during the water truck stops may be the only love that they will receive until the next water truck. We probably heard "hey you" over 1000 times today, but I bet no one in the group got sick of it. Watching group members hold 1-3 kids in their arms at a time is one of the best sites to see.
We were given a special treat today as the transition kids from Grace Village (Haitian orphans who are too old to stay in the orphanage so are transitioning to college or careers) who intern at Fleuri Bakery and Restaurant joined us for their service day. The young people that intern at Fleuri do a service project each week and today they joined us on the water truck.
We met them at Hope Church. Hope Church is a church and a school that was literally built on the trash in City Soleil. When they built the church they had to, twice, dig deeper and get longer footings because the trash was so deep. Today Hope School has kindergarten- 2nd graders. Each year they add a class. Eventually, the plan is to have a kindergarten-8th grade school.
After one of our stops we got to visit Fleuri Farms. Three years ago Healing Haiti bought farm land (approximately 20 acres) now called Flueri Farm. When they bought the land it had some fruits and vegetables already planted and since have planted more. It has plantains, sugar cane, mangoes (used at the Flueri restaurant in their Mango Creme Brulee), coconuts, limes, avocados, and pomegranates. We even got to taste some of the produce. It was very cool and I can see it growing into something bigger and better.
Tonight we were able to reflect on the importance of simply loving others the best we can! Days like these can be exhausting but are so rewarding and eye opening.
Tomorrow is another full day full of great experiences.