Friday, March 12, 2010
Day 1, 3/11: Rubble Trouble
The flight from FLL to PAP was pretty jovial and energetic. The row behind me was especially chatty- and talked extensively on Haiti, nutrition, coffee... I'm always amazed how adamant people get about their breakfast routines. One of the guys, Sedrik, was really evangelical about segregating your eating and drinking due to the mixed signals from your jaw that can complicate digestion based on jaw movements. He is also working with VoicesforHaiti.org... so if you know anyone graduating from med school that would like to volunteer some time in Jacmel, contact them!
Flying in you could see just how important tents have become as transitional shelters... every formerly open space forested with vinyl. The 90min ride from PAP to Leogane was a deluge of information (visually) as I could not speak Creole with my driver. He was a four-wheeling jedi on P'a'P streets, though a near head-on + drifting certainly elevated my blood pressure. One observation that stuck out to me was that all commercial and social activity proceeded- just outside! As a side note, Leogane is not P'a'P... as is not privy to the same dangers (if you've been watching the news).
I hit the ground running when I got to the base in the afternoon by hopping onto a 'rubble' team of about 10 HODR volunteers. It was the end of a cycle of clearing a lot upon which a 3 story house had collapsed. I felt like a little bit of a glad-hander being on a 'closing day,' but what a great introduction to the Leogane project. I was impressed and surprised to see that HODR is doing so much more than simple rubble clearing. Rebuilding a hospital, inventorying a pharmacy, installing plumbing, assembling tarps, unloading lumbar from military bases... a very unexpected opportunity to get familiar with the multi-sectoral relief work in Leogane.
After sorting out my tent on the roof, I went to investigate the Latin and Haitian dance music at an open-air bar next door- and have a cold-one with some other volunteers. The night was rather warm though. The thermometer on SMES alarm clock read 95 deg under my tent on the roof (with breeze!). In order to outwit the arthropods I tried to sleep in a biv-sack, and it quickly rose above 100 deg. Thus, the next night I swore to bug-net-bunk it downstairs with most of the volunteers.
Happy to be helping in Haiti!