Here are the pictures I promised.
Haiti was truly a wonderful experience. I learned more then I could ever tell. It was a great adventure. Thank you for reading.
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At the end of the first work day we travel to down town Port au Prince and Cité Soleil. These cities are major damage points from the earthquake. Rubble, trash, street venders under broken foundations, tap-taps, UN vehicles and tent cities fill these cities. I can’t even find words to describe the scenes. It was devastating…
Though I have seen where Haitian people live, what they eat, and how they live, I still cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a tent in the middle of rubble and trash in the center of a city that was once whole. Trust me when I say, seeing it does not make it believable, it makes it more unbelievable.
We broke up into two groups after the first two days. One group continued to work on the foundation and the other group took down a house that was ruined by the earthquake. While we always worked our tails off, the demolition crew had a ton of fun taking down the house. Though we did feel a bit guilty taking down a house instead of building one, but another group will be building a house there soon. It didn’t take much to knock over this house, it was already missing two walls…after we knocked down a main beam that was holding up the roof, we got creative. Having no idea how to take down a house, let alone take down a roof, a group member got the bright idea of throwing big rocks on the roof to have it fall, so that’s just what we did. After throwing about 15 rocks the roof was at a level that we could reach to take it apart. We had a lot of laughs during this process. How many times do you get to take a roof down with rock? This could only happen in Haiti..
I wish you could all see the joy on the faces of the family members as we took down their house and cleared the rubble. The house owner was beaming.
While the two groups of people were out working, Joe had the opportunity to stay at the clinic and help there. He had some pretty amazing stories to tell. I will share a few, doing no justice to how he could tell these stories after having actually experiencing them. There was a woman who was about 20 years old who came in one morning almost in a comma. She had gone blind from the diabetes she didn’t know she had. Her mother, a frail older woman brought her in. The managed to stabilize her and Gale ended up giving her a job (which some people thought was crazy) but i remember seeing frustration on the faces of the clinic workers that day, because when insulin is needed it has to be refrigerated, when you live in a tent refrigeration is not an option. While now this woman is alive and doing much better they are going to be constantly watching her and she will not live a very long life. There was a six fingered child who surprisingly was not looked at as strange, apparently six fingers just happens sometimes in Haiti. There were babies who were malnourished and a few fat happy babies. Open and infected wounds, rashes and pregnancies.
Everyday had its ups and its downs. The heat was unbearable and knocked a few of us down. Some got sick, some sunburns, some found joy and some felt helpless. I know I felt helpless. The best was I can describe Haiti’s situation is like this: right now I am in the process of packing my room up, I look at it with no idea where to start, so I just jump in someplace. As I start, I find something else that needs to be done, something that needs to be cleaned, thrown away, packed now, packed later. Then I run out of boxes. Every task that is started is just a reminder of another that needs to be done. Now imagine this small dorm room to be jam packed, so full there is no walking room. Multiply this by billions, and add the heart ache of loss, garbage, rubble and millions of displaced starving Haitians to the picture. This is Haiti. It’s a mess, a work in progress. It’s going to get worse before it can get better and I can’t get over what things look like now, I have no idea what worse is.
Sorry to be a downer. Tomorrow I will share the fun, the beach, and pictures of children.
Sorry there were no updates from Haiti. We ended up not having internet while we were there. I suppose I will just start from the beginning……
When we arrived we were greeted by the heat, a Haitian band and a mass amount of relief effort workers. After making it through customs we waited for our bags. The bag process was a mess, there were tons of airport “helpers” who insisted on helping you with your bags the catch was if they carried your bag even a foot you were expected to pay them. The group finally found all the bags and had to battle off these helpers until we found our ride.
The vehicle we had to use was sort of like a truck but with a longer back. There was a canopy over it to keep the sun out, we called this truck like transportation a tap-tap. This was the main type of mass transportation we saw. People were piled in and on top of the tap-taps. The only theory that remotly makes sense for the name tap-tap we could come up with is you tap on the side when you want off.
We took the tap-tap a few miles out of Port au Prince to a city called Blanchard. It is here where we worked and slept. We had to quick get things ready for sleeping because it was about to rain after that we had a short meeting. Gale and Gina were running PID while we were there. Gale is the founder and Gina is going to be staying for the next three months. We had a short meeting about what we would be doing all week, a Creole lesson and then we enjoyed the rain.
The first few days we worked on filling the foundation of a house. We took countless numbers of wheel barrel full of rock back and forth for two days. We ended up filling a 12×10 2 foot deep foundation full ( I am just estimating size in my opinion it was pretty damn big). This will be two houses.
I suppose I should explain what exactly Partners in Development does… They take local deserving people into there housing program. These are people who dont have homes or enough resourses to live off of. They are the worst of the worst. They come to PID and apply for the program. The program will allow them to apply for a loan, so they can create a small bussiness. Once they get the loan they have to pay it back twice, then they are put on the list for the home. If they have children (I believe all of them do) some children are sponsored by people so they can go to school and have food. (if anyone who went reads this and I am wrong about any of this please leave me a comment so I can fix it). Im sure there is more to it then this, but what PID does is create a stable envornment for local people to live off of. They work very hard to pay loans back. They are given the chance to provide for themselves. Its really a wonderful thing to see.’
PID also runs a clinic. They usually take in about 100-200 people a day and treat just about anything. Groups like us come to help build things, and medical personnel come in to help treat people. The fee we pay to go pays for supplies to build houses.
