Haiti has nine million people. I often say that if you come here for a week you see half of them; everyone lives outside and people love to spend their time parading the streets. Any activity brings hoards of onlookers and today, a big chunk of them swarm Mission of Hope because it is all happening here.
At seven in the morning the throngs outside the gate bleed onto the highway. Word is out that we are hiring laborers for the second floor slab concrete pour. Inside, a hundred or so high school students move sand and gravel from the front of the site, where the truck dumps it, to the rear, where we are staging the pour. This is day four of moving 20 tons of aggregate by bucket 200 feet uphill. Before 8 am another crowd forms, as the Sri Lankans arrive to run a clinic and hundreds of mothers and their children add to the mix.
Everyone claims we can start pouring concrete first thing in morning, but the first bucket dumps around 10 am. The interesting thing is not that is took three hours to get rolling but that never once did I raise my voice about it. To settle the question of whether Paul will change Haiti more than Haiti will change Paul, Haiti wins hands down.
We have a typically Haitian hiccup in the activity as Route 2 is closed by a protest in the Fauchon neighborhood of Grand Goave. The main bridge was damaged by the earthquake. The government cleared an area and built a temporary bridge. The original reopened a while back, but Isaac wiped out the temporary bridge and due to the clearing and the storm’s fury, a number of houses that used to stand firm got washed away. The victims want restitution, so they close the road, and we cannot get any sand or gravel until Lex calls the mayor and prods a resolution.
By eleven everything is humming. The high schoolers tote gravel up and down the alley along the new building, the soldier-dentists fill teeth of local children, record their fevers, clean their infections and distribute medicine, while up above it all, eighty labors pour bucket after bucket of concrete. We figure it will take about 60 hours to mix, transport, dump, vibrate, and trowel about10,000 buckets.
This is where the action is. Come on down!
Clinic at one end of the site.
Construction at the other.