Saturday, July 16, 2011

Haiti Day 5

I looked and looked forever trying to find this picture to put in Haiti day 1 with all the other pics of where we stayed, but couldn't find it. It's because we didn't take this shot till Day 5 and it was mixed in with those.  But here is the outside. Most of the nice homes are like this, built into the side of a mountain, so they are various levels! Beautiful no doubt!
 Our Day 5 was our construction Day.  Alex woke up all night very sick and so she stayed behind at TNM.  She was the first one of the team to get sick. (but not the only or the last). It was a long drive out to Gancier (gon-see-ay).  It took us about 2+ hours each way.  We left very early at about 530 that morning, because traffic is very unpredictable and can be congested for hours if you get in the middle of it.  So they try to avoid that when possible.  In the heart of town it was crowded already by the time we got there! The dirt/smog/etc is so thick you can't see the mountains, but just barely.
 This is a herd of cattle just walking down the main street.  Common.
 We stopped to go to the restroom before getting out on site at the construction area, because as you'll see later the "restroom" was not quite private.  This is my face. I don't know if you can tell HOW dirty it is, but I borrowed Jeff's sunglasses for awhile and I looked a LOT like a raccoon because of the smog/dirt was all over my face except where the glasses were.  It was funny (apparently) but without mirrors, I had no clue.  When I wiped my face, it was about a quarter inch thick and I used about 3 wipes to get it "clean".  Gross. (really would hate to know what my lungs looked like)
 We made it on site.  Once we got there Michael was sick, and Rachel was also not feeling well.  My back was hurting from the jump rope incident the day before and so we were a little shy of all being super helpful.  But our team was hard working and we DID accomplish a lot.  With so many sick and the hottest day we were there, we ran out of water by 1.  So we ended up leaving earlier than expected.  But like I said, I still felt like we made progress for the Haitian crew and Jacques.
 This was us (above) waiting for our "orders." The shade from that house was nice!  Haitian people work on Haitian time and typically that's SLOW. :)
 This is a picture of a partially completed house that TNM is building (partnered with a church in Tennessee I think).  They are building a community with 50 homes, a medical facility, and commons area.  This is the stage before they put the outside layer over the brick.  But you can see the foundation of the large rocks and then smaller.  Then they stack the bricks and mortar and then the metal roofs.
 This is a picture of the "restroom" that was available.  It has a hole in the ground that is partially covered with sticks.  Then there is a bucket with the bottom cut off and a toilet lid attached to that.  You have to balance on that while staying over the sticks to do your business. All the while, with everyone watching you because the blue tarp has large holes where you would be sitting.  Thus no privacy.  So, no one needed the restroom but me, and so I went up to the mountain and went behind a tree in privacy, until there was a goat that nearly scared the... well never mind, he scared me :)
 Everything in Haiti is done by hand.  There are very few machines that do anything, and most small companies/ministries/etc do not have any.  TNM has a brick press (I'll talk about that in a minute) but other than that, NO machines.  So it's very hard and tedious process to get bricks made, cement made, mortar made etc.  Everything has to be made.  This is what I did a lot of during the day.  We sifted small rocks to gather wheelbarrows full of dust to make the mortar.  We used a screen attached to a wooden frame.  Genius.  But hard after several hours.
 Michael helped when he could.  He's a tough guy! ;)  This is the other screen, a metal, wider gated.  Rocks were tossed through this screen to get the small rocks that we sifted above to get the dust.
 We were up high in the mountains on this site.  There is Jeff with some of the Haitian team in the background.
 We cleaned out this area so the next day it would be ready to be to start working on the outside and inside layer over the brick and mortar.
 This is Shane and Susan and Jeff working again on making dust. (I am certain it has a more technical term...but it was dust to me).
 Mark, Jeff and I making dust.
 These bags were all over the site. This is the equivalent of a small (5 oz) water supply for the workers.
 Michael cleaning out the inside.
 The bricks and mortar that are being put up in this picture is what the Haitian team worked on all day.  We personally carried over 3 tons of bricks for them.  Again, you don't have the machines that move all your stuff. We made a chain and got a lot moved quickly!  It was great and fun.  They each weigh about 25 pounds.  We moved LOTS of bricks!
This is Jacques.  He is the construction coordinator that TNM has hired full time.  He is out at the construction site mostly every day and hired locals to help him build.  A great way to help the Haitian people, help them help themselves now and in the future because they are learning skills!  A great thing that TNM is doing.  Not just giving them the house, but helping them be a part of it, take ownership, and also giving them life skills for future (and present) employment. It's a super win win.  Jacques was a great guy and did a great job with both the Haitian team and the American teams!

