As we left the southern city of Jacmel, we began climbing and making the jeep work harder than it had before. The road quickly narrowed and remained that way as we worked our way further into the mountains. This was day three of our short but affirming trip to Haiti in June.
It was early enough in the day where I was enjoying the adventure of the bumpy road. Fifteen hours later, the driving was still adventurous but much less enjoyable for some reason (it turned out to be a long day)! I learned early on in this trip that when we as an organization say we go to the hard places, it ins’t a joke. Our group was visiting a community called Lavaneau , where World Concern had recently helped repair of water canal which had been damaged in a heavy storm four years earlier. This canal carried water from a mountain source directly to the community and was the only source of water for the people in Lavaneau . As we approached our destination, I noticed the dense vegetation and green landscape. This is not a sight you expect to see in Haiti, where it is estimated that 98% of all land is deforested. I was already feeling encouraged.
We arrived in Lavaneau and were soon greeted by Jean Metelus, the President of the local community organization. I enjoyed talking with this man. He was serious, but welcoming. He appeared to be well respected in the community and knew the World Concern staff members by name. Jean explained that since the storm four years ago damaged the community’s water canal, they were forced to rely on inconsistent rainfall for all of their water needs. This includes irrigation, cleaning, bathing, washing, cooking, drinking. I was shocked. Although I am new to Haiti, I know that rain is precious and not something people in rural areas see enough of. Not having access to a consistent water source keeps a community from growing and thriving, and that is the situation people in Lavanneau found themselves in.
World Concern staff sat down with the community of Lavaneau and began discussing what needs they had. It was clear that repairing the water canal was a main priority for many in the community. As the project came to life, it was the people of Lavaneau who provided the input and manual labor needed to make the new water canal a reality. World Concern provided the resources and the technical assistance, but the community owned this project. This is how, together, we can change lives. It was a powerful moment for me, to see how World Concern truly does operate with the community’s needs and desires in mind.
Now that the canal is finished and water is flowing in Lavaneau , life is returning.
“You may not have been here to see what it was like in our community before,” said Jean, “but now we have green land everywhere.”
“People are able to grow crops like beans and peppers, and now life is back.”
I was right to feel encouraged upon approaching Lavanneau . The hard work and diligence of the people in Lavanneau partnered with the humility and talent of the World Concern staff resulted in a transformed community.[vimeo 48599543]