The final tests were run on the Sunspring, the doors were closed and the water was turned on. Not a minute later, people began to gather with buckets and bottles in hand, some actually running to the source. A line formed and people continued to file in awaiting a chance to get their fill. This was the sight outside of Steppe Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince on Thursday afternoon. The Sunspring was given to Steppe as a gift from GE through the Clinton Foundation, they in turn used the unit to give safe water to the surrounding community. This was the first of two Sunsprings installed Thursday and the third of five for the week.
Monday morning work began at the Ministry of Sport and Youth GAIA-Ayiti. The facility was recently built by the Haitian government to give children living in displacement camps a place to go and play as well as speak with counselors. They are expecting a large amounts of people, and building projects have begun throughout the property. Tuesday was the scheduled first day to host local children. The Sunspring, also donated by GE through the Clinton Foundation, will provide drinkable water to the thousands of children that will use the recreation area on a daily basis.
Tuesday came with a few obstacles, starting with Jack Barker coming down sick. Jack is the founder of the Sunspring and Innovative Water Technologies and came to Haiti voluntarily to install his units. Jack was on an IV for most of the morning Tuesday replacing the fluids that he had lost. At St. Damiens Hospital where an installation was scheduled, miscommunication led to the install to be pushed back a day. After the IV Jack was back to work making preparations for the rest of the week's installations.
Back at St. Damiens Wednesday morning the unit was assembled and operational by late morning. The Sunspring will serve the hospital, a field hospital that's under construction, and a nearby bakery. While installation was still in progress kids approached asking for water, they were told to hold tight for a few minutes. They waited patiently with their bottles and more kids joined them waiting to get water. By the time the system was operational nearly 40 kids had gathered to get their fill.
Thursday was a full day starting with the Sunspring at Steppe. When driving to the seminary you enter the gate and begin to climb up a long, steep road that winds through the trees. The school opened it's gates for people displaced by the earthquake and it is now home to hundreds living in tents. The entire seminary is surrounded by a ten-foot wall topped with razor wire. The sunspring was built next to the wall so that a water line could be run to the other side for the slum surrounding the area.
There was downtime during the install as some plumbing kinks were worked out. This allowed for time to venture outside of the wall and explore the area. The sight looking down into a large valley was full of tiny homes built one right next to the other. Some areas of the slum were now large bare spots, a result of landslides caused by the earthquake. Nearly every home in sight was affected by the earthquakes of the last month and a half. There is no doubt that this Sunspring will be used to capacity.
Bernard Mev Hospital is across town from Steppe and was the next location for a Sunspring. The hospital was recently featured on CNN covering the story of two twin brothers, Drs. Bitar, who manage the facility alongside being surgeons. The hospital was in desperate need of safe drinking as the number of patients exceeding capacity and were forced to sleep in tents outside. Patients and their families begged for water while the Sunspring was put together. Their need was met after a few short hours.
The fifth Sunspring of the week was installed Friday morning at Double Harvest Farms. Roche Blanche (white rock) was the specific village where the Sunspring would stand. Double Harvest is a large, beautiful facility not far out of the city. The farm houses a hospital and collaborates with six local villages that are home to over 6000 people. The farm focuses on reforestation, but also has a school, a fishfarm and grows numerous crops. When loading the Sunspring in and out of the transport truck 20+ men came to assist. The unit was welcomed by about 40-50 kids all playing in the previous water source. When one man was asked about their water supply he said,"We drink it because there is no choice, but it is not clean." Many of the locals helped in the assembly process and the was a constant audience as kids crowded close to see the commotion. As soon as the Sunspring was operational people lined up for their turn to drink.
The five Sunsprings that were installed this week will provide safe drinking water to approximately 50,000 people. There are now nine Sunsprings operating in the Port-au-Prince area, with more units expected next week, and hopefully many more to come after that. Before this city can begin to rebuild itself its basic needs must be met, and there's none more basic than the need for safe drinking water. Sunspring and its partners are doing their part to help Haiti.