Experience A New Culture: Haiti November 6-11

By Eliza Breed: PWW Intern

cameraAre you passionate about travel? Interested in service and learning about a new culture? Pure Water for the World offers week long international service trips to Haiti and Honduras. The next trip to Haiti runs from November 6-11. There are still spots available, and here’s why you should go! I was very excited to interview the trip leaders and longtime Pure Water for the World supporters, Jen Fleckenstein and Bill Donberg. Strong facilitators lead meaningful experiences and the passion that they put into their work translates to everyone. I learned so much just from talking with them, and I know they will be passionate, responsible, and exciting leaders.

Tell me two unique facts about yourself.

Jen: “I’m a twin, and I’ve been skydiving twice!”

Bill: “I worked for a company called Dow Chemical for 30 years. I had to travel for work, and this fostered my love for adventure and shaped my view of the world. I learned that we are all brothers and sisters. After I retired, I joined Rotary.”

“I am also very active in the Methodist Church, and I have participated in mission work. My work with the church introduced me to Haiti, and I have been focused and passionate about the Haitian people ever since.”

What is the purpose of the trip?

Jen with School kidsJen:“The purpose of our travels to Haiti is to give people the opportunity to be a part of the incredible work of Pure Water for the World. We get to see, touch and feel the mission. People get to come back with a sense of accomplishment and an understanding of the importance of access to safe water.”

Bill:“The purpose of the trip is to learn, as well as to motivate participants to make a positive change in the future. The trip isn’t about getting your hands dirty, but rather witnessing first hand the work that Pure Water for the World does in Haiti. It is about viewing the desperate needs and fulfilling them with very effective solutions.”

Why do you want to lead this trip?

Jen:“I love meeting new people, I love traveling, and I especially love Haiti. I also love educating people on the fantastic work of the Pure Water for the World staff. I’m really proud of their hard work, and it’s fun to show them off!”

Bill: “I love the Haitian culture. I have traveled with Pure Water for the World before, and the work that they do is meaningful and effective.”

Have you ever facilitated or participated in a Pure Water for the World trip before, and if so, how many?

Jen:“I have travelled with Pure Water for the World four times – once to Honduras as a participant and three times to Haiti – once as a participant and twice as a facilitator. It will be my fourth trip to Haiti. I love both countries, and had very different experiences in each place. For some reason, I identify more with Haiti and try to go back every year.”

Bill:“I have participated in four trips, but this will be my first time facilitating a group. As facilitators, it is our job to organize the group, but we are still learning alongside all of the participants.”

What is the greatest thing you’ve learned as a Pure Water for the World trip facilitator or
participant?

Jen: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to enjoy and savor the moments between the scheduled activities – ask questions, sit with the staff, try to speak and interact with the beneficiaries. Coming home after a hug from a preschool student at a school in Cite Soleil was absolutely golden for me.”

IMG_0045Bill:“There is a clear definition of need in these communities. Pure Water for the World and their trips are not there to solve Haiti’s macro-problems. Rather, they start at the basics. First, you need to address health, and this starts with water. Food and education follow, and through education, communities can start to solve their own problems. But it starts with clean water. At Pure Water For The World, they solve problems from the bottom up.”

What makes trips with Pure Water for the World different than other service-based
trips?

Jen:“I have never been on other service-based trips, but I would think that the intimacy of a smaller group makes us unique. We are able to really learn about the culture, the people and the projects. Plus, you can go back year after year and see the progress! It is really very cool.”

Bill: “In my experience, Pure Water for the World is more effective than other NGOs. The staff are Haitian people and are very integrated into the community. Individuals in the surrounding communities request Pure Water for the World, and it spreads word of mouth.”

What is one thing you would say to someone who is considering going to Haiti with Pure Water for the World?

Jen: “Prepare yourself for an amazing adventure! When you first step out of the airport in Port au Prince, it is sensory overload, but gradually the new sights and sounds around you fade as you immerse yourself in these beautiful communities of people and learn how Pure Water for the World has strengthened their community and their health. Also, it is hot and you will be tired at the end of each day!”

Bill: “It will change your life. I have been thinking about what this statement means, however, and I have come up with two main points. First, if you believe you have an obligation to play a role in a community, this is a great opportunity to do so. Second, this trip will challenge every dollar you spend afterwards, and you will ask yourself where you really want your money to go.”

IMG_2424Trip Highlights!
● Visit the Pure Water for the World office and meet the incredible staff
● Travel to rural communities to see Pure Water for the World’s work in action
● Visit homes and schools where Pure Water for the World is currently working
● Learn about Haiti and the Haitian culture
● Interact with children and members of the communities

The trip costs $1,025, not including airfare. This price includes meals, lodging, and ground transportation in Haiti. Since our programs are popular, spots fill up quickly. In order to reserve your place, a $500 deposit is due. You can mail this check to Pure Water for the World, P.O. Box 55, Rutland, VT 05702 , and note that it is for “November 2016 Haiti Trip.” Please email [email protected] for any questions regarding the trip, scholarships, or our organization!

Sometimes the best thing to do is to immerse yourself in a different country, different language, and different way of life. Not only will you appreciate what you have, but you will come back with a new perspective and understanding of the world. Pure Water for the World’s trips are safe, educational, and inspire many individuals to create positive change within themselves, their communities, and the world they live in. http://purewaterfortheworld.org/donate/servicetrips/