In November 2015, I was first approached to take a look at some plans for a septic system at a complex called Heart for Home in Port-Salut, Haiti. Well the next obvious question was, what and who was Heart for Home? This started a journey of learning. Heart for Home was a vision by Pastor Ricot Leon. Ricot and seven other boys were taken into an orphanage and raised by missionary parents. From the orphanage, he was sent to Canada and educated and received his calling to be a pastor. Ricot felt that he needed to give back to the people of Haiti which evolved into a mission called Heart for Home. In a nutshell, the focus of Heart for Home was to provide a training college atmosphere where individuals that graduated from orphanages had the ability to learn a business in a Christian setting and then return to society and become valuable positive members of society enabling them to help return Haiti to a productive country.
The business we speak of is not what we envision here in Canada, but of a far more simpler and direct business. For example, each candidate is provided a hive of bees, a small plot of ground for growing vegetables, some chickens and a goat. The person is then taught how to grow and produce food that can then be used for resale enabling the successful candidates to start producing food, etc. for their country. The candidate is also supplies with computer knowledge and other business skills. There was a future project for aqua culture and other endeavours in this vision of Pastor Ricot. It’s a very worthwhile cause to be involved with for sure.
What could I say but sure, I can look at the plans. Well one thing led to another and before I knew it, I designed the system and then shortly after, I was on a plane heading to Port Salut, Haiti to install the system in the spring of March 2016 with four others and enough baggage to wear out a herd of mules crossing the Rockies on the move west. Products and knowledge that were either donated or provided as a support to this cause by local businesses such as Coldstream Christian Church, Oland Engineering, Norjay Industries, Farrer Equipment Rental, Preimer Plastics, BioHarmony, Fisher’s Hardware, Heartwood Homes, and Andrew Sheret. My apologies if I forgot anyone.
We landed in Port au Prince and what was to be a four-hour drive turned into eight hours as we came across street party after street party, the entire way to Port Salut. We found out that it was celebration for the coming of Jesus Christ and the raising from the dead.
We arrived to a beautiful oasis in Port Salut. We met some of the local people and started the planning and laying out was to be the first of five sewage systems for this complex. About 40 Haitians started hand digging the trenches only to find out that a foot below the surface, was a hard barrier of what we think was a old coral reef which almost derailed the entire project. A excavator was found (the only one in the area), a price was negotiated and paid. The excavator showed up and started to work. What was to be a four-hour job turned into two days. The machine had trouble getting through this barrier but it finally succeeded. 15 loads of drain rock had to be had shovelled into trucks, dumped at the site and then hand screened to remove all the fines and then packed in five-gallon buckets (buckets were only a half to quarter full), by hand from boys 14 years old to men 90 years old, and placed into the trenches.
This was only one of numerous issues that needed to be overcome. Another serious issue, was there is no sewer pipe in the country so we had to make our own sewer pipe. Schedule 40 pipe, very expensive, had to be drilled to create our own sewer pipes. More than 6,000 holes had to be drilled by hand and then had to be reamed out to remove burrs.
The most important thing that we came away from this project was the connection with the local people. They are people like you and me, struggling on a daily basis to earn enough money to buy food for their families, put cloths on their families backs and a roof their heads. Abrege, the foreman for the Haitians summed up the connection between the Haitians and ourselves. He stated that this is the first time that he felt a connection to the people that came to help them. That this mission group was there to oversee them, but that we worked alongside them.
The Bible talks about making fishers of men which is what Ricot wanted to do for the people of Haiti. That is what we are doing — coming along side and working with them, and not because of them.
As a result of the recent hurricane which swept through the centre of the Heart For Home college site in Port Salut, a team from Vernon and Prince George will be heading to the centre of this devastation to set up a water treatment system to help these people. We will keep you appraised of what we find.
If you want more information about this non-profit, registered Canadian society, their website is www.heartforhomehaiti.com. We look forward to having you come alongside us and helping the Haitians help themselves.