Thursday, October 16, 2008

Catch up

Hello hello,

So I've been having a bit of trouble trying to update the blog, and I think it's a combination of both the computer I'm using and the internet connection. But, I'll give this a shot and hope it goes through.

This week has been great so far, and tomorrow is a Haitian holiday, so we get the day off :) woo hoo! Monday I worked with AutoCAD again to create another set of drawings pertaining to mold production. This time, Chris was looking into getting a company in Port-au-Prince (capital city about 2 hours away) to cut the steel using a steel punch (just like a hole-puncher...but 12 ft. long) instead of using the plasma cutter as we've been doing.

Tuesday I got to go out into the Artibonite Valley on a filter delivery, which was awesome. This is what all of the work here at the mission is focused on, getting filters to people. Between myself, Matt, and 5 Haitian filter technicians, we installed 36 filters, which is the most that can fit on a truck. One pretty cool thing was that while we were out delivering, we received enough additional orders from people in that area for two more truckloads.

The truck being loaded with filters.

On the truck and ready to be delivered.

The way it works is...we take orders when people show interest, and they have to pay up front ($40 Haitian, or $5 US). The actual filters cost about $40 US each, but it is a subsidized project and the people pay $5. It's important for people to pay for them because then they feel like they had to work for it, and they then show ownership and actually take care of them.

Stopped at first spot to deliver. Loaded on top of the filters is all the sand & gravel in bags to be put into the filters once they are placed.

The experience as a whole was really neat because of the interaction with the communities. I don't think I would be invited into a Haitian home under any other circumstances, so installing filters all day I was able to really see what people live like, inside and out. I did get to take a few pictures of people smiling with their new filters, but you don't get to see much inside the homes, so I'll just tell you: mud floor, mud walls, one bed (sometimes a tin roof, sometimes not). The front door is usually a piece of cloth, and the walls are not always the most sturdy, so I wouldn't lean on them.

Doing my first filter installation :).

The recipients of the filter installation.

The actual installation of filters was a bit more involved than I thought it was going to be, but, I did learn, and I'm feeling pretty confident about it. Plus, besides the physical part of the installation, we also bring an educator to gather the women together and explain how the filters work, how to maintain them, and she also covers the importance of personal hygiene.

Kids just got out of school.
Eating lunch on the back of the truck: Spicy Haitian peanut butter and guava jelly on some bread picked up from the market.

Coming back to the truck after installing some filters. The guys in blue and orange are filter technicians from CWH, the rest are locals...just following us :).
Another happy family to receive their filter.
Did I mention there was a full moon? Just kidding...some kids in the area.

Wednesday, Matt and Chris ran errands in Port-au-Prince, and picked up the new mission vehicle, a Toyota Hiace (CWH's first vehicle with A/C!...very exciting). It's a 15 passenger van, which means that groups of visitors no longer have to ride in the back of the truck when they get picked up from the airport (I think they'll be missing out on the true Haitian experience honestly). It was purchased back in February, and they just got it Oct. 15th, so that should give you an idea of how things work in Haiti :).

Leslie with the new wheels.

Oh, so Matt and Chris also brought the drawings to the engineer's office in Port, and found out that they'll be able to save approximately $75 per mold by getting the steel punched... also very exciting.

To celebrate getting the new van, I offered to take everyone out to dinner, which is something Chris and Leslie only get to do when people take them out (they don't spend mission funds on eating out). It was very nice and relaxing, and the food was delicious. We went to the nicest resort in this area call Club Indigo, and it was overall just a nice night out.

Pool and ocean at Club Indigo.
The Rolling family (and my current host family): Chris, Olivia, and Leslie
Matt & I chowing down at the buffet...that might be plate #3 for both of us :).

Today, Thursday, we got up and found out that there were two flat tires on the vehicles. Yes, one was on the new van, and one was on a truck that had just gotten brand new tires. No one seemed phased by it. The roads are so bad here that flat tires are common. That puts the tally up to 3 flats since I've been here.

The project I worked on all day with Matt included designing a shield for the undercarriage of the new van to protect all of the exposed parts. It's not exactly a low-rider, but it just seems like a way of life down here if you want your vehicles to last.

I'm going to end it here, but if you'd like to read more or see any more pictures, check out Leslie's blog at:

Thanks for reading, come again soon. :)


Nick said...

Hey Owen...

Matt's friend here. Please post more pictures of that beard on his face! That thing is great. Don't tell him what you're doing. (And for Pete's sake, don't let him shave it. I'm coming in December and i want to see it firsthand).

You're the best.

Anthony said...

Owen - the pictures and updates are great. It's quite admirable all of the actual work you are doing considering the amazing views and location of your lodging. Enjoy the rest of your trip and keep up the good work (including the updates).

Owen said...

Nick: He might have a Santa beard by December, ha ha. More photos to follow...enjoy.

Hey Anthony: Thanks for the comment. Now that you say it, I guess I focus on photographing all the pretty things instead of all the bad stuff. They show all the bad stuff on TV anyway. Thanks for checking in, talk to you soon.

Arturo said...

Owen, very kool, just got caught up on your whole adventure. Hadno idea U were a Mech Eng...very kool. Keep bloggin, i'll keep reading. Love it!!...stay blessed

P.s "little white star in total darkness"? Aya-yai!!...taking the racial comments even to Haiti...hmm!!

Anonymous said...

I am Steven.

Love the pictures and that full moon little boy, and hope he keeps orbiting.

Your filters look colorful. Does each color have its special meaning?

Owen said...

Steven: I'm glad you like the filters. Unfortunately, Haitian culture is not like your Chinese culture in the significance of colors. We just pick colors that people would want :).