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Special Projects - Haiti Solar Water Project

6 Water Systems Installed!

Posted 11/14/2014

Read about our latest installation. Haiti - Nov 2014 Trip Blog

Posted 09/03/2014

Join us for our 2014 Comedy Night Haiti Fund Raiser

Posted 08/28/2014

Summer Haiti Trip
By Betsy Hohlfelder

Part of the Haiti Water Project team (Darenda Lease, Rick and Pat Jacobs, and Betsy Hohlfelder) made another trip to Haiti in early July. Unlike past trips, we did not go to install a water purification system, but rather to visit prior installation sites and to meet with potential future partners. Each time we return to Haiti we learn a bit more about the country, its people and how to do a better job in the work we feel called to do. We were also struck anew at how welcoming and joyful the Haitians are and at the incredible beauty of many parts of Haiti.

Our week began by meeting with Betsy Wall (Executive Director) and Pierre Richard (Country Coordinator) of Foundation for International Development Assistance (FIDA). They assist communities who are interested in forming productive agricultural co-operatives. One of the communities that they have been working with (Lafiteau, which is not far from Port-au-Prince), has identified the need for clean water as one of their top priorities. Betsy and Pierre Richard had agreed to introduce us to their Co-operative Board so that we could describe our water system and its capability, and to see if there might be an interest in a future partnership. It was a good meeting, with lots of questions raised on both sides. A positive of working with a group such as this one is that they have self-identified the need for clean water (and are more likely, therefore, to make optimal use of it), and they have a solid, democratically elected leadership in place to help promote the operation and usage of the system.

Our next meeting was with the water board of Life is Wealth Orphanage in Carrefour Feuilles (not far from Port-au-Prince). We had previously visited this site during our November 2013 trip, and had tested the water and determined that it was bad. There are about 65 orphans who live there, as well as a school for about 500 children on site. It is a busy place! Our meeting this trip was to discuss the roles and responsibilities of each party in a water system installation and to establish a working rapport with our Haitian counterparts. We are tentatively planning to return to Haiti to install a system at this orphanage in early November.

The next part of our trip involved revisiting four of the sites where we had previously installed water systems. It is important to continue to strengthen our relationships with each of our Haitian Operating Partners, and this trip allowed us the time to do this. In particular, we spent time at two of our first installations (Torbeck and Camp Perrin) and did some retraining of their health and hygiene educators. We introduced a few new activities, repeated some of the most important past activities, and gave them the chance to practice what they had learned by presenting to the group. We also had discussions with the leaders and operators at all four sites and encouraged them to continue to expand the utilization of the systems.

It really was wonderful to revisit the communities where our systems are operating. There is true affection between our team and the people at each site, and our return visits help to solidify this bond. The Haitian Operators have taken excellent care of the systems and they run into few problems in their operation. The biggest area where improvement could be made is to increase the number of people who are drinking the water from the systems. While low usage of the water systems by the communities has been frustrating for our team, we are encouraged that Camp Perrin has shown much improvement from its initial months of operation, and one of our newest sites (Vernet) is operating well above the volume of most Living Water systems in Haiti.

We continue to be grateful for the support of our Bower Hill family for the Haiti Water Project. Your prayers and gifts (especially the most recent Capital Campaign gift!) sustain us and go with us each trip. Thank you!


 

Posted 07/06/2014

Members and Friends of Bower Hill.

Please be with us in prayer as we journey once again to Haiti! Rick & Pat Jacobs, Betsy Holhfelder and myself will be leaving Sunday morning July 6th and we return late Sunday July 13th.

We have a different agenda for this trip. There will not be an installation. Instead we will be visiting with our  Operating Partners. We are excited to be spending  time discussing ways to get clean water to the many in need in their communities. Each site has a Clean Water Board and we will spend time talking about a number of things with them.  Additionally, at Camp Perrin and Torbeck we will be doing continuing education on health and hygiene.  Betsy and Pat will be working closely with these educators to help them take what they learn into the community. 

This trip is also offering us a wonderful opportunity to meet with several organizations that are based in Haiti. We hope to learn how they work in Haiti successfully and if there are ways we can work together in the future. These meetings will be held in Port Au Prince during the first few days of our arrival.

We are also excited to announce that we already have plans to return to Haiti in early November to install our 6th system! We will be meeting with the people from Life is Wealth Orphanage, located in Carrefour Fueilles, just outside of Port Au Prince, to discuss the installation and sign agreements. This is a site we visited during our last trip.  We worked with our In-Country Haiti Team to help us make the decision to move forward with this installation. The In-Country team performed the necessary surveys and talked with many people in and around the community to determine that this site is indeed a good site; one in need of clean water and one that will be supported by the community. Our In-Country team will work closely with them to help ensure its success. If you see Steve Boisvert, Chris Robbins or Alan Hohlfelder ask them about this site. The need there is great.

We feel your prayers when we travel, we really do! So I ask that you pray that our conversations with our Operating Partners be productive and that we find encouraging words and ways to be of continued service to them. We ask for prayers that we form new and healthy relationships with those organizations that are based in Haiti. They work everyday to make a difference and promote sustainability in communities that are the most in need. Prayers that we taste bad to the mosquitoes and they leave us alone!

And as always prayers for safe travels. We know the weather is going to be hot and sticky or really rainy, send up prayers that we handle what ever comes our way with a cool head and a warm heart!

