Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ridiculous contraption at 0500, the 5hr Hospital drive (1way) and a new oven..

Woke with the roosters at 0500... sun was almost up anyway... and I woke up with a crazy idea -- "I thought to myself, we don't have to buy one, we can build one."... and I went off to see what David thought.

At 0615 Amy, Kim, Jess and the two Sarahs (journalists from central CT and friends of Kim's), along with Dr Franco and Manu headed out for a 5 hour drive to a government hospital to help a number of patients there.  One of the physicians from that hospital contacted Dr Franco yesterday to see if he could come provide additional support for some patients there with a variety of ailments -- cholera, premie babies, victims of the January 2010 earthquake still in the hospital were among those Amy Kim and Dr Franco assisted.

I remained on the compound with the GoHaiti staff and the kids and I decided to begin work on the up and coming soccer field.  The idea I had when I woke up was to weld together a weed cutter hand tool. I'll post an actual picture of it soon, but it looks somewhat like the one pictured below... only much more primitive. get the idea...
Upon finishing this contraption, Duvall and I spent the next couple hours chopping down the weeds in the field.  Before we had to break due to the heat, we cut down approx 100ft x 100ft section of thick grass, shrubs and weeds by about 10:30a it was over 100 degrees by then and too hot to continue... so we'll reconvene our weed chopping when it cools down some.

After David finished welding the weed cutter he left with Josin in a Tap Tap to go get a larger stove top with three huge burners.  When they brought in the new stove top I thought the ladies that work here would jump out of their aprons they were so overjoyed!  This stovetop will save so much time and energy for all the food they have to prepare for the children (they have only had one small oven until now) and for any volunteer teams that come from now on.  What a blessing!

David and Josin got to work right away installing it, but after realizing they needed two more hose clamps -- additional to what they'd already got -- they had no other choice but to go out again... another 2hr venture.

Well, Kenni just came in to tell me food is ready... I'm sure our evening will be just as exciting.  ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

power obstacles...

Generator threw a rod today.  
Too bad no one here owns a boat, we could use it for an anchor.


I would just run over to Home Depot and rent one... or better yet just turn on the power but...

We just don't normally have obstacles to overcome do we?

What would you do without electricity?

Still... Life is Good.  We'll make do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What to expect - For Anyone Traveling to the Port Au Prince Airport in Haiti

A quick guide for anyone traveling to the Port Au Prince Airport -
As a caveat to this information - This is current as of August 2011 -- Things change in Haiti all the time so be sure to ask clarifying questions of the organization you are working with prior to your arrival. 
            Just prior to landing, you’ll receive immigration/customs paperwork.  Fill out the paperwork as completely as possible.  Make sure you have the correct address from the organization you're working with.  

2.        When you land, you'll walk off the plane onto the runway and walk 100' to the bus.  It’s a city bus type and will take you to about 400yards to a large building where you’ll walk in to you'll be guided onto a bus to take you to immigration and baggage claim.  This is a converted aircraft hangar it’s a large area without many walls.

3.       You may be asked for the paperwork before you get your bags, but then again they may not ask for it. Continue into the building and you’ll see people surrounding the baggage conveyors on the right.  This will feel chaotic to most Western travelers, but just go with the flow.  It's normal.

4.       Make sure to get several luggage carts first – you’ll need them and sometimes there aren’t many available.  It didn’t cost us anything to use the carts. 

5.       Then, get your group together in an area to collect your baggage.  MOST people should stay in that area with your carry-on bags and pack the checked luggage on the carts when you get them.  Then a few members of your group can grab your bags from off the conveyor.  – This is not an expedient system, but it works.  There were nine of us (including 4 small children) and we got all of our luggage - even though it took about 2hours from the time we arrived until we left the baggage area with our luggage.

6.       When you have all your luggage packed on the carts head toward the exit.  STAY TOGETHER – NO ONE SHOULD LEAVE THE BAGGAGE AREA without the rest of the group.   You are not more than 30ft from the exit to your rear if you are facing the conveyor belts. 

7.       The guards at the exit may or may not ask to review your paperwork.  If they ask about meds or other supplies you have with you fine you'll need your proper documentation, but if they don’t ask just keep walking out toward the parking lot where the vans/taxis will be waiting.

8.       THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL bombarded by insistent requests from drivers wanting to help you with your carts of baggage to take to their vehicle.  Some will even try to say that they are there to pick you up.  Again - there is NO danger, but you will have to be pretty aggressive with some of the drivers depending on their response to your request not to help.  

9.       If the person you're supposed to meet is not right there as you exit the baggage area, - don’t panic :) .  Just DON’T let ANYONE push your carts or carry your bags if they are not a prearranged person to pick you up.  Continue to your right, down the open air tunnel/walkway toward the parking lot and we will meet you there at the end of that walkway if we don’t see you before. 

10.   Once you reach the end of the walkway you should see the people who are there to greet you or to meet your prearranged driver.  Tips for drivers who load all of the luggage Depending on what they do, we tipped each of the 4 guys, 5.00each after the van was loaded.  

