Day three was rough, but amazing. Abby and I signed up to do rubbling in the morning shift, and work with the children in the afternoon. I honestly can’t tell you which one was more difficult. The day starts with the project leader getting together all the tools you will need at your site, this includes shovels, sledge hammers, pick axes, and as many wheelbarrows as you can get away with. We work on several different sights a day, and each site has their own need for these tools, so it seems like tool distribution is a touchy subject, since there aren’t enough of anything, really (wink, wink–in case you want to donate any of the above mentioned tools!).
So once all the tools were gathered, we proceeded to load everything up on the back of a pick up truck, locally known as “tap taps.” Once all the tools and wheelbarrows are in, you still have to fit 15 people in the back. This means we’re all sitting on an iron gate that surrounds the back of the pick up truck. Sounds safe to me! It’s actually really nice because you get a good breeze going, but you do have to brace yourself for all the rough spots on the road.
We finally got to our site, and it’s pretty incredible. Right in between two houses that are standing up perfectly fine, there is an endless pile of rubble. The whole house just crumbled. It’s insane. There were a lot of children coming out to meet us as soon as we got there. Abby and I had been forewarned that the children like to help out throughout the day. It’s cute, and it’s nice, but sometimes you spend more time making sure you don’t hit them or hurt them, and sometimes you kind of need to use the shovels they’re using :) There was one volunteer at our site who was pretty familiar with the kids, since she’d been working at the same site for a few days, and she was absolutely amazing with all of them. She basically had them all working in one area, so the rest of us could focus on the other areas without having to worry about hurting them. By the end of the day, I think they might have accomplished more than the rest of us!
So. Rubbling. Probably the most difficult and grueling job I’ve had to do. You’re constantly shoveling rubble for hours, under a sun that is insanely hot (not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I think Haiti needs it’s own brand of sunblock to protect against the intensity of the rays over here). I think one of the most difficult tasks was actually carrying the rubble in the wheelbarrows to the dumpsite. I’m ashamed to admit that I wasn’t very good at this job–my arms felt like noodles after just two trips. My arms felt like they seriously couldn’t hold anything up for a second longer. All the project leaders are really going about distributing water breaks to everyone, and letting everyone know they are free to take shade and water breaks whenever they need them. It’s actually pretty crucial to do this over here. The sun is so intense, and the work so exhausting, that several people have ended up in the hospital already. I definitely preferred to look like a little bit of a slacker and sneak in some water, instead of ending up in the hospital for the rest of the day.
A couple thoughts. It’s surprising how many Haitians are sitting around all day, watching us. The children are the only ones that are excited to help with the work. Less than 200 feet away there was a group of about 5 or 6 men, sitting on their bikes, well dressed for the most part, just shooting the shit. I guess the day before one man starting shoveling, and then asked to be paid for his work. I understand wanting to be paid and needing money, but if you’re not going to be doing anything anyway, why not help get your city back up and running?
Abby and I spent the end of the morning shift leveling a woman’s house. Turns out she actually wanted all the rubble to restore the level of her house, which is fantastic because there is little room left anywhere for rubble. So our job was to direct everyone to the right house, and I was working on moving rocks and dirt once it was dumped so we made sure the woman had a semi-even surface :) It’s a lot harder to do than it sounds!
The afternoon was spent with the children. We thought this was going to be the easier job, but I think it was just as difficult. We had quite a few children with us, and the culture is just completely different (duh). Not being able to communicate with them was also very frustrating. The biggest problem I saw was they are just not used to sharing. They see art supplies they’ve never seen before, and they each want their own, but there are always limited resources. It was definitely enjoyable to hang out with the kids for a bit, but I’m looking forward to working at the orphanage on Thursday a little more than play time with the neighborhood kids.
Saturday night we went to Joe’s bar, like we do pretty much every night. It’s right next door to our place (sorry if I’m repeating, but I’m too tired to look back at the last blogs and see if I already explained this), so it’s a very convenient place to go grab a drink after our nightly meeting and before lights out, which is at 10pm. It’s actually pretty funny: the bar is run and owned by the same man who rents us the space that we’re in, so the generator runs the whole place. Around 9:55, all the lights in the place turn off, including the bar–leaving people stumbling in the dark to get to their bunks and tents.
All in all, a very tiresome but awesome day :)