We are so blessed to have you travel with us in this way!

Darenda Lease
Haiti Travel Team

 

Posted 03/07/2014

Join us for our 2014 Fashion Show and Luncheon Haiti Fund Raiser

 

Posted 01/24/2014

 

PRESBYTERIAN DISASTER
ASSISTANCE GRANT FOR HAITI WATER PURIFICATION PROJECTS

By Rick Jacobs

At the Haiti Pot Luck dinner on January12, the Haiti Water Team talked about receiving a grant of $50,000 from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) in Louisville, Kentucky and that some of those funds had been used to pay for the two water system installations that Bower Hill completed in November 2013.It might be helpful to provide some context for this grant so that congregation members understand what funds are available and how they are to be spent.

The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Fund was established by the Presbyterian Church in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In the ensuing months, much of the funds were used to provide direct disaster relief to the people of Haiti, but there were still funds remaining for Haiti relief in 2012. Bower Hill proposed to Pittsburgh Presbytery that we submit a grant request to PDA for $50,000. It was necessary to go to Presbytery because all Haiti Disaster Assistance grant requests to PDA are required to be submitted by a Presbytery. The PDA Grant covers $10,000 of the total $25,000 cost of an installation, so it can be applied to a total of five installations. At this time there are only two churches in Pittsburgh Presbytery working on water projects in Haiti - Bower Hill Community Church and East Union Presbyterian Church.

Presbytery agreed to Bower Hill's proposal so I wrote a grant request to PDA on behalf of Pittsburgh Presbytery and it was submitted by Presbytery to PDA in January 2013. Bower Hill was the only church mentioned in the grant application. In September 2013, Bower Hill received word from PDA that we had been awarded a grant for $50,000, and a check for that amount arrived about two weeks later (just in time for our installation trip to Haiti in November). Bower Hill spent $20,000 of the PDA grant money to partially cover expenses for the two systems (approx. $50,000) installed in November.

The remaining $30,000 has been designated for three more water systems in Haiti, but not necessarily for Bower Hill installations. Pittsburgh Presbytery's intention in submitting the grant application to PDA was for funds to support all the churches. in the Presbytery that are working on Haiti water projects. They want some of the funds to be available for other churches. The Great Commission Team will decide at their January meeting about how to allocate the remaining $30,000. Bower Hill's recommendation will be to leave $10,000 with our church and transfer the remaining $20,000 to Presbytery for use with other churches. East Union Presbyterian has already requested that these funds be allocated for installations that they have planned in 2014 and 2015.

When Bower Hill completes the transfer of $20,000 to Pittsburgh Presbytery, the balance in our Haiti Water Project fund will be approximately $42,000. This is about 75% of the amount needed to complete two more installations.

 

Posted 12/23/2013

Reflections on BHCC’s Latest Haiti Water Project Trip: From Steve Boisvert

To see more about the latest Haiti Water Project trip, go to http://bhccinhaiti2.blogspot.com.

In December of 2003, Deb and I became members of BHCC. Little did I know that this was the first step on the road to Haiti. In spite of reading the previous Haiti Water Team trips’ blogs, all of the training at Living Waters’ Clean Water U, and conversations with veteran team members, there was no way I could have imagined what a profound adventure was in store for me. And what an adventure it was!

It’s impossible not to fall in love with this beautiful and challenging country and its people. At the same time, how difficult it is to try to describe our recent trip. The gardener in me was constantly delighted by the lush gardens and landscapes as we traveled through the southwest corner of Haiti, even as the ever-present poverty of Haiti reminded me of the myriad of challenges facing our Haitian brothers and sisters. Despite the difficulties they face, our Haitian friends and partners maintain a wonderful combination of pride, joy, and faith. So many of the “problems” of life back home faded away to insignificance as the week progressed. As much as it is a cliche, you come home having learned and received so much more than you can “give” having been blessed enough to be able to actually see our water project in action.

This became evident over the course of the week at our second site, Pastor Daniel’s orphanage. When we arrived in Torbeck Wednesday, we found out that the water building at the orphanage was not even close to being ready for the installation. From the looks of things, there was no way it would be completed before we had to leave. Oh we of little faith! Pastor Daniel assured us it would be ready Friday morning, giving us two, maybe three days to install and test the system, and train the operators. Thursday afternoon didn’t look much better, but we all began assembling components of the system outside, working until close to sundown. Our Haitian partners kept working on the building, working from 6:00 AM until 9:00 PM. When we returned Friday morning, it was completed enough that we could begin installation of the system while work on completing the rest of the building was going on at the same time. By mid-afternoon, we had a working system in place. We were back on track for training the system operators and a joyful celebration Sunday. What a humbling experience that was.

The system in Les Cayes presented the opposite test of our faith. The water building was ready and waiting for us Wednesday. Installation went like clockwork, until the on-and-off-again city water system shut down Thursday just as we were ready to fill the cistern to supply the water system! Once again faith, patience and flexibility became our mantra and we headed to the orphanage. If push came to shove, we would order a water buffalo to fill the cistern to allow us to test the system and have a celebration Sunday as planned. Saturday city water returned and we had enough water in the cistern to complete testing, training, and have our celebration.

