Everything that we do at Clean Water for Haiti requires a whole team of people working together to make it happen, whether it’s our staff in Haiti, board members across three countries, or volunteers scattered through North America to help with fundraising and promotion. That said, did you know that some of the hardest working members of our team aren’t actually people? Nope, they’re our big, beloved delivery trucks.
Most of the filters that we deliver go into very rural areas. When I say “rural” it has a very different meaning here in Haiti than it does in Canada or the US. In most cases rural areas in Canada and the US still have paved roads, or at least graded gravel roads, unless you’re really getting off the beaten track. Here in Haiti most of the places we go into are down dusty, gravel roads that have never seen a grader. They’re full of dips and holes that turn into mud pits during the rainy season. It’s essential that we have 4 wheel drive, but even with that there have been times where our trucks have been stuck up to the axels in mud, and our delivery crew have had to unload the entire load of filters, all the bags of sand and the rest of the stuff needed to install filters, dig the truck out, and then reload everything. Each filter, with no sand in it, weighs 165 lbs of solid concrete. Add 80 lbs of sand and about 10 pounds of gravel for each one and you can imaging how exhausting this whole process is.
Our trucks work hard. Did you know that every delivery day we do, with the exception of smaller local deliveries, sees 30 filters and all their installation goodies on the truck? That’s almost 5 tonnes of weight that they carry each time. When we’re working full steam ahead we typically see about 2 deliveries per week. When you think about that much weight moving over really bad roads you can imagine the wear and tear that our vehicles go through.
A couple of years ago our white delivery truck was feeling a bit off, so Chris did a thorough inspection and found that the frame, made of 6 inch steel beams, had cracked almost all the way through on both sides. There was only about an inch of steel left on each side that hadn’t cracked through. We were so thankful that we had found the damage when we did and that it didn’t result in a major accident. We were able to weld the frame back up and add in extra supports and put the truck back on the road. I would love to say that it was the first and last time that we’ve had to do extensive repairs like that to one of our work trucks, but I can’t because I would be lying.
Right now we have three vehicles in our fleet to do all the work we do in our filter program. Our old, old, old (did I mention old) blue Daihatsu truck is barely running most days, but when it is we try to send it out on local errands, or use it to do filter repairs and local deliveries. It’s in sad shape and basically needs to be sold for scrap, but we keep fixing it and using as much as we can.
Our red Daihatsu truck was purchased back in 2007 with a Rotary grant. It’s almost 10 years old, which seems crazy to me. It’s already had one transmission job, has gotten banged up, but we keep it running. It’s worked hard over the years, but really isn’t rated for the work that we need it to do now. Sadly, last week while it was out on deliveries because our white truck was having issues, the motor blew. It meant towing it into Port au Prince in the wee hours of the morning to get it to a mechanic who is now working on the motor rebuild. It doesn’t have 4 wheel drive, so when we send it on a delivery day we’re taking a big chance that the filters that need to get delivered won’t get where they need to go, depending on the recent weather and the conditions of the roads in the communities we’re working in that day. That can be incredibly frustrating and a big waste of resources if we can’t deliver all those filters and need to go back. Most of the time the communities we deliver to are about an hour and a half drive away.
Lastly, our white truck. We bought our Mitsubishi Canter back in 2010 and were so excited to finally have our first 4×4 delivery truck. This thing is a beast. It’s high and I always feel like a boss when I’m driving it. (I always get a lot of double takes when I drive it because people aren’t used to white girls driving big trucks here.) This is the truck we prioritize for delivery days because of the 4 wheel drive. But, it just spent several weeks with a mechanic because the 4 wheel drive has been going out. We weren’t able to fix it the way it needs to work with a dash switch, but figured out a work around. The problem? Our drivers now need to stop the truck, crawl under it, and engage/disengage the 4×4 with a screw driver. I don’t know about you, but crawling under a vehicle with 5 tons of weight on it is not my idea of fun.
In Creole there’s a word, degaje (deh-gah-jzay) that means make it work. We’re really good at making things work, but at some point all that making things work starts to become work in and of itself, and ends up costing more. In 2015 we spent over $10,000 just in vehicle repairs. Do you know how many filters we could have built and installed for that amount of money? 100. 100 households could have gotten clean water. That translates to about 800-1000 people. It makes me sick to think of that.
As an organization we try to be good stewards of the tools and resources we have. That means fixing things and using them for as long as we can. But, it also means taking a good look at things and determining when fixing things is costing us more than replacing whatever it is we’re fixing.
We are at a place where we’re waving the white flag of surrender, and
begging pleading asking people to come alongside Clean Water for Haiti to help us steward what we have well, and make the most impact that we can so more people can get access to clean water. The hard truth is that people are daily battling and dying from the microbes in their water, and we can help. We can stop that. But we need to be able to get filters to people.
We don’t ever want to be in a position where we have to tell people that we can’t do a delivery in a particular week because we don’t have any working vehicles, but sadly we’re encountering that scenario more and more often. I don’t even want to think about the number of down days we’ve had in the past year because we literally didn’t have a truck that could go.
So, how do we solve this problem?
We buy a new truck.
We desperately need to purchase a new 4×4 delivery truck. We need a truck that is even beefier than the current model that we have. Chris is big on doing research and finding the very best option for anything that we need at the mission, whether it’s a computer or a concrete vibrator or a vehicle. He’s spent over a year looking at all our options. This past week he went to the Isuzu dealer in Port au Prince and got a quote on a new truck. It’s rated for 4.5 tons, so much better than our current 3 ton trucks. It has a bigger motor and a better reliability rating than what we have now. It would be such a huge step up for us.
And now we need $52,450.00 US.
That number seems staggering, but if I know anything from the past decade of working with Clean Water for Haiti it is this – nothing is impossible. Nothing.
I have seen God move mountains through people and situations that at the time seemed crazy. If you’ve been reading our blogs, both mission and personal, for the past few years you’ve seen some of those stories play out. When we share the things that we have seen happen as front row witnesses it is staggering. So, even though I think that number is crazy, I know it is not impossible.
And I believe that it will happen.
I believe that because I know that the work we’re doing is saving lives every. single. day. And I know that people believe in loving people. The last time we needed a new truck we had one single donor who stepped up and wrote a check for the total. Done. I know this is not impossible, no matter how daunting it feels right now.
So I am asking you, with my heart wide open, to be part of moving another mountain. Not because you want to help us buy a vehicle, but because you want to love people you will never meet. Because you want to help moms and dads know that the water they’re giving their children isn’t going to kill them before they’ve had a chance to live. I want you to help because you believe in helping a nation rise up and care for themselves, because you want to come alongside us and help us tell people that they’re worth it and they can do it, and help them to step forward in controlling their own health.
I think we can do this. I really do. I believe it. I’m asking you to click on that button below, right now, and make a donation. Maybe you can give $10 or $25. But maybe you can give more. That button is going to take you right to our DONATE page, and it’s going to give you the choice of where to give your gift. Each option will let you choose to give specifically to our New Delivery Truck campaign. Please specify that when you donate so we know your gift is earmarked for this need.
Thank you. From all of us at Clean Water for Haiti, thank you.