A local couple is in Haiti drilling water wells as part of a global initiative to provide clean water around the world.
Harvey and Tella Morris of Tucumcari are in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, drilling water wells and installing hand pumps as a part of Healing Hands International, a Tennessee-based humanitarian company.
Plenty of water is available, said Jean Morency of Tucumcari, but the issue is that much of the water is polluted and can contain harmful chemicals.
Morency said he lived in Haiti until he was 18 and still has family there. He said the wells dug by professionals give the people a better chance to accessing clean water.
Tella said they are in a compound that is about a city block in size and is surrounded by a tall gray brick wall. She said other organizations and missionaries have used the compound as a home base and are required to return to it every night for safety.
She noted a day they went to get some Creole food for the drilling crew. While waiting for the roadside cook to finish the meal, an argument broke out, and one person in the conflict drew out a machete. The situation was later toned down and resolved verbally, she said.
Morris said she had been hit a few times by some golf ball sized rocks while drilling, though it was not the rig throwing the rocks but the group of youngsters. She said she was told by local residents the children are taught early that the first words are, "Give me American dollars or else."
Morris said she laughed and said, " I have been stoned," by the kids, and continues to work as the people still need water.
Morris said on the first work day they installed two hand pumps, including one for an orphanage with kids waiting at the end of the pump. She said all of a sudden the water gushed out and the smiling children dove in. Morris said the second well was a community well and it was the same response as the first one.
"No words can describe the feeling of being a part of this project," Morris said.
Morency said in the larger modern cities with advanced infrastructure, clean water is available. In the rural areas water is readily available from the river, but this is also where chemicals are poured out and people do their laundry.
Morris said she stayed in the remote village of Thomason one day and saw a 60-gallon barrel that was used for hand-washing clothes, which had children carrying water to wash over a great distance — a distance they would travel again to get water for other purposes.
Morris said they plan on leaving Haiti this Sunday but feel they have left so much undone. She said the trip had a profound impact on her, with no words available to describe the feeling of seeing the kids not have to haul water so far again.
"I was born and raised in a third-world country and am, for a lack of words, used to struggling lifestyles," Morris said. "This was my husband's first out-of-country travel as well as his first plane ride so he was in awe at so many things."
Morris said she and her husband want to return to Haiti, even if it requires a residency change, in order to continue helping those in need.