As we got together Sunday night to reflect on the week, we were flying high, and yet acknowledged how much we had to learn about Haiti, its people and culture to work effectively with our partners in the long term. Providentially, our host at the guesthouse that night was Betsy Walls who has 30 years experience working with groups in Haiti. Long into the evening we picked her brains and discussed how much we have to learn and ponder how we would go forward. Monday afternoon, as I boarded the plane, I was filled with mixed feelings. Anxious to be home again and see Deb after being out of touch for most of the week, I was still wistful. All I could do was smile, knowing that I would be coming back to this wonderful and challenging place.
Throughout the entire trip we all felt the presence of your prayers and support from home. All of the time and effort so many of you devoted to make the week possible was with us the entire time. It is indeed a privilege and a blessing to have been able to see the fruits of months of faithful commitment to our team and Haitian brothers and sisters. Thank you!

 

Posted 09/26/2013

Haiti Water Projects Update by Darenda Lease for the Haiti Travel Team

HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL! THE HAITI TRAVEL TEAM IS GROWING!

As of this this newsletter, Meg Kelly has completed Solar school to learn the electrical/solar side of the system; Al Patterson and Steve Boisvert have completed 103 training: Installation Process of the Water System; and Diane McCammon has completed 102 training: Health and Hygiene Education. We are so excited that they were inspired to join us.

We are returning to Haiti in November to install two more solar powered water treatment systems. Both sites are located in the Le Cayes area. We are excited that our sites continue to be in the southern part of Haiti, as this allows us opportunity to revisit as many of our previous installations as we can. The team for this trip: Rick and Pat Jacobs, Alan and Betsy Hohlfelder, Darenda Lease, Chris Robbins, Steve Boisvert and Meg Kelly. We leave for Haiti November 19 and return November 25!

We would appreciate you help with:

DRIVERS
We need folks to get us to the airport at 4:00 a.m. on November 19
and pick us up late evening on November 25!
Please see Darenda Lease about the details.

SUITCASES
We need a few more large suitcases and a few large or medium hard-cased suitcases.

PRAYERS
Continued prayers for this incredible mission are needed and appreciated!

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
We are always looking for opportunities for the team to acquire funding outside the church. Help us to arrange speaking engagements, help by searching for and writing grants, and help with new ideas to keep this mission funded.

We feel strongly that we need to return to Haiti every four to six months to work on our relationships with our partners.
For the water systems to be used to their full capacity, it is important to provide additional education on health, hygiene and ways to get clean water further into the villages of Torbeck, Chaveneau, Camp Perrin and the new villages Vallet and Vernet 1 & 2. Relationship is the key to the success of these installations, and it is indeed part of the covenant we signed with our partners!

1 Corinthians 12:12 “The body is a unit, though it is made of many parts..." We feel blessed to be his “hands and feet” in Haiti. It is because of each of you, the many parts at BHCC that “do,” that we can! Thank you for blessing us again with your support in the many ways that you do!


 

 

PLEASE attend the Comedy Night on October 12!

It is truly a FUN and FUNNY night and all proceeds support the Haiti Water Project!

 

Posted 05/24/2013

Haiti Water Project: An Update the Team

Through the many blessings from BHCC, the Haiti Travel team completed a third solar-powered water filtration system in Camp Perrin, District 3 during the week of April 10-16th!

What a joy it was to meet the people of this lush and mountainous village. On this trip were Pastor Brian Snyder, Karl Casey, Pat & Rick Jacobs and Tim & Darenda Lease.

Also joining us was Akeisha Johnson. She is the founder of the Oshun Project and helped to fund some of this installation. With every trip to Haiti there is so much to share with you.

We want you to know that you been a most important part
of affecting the lives of those in Haiti
and those that you commission to go!

“As I reflect on our most recent trip to Haiti, I think what impressed me most was that the Haitians wanted to be participants and true partners in the project, They wanted to give back to us and not be just the recipients of charity. Thus they, who may not eat a meal every day, fed us three sumptuous meals a day - even though it might mean slaughtering a goat or chicken, or picking, fire-roasting and hand grinding beans to make two thermoses of coffee that we consumed before breakfast each day. And they were so excited to show us the bedrooms complete with new beds and linens they had prepared for us knowing that they didn't sleep anywhere nearly so nice. When we were done and the celebration was over, the director treated us to an outing at a beautiful waterfall park and cold drinks. Of the little they had they gave generously to us. It was humbling and even embarrassing to be on the receiving end of such hospitality. But to have rejected what they offered would have been to suggest they had nothing to give - that they were mere charity cases to us, not good people with dignity and love to give.

Everyone wanted to help. Teens from the area cheerfully made short work of sticking labels on 200 bottles. The older ladies helped make paper chains for celebration decorations. One elderly lady couldn't handle scissors or stapler because she didn't have the strength in her hands so she organized the paper strips in different colors and handed them to me as I stapled the paper links together.” Pat Jacobs

“The thing that has stuck with me is how generally content all the Haitians I encountered were. After what many of them have had to endure, it was unexpected and inspiring.” Chris Robbins

 

“Emotionally and cognitively, I felt prepared for what was going to be encountered in Haiti, yet seeing a country with no infrastructure, little government organization, extreme poverty, malnutrition, children gathering water from unclean sources with unsanitary vessels and citizens who struggle daily for existence, Ifound myself totally unprepared. I to had difficulty articulating my experience due to the waves of emotion which silent me. Living and working in an area of privilege, I am humbled by the Haitians who greeted us as family with song, sacrificed their own needs for our comfort, and showed us a selfless hospitality. The positive disposition of the Haitians has changed my perspective of what is important. and fellow team members have become ambassadors for the Haiti, continuing to bring attention to the urgent simple need for clean water. Feeling blessed for the congregation of BHCC giving me the opportunity to be part of mission would be an understatement. I look forward with joyous anticipation to the next installation.” Karl Casey

