Picture the town you live in. Think of all of your favorite restaurants and convenient stores. Imagine the roads that guide you to each location and how easily you are able to get from Point A to Point B. Now, let’s remove the road from your town that takes you to the grocery store and put trees, shrubs, and boulders in its place. Your only option is to walk to the grocery store and carry back the milk, eggs, bread, and snacks that you’ve purchased in your arms or balanced on your head. You also live on top of a mountain and must climb up the steep face in addition to your grocery-bag-balancing-act.
This was the reality for a remote mountain community in Haiti before it gained access to its first road. Latonell is perched high in the backcountry of Haiti. In order to get to this hillside community, we had to off-road across rugged unmarked roads and crisscross back and forth through rivers.
Then the uphill part began. The climb to Latonell is a steep drive that used to be completed on foot or by donkey before Samaritan’s Purse constructed a road for this community. Where boulders and vegetation used to dominate the mountain, we were able to easily navigate the smooth road.
I can’t imagine how the community of Latonell trekked up and down this steep slope each day. A trip that could easily take an hour on foot only took us 20 minutes in our Dodge. Before the completion of the road that stretches from the busy market town Darbonne up to remote Latonell, this community had never seen a motorcycle or a vehicle. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Reaching the only school in the community was the purpose for the project. A phone and Internet provider in Haiti donated money to begin building a new school in the community, and Samaritan’s Purse came alongside it and provided support by constructing this road. Transporting beams and cement into the community was safer and faster with road access.
During the construction of the road, a medical emergency occurred in Latonell. A woman was sick and had to be carried down the mountain on a stretcher.
“This took a lot of time,” said Robert Moore, the Road Rehabilitation Program Manager. “Had the road been in place, an emergency vehicle could have picked her up in Latonell and transported her to the hospital. We knew then how important the building of this road was to the community of Latonell.”
Where there used to be nothing, a more than 6.5 road now winds into the mountains of Latonell. Since the completion of the project more than six months ago, new doors have been opened for the community. Another school has been built, giving more children the opportunity to be educated. A church that was destroyed during the earthquake has been rebuilt, allowing approximately 5,500 people to hear the Gospel.
Farmers can transport their crops to the market in Darbonne by motorcycle with ease, giving them more time at the market and therefore more time to sell their produce and provide for their families. The Samaritan’s Purse water, sanitation, and hygiene team was also able to construct a reservoir for the remote mountain community. Without this road, Latonell may have never gained access to clean water. Most importantly, while building the road, the team had the opportunity to share the Gospel with the people in Latonell.
“We were able to show the love of Jesus Christ by being there and by building this road into the community,” Moore said. “We were able to pass out Bibles to the people along the road; we built the road and shared the Gospel.”
The construction of this road created a positive domino effect in the community. God has used it to reach Latonell with His Word and used Samaritan’s Purse as a gateway to provide basic needs like clean water and education.
“It was great to see the joy of the people in the community of Latonell when the road was completed,” Moore said.
Samaritan’s Purse has gained this community’s trust and friendship. It’s a beautiful way for Latonell to gain access to God’s love through relationships and the giving of basic needs done in the name of Jesus.