Florida plumber puts trade skills to work in Haiticomments (0) May 13th, 2014 in Blogs
Just weeks after inquiring about volunteer opportunities with the organization Plumbers Without Borders, Florida master plumber Fred Schilling found himself on a plane to Haiti. The devastating earthquake of January 2010 had just occurred, and the need for clean water was as pressing as that for medicine, food and shelter.
In a Tailgate interview for Fine Homebuilding, Fred detailed his experience in the battered city of Port-au-Prince, where he would return several times to distribute tools, share his knowledge and lend a helping hand to young men and women studying a trade largely taken for granted in the United States. "In America, no one gives it a second thought-you wake up in the morning, turn on your faucet and safe water flows out," Fred told me. "In Haiti, it's a matter of life and death. If you're a student studying water and sanitation in Haiti, you realize how important this information is." That importance was reinforced months after the quake by an ongoing cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 8,000 lives. Cholera is a bacterial disease commonly spread through infected water.
Fred's work centered on the installation of simple-but-effective water purification systems designed by graduate students at Seattle University. Along with a team of students from Haiti Tec (Centre de Formation Technique et Professionnelle), a trade school in Port-au-Prince, Fred helped install the systems in clinics, hospitals and schools. The team also created several kiosks to provide clean water for local residents at a cost of about a penny a gallon.
With these systems in place, Fred and others are now at work on a licensing program for Haitian plumbers so that they can work on new building projects in their country. Currently, most plumbing jobs at construction projects in Haiti go to foreigners with licenses, he says. He'd like to change that.
To find out more about Plumbers without Borders, click here.
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