A Little Taste of Haiti

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  What's that big tire doing in someone's back yard? My sister, Tricia, and my niece, Ally, check it out.

The day before we left for Haiti, the air conditioner at my house went out. It didn’t take long for the temperature to rise, making it uncomfortable just to hang out let alone to sleep. It was even hotter in Haiti. Fortunately, our hotel had air conditioning, so we could cool down after a long day in the sun. We were thankful, but it wasn’t lost on us that we were spoiled and that most people in Haiti, including the people we were there to help, don’t have conveniences we take for granted--conveniences like air conditioning.

And water. This past week, I was reminded how lucky we are to have running water when the main water line to my house ruptured. I awoke to a loud noise that sounded a bit like my sump pump running. Of course, I was sure it wasn’t my sump pump because it wasn’t raining. When I turned on the water faucet at the bathroom sink and nothing came out, I was baffled. “Could that be my sump pump running after all?” I asked myself.

The sound grew louder as I descended the steps to check it out. Through the bay window on the side of my house, I could see water pouring out of the pipe that comes from the sump pump. “That is my sump pump! What would have had to happen for it to be running?”

I pictured a busted pipe somewhere in my house with my basement quickly becoming a swimming pool. When I got to the basement, everything appeared normal—except that the sump pump was running nonstop. I called the water company, and they sent out a technician. He confirmed that the water line was most likely cut in two somewhere between the meter and my house. I was “using” water so fast that he had to turn the water off completely. “No matter,” I thought. “There’s no water reaching the house anyway.”

For the next two days, I got to live like my Haitian friends live every day. My neighbors filled buckets for me so I had the water I needed to flush toilets, rinse dishes, and wash. Every time I used water from one of those buckets, I thought about the people I met in Haiti, and I felt a kind of solidarity with them. “If they can live life this way, then I can survive a few days,” I assured myself.

It’s not like I had to walk miles to get to a water source and then carry the water back, like many impoverished people around the world. I had to walk across the street with empty buckets, and watch as my neighbors filled those buckets and carried them back to my house (they carried them because I had back surgery in May). Furthermore, my water source was a clean water source. That’s not the case for much of the third world.

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  That tire? It's the opening for a well. Before receiving a home with a cistern, the Senatus family pulled water up in buckets from this well. Compared to their neighbors, they were lucky. They had a water source in their back yard--never mind that it produced salty water. Now, they are thankful for the clean water they get from their cistern.

It really wasn’t that big of a deal—at least not for such a short time period. It would have become more challenging if I needed to do laundry, or if my neighbor had not also offered me the use of their shower. It really put things in perspective when I considered that the conditions I lived with for two days, while a downgrade for me, are a complete upgrade for millions. In the Village of Joy, residents go from trekking daily to a water source—usually a salty one—and carrying the water back home to filling buckets with clean water from their own cisterns. They go from not having bathrooms to having a toilet, and they are not bothered in the least that they need to pour water into the bowl to make it flush.

It’s back to business as usual at my house, but I’m even more appreciative of what I have after this event. It was a great reminder to keep things in perspective and roll with the punches. There are millions—perhaps billions—who would trade me places in a heartbeat.

Paula Mueller

Help 40 Families Escape Extreme Poverty

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  • published this page in Read Updates 2016-07-17 19:51:59 -0400

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