Where to Start

A week has gone by since I’ve sat down and shared a wee bit of Haiti with you. This is certainly not for lack of inspiring moments or beautiful sights; there is an abundance of both. Rather, I’ve been caught in a roller coaster of emotions, falling flat upon witnessing signs of abject poverty, bouncing up high from the odd joyous encounter, and crashing back down due to a sense of doubt that there may ever lie better days ahead for Haiti. Do not fret for me- I’m just fine. I’ve reflected and discussed these feelings with a few wise souls around me. They are common sentiments when working in such a foreign and troubled environment.

I’ve spent the last week working away at the construction of a school foundation. It was difficult to tear myself away for a few days from the toilet and sanitation program which I’ve grown to hold so closely to my heart. So close because the need in Haiti is so great, arguably greater than classrooms. That being said, I’ve had a great time putting my experience to use, leading a team digging ditches, slapping up forms and tying rebar. All this amongst a community fully enamoured and engaged with the project. Our efforts culminate starting tomorrow with a three day bonanza of concrete: 75,000 kg of water, cement, sand and gravel laboriously loaded into a mixer then carted into place. This foundation will host many eager minds for years to come.

I came back to base today to a buzzing hive of plastic buckets. Hundreds of kits have been assembled for distribution in the community, kits loaded with cleaning and disinfection supplies like bleach, scrub pads and brooms. They are being distributed to the families which have been identified as in the direst need following the toxic mud that leached its way into homes following Hurricane Tomas, conditions making them even more vulnerable to the growing cholera epidemic. These kits will alleviate a very dire and immediate need.

Back to that roller coaster of emotions. It is really an exercise in futility, fretting over these realities- the energy can be much better spent. Whether it be head down and ass up, digging a ditch, or mouth shut and eyes open, watching some children occupy their afternoon with a home made kite and a rusty bicycle rim, this country needs not more analysis but loads of sweat and love.

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