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Another Day in the Work Yard

September 16, 2011

I thought I would give you a bit of a tour of our work yard as that’s where I spend my days now.  It’s usually a pretty busy place, and our workers are often pretty boisterous.   Chris has given me some leeway to make some changes in the interest of efficiency and I have a few ideas already.  But for today, come along with me and see what we do.

Perhaps this little tour will give you a clearer picture of what we do every day.  We hope you enjoy meeting our crew.

By the way, pay close attention.   A test will follow.


We purchase sand and gravel both for our cement mix and for use as filter media. That's Kelele screening sand.

Fanfan loads the sand washer while Daniel operates the washer.

That's Ludovic washing gravel. We use a detergent mix to get it clean.

The sand and gravel is bagged in quantities for a single filter. Ludovic is washing sacks are so they can be reused.

Michelet is beginning to mix concrete for a filter pour. Our guys prefer to mix it on the ground to using a cement mixer. You'll notice we're not too sticky about safety boots on the job. Those are molds behind him and the colorful things are finished filters.

Preval, or "Rasta" as the guys call him, is shoveling concrete into the molds. The orange thing on the side of the mold is a vibrator to assure that the concrete works down into the mold evenly without voids. Preval is also one of our welders. Like most of our crew he is pretty versatile.

Then what will be the bottom of the filter (they are poured upside down) is trowel finished. A thick piece of sponge is placed on it and wet down to prevent overly fast drying in the heat.

Sometimes a meeting of the minds is necessary to keep the work flowing smoothly. That's our foreman, Melix in the skull and guitar shirt, conferring with Thony in the red shirt and Michelet.

After the concrete is allowed to set overnight, the molds are removed. Jimmy is using a puller to separate the mold core from the filter.

Fanfan and Jimmy pull the core from the mold. The core is tapered slightly to make pulling easier. The thick part at the top of the mold makes a little shelf for the diffuser plate.

Thony pulls the exterior of the mold from the filter. It will be filled with water and allowed to sit for awhile to test it for leaks. Most filters that do leak can be repaired easily.

Edmond painting the filters. They're come in a variety of colours - turquoise, blue, pink, yellow, green - so they will fit with any decor.

Hilaire, our new driver, loads a cart for transporting filters onto the delivery truck.

Kelele, Fritzner and Hilaire begin to load filters onto the Canter.

We also sell molds to other organizations that wish to manufacture Biosand filters. Molet is cutting steel for filter parts.

Evens is our best welder. He is putting together a mold core. The tricks of the trade I have shown him have made his work a bit easier. I hope to make more improvements.

Preval is drilling a stack of plastic diffuser plates. The plates prevent the sand in from being displace when water is poured into the filter.

Keeping all our equipment operational is a big job. Richard is doing maintenance on the motorcycles we use for follow-up. Road conditions are hard on the machines.

Our next door neighbour is putting up a wall around his property, so these masons have been hard at work. Haiti has a lot of very skilled workers in cement and rock. I am always impressed with the speed they work and what they are able to do with only very basic tools.

I took this last picture while returning from a quick walk to the market in Pierre Payen. This guy was cutting down a very large tree with a machete, Haiti's all purpose tool. What you can't see is that he is about 40 feet up in the air. No safety harness (or shoes) necessary.


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