I just wrote a long post about this morning, and Tumblr lost it. Well, more specifically, I’m guessing Tumblr timed out because the internet connection lagged, and then when I went to publish the entry, it kicked me back to the login screen. Either way: frustating.
Here’s the bullet point version of what’s up this morning:
- Around 7 a.m., most of the guys went downtown to pick up the wood for the house we purchased. This was fun. The ride was crazy, downtown is crazy, the lumber place is crazy, and crazy Haiti equals awesome Haiti. Lots of fun. We also learned a few things:
1) Small aid organizations are the most cost effective organizations in Haiti
2) Big aid organizations exist, but running them is expensive, and money goes everywhere. To combat this, organizations hire CPAs to come track dollars in-country. Which brings us to…
3) Transparency is expensive. This was Stefan’s (the Belgian who runs the lumber company) second biggest insight. Would you like to know the first?
4) Bill Clinton makes a better dinner guest than George W. Bush, and it’s not close. I want to clarify: these are Stefan’s words, not mine, and he’s met them both. Also, Bill Clinton is really good with names. George W. Bush is really good at photographs. In Bush’s defense, Stefan said Bush was in Haiti for bi-partisan support.
5) Haitian security guards are awesome at throwing rocks. The one at the lumber place pegged a lizard in the head from a good 15 feet on the first try. As the lizard skidded away, he shrugged his shoulders at us: it was no big deal. We’ve been trying to emulate this all day. No successes yet.
6) Haitian pre-fab houses come with Haitian pre-fab house building crews. This leads us to our next point, which is
7) It’s really hard to know what “helping” means in Haiti. After we loaded up the trucks, we took a long drive back up the hill to the building site. Once we got there, we were put to work moving stones to make way for the house’s foundation/floor. We also had to clear a fair amount of brush, which means, in all likelihood, this evening we will be posting about our first group illnesses, as at least 5 of us should be covered in rashes. In any case, after we cleared the brush and moved the stones, the crew went to work…and we were out of jobs. The crew still wanted us around—we could help hold up the occassional wall or grab the occasional handful of nails…but for the most part, our job seemed to be to stay in the shade and wait until someone called for us. We did this, of course, and we were quick to the call. But I think most of us were also pretty frustrated: building the house was supposed to be our ‘big project’ this week. Letting that go wasn’t easy.
So, after lunch we came back to the house, and now, in about 3 minutes, we’re going to head over to help with the feeding program. We’ll be sure to post feedback on that tonight. I think tomorrow, we might skip out on the house and go see if we can offer a hand to some of the folks who are still digging mud out of houses down the ravine. The mudslides two weeks ago were devastating, and we want to help, if we can.
If we’re lucky, we’ll actually get to use a shovel or two. But if not, I think we’re going to try to make ourselves useful however we can, even if that means grabbing a handful of nails or holding up a spare wall. Whatever we’re called to do, we’ll try to do it well and do it joyfully…and hopefully, doing less won’t feel so difficult.