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.