 

“Although our initial reaction was a little disappointment when we returned to Torbeck and Chaveneau, the sites of our first water system installations, and learned that the water systems were not operating at full capacity, we did find the systems to be very well maintained and the operators very engaged. We were also welcomed in hospitality in our return visits. We have subsequently concluded that it will take time for the communities to become comfortable with the new water sources. Later that day as we drove into the site of our to be third water installation, MP3K, we were greeted with cheers, laughter and hugs. Throughout our week of installation, their continued hospitality was remarkable, and when Chavanes Casseus, the director of MP3K, commented that “we are treating them like real people”, I came to the realization that our mission as a congregation is much more than the number of gallons of water that we are delivering. The success should be measured in the number of relationships that we create.” Tim Lease

“It has been so exciting to be involved with the Haiti Water Project. Seeing it grow from a brainstorming idea in our Koinonia group to the point where our team has successfully installed 3 systems in Haiti has been amazing! We have all felt the hand of God on this project, guiding us and supporting us each step along the way. When our Koinonia group read The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, I must admit that the problems of the world that he outlined were overwhelming. It can be paralyzing to see such tremendous need and wonder what we can do about it. But there is an African saying that goes like this... "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito.

So the Haiti Water Project grew out of our conviction that each of us can do something to make a difference. What has been neat to watch is how many people at Bower Hill have found a way to help the project. We are so grateful for the people who have donated money, helped with our fundraisers, driven us to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, upheld us in prayer, offered encouraging words, and helped us to connect with others to share our story.

It is a privilege to be part of the traveling team and I am anxious to return to Haiti in the fall. While we bring the gift of clean water to the Haitians, they in turn give us the gifts of friendship, hospitality and perspective. Thank you for continuing to support us on this amazing journey.” Betsy Hohlfelder

“My experiences working with LWW/SUTS give me a lot of opportunities to meet people and make friends. It also helps me by increasing my knowledge and serving others, lots of pride and honors. So I am thanking all of you guys and especially LWW/SUTS for clean and safe waters to us in Haiti. Now the cholera has decreased in Haiti, this is good way to see the purification systems that you guys and all the other partners have already installed is a really great success only for you who have done the job but also all of the Haitian people who are using waters.”
Frantzou Avril

“We know there is much more to do and that God will provide opportunities to help us install more water systems. With that said there are four new people that plan to participate in training at Living Waters and Solar Schools. Steve Boisvert, Meg Kelly, Diane McCammon and Alan Patterson all plan to be ready to go on our next trip! We have in our hearts to return to Haiti in November 2013 for another double installation! We have learned that we are all on a faith journey and it has been said: “We have to expect to share our journey with others.! The isolated journey quickly becomes misguided by ignorance, avoidance and fear. We grow spiritually from relationships with real people, not just books and programs. When we walk with others along the journey we support one another as we talk toward God” Graham Standish

We are ever so grateful to walk with you BHCC! Continued blessing to each of you!

Darenda Lease for The Haiti Travel Team

 

Posted 04/07/2013

Pat Jacobs will be updating the teams blog as long as she can get internet access while they are in Haiti this week.

Current Trip - 04/10/2013 Water Systeem Installation Trip Blog

Last Trip - 11/27/2012 Water Systeem Installation Trip Blog

Posted 04/01/2013

HAITI WATER PROJECT UPDATE
Rick Jacobs

Bower Hill's Haiti Water Project is alive and well. The water team and our stalwart fundraisers have been hard at work, preparing for our next trip to Haiti. You have probably noticed the water drop display on the bulletin board outside the nursery, offering opportunities for you to provide financial support for our next trip. And you have been VERY SUPPORTIVE. The team members continue to be amazed and humbled by the outpouring of prayers and dollars to help bring clean drinking water to Haiti.

Our next trip to Haiti will be April 10 - April 16. We will be going to Camp Perrin, which is a farm community in the mountains outside of Les Cayes. They have been hard hit by cholera. We surveyed the water there over a year ago and found their only water source to be severely contaminated. This project has been in our prayers ever since. This will be our third installation in Haiti. The traveling team for this trip includes Brian Snyder, Karl Casey, Tim and Darenda Lease and Rick and Pat Jacobs.

Camp Perrin is in the same area of Haiti we have been to on previous trips, and we are beginning to develop a reputation there. We are working closely with a group from George Washington University that operates under a nonprofit called The Oshun Project. You can read more about all the things they are doing with the community of Camp Perrin at www.theoshunproject.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/TheOshunProject. The Oshun Project is providing funding for construction of the water building and some other expenses.

We have been busy refreshing our training, purchasing, sorting and assembling equipment, making endless travel and in-country support arrangements, planning fundraisers and tending to all the myriad details of planning a major excursion into a third-world country. We are very excited to be going back to Haiti so soon.

