The human body is a freak of nature.
In the slums throughout PAP, the conditions in which the people are living is unfathomable— and well beyond any biological standards that I’ve ever seen. So much of the city is suffocated with mounds of trash that seem to noticeably grow taller each day— then add the rain, and it all turns to an infectious sludge. Nestled between the trash piles are street markets filled with fresh meat and produce that is often displayed on dirty tarps; laid out directly on the narrow sidewalks. And with a constant flow of people and cars passing within inches of the concessions there is no hope of anything staying clean. I’m not writing about this in scrutiny, but rather in awe and appreciation for the human body. There are experts that could study these conditions and with their math, things wouldn’t add up. On paper they would prove that the human body couldn’t endure such an environment— yet a big portion of PAP’s population does everyday. And yes, it does have adverse affects on many of them but the fact that most are surviving through it is a true testament to the brilliance the human body.
The boys and I decided to do a shotgun filter distribution yesterday in a really poor area called Carrefour. It’s an area that see very little aid and I’ve been wanting to visit there for a while now. Our translator, Gino, is from that area and served as the perfect in-road. We only had ten filters left out of the 20 that I brought down in my suitcase, but it’s definitely a start and still translates to 100+ people getting clean water. Gino took us to a smaller sized IDP tent camp so that we could manage the crowd better. Most IDP camps have some sort of committee or group within it that helps manage it. Since we only had 10 filters and there were probably 300 families in the camp those are the individuals who can best decide where the systems end up and why— It’s their community and the people will listen to them. Our job is to find those leaders, do a demonstration, give them filters, and then leave them to empower their community.
We built one system and then let them build one— half way through the second demo it started to downpour which sent us all into a mad scramble— With stacks of buckets in our hands Rob and I followed them towards shelter; a classroom of the school next door. As we finished the demo in there, the sound of rain on the corrugated tin roof served as a nice backdrop. As did the screams and laughter from the children playing soccer echoing from the classroom next to us—
Once again, the filter system steals the show and everybody understands it with ease— because it really is brilliantly basic!
We traversed through areas yesterday that are as bad as anywhere in the world— and bearing witness to such things is gut-wrenching— and as always, incredibly humbling.
Attached are a couple pics from our time in Carrefour — the first is of Rob and I assisting them to build a system and the second is all of us inside the classroom after the demo’s were finished.
— Jon Rose