2010 saw a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. Eight years on, the country still has not recovered. Many communities are still without basic hygiene necessities, like clean water. However, one of these communities, the remote village of Petites Desdunes, will soon have running local water for the first time in generations.
Adrian Lockley has been a plumber for over 15 years. He was inspired to apply for a Reece Abroad Grant when he heard the story of Father Wismick, Petites Desdunes’ local priest and a dean of Haiti University. After the earthquake, Wismick knew that the country would need education, so he sold his house and used the proceeds to rebuild the school.
Adrian has been brought on board to help bring water to the new village school. He will install a system of six 4,000L tanks next door. He will also install guttering and connecting pipes, so that the tanks can be filled with rainwater. Currently, there is no running water in Petites Desdunes and villagers have been paying as much as $6 USD for water bottles – an oppressive price for such a poor village.
The project doesn’t stop with the infrastructure. Adrian also hopes that the local Haitians who are going to be assisting, will be able to learn the process and share it with other neighbouring villages. The aim of the project is to upskill the locals so that when he leaves, they are able to be self-sustainable.
The project is also symbolic. Adrian knew that rebuilding could only go so far – if people remain psychologically impacted by the trauma of the earthquake, they will be unable to function. Jennifer Dawson, an Australian doctor who has been doing significant work in Haiti on trauma management, knew that without the most basic resource of running water, the chances of villagers being retraumatised is high. This project is a symbol of hope. Jennifer’s work combined with Adrian’s project will join mental health aid and a positive change in conditions. By providing the village with a clean water source for the first time, Adrian aims to “make a real, sustainable difference”.
Adrian will say it himself; he never expected to be doing this work. He’s never been in a third-world country. But he was inspired and excited to do something with his skillset to actually make a difference in people’s lives. As a successful plumber who works on large-scale projects, working in Petites Desdunes will be a real contrast. Although he wants to change the lives of many, he’s humble, and he thinks he’ll learn a lot from the locals in Haiti.
“In the West, we have access to absolutely everything – yet there’s so many of us that are unhappy,” Adrian says. “I want to look at the bigger picture.” “To do something other than just making money, to do something that changes people’s lives… it’s a lot more fulfilling”.
The project won’t be easy. Adrian’s had to organise everything remotely, including the delivery of parts, and hopes that it will all be ready when he gets there. The nearest supply store is three hours from Petites Desdunes, so there’s no chance of quickly going to grab something he forgot.
Without the money from the Reece Grant, Adrian had been planning to go to Haiti and take a look, hoping to return with future fundraising. Now, Adrian will be able to make real, fundamental change, giving villagers running water for the first time in generations.
Adrian believes this can be more than just a project. He thinks it can be a platform and help drive awareness.
“The more people you talk to about this, the more people that are inspired. It’s not hard.”
“Australians love to support the underdog. Australians love to help other people that can’t help themselves, and I think that’s an absolutely beautiful thing.”