We hope to make another trip in the fall of this year if we can raise an additional $25,000 to cover all the travel and installation expenses. That's a lofty goal, considering how much financial support has already been given to the Haiti Water Project. We are working with Pittsburgh Presbytery to apply for a Presbyterian Disaster Assistance grant to obtain some of the remaining funds for disaster relief and rebuilding set aside by our denomination after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti . We have also been talking to Rotary Clubs and other churches (like Southminster Presbyterian) about providing financial support for the Haiti Water Project. We have additional fundraisers in mind, but we would welcome any suggestions you may have about potential funding contacts or ideas to raise money. The team feels strongly called to continue to serve in Haiti as long as God provides the means.

Please continue to pray for the success of Bower Hill's continuing mission to the people of Haiti and to support the Haiti Water Team. The need is so great. The other members of our travel team are Alan and Betsy Hohlfelder, Chris Robbins and Rich Salvante. Our fundraising coordinators are Mary Good and Kathy Philson.

If you want to know more about the current project, or how you can get more involved, just find a team member. We'll be happy to talk your ear off.

 

Posted 02/07/2013

Support our fund raiser by attending the Spring Fashion Show

Posted 12/19/2012

We're back from Haiti
We hope many of you will be able to attend our Haiti Presentation on January 6th. If you do not, corner any one of us and we will gladly share our experience. We want you to know that BHCC was part of something incredibly meaningful and joyful...bringing the gift of clean water to two communities in Haiti! We wish you could have been there to personally witness the enthusiasm of the Haitians, both young and old, as the systems were dedicated and the people tasted their first sip of clean water! Two villages are drinking CLEAN PURE water and are on their way to better health. Better health leads to energy and the ability to learn and that leads to change!
Your financial support, encouragement and prayers made this possible and for that we are most grateful.


Following is the project summary Rick Jacobs put together. We thought it appropriate to share it with you.

Project Summary
The Bower Hill water team completed installation of Living Waters for the World (LWW) solar powered water systems in Torbeck and Chaveneau, Haiti, on December 2, 2012. This is a report of the success of these projects.

In September 2011, six members of Bower Hill Community Church attended Clean Water University in Oxford, MS, for training in establishing covenant relationships, constructing water purification systems, and training operators and health educators. In 2012, we sent one person to Clean Water U and four additional people to Solar School in Ferncliff, AR, to learn how to connect solar panels and install electrical controls for water purification systems.

Last February, a small team from Bower Hill Community Church went to Haiti, where we signed a covenant with Pere Jean Phillippe Jean Alphonse of St Paul's Episcopal Church in Torbeck. We agreed to pay for construction of a water treatment building, to install a solar powered water purification system, to train operators and health educators, and to pay operator salaries for at least one year. Shortly after that trip, we learned of a non-profit organization called Hearts United with Haiti (HWH) that is providing financial and other assistance to a school and church located in the rural village of Chaveneau. Working with Crystal Funk, Director of HWH, we were able to develop a second water project at this location. HWH installed a new well, and Bower Hill agreed to provide the same covenant services as for Torbeck. (A covenant with Chaveneau was signed in November).

Throughout 2012, we raised money, constructed a mock-up system, practiced our installation skills and generally shared the message of clean water with as many people as possible. Several churches contributed money raised by children attending Vacation Bible School based on LWW curriculum. We also received additional grants of $15,000 from Solar Under the Sun for two solar powered water purification projects in Haiti. By early fall, with God's help we had raised sufficient funds to complete both projects, so we made plans to travel to Haiti after Thanksgiving and install both systems. We purchased all the water system equipment, electrical components, fittings, tools and wiring necessary to construct the systems, and ordered the Solar panels, batteries and components that we could not carry from Green Energy Solutions in Haiti. The weekend after Thanksgiving we packed all the equipment into 19 suitcases to be carried down with the team.

 

Our team of eight people arrived in Port Au Prince on November 27. We were met by members of the Living Waters Haiti network and by Crystal and Redgi from Hearts United with Haiti. Because of a late arrival, we spent the night in Port Au Prince, and departed for Torbeck early the next morning. We arrived in Torbeck at noon, and immediately started unpacking and dividing the equipment. We were joined by additional Haitian technicians, who had already mounted the solar panels at both locations.

Over the next four days, the team split into two groups. With assistance of the Haitian technicians, we completed the installation of the water systems at both sites in 2 1/2 days. Hygiene training was conducted in Torbeck on Wednesday and Thursday and in Chaveneau on Friday and Saturday. 25 people were trained as hygiene educators. The water systems were tested and 8 operators were trained at both locations on Saturday. Clean water was produced and distributed at Torbeck on Saturday. On Sunday after worship services, both systems were blessed, dedicated and celebrated. Several hundred people attended the dedications, and everyone was very happy to receive the gift of clean water. More than 200 bottles of water were distributed. The Bower Hill teams participated in the celebrations and then departed for Port Au Prince, returning to the US on Monday, December 3. A daily blog with pictures and details of our experiences in Haiti can be accessed at http://bhccinhaiti.blogspot.com.

The cost for the systems, excluding training, but including the building costs at both sites, is approximately $31,000 each. Training costs of more than $10,000 are added to these costs. of funds for these costs are provided below:

GRANTS
Pittsburgh Presbytery $15,000
Solar Under the Sun $15,000
FUNDRAISERS $19,200
PRIVATE DONATIONS $16,010
BOWER HILL MISSION FUNDS $9,450
MEMORIAL AND OTHER GIFTS $6,480

TOTAL $81,140

 

From these numbers, it is apparent that Pittsburgh Presbytery grants accounted for approximately 18% of the funds raised and Solar Under the Sun grants accounted for another 18%. So nearly 2/3 of the total funds were raised through the efforts of Bower Hill Community Church. This meets all the requirements for the grants received from Pittsburgh Presbytery. Congratulations to all of you who contributed to our success.

