By Jacob D.
The chatter of team members drifts through the screen as I sit typing on the laptop just inside the door. They are playing Cranium, a game that requires good recall and sharp attention, not something that you would expect from a tired team after a long day in the hot sun!
The weather today was very typical of any day in the rainy season; a burning sun during the day followed by an hour of heavy rain in the late afternoon. It was our first day experiencing rain here in Haiti and it felt very refreshing after nine days of hot, dry weather.
Our morning began with a delicious breakfast of fresh pancakes. Shortly after, our faithful taxi driver arrived and drove us 50 minutes through the crowded capital to the outskirts of the city. At the base of bare mountains we found ourselves right in the middle of a refugee camp. This sprawling settlement of tents and temporary shelters covered a large area. Many people had taken up residence in this area after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
We were here to assist with building a home for a 74 year old Haitian lady. If we finished as planned she could move out of her tent shelter and into her new home by tonight! Since Jason had to fly and Will was busy with her boys, our leaders for today were a Haitian pastor, who spoke English, and a Haitian foreman who had experience in building the prefabricated homes. It didn't take long for our presence to attract other locals who offered to help as well. Under the direction of the foreman, and the help of those in the community we soon had the walls up; the trusses followed, and then it was lunchtime.
At that point we had been without water for two hours and felt absolutely parched! Thankfully refreshing cool water soon arrived followed by a great meal of rice, beans, chicken and fried plantain.
After that we “burned” for a while (the Haitian equivalent of “hanging out or chilling out) as we waited for the paint to arrive.
When the paint did finally arrive we were able to apply the first coat of green paint before our taxi driver came to take us back to Jason and Will's. Before we left we took pictures with the happy owner of the new house who sincerely expressed her thanks. For her, owning her own home was something she could only dream of. She fully expected to live her life out in her tent shelter. It definitely felt satisfying to be able to make such a difference in the life of this lady, and it only took one day!
By the time we were leaving rain was threatening to muddy the roads. Thankfully we arrived home safely before the rain hit.
After settling back into the Krul's home we ate a wonderful dinner of lasagna. After dinner, when the rain had cleared, we piled into the back of the truck for a ride to the supermarket. Driving in Haiti is truly an awesome experience! We maneuvered through a maze of motorbikes, broken down vehicles, and people that were constantly crossing the street around us. Vehicles cut in and out of traffic and swerved around vehicles parked on the side of the road. Thankfully, rarely do any of these crazy driving tactics cause any road rage!
At the supermarket we were amazed to see several heavily armed security guards patrolling the parking lot. Inside we were surprised to see goat heads, chicken feet, and goat feet for sale!
Coming to Haiti has been such an interesting and thought provoking experience. It is definitely something I will never forget!
The Day in Pictures
Driving through the capital.