Haiti Diaries #2
Our third day in Haiti (Monday) was the first day of the announced demonstrations, as mentioned previously. The members of Foi et Joie announced they would not come to office (which was at the same site as our quarters) to avoid any atrocities when travelling by car. Luckily, our accommodation was far from the city center where the demonstrations were most intense, however, being concerned of our own safety we stayed put for half of the morning, waiting for updates and checking the situation on the street outside. Luckily, the kindergarten - our construction site - was our direct neighbour, so when we did not see/hear of any unusual events, we transported the previously gathered material to the construction site.
If you were wondering, yes, we considered going across the fence, but nobody really wanted to get a first-hand experience of a Haitian hospital with barbed wire in his calves. Nevertheless, the "safe" process was also not injury-free, as Lara found the best solution for not having to work for the week: she pulled a muscle/nerve (still unclear) in her neck, for which she witnessed the progress of the construction in a tilted view for a couple of days.*
Having transferred all the material in daylight, we realized we were still missing loads; we did not have any nails for instance. We were also lacking tools, our only equipment was Jason's (TfP) toolbox. Sooo it was time for entrepreneurial spirit! We considered all options and went for them: asked the people remaining at the site of Foi et Joie for spare tools and materials, requested the janitor of the kindergarten to accompany us seeking out local hardware stands, and the desperate leftovers tried to straighten rusty old nails found in the garden with a stone. By afternoon we acquired sufficient materials for a frame, thus the construction began.
Consider the following recipe: take 7 business students, place them in Haiti, give them very basic tools with a task to construct a building for toilets. What will happen? They will have the time of their lives! Due to the limited amount of tools not all of us could work simultaneously...leading to hundreds of pictures, videos, time-lapses and slow mos. It is unbelievable how much we enjoyed hammering, digging a hole or using the circular blade (#flexingwithmyhandsup). Given the circumstances we were very proud of our basic frame at the end of the day.
After dinner we were quite hammered ourselves, but we know what difference team building makes on performance so we spent the night playing with our new teammates, Ashley, Jason and Phoebe of TfP. Plus we liked the local beer, Prestige and it was fun of course. :)
Since he lost the game, Pascal started the day with a nice shot of hot sauce, being a hero not shedding a single tear. On Tuesday we continued the construction with what was left of the material, we reinforced the structure and started to build the roofing. As a pleasant surprise, the janitor turned out to be a previous construction contractor, hence he became a first class help and The Boss of the project. By the time the sun set, a plan was crafted with the list of items needed to finish the building. We were hoping to buy those at the hardware store the next day, when there would be no more demonstrations.
Stay tuned for the rest of our adventures!
*Acknowledgement: Lara did as much as she could at the construction site during the week, and she was also our #1 French, later Creole translator.