I hope this is helpful.  

5:30am goat chase... and someone squeezing the chickens!

Started today with the boys chasing goats at 5:30am!

...and Kenni waking up and struggling to figure out what that crazy noise was and the following is the interaction between she and Amy in their room.  Kenni wakes up and says, ""What is that 
noise?"  " I say, "just the chickens." She says, "Those are no chickens, it sounds like people are 
outside getting squeezed to death." 

Yep!  Welcome to Haiti!  

You can read Amy's post about today's adventures too --

I must say that my wonderful wife was up with them at that hour, but I was still attempting to sleep  but heard the boys running around with the goats.    I think it may have already been in the mid 70s or 80s by then so they were sweaty at breakfast but their pancakes sausage and bacon went down fast due to their early workout. 

After breakfast we hung out, prayed together, planned the day, encountered the regular unforeseen Haitian obstacles (today I think it was “O, we’ve got the generator… later on… Oh, hey the guy with the generator can’t come… still later... but we found another friend with one to use.)  -- 
Then David Ojeda and I discussed a design for the bunk beds and I sketched out a design and jumped in the “tap tap” (that’s Haitian for a late 80’s or 90’s style Isuzu mini truck with a colorful elevated bed cap with benches in the back – taxi looking thing.)  Tap Taps are great fun!
I think it was only about 5-7 miles… maybe less to get to the large Lowe’s equivalent – but it took us about 40mins to navigate the earthquake damaged roads and joyous and overcapacity Port au Prince streets to get there.  Once we arrived, Dr Franco and Kim went with our driver to make the internet payment for the month.   David Ojeda and “Mahano” browsed the store and purchased the supplies we needed for the bunk beds, window security bars and the frame to build the movie screen.

Now, to get your head around this picture the following items –
1 – 20 ft. strip of metal bar .25” thick
8- 12 ft. pieces of 1x4 lumber
4- 10 ft. pieces of 2x4 lumber
2 – 20ft. pieces of ½” thick iron re-bar
a couple boxes of assorted other hardware 
Got that?

Additionally, did you catch we were riding in a MINI Isuzu pick up truck?  I have no idea what the exact dimention of the pick up bed was, but it can’t be more than 5.5ft…. You had to be there to really appreciate it, but we loaded ALL those above items in the truck successfully and drove off.  To make things just a little “safer”, we bent the steel bar and steel strip in half so only about 5 feet of the ends were sticking out of the back of the truck.  So we drove off with our feet planted firmly on the steel bars attempting to prevent the metal from sliding out while our bodies were contorted around the wood beams sticking halfway out of the front of the bed, resting on the top of the truck over the driver’s head.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the truck… we were laughing all the way back to the compound…. What made matters even worse was the dreadful screech of the metal ends dragging on the rough pavement/dirt roads as we drove that perious journey back to the  GoHaiti property. What a ride!
I’ll try to post some pix later. :)

By the time we got back it had been a great half days’ work.   That’s just how it is here, but we got what we needed.

We unloaded the truck and had to do some repair work on the generator and David went to work rigging up Kim’s hammock which I think now will be the most coveted spot on the property.  All the kids had a relaxing turn in it listening to an incessant treatment of Michael Jackson greatest hits… but they keep playing one song over and over again.  Oh well…

Sasha has reconnected with her friends she met in January and she’s just kinda picked up those relationships where she left off. 

TK and Ashebir are having a blast playing with a ton of new very lively friends and their billion matchbox cars have been a classic hit with the rest of the children too.

Kenni is also enjoying being able to take on some more special responsibilities carrying and feeding some of the babies.  She’s great with young ones… just like her Mamma.  ;)

Tonight we had a great dinner of fish, potatoes, carrots, rice and good ol American Coke Cola!  After dinner the kids returned to their water play in the treated water that had been filled in the small inflatable pools. 
By the time we got all the kids dried off and cleaned up all of us were ready to call it a night. 
Lots more inbetween, but it was a full day. 

Can’t wait to start work on the first bunk beds and security windows tomorrow.  They will each be models for the others we’ll build next week.  We hope to build 4-5 beds and 3-4 security windows depending on how much money is available.   It’s awesome to be a part of something that is so needed for the long term success of the ministry here.
As I’ve been processing about today’s experiences, I continue to see areas in my life where I can be more patient and not be so focused on my own agenda.  Sure, we need to be focused and “drive” toward measurable goals and achieve results… but I think the condition of our heart and mind through the process is just as important than achieving the results we’re moving toward.  I know I need a refresher course in patience and selflessness more frequently. 

So… how about you? 
Here’s some questions I’ve been reflecting on tonight …
Do you like to server others? Why… what’s your real motive?  Is it healthy?   By what… or Whose standard? 
How would you respond to some of what we’ve encountered today in Haiti? 
Would it be with more patience, understanding and flexibility?... or not? 
Why would you respond the way you would? 
What has helped you learn to be more generous with your time or more flexible with your agenda?