Haiti Update Day 5 (by Katie)


Last night was a really hot one—tossed and turned a lot, which is difficult on an inflatable mattress stuffed into a bunk bed, not to mention anytime someone rolls over in camp, the beds creak and everyone hears… There was lots of tossing and turning, lots of snoring (Breathe Right—want to donate?) and I was left with little sleep on a sore back (thank you, 8 hours of shoveling). But the good news is, the auditory orchestra we have brewing at dawn-time received it’s diva (or divo)…a very loud goat. He really puts the roosters to shame…

All week long I’ve been getting ribbed for my cereal additive—a mix of spirulina, chlorella, and other supergreens. Basically, without meat and dairy there’s little nutrition for me here, so I brought supplements…they just happen to be neon. Finally this morning, I received validation—I had two converts who wanted to sample some. I am determined to win over the group sooner or later. Either that or I’ll join their team—I may slaughter the goat myself (kidding)…

The highlight of the morning by far was a victory for Team Baby Jesus—we finished the rubble site! Also, we have a victory song—apparently ODB has a song with the line “waitin’ on big baby jesus…” and lots of other unprintable lyrics (hi, mom). When the Bono guys are not busting out the great classic rock tunes, we rely on ODB for a bit of fun. But that’s skipping ahead a bit—the kids were so awesome today and helped us finish up the very last of the rubble, providing smiles, hugs and mangoes along the way. Two interesting artifacts were extracted from the rubble—a towel with a printing of…wait for it…jesus, mary and baby joseph (not kidding), it’s now become our flag. Secondly, Yvon found a clock buried in the cinder, stopped just before 2—when the earthquake struck. You forget what it really means when people say “a moment in time” until it literally smacks you in the face.

Underneath a very hot sun (I will be sporting the glove and farmer tan—just FYI all you stylish nyc-ers) we took photos of the cleared site—and let the kids take our pictures (they are endlessly amused with seeing their digital pictures on our cameras—they also like throwing rock, so you know…). Lest we lose momentum, our fearless leader, Neil, let us pause for exactly three minutes and then said, “Ok, next site.” So, we wheelbarrowed ourselves across the road to the next site—a three room house, somewhat intact, that needed to be cleared of rubble, have the walls removed, and hopefully in doing so preserve the roof so that the family can use it for their next shelter—in time for the rainy season.

There are some things in life I wish I could do—play the piano, juggle, understand Haitian currency exchange and tie knots. I know that sounds funny, but seriously—I remember specifically NOT choosing that Girl Scout patch because I couldn’t grasp the whole knot thing and had problems visualizing the diagrams on paper and how they would appear in actuality (yeah, I know…it’s shocking I’ve made it this far in life—thank god I only own one pair of tie-shoes). At any rate, Philip devises a system to chisel holes in the weak fissures of the walls, loop in ropes, create anchor points and then get us all to do a little heave-ho and pull down the walls. But these are not normal knots—they’re multiple looped and intertwined, and at the end of the day it looked like a giant spiderweb. Need I recount the tarantula story? As we all stared in amazement, Philip explains the knots—“this one is a double bind so the actual pressure points go here (pointing to something in the knot), not here (pointing to another place)”—please note, the only “double bind” I know, is a yoga pose that I can only halfway contort myself into. It’s experiences like these that make you appreciate others’ skills… and take comfort that they’re on your team. We still have more to finish tomorrow (apparently some of the walls really don’t want to talk), but with lots of kids’ help, we’ll be all set.

I want to devote a special paragraph here to the gentleman of St. Bonaventure for providing non-stop commentary, singing, laughter, games and Michael Jackson squealing all day long. All day. The whole time. They are karaoke on wheels. Plus, Rob was suffering from heat exhaustion yesterday (revived by Philip’s Cytomax and Cliff Shots—TriLifers, roll your eyes here), and what I thought was a really subdued, quiet guy from a farm in upstate is now a singing machine. With Phil at the wheel, there are now scores of Haitian children running around screaming “Jamona” (a phonetic spelling of a Jackson exhortation). The Bona guys also taught them red-light, green-light and how to skip rope. You have these moments when your back is breaking, it’s ridiculously hot and you feel like you’ve pushed the wheelbarrow a zillion times—and as much as you want to take a sledgehammer and go John Henry on one of them, all of a sudden a little Haitian kid grabs his crotch and does a Thriller spin—with big, hairy Phil next to him and it’s pretty impossible not to smile through the sweat, sunscreen, and Deet. Again, that’s something I wouldn’t be able to bring to the table—I guess we call it a Team (Baby Jesus) for a reason.

Dinner was not so hot tonight—you know how people who don’t live in Cincinnati look at Skyline Chili and think—why are you putting brown meat sauce and cheese on spaghetti, with fake orange cheese…AND going nuts over it? Well, here it’s spaghetti with lettuce, tomato, and a sauce of (sensitive stomachs, avert your eyes here) mayonnaise, ketchup and Louisiana Hot Sauce. I’m just going to let that stew for a moment…no pun intended.

Thanks for all the emails saying hi—when the internet works it’s great to hear from you, not only for moral support, but so often during the day you are in my thoughts (and undoubtedly this applies for all HODRers too). Lukas, I’ve learned of a few new marathons (or halves) to do; Pete, some guys found some Prestige beer here and I hope your beer-fast is going well (aren’t you glad I made that public), Mom, Leydi asked me the other day “What does your mother think [about you being
here]”—and I thought of how great you’ve been, I mean you only cried every OTHER time we’ve talked… And Dad, as one of the few women out on the rubble teams each day, I’m glad you always made me carry my own groceries and lift up my luggage into the overhead compartments…and all the other ways you taught your daughter to break through (rock) on her own.

Big salutations from a very sweaty Katie in Haiti.

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5 Responses to “Haiti Update Day 5 (by Katie)”


  1. 1 pcthrpy March 3, 2010 at 03:20

    Katie in Haiti (and Phillipe too) — amazing work you are doing. I’m in awe of your efforts. It just goes to show you that you never really know what you are training for. You are rebuilding spirit not only there but here too. Rumble. Connie

  2. 2 pcthrpy March 3, 2010 at 03:22

    sry Philip I made you French for a moment (Phillipe)

    • 3 Philip Kiracofe March 8, 2010 at 09:09

      I actually thought that was quite clever given that french/creole are the predominant language there

  3. 4 Betty - as in CCD neighbor March 3, 2010 at 10:59

    Enjoying your journals, Katie – you have many gifts!! Also sharing them w/my daughter Dianna. She has led several medical mission teams to Haiti and, like almost everyone who’s been there, loves the Haitian people. God be with you and Team Baby Jesus!

    Love and warm hugs,
    betty d

  4. 5 the best Yoga Ever March 11, 2016 at 16:25

    In fact no matter if someone doesn’t understand then its
    up to other users that they will help, so here it happens.


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