Bower Hill still has nearly $11,000 remaining from 2012 fundraising efforts. Our church is very excited about continuing this mission. We are contemplating installation of an additional water purification system at Camp Perrin, Haiti, sometime next year, and perhaps a fourth system if we can raise the money. We would welcome additional grants from Pittsburgh Presbytery, various Rotary clubs, Solar Under the Sun and Living Waters for the World to assist us with these installations. We now have a proven team of installers and educators who are enthusiastic about their involvement with Living Waters and Solar Under the Sun in Haiti. We are relying on God to provide the opportunity for us to be of additional service to his will.

 

 

Posted 12/19/2012

The team is back after successfully installing 2 water systems. On Jan 6 after the worship service, there will be a potluck dinner after which the team will discuss their trip. Check out the first set of pictures below.

 

 

Posted 11/26/2012

Pat Jacobs will be updating the teams blog as long as she can get internet access while they are in Haiti this week.

Bower Hill 11/27/2012 Water Systeem Installation Trip Blog

Posted 09/08/2012

This link below gives you an idea of what our Haiti Water Project is about. This is from another group doing the similar work.

Hearts United With Haiti

 

Posted 9/27/2012

Lastest news on installing two water systems in November 2012

Posted 04/27/2012

Below is a travel-journal update from Darenda Lease,
who recently traveled to Haiti with her husband, Tim,
and fellow BHCC members Rick & Pat Jacobs, to forward the project's goals.

THERE IT WAS!
There was the answer to my nagging question,
“Can we possibly make a difference that really matters?”

Two things I was told to remember: “Tell your team to fill their water bottles before they board the airplane to Haiti, and go to the bathroom before you go to baggage claim in Haiti. You will not be able to do either of these for a while once you start the drive to Le Cayes.”

Getting to Haiti is relatively easy. Arriving in Haiti and going through customs was uneventful. Even getting past the many “red shirts,” those aggressive individuals permitted inside the airport to “help” with your luggage, although intimidating, was manageable. But the ride from Port Au Prince to Le Cayes was not so easy on the eyes or heart. The city was in shambles from the 2010 earthquake. Debris lined the streets and although much has been cleaned up in the past year, for the first time visitor it was a shocking sight.  The number of people everywhere we went could become overwhelming. Each village or town we passed through was filled with people working very hard to make a few goud (Haitian currency). The streets were lined shoulder to shoulder with people selling mangos, charcoal, odds and ends from their home, pint size water bags, dried fruit, candy, beans, rice, dried spices, ANYTHING and everything they had. Haiti is hard on its people and Haiti has been hard for a long time for many reasons, from destruction of its infrastructure, hurricanes and most recently the earthquake. People there truly live day to day. I quickly began to wonder: do Haitians have hope, dreams, and goals? With so much need here, can we possibly make a difference that really matters?

Our schedule changed during our drive to the guesthouse. We called ahead for directions only to find out that we were not expected until the next day, but they could be ready for us much later that evening. Suddenly we had a full day to fill, and what a blessing it turned out to be.

We switched up the weeks’ plans and decided to visit the two sites Rick worked on last October. He installed a UV water treatment system at one site and an Ozone water treatment system at the other. It was perfect because we would see two different working systems, have the opportunity to get some questions out of the way, and be better prepared as we went about our week surveying sites for our own installations. After a few hours we turned off the main road to drive almost another hour on a bumpy narrow dirt road to get back into the first village. We were greeted with lots of smiles and waves from the kids at this site. It was home to one of the many Global Orphan Projects and since Rick and Ashley were there a few months ago, they were recognized.  We climbed out of the truck with our follow-up surveys in hand to check out how the system was performing.  We were all busy with our questions when we heard an “alleluia!” behind us. The pastor that runs this Global Orphan Project heard we were they and could not wait to tell us, “Our children have not been sick with diarrhea or stomach pains since the water system was installed last October!!” THERE IT WAS! There was the answer to my nagging question “Can we possibly make a difference that really matters?”  I have no doubt that that was a direct answer from God through this Pastor. After a joyful conversation and completion of the survey, we said our goodbyes and set off for the second site. At both sites we arrived unannounced and found them impeccably clean, well maintained and, most importantly, successfully providing CLEAN PURE water to their local communities!

By now it is late afternoon. We had drained those water bottles we filled at 5:00 a.m. and had our fill of trail mix and dried fruit, so we put Ancy to the task of finding us a place to eat. He located a small local restaurant where we had (like every night during our stay) rice and beans, some fried meat and fried plantains. It was delicious and soon after we were settled into our guesthouse ready for a good night’s sleep. I think we were all asleep by 9:00 p.m.! I was awakened by the sound of a rooster crowing at 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. then 4:00. He could apparently tell the change of every hour but just couldn’t get which one represented true morning, so he just kept going until he got it right! But HEY, we were in Haiti and a new day was beginning! What joy would we find today?

