Saturday the 21st of April, I drove to Miami to meet up with a team of volunteers on the way to Haiti to build a church building with CWE. This was on short notice for me, a mason that was planning on going had an injury so I was asked on Monday, to leave the following Saturday. I never had the desire to go to Haiti like I did other countries to which I had never been, I think I had been influenced by things I had seen on TV news about the people. I have come to the conclusion lately that the television is not the place to receive unbiased news reporting. The Haitian people and their plight can't be accurately understood by a few photos placed on the evening news in order to get ratings.
I chose on this trip not to take as many photos of the people like I usually do, they are not animals at the zoo and I didn't want to make them feel like they are less a person than anyone else. They are not, while some of us were fortunate enough to be born in places of opportunity and hope, it is my opinion that the Haitian people were not so fortunate.
Our team of 19 arrived Saturday afternoon at an ordinary house on a mountainside just south and east of the city of Port Au Prince. We unpacked and settled in to our temporary home, though plagued with power outages, road flooding, backed up plumbing, cold showers and water supply issues, I would soon realize I was living the high life compared to most of the people I encountered throughout the week.
Now for the story in pictures.
We went to church Sunday morning at the locating in which we were going to build the new building. They were meeting in a structure of branches and tin.
Our drive to and from the job site was about an hour if things went well, here are a few photos some of what the roads look like.
We went back to the house, then later that evening we went out to two orphanages that are run by a local pastor we called smiley, he was always smiling and laughing, I think maybe he smiles and laughs when he doesn't understand what you're saying and maybe that's why he did it so much. The first one we went to was for young girls.
Some smiling and appearing happy.
Others not so much.
It seems when we visit these places, the kids just want someone to show them some love, they latch onto you as you walk in the gate, climb on you like your their daddy and just want to play, all the while knowing that in a little while you'll be gone and they will be left alone again for another night in the same crowded house, eating beans and rice, and not likely to ever find a home. The Haitian government makes out-of-country adoptions very difficult, and in-country adoptions are not enough, these children are kept until the age of 20 then sent out on their own. It's a sad situation, one of many plaguing Haiti.
After spending some time with the girls, we walked up the hill just a little way to where the younger boys are kept. Here are a few photos.
I thought this boy was adorable, look at those eyes.
The same boy with another.
Just like at the girls home, we spent some time, shared some love then had to leave.
Monday morning we began work. We were building in an area North and East of the city at the base of the mountains.
We had a rough start that day but were still able to get a portion of all four walls up before quitting time.
I know it's a bad photo, but the only one I took of a UN vehicle. UN trucks and military equipment were all over the city, it seemed odd that while they were in their military transport vehicles, and armored personnel carriers wearing flack vests, helmets and carrying automatic rifles, Jeff Abby and I were riding around in the back of an open pickup truck taking in the sights and talking to people (trying to talk to people) as we drove through town.
We began a fun game, it was to determine the nationality of the troops, then try to greet them in their own language. We were successful with the Brazilians, the Japanese and some of the South Americans countries, those are about the only languages in which we could come up with the greeting quick enough. We received great responses, they seems surprised and returned the greetings.
On the way home from the job the second day, we needed to run to the hardware store which was in a different part of town. Using a GPS we determined that we were only a few miles from our house, but it was about an hour's drive.
This photo was taken on the way to the store, if you zoom in on the homes on the mountainside, you'll notice they are built almost on top of each other. It's easy to imagine what will happen with the next earthquake or mudslide in this area.
One evening we took a walk up the mountain behind our house to see what was there, notice how they just cut into the mountain to build their house, leaving their rubble to fall down on the house below, or causing the ground of the homes above to eventually wash out.
Here is a rainbow appearing to rise out of the top of a mountain in the background and the sunrise reflecting off a building in the foreground.
By Thursday we had finished all four walls, Mark and I build the foundation for the front porch as well. By this time, those block were getting heavy.
Here is a photo I took Friday of the building the way we left it, after 4 days of work. It is probably the most well built building in the area and will serve as a refuge during and after the hurricanes and earthquakes to come. A lot of concrete and steel went into that building.
That evening we took a drive up to a mountain top south of the city, from there you could see Port Au Prince Bay and the City below.
Some flowers on the mountain top.
I returned home happy to have been born in the USA, yet saddened for some of the people I encountered that appear to be stuck in a hopeless situation here on earth.
I'm very happy I made this trip.
More to come next trip.