Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 8-10: 3/17-3/20

I am sooooo behind on the Haiti blog, but thats how the cinder-blocks crumble sometimes.

Yesterday we had some water issues. For drinking water we have these sparklett's like bottles, which are consistently stocked. However for our 'running' water we have two cisterns of which one feeds the kitchen and bathroom, and the other feeds the showering buckets. When the well-pump broke (which feeds the cisterns) we were then out of commission, so had to walk a fair bit away from camp to get some murky showering water from a nearby well. This is one iota of the sorts of water problems many faces in the Global South, with significant amounts of home-makers' time spent retrieving scarce amounts of water- but it is intellectually grounding to walk with a bucket a mile in their shoes. (in the water sense).

This morning I lead a team to finish the Rousseau house... which went much quicker than I expected and we found ourselves walking back to the base to get on another project. Though Katie S. had missed only this morning's work on the Rousseau house (that started Monday), I was the only person who was there on each day, and really enjoyed making friendships with Eddie, Rousseau, Tanya, Joven... and playing a little soccer with them once we swept off the slab. I can't speak for the others, but it seems like everyone got alot out of their time there, and enjoyed working on a site that featured my portable radio! (We would get excited when the occasional American song would come on... even Mariah Carey's 'Hero'- (of which the real hero's are our rebar-reinforced wheelbarrows)).

But perhaps the most poignant song would have been Time to Say Goodbye, by Celine Dion. HODR's accomplishments are significant here- having completed 34 projects by today since arriving in Leogane less than a month ago. These have ranged from the rice'n'beans of HODR- which is rubble clearance from property- to creating an NGO relief community and organization hub in Leogane- which just began with two massive WFP tents. There's even talk of a helicopter pad. And yet... it took, on average, 10 people every day since Monday to clear one house. From my perspective the greatest value that HODR and its self-selective volunteers bring is enduring relationships rather than concrete accomplishments. By being generalists in a morass of specialists (engineers, doctors, even Acupuncturists-without-Borders!), HODR is able to do unique and timely work. As an example, one of the projects involves hospital 'runners' that help to create institutional memory at the main hospital in Leogane, given that a new set of doctors rotates in every week. As skilled as they are, simply having an EMT, or ::Gasp:: an unskilled volunteer to inventory a pharmacy, build shelves, or organize supplies can have a tremendous improvement to medical operations.

As important as those external relationships may be, those within the base have been just as meaningful. As with any living organism, the HODR base is constantly renewing its cells- with some volunteers lasting the entire project (6 Months) and others only stopping in for less than a week (woooo! Spring BREAK!) Today was a bittersweet day to lose Adam (on crutches from a mis-landed backflip), Mark (in good health and spirits), Bogart (my picture taking buddy and Micro-Four Thirds enthusiast), and his wonderful girlfriend Sam (a great latin dancer). As a said... with a self-selective group, there is bound to be some great friendships, and I am sure I will continue to make more. Go networking! (Ewwwww.....)

For a proper send-off, we hopped on moto-taxis (motorcycles) for a quick 15 Gourdes ride to a club called 'Massage.' Beer was 15 Gourdes. I'll be going back. (40 Gourdes = 1 US).


Peter said...

Hey Andy,

I am here in St. Augustine with your grandfather and we just finished reading your 10 days of blog entries. What a delight to hear about all the good work you are doing with the folks at HODR. Rush says that his church, Mattituck Presbyterian is building a clinic in Haiti (on some island). He will need to give you the details, but there is a room in memory of your grandmother. I am down with Rush for the next several days. See you soon.


alethea said...

"concrete accomplishments" PUN!!!

I'm glad to hear you are having fun and working hard. DC is starting to bloom and I am making new friends to widen our circle while you are away. Let me know when you get back!