Haiti update (wed)

A few comments on Katie’s post and some additional observations.
A) The quakes / aftershocks I have experienced have been quite trivial. The only part making it frightening is that 50+ volunteers are yelling “QUAKE!!!” as they pile out of their bunks, trying to disentangle from mosquito netting as they run wildly into the courtyard. I believe we are far more likely to see injuries resulting from the gauntlet run than from any quake, but I understand the comfort of having an escape procedure in place. Overall, it works well, and the tremors have served to increase my comfort in the solid nature of our HODR base, and are also a somber reminder of why we are here. Nearly all the Haitian people continue sleeping in tents and tarps because they are afraid to go back inside structures that they don’t trust to stand.

B) the bar that opened up next door presents a very interesting conundrum and is a microcosm of the many challenges facing this country.

The property where HODR is located includes a large, secure building, a soon to be utilized 5-acre field in the back, and a new bar just outside the main camp. To get there is a 100 foot walk down a path bordered by the temporary IDP camp that Joe (the owner) has allowed to crop up in his yard. So here are these volunteers who on the one hand are exhausted after a day of back-breaking labor who are also happy to inject money into Haitian economy and support a local entrepreneur who employs at least 5 people to service the lounge. On the other hand, it is an outdoor seating place and you are in full view of the residents of the IDP tent camp where families are reduced to a handful of possessions and are watching us drink beers that cost a weeks worth of wages (assuming they were among the privileged few who had a job). Now contrast this with an experience we had on the job site yesterday.

We were clearing a home site for an owner and he had requested that as we cleared the slab, that we spread the rubble around the foundation to protect from the rains. This is much better than wheel barrowing loads into piles so we were working away for a couple hours while the owner sat in a chair in the shade to observe. At some point, he decided that maybe he did not want the rubble around his house and yelled out from his chair that we should move the rubble into piles in the back. This would represent a significantly harder task, and it made all of us angry and resentful that this guy had the audacity to ask is to do even more work when he was unwilling to lift a finger.

But in the end, the situation is just far too complex to pass judgement, and all I can really do is trust that the time here is making a positive contribution, whether on the job site, or in a bar, or in a coastal village, etc.

Its now getting light and time to go tackle another rubble site.


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  1. 1 A microcosm on the insanely complex Haiti challenge « Philip Kiracofe · Adventure Capitalist Trackback on March 28, 2010 at 09:41
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