Saturday, January 29, 2011

And then there was one...

Although I was sad to see her go, the time had come. I dropped off Cameron in Port-au-Prince yesterday to spend the evening with another sister of the RJM and catch her flight to New York this afternoon. As I am sitting on the balcony in shorts and sandals, I do not envy the snow to which she returns. I will however envy the paved roads, wine and icecream.

Before her departure, Cameron and I were able to accomplish a lot, especially in organizing our plan of attack. During the past few days, we were able to finish the concrete perimeter of the guardian and depot houses and while in Port-au-Prince, I picked up barbed wire to secure the top of the fence.

Yet amidst all this, we still found time to climb Mon Belans, the "big mountain" of Gros-Morne (for which it is named). From the top of the mountain we could see the town in its entirety as well as Gonaives to the south and Port-de-Paix in the north. It was a beautiful, yet strenuous way to bid Cameron farewell.

Now the town is bustling with music, games and shops. Not because Cameron is gone, but because February 2nd marks the feast of the Catholic Church in Gros-Morne. Each year the while town takes advantage of a great reason to celebrate. Starting last weekend vendors were lined up along the streets across from the church. As the day draws near, it is harder and harder to drive down the main street. This may hinder some of our work for the upcoming week, but I won't complain having to postpone arguing with masons until Thursday.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Smile! Your on Cameron's Camera

My dad's continual request is that I don't stand out. Talk about mission impossible. I am not just blan (white), I am blonde and have a video camera. Since I cannot post any of the video yet. I thought I would share reflections from behind the lens.

Main Street:
As part of the "tour" of Gros-Morne, I filmed as we walked down a main street. The biggest obstacle was the road. Imagine a washed-out, country, dirt road. Add motos (taxi motorcycles) weaving through, burdened donkeys laboring by, the occasional 4 x 4 vehicle navigating through and people (sitting, standing, ambling, hurrying, selling, buying, eating, burning trash). Even while walking at a snail pace I struggled to hold the camera steady. Though persistence prevailed in the end it was a challenge.

Market Day:
Our eggs will be going to market, so that was our next stop. The best association I can make of market is that the layout to an outdoor flee market with the crowds of Black Friday. Produced was laid out on either sheets on the ground or on table and I could help but being thankful for food with peels or shells. Women searched through piles of clothes and shoes. The animals wandered free or attempted to break their tether. The open air butchers well butchered. It is quite the scene and I doubt that film will do it justice. Film cannot capture the smells of  stewing spices, roasting goat, burning trash, fresh produce and yesterday's spoiled goods. So what did the market women think of us? They were quite frank- we should be spending our money at their stand. However, after explaining ourselves they were happy to showcase their goods and give a short interview. We were please to hear that several vendors already knew of the hen project and were excited about the option to buy their eggs locally. Market day was indeed a sensory overload, but a successful one.

Tour of the Project Site
Pretty straight forward. Christie guided us through its current state and explained the next steps. We have posted a picture of the well. The well is 30 feet deep and will not only meet the needs of the hen facility it will also provide water to the surrounding community (the neighborhood of Kampich). In order to provide the water to the community and keep our chickens safe the well will pump out to a cistern on a daily basis. This also allows us to prevent the well from being pumped dry.

Thank you again to our supporters and hen enthusiasts! Things are certainly coming together with the project and the credit is due to you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to Haiti (Byenvini ann Ayiti)

Cameron and I made it to safely to Port-au-Prince yesterday morning and made the 4-hour trip to Gros-Morne. After some much needed sleep, early this morning we set out to take a look at the progress of the hen house. Even though the road had been washed out a little, we were able to access the property by 4-wheeler and the help of Mitch (a year-long volunteer with the RJM sisters).

We found the section of land designated for the hen house nicely enclosed with a security fence. Unfortunately the fence was locked and we didn't have the key. This means we weren't able to walk around the area itself, but at least we know it is secure. Inside the fence we could see the two buildings designated for storage and the guardian residence. The hand-dug well was also inside the fence. This will eventually provide water to the facility as well as the surrounding community.

After our adventures across the river, we walked back to the house and started to plan our time for the next two weeks. During that time, we will be talking with the managers of the hen house and market women who currently sell eggs. We will also be discussing with Sr. Pat what is necessary to complete this project when she returns from a quick trip to Miami. Our next trip to Port-au-Prince, we will meet with Peter (founder of the Kembe Foundation) and discuss how to proceed with the next step.

We are both very excited with the achievements of this project so far. Just being in Haiti gives us new inspiration and more strength to make it a success! Because I will be staying for several months, I will be able to dedicate my full time to completing the work. I look forward to updates of further progress.

Thank you all for your support and please keep in touch!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update from Peter (our partner from Kembe)

During the week of Christmas, I travelled up to Gros-Morne with a loaded truck and a 4 man building crew from Maxima S.A. (the company donating the houses). On the truck we had loaded the two houses which are comprised of over 200 different parts (panels, roofing sheets, ridges, straps, anchors etc etc). Once arrived in Gros Morne I had already warned Rogeste to have a crew ready to help us unload the truck, this was a great help as it was all unloaded and carried by foot (10 min walk) in less than an hour.
Once the truck unloaded, no time was wasted, as we had already spent half the day driving and thick clouds were forming above our heads. Within 2 hours we had set up the carcasses of both houses, I had directed two teams to work on each house simultaneously. Once the carcasses were up, the rain started and we had to stop working.
The next day started early (5am). It was now time to put up the roof, nail on the siding, secure all the panels and trusses with hurricane straps to secure it from any storms. As the day ended, we were forced back to Port-au-Prince due to time constraints. One of the workers from the building crew stayed behind to pour the concrete together with Rogeste as he has a lot of experience with this (he has built over 500 houses).
The next steps now are as follows. We are still discussing on the best possible barn, a team is doing research in Holland, while we also have experts from Jamaica advising us. Once the definite plans are set in stone, the setting up can begin which will take approximately a week. Furthermore, a design is being made to build a water tank on one of the houses (the one near the well) and install a solar pump for the well.
Greetings and I wish everyone a prosperous 2011 from Haiti, Peter de Gier