We would walk everyday to our work sites and children would yell out “hey you” but it sounded more like “hey ou”. We came to find that after a few silly corrections most children believe “hey you” is calling us white people. For the first few days we thought they were just saying hello until we were told that they are declareing the fact that we are white. “Hey you” is like “look a white person!”.
The children we saw were beautiful. They were full of energy and joy. A lot of the kids we saw were pant-less. Naked-ness was all the rage in Haiti, but when clothes aren’t available and its freaking hot, I don’t blame them. The kids really like us, mainly because they thought we had food or gum to give away and sometimes we did. They hung around us at the work sites and loved to take pictures.
I feel as if i went in a hundred different directions. Forgive me if this was hard to read. I will be adding more in the next few days as I figure out and remember what excatlly happen. Hopefully it will be in a better order. Bare with me as I get achlimated with my surroundings again…
More tomorrow! (more…)
Tonight will be my last full night in the United States. Time has really flown this past week, I was positive I could update more but with finals I was a bit distracted.
I have managed to move most of my stuff home. I will take the final batch of stuff home when I am back from Haiti.
Our last meeting Wednesday seems incredibly far away now. I feel like I have so much to finish before I go, I need to do some laundry still and actually pack because right now everything is thrown in or around my borrowed duffel bag. I really hope I have everything.
I have that nervous feeling in my chest. It’s a combination of nerves and excitement. I keep trying to look forward in my mind through scenarios I expect myself to be in and it comes up blank. Not for lack of being prepared but because I only have vague ideas of what is going on.
I am positive I will enjoy my experience, whatever it maybe.
I will try and update before I leave Tuesday otherwise the next time I will be tuning in is going to be from Haiti!
It’s the beginning of finals week and I am proud to say that I am almost done with my sophomore year. I have to hand in a final research paper for my Intercultural Communications class and I am finished. I really lucked out on the paper too, the assignment was to write about a different culture but because I recently went on a mission trip to Belize I wrote about all of the things I experienced. My next few days of class should be easy because tomorrow is the last day for them! I will be viewing my final project for Television Production (a horror film written by me) and I am excited to see what the other groups came up with.
This past week I started and finished the Typhoid vaccine. I took it in pill form because I do not like shots and it made me really sick. I was dizzy randomly and my stomach hurt on and off all week. It was not fun at all, I am glad it is over.
Today I started the anti malaria medication so far I haven’t had a bad experience with it. I have to take this pill a week before I go, and once a week for every week I am in Haiti (which will only be a week) and then for four weeks after I get back. I just hope I don’t forget…
I am procrastinating on packing for the trip, I am a accessory queen so not being able to bring a lot of clothes has me side tracked. I am a bad packer, I over pack or don’t pack everything I need. I do have a few things packed though like my camping mat and shoes. Its a start if nothing else.
I have been trying to keep up with Haiti in the news, The Associated Press released an article about a todays mild tremor that happened. AHhhh…that kind of freaks me out. I understand the rainy season has started and that means mosquitoes which = malaria. I am trying to find good news about Haiti but it seems that only the worst of it is sticking to my mind..No matter how many pictures or stories I read i just can not seem to wrap my mind around the state Haiti is in.
I will be going home this weekend to start moving home for the summer, which doesn’t feel close at all. I have to say it is not something I am looking forward too. I will be unemployed and most of my high school friends will be staying in their college towns for the summer, so it looks like I will have a lot of me time. Which will be okay because I can read a bunch and work on some of my writing. But the novelty of that will wear off in a month or so and that means I am going to have to get creative.
I suppose thats all I have to share for now.
I am so excited to be sharing my travels!
If you don’t know me, My name is Caitlyn Finger. I am a sophomore at UIU. I am a double major studying English and Communications (with an emphasis in journalism). On any given day you could find my in the Writing Center working as a writing tutor, you could see me at the events on campus because I am on the Student Activities Board (keep your eyes open for all the changes coming with that for next year). If I am not doing any of those things I am with my EYE sorority sisters, doing home work, going to Bible Study, writing articles for The Collegian or hanging out with my friends. Yeah, you could call me crazy but I just like to keep busy.
I will be traveling to Haiti this May to help with earthquake relief efforts. There are 10 students from Upper Iowa and two faculty members. We will leave the UIU campus on the 11th before the sun wakes up and come back in the late hours of the 18th.
While we are in Haiti we will be working with a non-profit organization called Partners in Development. They have been stationed in Haiti for about 10 years. We will be picking up work where other groups have left off.
Though this isn’t my first experience with international travel (this March I went to Belize) I am still a little nervous about going to Haiti. Not only because of the inconceivable devastation the country has experienced but to be completely honest I always hate flying. Its the turbulence that freaks me out.
When we get to Haiti there few things we can count on. One being that it will be hot, the average temperature is 80-90 degrees, an other thing we know is its the rainy season, and the final thing is that we will be interacting with the Haitian people.
One thing I have come to understand about traveling is that no matter how much you think you plan, things never happen how you originally expected. I am trying to keep that in mind for the next few weeks.
The travelers going have met every Wednesday morning for the past few weeks. We meet and give presentaions about Haiti, we have focused on culture, geography, politics, religion, and economy. We try and break up into groups with different people each time we meet so we get to know each other.
I am super excited to be able to take advantage of this opportunity. I have always had a passion for helping people and though most of my travels have been within the United States until lately. I will work my hardest to keep this updated during these next few weeks but finals are closer than I realized and procrastination should really be my middle name. I have final papers and test that need to be finished up in the next few days.
Thanks for reading!
check out the groups facebook page to see what we are doing here: