Sunday, September 2, 2012

ERAU Group Installs Water Purification System in Haiti

A tent city in Haiti is receiving clean water daily after a group from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University installed a water purification system.
The 10 Embry-Riddle mechanical, civil and aeronautical engineering students and a professor returned this week after spending about six days to help thousands of victims of the 2010 earthquake who are living in tents and surrounding areas of Onaville, Haiti, a displacement camp built northeast of Port-Au-Prince.
This is the third water system Embry-Riddle has delivered to Haiti. Previous recipients were an orphanage last year and a missionary relief camp.
In an unrelated trip, a church in Deltona also recently returned from helping to feed and take other supplies to children in Haiti.
The new water purification system is able to pump 20,000 gallons of clean water every day at a rate of 15 gallons a minute as opposed to last year's system of 4 gallons a minute.
The Embry-Riddle students and Marc Compere, Embry-Riddle assistant professor of mechanical engineering, shipped the system they designed to Nehemiah Vision Ministries in Haiti. It was then trucked to the tent-city site.
The clean-water system is about 6 feet high and operates on solar power and a diesel generator. Miller-Leaman Inc., a Daytona Beach-based water purification manufacturer, also helped with manufacturing and consulting.
About 50 people were lined up waiting after the students finished putting the system together, according to Embry-Riddle grad student Yung Wong, 22, of Iselin, N.J., the graduate team leader.
"It was continuous. Once we started, there was a lot more people coming," said Wong, who also went to Haiti last year to install a similar system to an orphanage. "It was a pretty rewarding feeling. It's amazing to be able to give clean water to people who don't have access to it."
He said the pastor of the village compared Embry-Riddle students providing water to people in the desert similar to the story of Moses from the Bible.
The students trained the pastor and a 15-year-old to run the system, which includes tanks that store the water.
Some of the group hopes to return in a couple of months to move the contraption to a permanent housing structure closer to the well.
They also want to bring a second purifier to the tent city next year so more people can be served.
Embry-Riddle junior Kyle Fennesy, 20, of Richmond, Texas, undergraduate team leader for the trip, said he was "touched by the strength of the Haitian people and how much they value clean water. It was very eye-opening to see how easily Americans take water for granted and how easily we are able to focus on our work and education without even a second glance or worry about where our water is coming from."
Embry-Riddle grad student Shavin Pinto, 23, of Sri Lanka, who was on his first trip, said he thought he would be used to seeing poverty coming from a third-world country. But he was amazed by what he saw.
"We saw kids all around that had no water at all. Water was like gold for them," Pinto said.
Another area group also recently returned from Haiti.
A team of 14 people from Deltona Alliance Church served food to 500 kids at the Kids Against Hunger feeding center in Arcahaie, Haiti. Church members also took 15 suitcases of school supplies from the church for some of the orphanages and schools. The group also painted classrooms and worked on buildings at Children's Lifeline, which provides assistance to underdeveloped areas in Haiti and at one of their schools.
Jeff Gryboski, a member of the church who organized the mission trip, has personally been to Haiti about 10 times in the past two years, focusing on rebuilding three churches as part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Gryboski, who has a home maintenance service and has worked for general contractors, was joined on this trip by his wife, Sherri, and their oldest child, Noah, 11.
"The whole reason I go is because in scripture it tells us you have to love your neighbor as yourself," Gryboski said.
Gryboski said he has seen progress in the past two years, though it was initially slow, and there are still tent cities, collapsed buildings and "debris is still evident."
He has taken one or two individuals from the church to Haiti in the past but this was the first team of this size.


On Monday, the North 40 crew followed the rotary group into the rural areas around Milot, and the first stop was to the Children of the Promise Orphanage and Nutrition Center. A young American couple runs this amazing facility, whose primary mission is to keep families together. Many parents bring their children here because they can't afford to take care of them. Rather than taking the children and sending them to adoptive parents around the world, they help them get healthy and then work to get them back to their families. 

Our second stop was a community water source that had become contaminated - a well which serves over 2,000 people. The rotary group has been designing and building a retro fit purification system back home, which they packaged up and brought down to purify the contaminated well. With the help of a lot of community members they're working on installing the system this week.

To see all the episodes and learn more about the project, head to our blog at

1 comment:

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