Haiti update – Wed


Every night after dinner we have a group “meeting”—updates from the field, news for tomorrow, special items like “don’t throw TP in the toilet” and cleaning duty sign-up for the next day.

The St. Bonaventure gents also use this opportunity to share a nightly “Top Ten List” with the HODRers.

For example “Top Ten Things Not to Say to the Egg Sandwich Lady.”

Since it is 9 zillion degrees right now, and the generators are blowing left and right (thanks to the opening of Joe’s bar next door—see item #2), I am going to be super brief tonight.

Top Ten Things that I did not envision for myself one week ago, when I was drinking a martini in New York City last Wednesday night…

10—Giggling unstoppably while taking long-exposure portraits in the full moon-light: Awesome full moon last night, and everyone had the great idea of taking pictures without the flash.

This morphed into taking portrait shots with long exposures.

This resulted in some freakishly amazing pictures (to be shared later).

Occasionally someone would forget to turn off the flash function though, and the entire camp (after lights out) would be flooded with light—and this resulted in a group of mature adults cracking up hysterically like kids at camp who had snuck out after curfew.

Anyone who’s had the giggles knows how hard it is to stop once you’ve started…apparently this does not change when you’re 27…or 37 (haha).

9—Awaking to “Quake”: Yup, another earthquake.

Unfortunately at 1:30am…making it a bit hard to fall back asleep. It was super small, but all the same, when you wake up to people screaming and running for their lives…well, you kind of think the world is ending.

8—It is ok to eat cornflakes mixed with hot water and peanut butter: This is especially true when you’re on Team Baby Jesus and you know you have 8 hours of solid work ahead of you.

Other things that are ok: hot cereal with powdered milk and jelly.

I’ve also seen cold-brewed tea. Anything with peanut butter is ok.

Important to regulate use of creamy vs. crunchy though.

There is an etiquette to the madness, folks.

7—Singing “Oh Canada” when passing by the Canadian Military Base every morning: Shockingly, you might wager this is due to the influence of the St. Bona guys… However, we also get a nice smile, a smirk and a few head shakes when they realize what we’re doing as the tap-tap drives by.

I’m just glad they won the Gold medal…I don’t think it would go over as well if not.

6—Yelling out “Spring Break 2010, Carson Daly” with the St. Bonaventure guys: Apparently any amount of work is alleviated by yelling out “Spring Break” as if you were on a beach with a pina colada and some kind of body shot contest on the agenda for the day.

Now the Haitian kids are saying it too… I really hope Anderson Cooper doesn’t come to Leogane, there will be lots of explaining to do…

5—Videotaping three walls coming down: Philip won the MacGyver Inspector Gadget Eagle Scout award today.

Another web of knots and pulleys and heave-ho(ing) later, the walls came tumbling down—thank you Mr. Gorbachev.

As the only female member of TBJ this am (Margot and Laura were on cleaning duty), I got to videotape the roof coming down…it was pretty awesome and so satisfying since we’d been trying since yesterday.

The only bad side to being the only woman in the group, especially a group of several military-trained guys—is the fist-pumping, chest-bumping, high-fiving thing…A small sacrifice for a hard day’s work though.

Plus, there’s always Phil—who chose to do the Jersey Shore Snooki fist-pump….

4—Taking a bucket shower with your clothes on: After lunch, I spotted Philip walking across camp towards our bunk.

I hadn’t really seen him all morning (see above re: his future as a demolition expert), so wanted to go give him a hug hello.

I failed to see the trail of water in his wake and hugged a soaking wet person.

Why? Oh, he decided to shower with his clothes on.

This is acceptable in Haiti.

3—Wishing I could stay in Haiti longer: At the dinner meeting today, Mark and Steph and Lenka shared exciting news about the future projects HODR will be participating in, spearheading or assisting in the coming weeks and months.

They include assisting a field hospital, partnering with the GTZ guys to use their transitional shelters as schoolhouses, rebuilding an orphanage, and clearing 70 lots for structure rebuilding.

If you haven’t read much about HODR, it’s a very unique NGO—the volunteers who come here come to work (manual labor) and also make long-term commitments to the community.

We are not bureaucratic, there are no “systems” and as a result many groups here wants HODR to work with them.

It says a lot about the grass-roots nature of the organization and also about the we are trying to do a very small, community level.

It’s inspiring and exciting—and I know that if I came back in 4 months it would be an amazing situation.

Being part of it at the beginning stages has been unforgettable, so much so that it’s hard to think of leaving just when the going gets good.

2—Considering drinking a beer named Prestige: Joe is the guy who owns the nightclub where we are living—and the five acres behind us (to be used for NGO storage as soon as the Canadian military grates the field)…he also runs the bar attached to the Belval Plaze (the name of our place).

It has been closed since the earthquake, and is reopening tonight (Joe is not stupid—he knows there are soon to be a 100 sweaty workers in need of something cold, and hopefully alcoholic).

No, I don’t normally drink beer.

No, I wouldn’t normally imbibe something called “Prestige.”

I am thinking of this more as an extension of community service—it’s supporting the local economy.

Also it’s 90 degrees right now…not kidding.

1—Looking forward to being part of “Team Baby Stevus”: Team Baby Jesus rocked the house this morning—so quickly in fact, that we had no project for the afternoon.

(Yes, I realize I just said “Team Baby Jesus rocked the house”—I can’t help appropriating the eloquence of my teammates) As a result, we were split up—a fact that had us all in near tears.

So we are all making a point to join Steve’s team on a project tomorrow—so that we can all rock the new house in TBJ style—with singing, laughter and a little help from our friends.

Bon Nuit!

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1 Response to “Haiti update – Wed”


  1. 1 Anna March 6, 2010 at 10:02

    Really enjoying your updates.


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