Posted by: calloftheandes | September 20, 2011

Ecuadorians in Haiti: Making Water System Repair a Community Rally Point

Haiti’s reconstruction needs loom large after damages inflicted by the devastating January 2010 earthquake. But in the country’s north, Ecuadorian civil engineers César Cortez and Alfredo León anticipate going deep with one specific community by helping reconstruct its water system.

Cortez, who has worked with HCJB Global Hands for many years, is surveying the area about six miles south of Cap-Haitien. He is being accompanied by León who joined the team a few years ago. They are collaborating with Lifewater of Canada and One Mission Society.

“The water projects team we have sent is on the ground with two purposes,” said Martin Harrison, director of community development for the Latin American Region, who has had satellite phone contact with the engineers who are in Haiti for 10 days.

Alfredo León

“Firstly, they want to build relationships and confidence with the communities that have expressed interest in a water project,” he explained. “Secondly, they will be collecting information and conducting topographic surveys with a view to producing a long-term solution to the community’s water and sanitation needs.”

The Sept. 12-23 trip objectives are similar to those of Cortez in January 2011 when he surveyed the Cap-Haitien area’s wells and documented his findings. “There are about 100 wells in that area,” he said. “Really, the first option is to rebuild one of the water projects that, maybe 50 years ago … the Red Cross had built.”

“Right now it is completely destroyed,” Cortez added. Reestablishing Cortez’s ties to the community is key to the Ecuadorian duo’s visit. Just as the Vozandes Community Development team’s efforts emphasize community involvement and empowerment in Ecuador, so too Cortez and León are seeking to guide a Haitian effort, not eclipse it with foreign intervention.

“A key element is relations,” said Cortez. “Everything is based on relations—relations with God, with churches, with leaders and with the people in these communities. So the best way to pray for us is that God can help us in these relations.”

During three weeks in Haiti earlier this year, Cortez was also able to teach in a seminary and in local churches around Cap-Haitien.

César Cortez preached at church services during a January 2011 visit to Haiti.


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