Dots in Blue Water

Dots in Blue Water

Myron with dots informationMyron traveled the world through his manufacturing and consulting careers – visiting Germany, China, Africa, India, Mexico, and the list goes on – but, what’s the most memorable trip he’s taken?  "To Haiti."

Last summer, a team of sixteen students and teachers from South Adams High School (Berne, IN) took a week-long trip to Haiti and installed five village-sized water purifiers. These student-designed purifiers have the capability to purify enough water for 3,000 people a day.

South Adams, a public school, not only provided for the immediate need of clean water for the Haitians, but had an eternal impact as well.

The trip was the result of a question posed four years ago in an earth science class taught by Mr. Baer, a colleague of Myron's, in response to his illustration about the importance of vegetation.  He was using the hurricanes that hit Haiti in the summer of 2008 as an object lesson.

That summer, three hurricanes devastated much of the land, including flooding a valley located about 20 miles outside of Port-au-Prince where a small school for HIV orphaned children stood. Mr. Baer is an acquaintance of the school’s headmaster, who relayed these sad details to him. To escape the surging floodwaters, the headmaster directed the students to the roof of the block school building. Nine feet of water surrounded them.  Help didn’t come for three days. And, as these hungry and thirsty children lost hope of being rescued, they jumped into the flood waters. After the flood waters receded, the headmaster spent three days going around picking up the bodies of these students.

After recounting this story, a student in Mr. Baer’s class responded with this question: "We do all these science labs to learn stuff. Why can't we do a lab and help these people figure out how to purify their water?" According to Myron, "That's where it all blew up." 

Mr. Baer responded by setting aside every Friday class period to actuate the idea of providing clean water for the Haitians. Students were organized into different teams including research, development, marketing, and fundraising – and got to work. While researching, a student read a story about the hurricanes in which a child described the bodies as “dots in blue water” – the phrase South Adams adopted as the project name.

Myron got involved with the project early on, and his contacts and experience in international manufacturing helped make Dots in Blue Water a reality. He gives all of the credit to the students though: "Like Mr. Baer and I say, we are just along for the ride, and are having a great time. The kids do all of the work. We just sit back and guide them a little bit, but just enjoy it, soak it all in."

The eight students raised $43,000 for the trip; accompanied by eight teachers, they set off for Haiti. Over the course of seven days, they installed the purifiers and taught the Haitians how to maintain the equipment.

One village in particular was in great need of clean water as a recent outbreak of cholera had already affected 300 of the 1,000 inhabitants. This village was located in the mountains, making it treacherous to travel to, and they practiced voodoo. For these two reasons, a small team of five teachers, including Myron, went and installed the purifier, leaving the students safely behind.

Myron had the opportunity to interact with the leader of the village, who repeatedly asked why they were doing this. And, Myron’s response was, "We are a public school doing this to help you." Unsatisfied, the leader continued to question, "So it's not a God thing?" Myron insisted that they were a public school and doing this to help them, adding, "But, for me – it is a God thing." This interaction allowed Myron to share his faith with him and opened the door for a nearby missionary to enter the village. Now, there is a church planted in the village and the leader was the first convert to Christianity.

The students themselves were also eternally impacted. Myron told them from the beginning that "It was going to affect their lives forever. You will come back changed more than the people you've helped. And, they didn't believe me — but, they do now." As a result of the trip, the three or four students who were not believers committed their lives to Christ. And, three students changed their future majors to mission-based majors.

Plans are already in place for additional Dots in Blue Water projects with two trips to Haiti scheduled, and the possibility of going to India and Africa this year as well.