Day 9 - TGIF!
Trip Start Mar 04, 2010
12Trip End Mar 15, 2010
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Where I stayed
Pwoje Espwa Guest House
The guys started pouring the footing and Chris and I hung around with them but honestly I wasn’t too helpful today once I had finished the stakes. It had to be close to 100 degrees and I was a little worn out from the rock carrying the day before. I know it’s no excuse but these guys were getting paid and I was paying to help so I figured it was ok to just keep them company today.
In the afternoon our group took a walk to the extents of Espwa’s property which is about 120 acres so it ended up being a pretty long walk! There is a river running through the property where a mother and her three girls were washing clothes. They did little diva poses when I asked if I could take their picture. I took that as a yes! I was surprised they were the only ones there. It seems like everywhere there is a river, there are tons of people washing clothes and taking baths and washing their vehicles. They wash their vehicles constantly down here. Haitians are a very clean people. They also don’t smell. Really! Working with the guys for the past week was baffling because it was hot and dirty and at times I was in the tight walls of the trenches right next to them and they didn’t smell at all! It was so weird! I’m pretty sure it has something to do with what they eat because Junior, who makes more than the rest of them and probably can afford more meats, did smell like B.O
Anyways, so back to the walk, we went all the way to the opposite end of the property where Espwa had built houses just like the ones in Hope Village where the boys live. These houses are all lined up in a row for some reason and they are mostly used by the boys that have graduated from Espwa but don’t have anywhere else to go yet. They let them stay there to get them on their feet while they try to find work and start a family. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them to have to leave though. When they live at Espwa they have a huge family and 3 meals a day and a whole support system to get them ready for life and then they try to live their life with their education and there is nothing for them to do! We think Detroit’s unemployment is bad! For years people had been migrating to Port-au-Prince for work from all over Haiti and that’s when unemployment was at 54%. I can’t imagine what it is now.
So obviously they can’t support a bunch of grown men at Espwa but they do employ a lot of them, including the workers we have been working with the past week. In fact, I was told Espwa is one of the largest employers in southern Haiti. I’m sure some of them live out in these houses.
We walked back to the site where they were almost finished pouring the footing for the second house. Donald thought the foundation looked too thick and I told him it is 13” at that corner because of the uneven trench. He took a tape measure to it and told me it was 15” thick and that they are wasting a bunch of concrete, and he huffed around for a while
When the guys finished, Donald got a big group picture of everyone all sweaty and dirty. We all spent some time saying good bye and cleaning up and the same time. I’m really going to miss my new friends! They will come back on Monday to finish the columns and rubble in-fill on the second foundation and I think they will also be digging something for the septic system (the girls will get indoor plumbing!). Donald will be coming back in a few weeks with the panels to make up the walls and roofs of the houses and maybe another group of volunteers. He was saying that he has groups of 16 lined up and ready to go but I can’t imagine how they are going to put 16 inexperienced Americans to work with 20+ Haitian workers
So now that our work is done I am so ready to go home! I am going to try to keep myself busy for the next two days but that’s hard to do in Haiti on the weekend. No one does anything on the weekend! Tomorrow morning Ryan, the med student from CA, is having a trash pick-up at 6am and I think I am going to go out and help. Haiti doesn’t have any kind of organized trash management at all and the only way to get rid of trash is to burn it. They also don’t do much trash collecting, like trash cans and such. The kids just don’t learn that stuff, just like some of them don’t know how to work a door knob because they grew up with just curtains. There is litter all over and it’s really bad in Hope Village where they all live. Some of the older boys here started a health committee, with the help of visiting medical people, and they plan on doing this every Saturday morning, which I think is a great idea.