Haiti Diaries #3
As Port-au-Prince returned to its daily routine after the demonstrations, on Wednesday our project became easier to realize on many levels - excluding workload of course. As Toilets for People returned to Haiti Communitaire to work on the toilets, we resumed constructing under the lead of the janitor, The Boss. With all shops being open, half of the team headed out to the hardware store to buy the remaining materials needed on a pick-up. Riding around the city for hours, sitting in traffic jams and slowly navigating on the bumpy roads, this trip turned out to be a real cultural immersion for Liesa, Florian, Pascal and Philipp. Meanwhile, Jorge and other members of Foi et Joie arrived to the office and checked out our progress. They also updated us about the situation in the city, and sadly we were informed that the demonstrations in the center resulted in two casualties.
Wednesday was also the day when Benedict could finally join us, so after we picked him up at the airport and the pick-up adventure returned with the materials and a horror bill (not only student-horror, horror-horror), we had lunch almost all together, thinking about poor Abby who had to watch Chicago alone on the Broadway. In the afternoon we continued working, under the "supervision" of the students of the school located in the same garden as our construction site. Now that the school was open, in the breaks loads of little curious faces came to see what these pale, sometimes even blonde or ginger people (who would also try and babble in Creole) were doing.
On the next day we finally got to the even we (especially the girls involved in the activity) had been looking forward to: meeting the children of the kindergarten, the kids for whom we were building the toilets! When we stepped into the building they were already singing and dancing with their teachers - melting all our hearts. When we started talking to them with the lead of Lara, 60 gorgeous faces were staring at us with curiosity.
Together we had so much fun playing games related to sanitation. Once we had thrown the bacteria (balls) out of the water and we cleaned ourselves of powdered sugar (also supposed to represent bacteria, eaten by many regardless :) ), we started a drawing session. Many of the drawings looked rather abstract, but when we asked what they were showing, we were most of the times told "les microbles" (=bacteria). Afterwards we gave the leading teacher all the material we brought, explaining the posters and the sanitary issues related to the composting toilet.
By the time we joined the hard-working boys, our construction started to resemble a toilet building. As we continued hammering, the toilets arrived - even if only in pieces yet. Jason (TfP) was satisfied with our progress and started to organize for the afternoon workshop, which was held for the technical students of Foi et Joie. When they arrived Jason explained them how the CRAPPER works, how to build and install them, and the needed materials. The students were very attentive and asked critical questions about the design and technology, which led to a very comprehensive understanding. Also, the students assembled the first CRAPPER out of the four. As Jason was the expert of the technology, our contribution remained marginal. However, the students were curious about our background, Europe, the university, and they also shared their lives, showing us how a typical 18 year-old student lives in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince.
After we concluded the successful event, we resumed working until the sun set. When we finished for the day we felt mildly alarmed as there was still so much to do with only one day left of our visit. Therefore, we cancelled the trip to the beach on the following day to maximize the effort and time of the construction.
Although we very extremely tired, we could not reject the invitation to a birthday party of one of the volunteers at America Solidaria. This way we also got familiar of the traditions of birthday parties in Uruguay (even if we did not participated in the nice mandala drawing) and met other volunteers who told us stories about their experience in Haiti. Afterwards, Jorge and the others took us to a concert of a local band called RAM. The atmosphere was amazing and we also introduced ourselves to the taste of the famous Haitian rum. Thursday was definitely the day when we got most exposed to the Haitian culture, and we definitely enjoyed all aspects of it.
Eager to find out what we accomplished in the remaining 1.5 days? Coming soon!