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Initial Trip to Haiti, Fund Raising

Posted 11/29/2011

A lot has happened since our last Haiti Project update. Rick Jacobs traveled to Haiti in October with a team of 11 people from six different states, to install two water purification systems at orphanages operated by the Global Orphan Project. The two orphanages were literally at the end of paths leading from the main roads into the mountains. The group had to drive through rivers (no bridges on the paths) to reach the sites.

Leaving the airport in Port Au Prince, it quickly became obvious that they were in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Everywhere there were refugees still living in tents erected after the earthquake. It was very hot, crowded and dirty. There is no garbage pickup in Haiti, so trash just piles up – on the roadsides, in the waterways and in the camps. And when it rains, everything floods and the rainwater washes the garbage and human waste into the ditches, streams, rivers and ultimately into the water supply. It’s no wonder that 5% of the Haitian population has contracted cholera or that one child in ten dies before reaching their 5th birthday. The need for safe drinking water is truly overwhelming.

The trip was a success, despite many travel and logistical difficulties, and now the two orphanages and their surrounding communities have water systems capable of supplying clean drinking water for more than 2000 people in each location.

During the trip, Rick identified a site where our Bower Hill team can install a water system. It is the rectory of an Episcopal parish priest named Pere’ Alphonse, who is responsible for several churches and a school in the small town of Torbeck, near the city of Les Cayes. Pere’ Alphonse has a well on the property that is contaminated with bacteria and pathogens (Rick tested the water). He would like to use the water to supply his churches and the community with safe drinking water. So Rick and a representative from First Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City started a conversation about installing a water purification system there. This site is attractive because it has been designated to receive a grant of $10,000 from Solar Under the Sun (SUS) for installation of a solar-powered water system.

Between the SUS grant and the funding promised by Pittsburgh Presbytery, we have already identified $19,000 in potential funding for the project. In addition, we have raised more than $2,500 from private donations and sales of Christmas and note cards. We have also been in contact with Bethel-St.Clair Rotary and with other churches that might be willing to support our project including Westminster Presbyterian, First Presbyterian in Oklahoma City and St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal in Mission, KS. Our target is $40,000 and we are well on the way. In early November, our team met with Karen Battle from Presbytery and members from East Union Presbyterian, who have also attended LWW training. We spent the evening sharing information. Next steps include continuing to raise funds (we welcome anyone’s ideas or donations), traveling to Haiti in February to negotiate a covenant with Pere’ Alphonse, and team members Rich Salvante and Karl Casey attending solar training in May.

We would love the opportunity to discuss the Haiti Water Project with you, just ask! There are opportunities to get involved! We continually thank you for your support.

Rick Jacobs and Darenda Lease

Support this project with the purchase of Cards! The note cards are packaged in groups of eight, including two each of four scenes celebrating all four seasons, which cost $12.00 per package.

The Christmas cards are packaged in groups of ten and cost $15.00. Each package contains the same scene, and there are two choices. Contact the office for more information!

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