The 7:30 breakfast bell rang and we delighted to find that we would be having breakfast and dinner with our host and hostess, Madame Franchette and Pastor Ignace Augustine, each day. They have started over 60 churches and schools providing jobs for many. They are from Haiti and have felt God’s calling to stay and make a difference, which they certainly have. Our hope is to install a water system at their school in Le Cayes in the near future. This would serve the community, their school and their orphanage which currently drinks water treated with Iodine tablets.

 

After breakfast we set off to find Torbeck, less than 30 minutes away. We were ready to get to work! To start the site surveys at the St. Paul Rectory and their school, to test the water and quickly move right to negotiating a covenant.  We had lots to do (in our American get-it-done way)! We arrived close to 9:00 a.m. and were greeted by Father/Pere Alphonse, a few elders of the Parish and teachers from the community. Instead of going right to tasks at hand, we all sat down to yet another breakfast. Conversation was light as there was only ONE translator. We quickly learned to slow down, to pay attention to body language, and to look into someone’s eyes as they try to communicate simple sentences. We learned we could understand a little through jesters, pointing and smiling! It was time well spent and added much to begin the relationship building part of our mission. It was an initiation into the way we will be doing business in Haiti.

So the day goes like this: we drive to a site, we talk, Ancy translates, they answer, Ancy translates, we talk some more,  Ancy translates.  A large amount of our time that week was spent traveling to and from sites and in translating. Surely by the end of each day, Ancy had to be the truly exhausted one.

We spoke with four groups on this trip, did surveys on three sites, started initiating talks to sign covenants in the near future with two, and came home with one completed and signed covenant. That signed covenant was with Pere Alhponse of St. Paul Parish in Torbeck. The water treatment system will be installed at the site of the Rectory late November 2012!  Construction on the building to house the water system started mid-April! This is incredibly exciting!

I have to share one story. Two young men from an area north of Port Au Prince were scheduled to talk to us. They traveled over eight hours to get to us. After a short time listening to their desperate story, it became clear that many things needed to happen before we could begin to help them.  People in their village were scooping water from the river that runs near the village. It is the only source of water they have. This is the same river that is mentioned in all of the Cholera articles in the papers recently. It is contaminated with and now breeds Cholera. I cannot begin to explain the sadness in their eyes and our hearts.  They had been so excited to be able to meet us so we could “save their people.”  We will be staying in contact with them through a group in the US called Partners in Progress. We hope we find a way quickly to help this village.

We met wonderful people and saw everyday people working hard to earn a living one day at a time. We felt like we accomplished much on our trip, but this kind of story can haunt you.  Ashley Broadhurst accompanied us on our trip. She has been to Haiti almost monthly for over a year and shared these words of encouragement and comfort. “Unlike many countries with pockets of poverty, Haiti is a country where one simply cannot get out of it. As I continue to tell teams, Haiti is hard, and you must allow yourself time to process... And one must not fall victim to being overwhelmed and thinking the work they are doing is in vain. If you can touch one life, if you can bring hope to just one person, if you can give love to one child, if you can give clean water to one community, then you have succeeded.” At the end of our trip she wrote, “Relationships have strengthened, optimism is seen on every corner and the work we are doing is increasing daily. God has certainly blessed our teams and their missions.”

Thank you Bower Hill! You have already succeeded in making a difference.

We ask for your continued blessing on this mission and continued prayers in our efforts to fundraise so we can install many water systems in the future. We are looking forward to the opportunity to share pictures and conversation soon in Adult Ed. Please come! I think we will make you proud!

Darenda Lease
Haiti Travel Team

 

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!

 

Posted 9/30/2011


Bower Hill Launches a Haiti Solar-Powered Water Purification Project

You are invited to join us in a new Bower Hill mission effort –
the installation of a solar-powered water purification unit in Haiti!

Below is an update from the team of  BHCC volunteers who participated
in a training seminar in preparation for this long-range mission plan.

Well, we’re back from Living Waters for the World (LWW) Clean Water U training in Mississippi. We got a huge amount of information crammed into our heads in the 4 1/2 days we were there and we’re still digesting it all. Darenda and Rick attended the leadership training class. Betsy and Pat attended the health and hygiene training, and Alan and Tim attended the technical course on the installation of the system. We met many inspiring Christians who have already done multiple installations in Haiti and elsewhere and are going back for more!

We now have a much better idea of the task ahead and we are truly excited to get on with it! The Living Waters for the World (livingwatersfortheworld.org/) model is to train volunteers in developing a relationship with a Haitian community for whom they will provide the water purification system and ‘expertise.’ But the Haitians will actually build the unit as well as run and maintain it. In addition to the installation, we will train community leaders in health and hygiene so that they, in turn, can teach the rest of the community. They will learn about germs and disease, when to use their clean water and when to use ‘raw’ water, and about the importance of washing hands, when and how to do it. An ongoing relationship with the community will support the sustainability of the purification system and good health based on clean water and good hygiene habits.

There are currently 43 systems installed in Haiti and the expectation is that there will be 50 by the end of the year. Sixteen of the existing systems are solar powered. Some were damaged in the earthquake but have been repaired. Several have been retrofitted with solar power because electricity was spotty at best before the earthquake and worse afterwards. There is a great Haitian LWW network supporting the volunteer efforts.