 These are the bricks.  TNM has a brick press and each brick is pressed individually by hand!  TNM has hired Haitian locals to run the press.  Each brick is about 25 pounds and they are "locking" which provides a great deal more stability for the structures in earthquakes.  I believe up to 40% safer than the typical brick most common there and also the press is manual and thus not creating more of the suffocating smog (fire and energy used in most brick making machines).  So this is a great thing for both the people and their safety and their environment! You can read more about the bricks here!
 These bricks (half bricks) are called Mickey's because of the way it looks like Mickey mouse. I thought that was funny that even in Haiti, Disney has presence (Mickey and Donald Duck are seen on MOST elementary schools).
 This building is the size of 2 homes.  So half of it is a home that you would normally have a whole family in.  MUCH smaller than what we live in in the States.  I would guess (rough estimate) about 300-400 square feet is a whole house.
 We did such a good job of creating "dust" that we had to start making piles elsewhere for them.  It really helps them because this process takes so long that sometimes they will have to wait and wait to finish projects because they have to do all this by hand.  But because we moved so many bricks to their site, made so much mortar paste for them, they will be able to accomplish a lot more a lot faster than normal.  So I am glad we could help speed up one or two days for them. I can't imagine doing the construction EVERY day.  It was so tiring and long and hot! (and we were only there till 1pm)
 This is a mortar pile. They took the dust and made a mound and then a hole in the center and used water and then stirred it up.  It was crazy!
 These cows were SO skinny.  They were up in the mountain nearby the site.
 We ate lunch on site.  I was worried about dehydrating and getting over heated so I snacked a lot throughout the day and drank a lot of water! (sorry team, between Michael and I am sure we tapped out the Culligan!)
 After lunch we did some more dust making and helped carry loads of larger rocks into one of the other areas for them to use as the floor (they covered them with cement).  It was crazy the whole process of it all.  But they had it down! And the houses when they were done were great!
On the way home since we had no water, we stopped off at a side store to get some drinks.  I didn't want any because they only have pop and I don't drink that. 
 Jeff got a 7UP and said it was AMAZING and refreshing.  However, he was so excited because it was a cool bottle and wanted to keep it and the guy came back and said no one could keep the glass bottles. I guess they are so hard to find in Haiti that you only get to drink the drink and not keep them.  Jeff was bummed. I was thrilled I didn't get one because that's kind of gross (assuming that since he takes them back someone else has drank out of that before!)
 More traffic and dust on the way home...
 We passed the US Embassy.  It was one of the nicest buildings in Haiti and has AC and is very "pretty."  At 6ish when we drove by the first time the line out the embassy was like half a mile long! I am sure they didn't open till 8! Can you imagine!? I know there are only a limited number of people they see and visas they give out each day/month.

 More trash on the side of the streets.  Just burning with no one around...
 This is the equivalent of the Walmart in Haiti. It's called the Giant.  Only people that have quite a bit of money shop there.  It's TWO stories! I hear it's very nice inside but all of the prices are double what they are in America, but you can find most of the same foods.

We all headed back and took showers. I hadn't felt more gross since I had been there. I didn't even want to go inside the house I was so dirty.  It took us about just 2 hours to get home.  So we had a little more time than normal before dinner.  It was good to check on Alex (since she stayed back at the house with one of the interns all day).  Thankfully she was doing better, not great, but better by the time we got back.   But that's about the time I got sick! :( It was NO fun.  Rachel wasn't feeling good the entire rest of the time we were in Haiti, but Michael thankfully was doing better too by the next day.  Needless to say, most of us rested the rest of the day and night.  Construction teams definitely have my utmost respect. I am so thankful I was not on a construction only team.  I would maybe have never recovered physically.

Haiti Day 6

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