ROCHE PAB 2: MIRLINE'S STORY
|Population: 1,350 people (+300 post-earthquake)
|GPS: 18.8186, -71.911483
|Partner: Partners in Health
|Intervention: Spring Protection piped down to 5 tap stands. 50 latrines, 40 BioSand filters, 2 laundry stations, 2 animal troughs, and 3 hand-washing stations.
irline Aristides was determined. Strong-willed and passionate,
she grew up in Roche Pab 2, a rural village precariously embedded along the side of a steep mountain.
Like the rest of the villagers, Mirline spent her days walking in two directions: up the steep ravine
to collect water for her family and down to the large town of Lascahobas to go to the market.
Mirline soon realized that she didn't want to become a poor rural farmer. She wanted to get a job in the city. So at the age of16 , Mirline waved goodbye to her mother, her family, and her small sleepy village to set off for the bright lights of Port-au-Prince. She soon found work in a factory and made the capital city her home.
Years later, Mirline had accomplished more than her friends living in Roche Pab. She had her own apartment, clean clothes, and two beautiful young children. On January 12th, she was leaving work when the quake hit. Her two young children were playing with friends outside and weren't hurt. Yet in an instant, that moment changed everything for Mirline. Her apartment collapsed, along with the factory. Many of her friends died.
Mirline and her children spent the next three nights sleeping on the streets before some strangers gave them a ride home. They returned to Roche Pab 2 not as a success story - triumphing over rural poverty - but as a homeless and scared family.
The 150 families in Roche Pab 2 welcomed Mirline, along with 300 other earthquake survivors, back with open arms. The charity: water team first talked to her in a packed schoolhouse, as she sat on a crowded bench. While Mirline may have lost all of her physical possessions, there's one thing she still had. Her determination.
Standing up in front of the community, she waved her hand assertively and told us, “Water is the biggest problem here. And people don't have latrines.” Others began to nod eagerly and pointed out that some had caught typhoid from drinking the dirty water. They all agreed that they'd like to bring clean water to the primary school as well. Their voices rose as they became more and more excited about the possibility of clean water, agreeing to contribute manual labor, rocks and stones.
With her two children trailing close behind, Mirline marched us confidently up the mountain to the source of the spring, a one kilometer hike. As the clean water seeped out of the rocks, mixing with the dirt and debris, we could see great potential. This spring could provide enough water for the entire community, as well as the school. It just needed to be protected, and piped down to the mountain.
As we said goodbye, Mirline rushed out of her mother's house in a red and white polka dot dress. She'd made a quick costume change and asked our photographer Esther Havens to take one more photo with her children.
I imagine this dress was the one she was wearing when the quake hit. Her last relic of independence and beauty.
- story by: charity: water Programs Director, Becky Straw
- photos by: Esther Havens