In April of 2006, a Haiti Outreach well drilling crew parked their rig and pickup truck on the river bank, as they know to do, before crossing the river. They do this in order to first test the firmness of the riverbed. Vehicles can sink, get stuck, and even turn over in loose sand and mud, which is exactly the kind of river bed they found this time. They determined that another crossing site would be safer.
However, when they went to start the rig’s truck up to move it, it would not start, not even with the help of the pickup truck. Half of the men returned in the pickup to headquarters to retrieve the big army truck, so that they could tow the rig back to get it repaired. Before they returned however, and despite the absence of rain in that location, the river suddenly swelled out of its channel, engulfed the rig, turned it over, and carried it down stream. With tears in their eyes, the employees of Haiti Outreach informed Country Director Neil Van Dine what had happened. But all was not lost. Several days later, the ruined drilling rig and truck that it sat on were retrieved by very determined employees of Haiti Outreach who had to swim in water over their heads to attach the towing ropes. Once they got it out of the river, they hauled the mangled rig to headquarters. The highly skilled Haitian mechanics employed by Haiti Outreach began tearing it down for parts.
Word of the disaster spread. Soon Minnesota Rotarians committed themselves to raise money to replace the drilling rig and truck. They found $5,000 right away. St. Paul, Minnesota Rotarians generously donated $22,000 with which to buy a new truck upon which a new rig would sit. And then another miracle happened. Haiti Outreach supporter Ray Merrill of North Carolina, a former well driller who had previously volunteered his time and talent to help Haiti Outreach with its rigs, had just completed the refurbishment of a cable tool rig. He donated it to the cause of clean water in Haiti. By August, the new truck and rig were in place and the drilling for clean water resumed.
The little lesson learned was to not park the truck too close to a river. The big lesson was that the world is full of wonderful, generous people eager to contribute to the development of Haiti.