Haiti: Day Five

The posts that follow are a brief description of daily events surrounding an organized trip to Haiti in the summer of 2010. There were 12 of us total plus one reporter from the Daily Journal in Farmington, MO. I have relayed each post as it was written in my journal so please overlook any grammatical errors or crazy talk. I will also try to include pictures along the way.

Friday, July 9th

Well, another day at the camp today! Actually, we’ve kind of settled into a pattern now which feels decent. Nothing too crazy or out of the ordinary.

Today we woke at 6am. Last night as we were in our tent and getting ready to bed down, Mark decided he needed to go pee so he took the flashlight and headed outside – in his underwear. No problem, right? Wrong! It’s dark of course, but Mark walked around the tent and lo and behold – a gigantic tarantula! Mark’s only words (and very loudly!) – “Holy Mother of God!” Quite funny! So Mark’s yelling brought the girls out of their tent and Gerson from his and there was Mark standing in his underwear. A bit awkward to say the least. Fortunately, Jake had busted out and killed the spider with his shoe. Everyone went back to bed including Mark, who decided he didn’t have to pee any longer. 🙂

Also, before bed last night, the group decided to play “spoons.” It’s a card game similar to musical chairs – get four of a kind then grab a spoon on the table. As soon as someone grabs a spoon then everyone else has to grab a spoon as well. The last one doesn’t get a spoon and is out (you play one less spoon than the amount of people). A very fun and fast-paced game which I had never played before. As luck was with me, I won the first game of the night! Schweet!

So back to this morning. Up at 6am and breakfast was different today. Oatmeal with a hard-boiled egg. I decided to have a protein bar again and we also had some coffee again. The coffee is excellent, and we are hoping to get a few bags to take home with us. After breakfast we had our devotional. Another great lesson comparing “The Law” to “The Gospel.” Really good lessons.

Our goal for today was to get to the site early and finish building the bathroom site as well as the fence. We have been working with an architect named “Billy” with the Fuller Foundation. Billy hasn’t exactly been reliable to say the least and today was no exception. By the time he got to camp it was nearly 8:30am (late to start work) and he told us that he had changed the bathroom plans to a newer more “permanent” structure. That sounded good, but it meant that our first day’s construction was no longer going to work. the new plans called for six bathrooms but only using four and when two get “full” then there are two additional available. They decided to “compost” the waste instead of having someone have to change barrels out. Probably a good choice, but it would have been better to have this plan in advance so we didn’t waste time and materials. I’m hoping Billy is working well with Gerson since Gerson doesn’t have much of a budget. But we of course, as a team, will roll with whatever they want us to do.

We finally arrived at the land at 10am. Half the team started on constructing a two-foot high cinder block wall to set the new bathroom structure on. The cinder blocks are definitely NOT like our American cinder blocks. They are much smaller and the material they make them with is very brittle. As a matter of fact, they had to split several of them in half – they do this by taking the blunt side of the machete and whacking the block. Two hits and the block totally split in two! I hope the block will stand up to the use it’s going to take!

The rest of us started work on the fence. Today was my day to work on the fence. It was by far the most difficult work that I have done on this trip. On your knees you had to dig out an 18″ hole in the ground with a crowbar. Talk about exhausting! then you had to dig out the dirt with your hands. The dirt is very soft however – not like Missouri clay – and we were able to dig out approximately 40 holes this way. After all the holes were dug (and we also had to line them up with string and our eyes!) we put in 8′ 2×4’s and filled the bottom with rock and finally cement. We managed to get the entire fence line complete which was great.

The guys finished putting cinder blocks on one side only. One local Haitian basically worked two days straight and helped pour concrete and mortared the blocks. He was a very hard worker. At the end of the day they brought one more load of blocks (50) for the other pad, but we were all spent and the Haiting man wanted to go home so we called it a night.

One additional event for me today. My legs have been covered with scratches from the sugar cane fields (most of us have been dealing with this( but I was helping another local fellow with the razor wire. Jake had stretched two sides of the fence with regular barbed wire today and then on the bottom they wanted razor wire.

The razor wire is like the type they put on top of prison walls if that helps with a visual. So, I’m helping this fellow with the wire, being very careful and wearing gloves, when we ran out of one strand. We grabbed on the strand of the razor wire and as we took of the wire straps holding it, it unwrapped and shot towards me. It was so quick I didn’t realize what had happened, but I guess half of one razor went into my knee and I had a pretty good puncture wound. At first I thought it was fine (like most puncture wounds) but then it started gushing blood and pretty soon my entire leg was soaked with blood. I took some wipes I had with me and cleaned it up and then held pressure on it for about five minutes, and it finally stopped. Whew! Mark had some type of medical tape that I wrapped a clean wipe around and taped to me leg. It didn’t really hurt at the time, but tonight as I write this it is starting to get sore. I’ll take a couple of ibuprofen before bed.

We got back to camp and the other group was here. 20 in all – a group from Louisville, KY. They are here to work on getting clean water to the Haitians. Mostly college kids so what a great experience for them. Since a new group was in, we had a great meal again (same as Monday): chicken, french fries and plantains. A great meal! And we were incredibly hungry tonight from another day’s work.

I also met a crew doing some video for the temp. housing (I think I mentioned this already) and he gave me his card and said to look him up if I’m ever in NYC. Pretty cool.

It’s VERY hot here tonight. Not much breeze, but hopefully it will pick up. Some are playing spoons again and I’m finishing up my journal then we’ll be set for bed! Tomorrow is our last day of work. It’s really hard to believe it’s nearly over!

More tomorrow!

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