After arriving on what geologists call one of the most water-deprived populated areas in the world, then driving inland for four hours over something that barely resembled a road, Walter wondered not so much why people live here as how people live here. Here were some scattered houses and a building that was a school during the week and a church on the weekend, a place the long-departed French had for their own reasons called Two Candles to the North and the Haitians on La Gonâve Island called Dè Balein Nò. The red dirt was visible everywhere because nothing grew here, nothing but watermelon, oddly enough, and manioc, which the locals grind up into a paste that has few nutrients but sticks body and soul together.
The problem, of course, and the reason Walter and the Haiti Outreach drilling crew had come to Dè Balein Nò, was the absence of water. The nearest source of any water was a three-hour walk ONE WAY and it was brackish – less salty than seawater but not by much. Every drop of water required for life that is not captured by the rain cisterns attached to each house had to be carried from that distant well. Every attempt so far to find water in Dè Balein Nò by drilling had failed. The Islanders had invited Haiti Outreach to help them try again. They put the crew up in the only concrete house in the village and, in a classic show of Haitian hospitality, fed them corn and beans, a “feast” they could not refuse.
This time, after drilling through an unprecedented three hundred feet of dry limestone, they hit water! The people in the community spontaneously came together with home-made horns, flags and banners, and began to parade around town toward the new well site, singing, dancing and celebrating this new miracle. Now it would be possible to have clean drinking water close by their homes. Now their children would not get as sick. They could use their cistern water for irrigation and grow carrots and cabbages. Businesses could sprout up too. Maybe a real school building might follow, as their children would have more time to attend. Time spent on the 3 hour walk to the former water source would be put to other, more productive use. Walter will always remember the dancing and singing on that day. And all because Haiti Outreach came to their community, drilled a six-inch hole in the ground, and found new life and hope.