While in Mississippi, we heard one story of a US church group that has been supporting an orphanage in Haiti for years. The volunteers drank bottled water while ‘in country,’ but the children, of course, were drinking water from the local source. Some folks from Living Waters for the World came by and tested the water the children were drinking. They found it was full of coliform bacteria! That certainly explained why so many of them suffered from illness. The group supporting the orphanage immediately made plans to attend Clean Water U, to learn how to install a water purification system at the Haitian orphanage so life would be better for ‘their’ children.

The water purification system we will be installing will eliminate parasites that cause diarrhea, which can kill children and debilitate learning because the kids miss school or can't concentrate due to pain and discomfort. In addition, it will remove bacteria that cause cholera, typhoid and other waterborne diseases. The system will provide safe clean water to drink for 100-300 people!

To get our feet wet, so to speak, and begin to develop some familiarity with Haiti and the process, Rick has committed to joining an experienced group going to Haiti in October. They will be installing a unit at an orphanage and checking out sites for future projects. Another 2-4 people from Bower Hill will attend solar training in Arkansas next May to learn how to install the solar system that will power the water purification unit.

We look forward to working with all of you on Bower Hill’s Haiti Water Project!

Yours in Christ,
Alan & Betsy Hohlfelder, Tim & Darenda Lease,
Rick & Pat Jacobs

If you have any questions, phone or email:

Phone: 412-835-0348

Phone:412-341-1029

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Posted 8/1/2011

Bower Hill Launches a
Haiti Solar-Powered Water Purification Project

You are invited to join us in a new Bower Hill mission effort.
The installation of a solar-powered water purification unit in Haiti!

On Sunday, June 5, the Rev. Karen Battle presented Bower Hill with a mission opportunity to respond to a desperate need in Haiti through the Presbytery's Haiti Water Project (details below). A joint effort of the Synod of the Living Waters (‘Living Waters for the World’) and the Synod of the Sun (‘Solar Under the Sun’) trains church teams in the installation of solar-powered water purification systems that can be used anywhere in the world where people are in need of clean water for drinking and cooking.

A group from Koinonia was very excited about the prospect of serving our Lord by helping those still suffering the deplorable conditions in Haiti. This group proposed to Session and the Mission Committee that we form a Bower Hill team to install such a water purification unit in a Haitian community. On Sunday, July 10, Session approved this project.

Based on Rev. Battle’s presentation, several congregation members have already expressed an interest in being on the traveling team  and several more have indicated a desire to help here in Pittsburgh! If you are interested in being part of the traveling team, let us know! In addition, there is plenty of support work to be done by volunteers here at home.

Please call or email the church office if you are interested in joining the BHCC team (either traveling or support) to make the Haiti clean water project happen.

If you have any questions, phone or email:

Phone: 412-835-0348

Phone:412-341-1029

This water purification project is indeed a MAJOR commitment on the part of BHCC, but we believe the Spirit is alive and working in this congregation to give us the power to make it happen.

 

Here is a summary of the mission opportunity
Rev. Karen Battle presented to us:

Need: As you may know, the people of Haiti, especially after the recent earthquake, are in desperate need of clean drinking water. Cholera is a serious and ongoing problem.

Presbytery Mission: The Presbytery's goal is to send five traveling teams to Haiti who will develop ongoing relationships with Haitians through the installation of solar-powered water purification systems. Teams from two other churches in Pittsburgh Presbytery are already in place and undergoing training.
Presbytery support: Presbytery will pay for the solar unit and water purification equipment (filtration/UV) to be installed and provide some funds to help pay for our training. The project will be overseen by Presbytery's Great Commission Ministry Team.

BHCC time and talent commitment: We need the active and involved support of the entire congregation - the actual project team will include many more people than just the ones who will be traveling to Haiti. It is expected that completing the project will take approximately three years.
Traveling team commitment: The traveling team will consist of 8-10 Bower Hill members who will attend training and then, between them, make four trips over a period of three years to Haiti (not all team members go on every trip).
Training: 1) A group of 4-6 team members will attend five days of training in Mississippi (partnership development/project management/system sustainability/evaluation & assurance; health/hygiene/spiritual education; water system installation/operation/maintenance) provided by the Living Waters Synod. 2) Another group of 2-4 will go to four days of solar setup training in Arkansas (leadership/partnering/surveying; installation/equipping partners) provided by the Synod of the Sun.
Haiti travel detail: Trip #1 to Haiti is for the traveling team to evaluate potential projects and establish a relationship with a resident partner team in Haiti. Trip #2 is to oversee installation of the water purification system and provide community health and hygiene education. Trips #3 and #4 are for follow-up, troubleshooting and evaluation.

Haitian partner team: Living Waters for the World, a project of the Living Waters Synod, has already identified potential partner teams in Haiti. We will work with a resident Haitian team that is expected to provide: 1) infrastructure to support and sustain the project; 2) facilities to house the equipment, i.e., a 3-room structure; 3) workers to install the equipment with supervision of the trained US partners.

Covenant: The BHCC traveling team and resident Haiti team will sign a covenant spelling out each party's duties and expectations.

BHCC financial responsibility: We will provide funding for training and travel expenses, some of which can be raised from the community, some from Bower Hill members and some from the Mission budget and designated mission funds. This money does not need to be raised up front, but spread out over the three years of the project. What is necessary is the commitment to raise the money in a timely enough fashion for the project to proceed. The total funding we will need to provide is estimated to be about $8,000/year.