Today was our toughest and best day so far. We didn't have any flat tires or missed expectations, as we did yesterday. Today was tough for different reasons.
Today we were honored and blessed to be invited into the lives of Haitians here in Hinche. We walked with them to school, were welcomed into their homes, and trekked a small part of their long journey to water.
We started our day earlier than yesterday, so we could get footage of a young boy walking to his school. We met the boy, who is age 12 and interviewed him first about his life. He told us why school is important to him, what he wants to do when he grows up, and why washing hands is so important (part of the video's purpose). He was so gracious to answer our questions and talk with us about his life and dreams. His smile was warm and contagious.
All of the kids we met today in schools were intrigued by our cameras and loved getting to see themselves. Most of them also had contagious smiles and energy. The drone was the biggest hit, with a crowd of kids surrounding David as he flew it. At one point I couldn't even see David amongst the sea of kids. And you'd know when he moved the drone from one side of the playground to the next because a mob of kids yelling and laughing were right there to chase it. To say the least, fun was had by all.
We later went to a different area where WV has created access to clean water for the community. We were invited into the homes of two families so that they could show us how they access clean water, carry it back home, and then purify it with tablets. Talk about a humbling experience. These homes were shacks by American standards (by any standards). Dirt floors, a hanging curtain for a door, and tiny. The second home we saw was nothing more than chicken wire fencing, tarps, and corrugated tin for the roof. The home was one room, about the size of our bedroom (if not a little smaller). It contained three mattresses posted up off the ground by piles of rocks as "beds". There wasn't much space for anything more than those mattresses.
We ended our day visiting an example of a typical water source here in Haiti, the quality which is bad. We wanted to show the contrast to what WV has helped accomplish in some communities with access to clean water. We walked down a rough, muddy path weaving between fences made of cactus (a common sight in Haiti as cactus can be grown to form a natural fence/barrier), across rolling green hills, through patches of dry parched earth, stepping over animal manure, and finally down a steep ravine to the community's water source. We walked only about 15 minutes but got a small taste of the effort it takes for the people to get to a water source, their only water source, that's not even clean or drinkable by any standards. Many people walk up to 20 kilometers to get to this water source. And once we arrived, my heart sank. The water source was a muddy puddle at the base of the roots of a giant tree. It was not much bigger than a kiddie pool. This is the ONLY water these people can get to and it's not even clean. Many people in the community get sick, and a number of them have died from water borne diseases such as cholera. We learned from the community leader that they are hopeful that one day, an organization like WV will be able to provide them access to clean water. They're fearful of the consequences they face every day by drinking and using the water, but this is their only option for survival.
Heading back to our guest house, we drove for miles and miles jerking along down a uneven, bumpy, dirt and gravel road. We even passed a large truck stuck in the mud from last night's rain. Thankfully we did not get stuck too. We returned home safely with a new sense of appreciation for clean, running water from the tap in our bathroom. Our cold, one-streamed trickle of a shower that night felt so refreshing as we washed the dirt and sweat of the day off, but couldn't wash off the gravity of what we had just seen and experienced. We felt guilty for getting to take a shower when we had just met people who don't even have clean water to drink. We take access to clean water at home for granted, and walking in the footsteps of the local people here in Haiti fills us with a sense of urgency and desire to see this change.