Today began the work week. Dennis, Frank, Mike, Sharna and myself went to help local builders rebuild a home that belongs to one of the nannies on staff here. Currently she and her mother are living in a one room hut with neighbors. To describe this hut is to define absolute poverty. The tent across the path almost seems luxurious in comparison. There is one bed, a mattress on the left side of the room and then floor to ceiling is covered in jars of water, clothes, food, and what appears to be trash. There are no utilities. No running water. The kitchen is a hole in the ground covered with leaves. The trash bin is any open ground surrounding the hut. I walked down the path beside the hut. Behind the hut there are two blue and white stone coffins and a 4′ wide by 8′ deep empty hole. I wish I could speak Creole so I can ask the owner questions. I truly desire to know each story. We are rebuilding a block house. We are not improving what already existed but rather just replacing. The restored home seems simple. Two rooms without utilities made of block and cement with a tin roof and a small porch facing the main street through town. Haitians definitely seem to be about community. There are groups congregated everywhere. Women cooking and braiding hair. Men playing soccer and walking together. Community.
I worked beside roughly 8 haitian men today. I wanted so badly to understand their conversations. I’m fairly certain 80% of what was said today was some form of mocking the Americans. I asked Michelle if they send us to those work sites just to be the entertainment for the locals. Her reply was, “Pretty much. It makes work more fun.” I put everything I had in to today. I moved dozens of concrete blocks, shoveled and sifted, shoveled out dirt and rock, and passed cement in assembly lines. All this in the worst heat and humidity I have ever experienced. I sweat from places I didn’t know could sweat. While I feel that I worked as hard as any man on that site I caught at least one worker making fun of my “prissiness!” I really found myself feeling useless. I’d carry 2 blocks and then I’d get yelled at: “No, No, No, just One!” Meanwhile all guys were allowed to carry two. I’d shovel and then they would take the shovel away. Michelle told us over dinner tonight that the most important part of this trip is for us to realize we are helping in bigger ways than we know. Working side by side with the Haitians and just doing life with them helps to change their negative views of Americans and to just change their day. It gives them something different to chat about at dinner. So I guess I did my job well today. There are lots of Haitians laughing at my expense tonight.:)
Chandra, Kasey, Michelle and Kathy stayed back at the orphanage to help with a clinic that gives moms formula and rice every monday. They had a woman show up with a premature baby girl that was now 8 days old and had not yet eaten. The mom was too sick to bring her. She’s had an infection since the birth. The baby girl, Sophia, weighed just over two pounds. They took her to a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders where she is receiving medical care. I believe we are checking in with her again tomorrow.
On a side note we are very comfortable. AC at night til 2am when our grid of electricity is turned off until 5 or 6am. We have cold showers each day and are thankful for those. Today we had a water shortage so had to spare. Anxious to see what tomorrow brings.