Today started with a quick stop at Haiti’s national office for Habitat—and the obligatory photo op.
After that we went to the project office for the Simon Pele neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. While there, we had a presentation by Barth who explained to us how Habitat was stretching itself. They have focused on access to housing, rather than only building housing. Of course, after the devastating earthquake of 2010, there was so much work to be done to rebuild. They have worked on streets, walkways, solar street lights and water sanitation in addition to building and retrofitting homes.
After the meeting, we took a tour of the area—which focused on some of their projects. Our first stop was at a school where an adorable 11-year-old girl shared what she has learned about water purification and hand washing. In addition to demonstrating the proper techniques, she also shared a song about handwashing. Water is a huge problem here—families have been using bleach crystals to purify their water. There are a couple problems with that: first, it doesn’t totally purify the water and second, it can leave a rash on the skin. Habitat is introducing 5-gallon water buckets with a spigot and a liquid water purifier. The rash is gone and one capful purifies five gallons!
The work that is being done is focusing on getting the message out to children in school, so that they learn it early and can pass it on to their families.
While there, we visited a classroom—where the lesson that was occurring was mathematics!!! I was certainly pumped by that! They were multiplying 3- and 4-digit numbers! I wanted to jump right in there and teach!!! Of course, I would have needed a translator—and my southern West Virginian drawl is hard to translate!
After that we stopped by a clinic where Carmel (pictured below with Fabiola—who is wonderful!) shared how helpful Habitat had been. This is a place where the water purification liquid and equipment can be obtained. She also told us about the difficult rash caused by the bleach crystals. She also shared with us about how Habitat has helped the community and that when they bring folks in for a tour, it continues to draw attention to the work they are doing. Habitat also helped increase the size of the clinic—adding a second floor.
The picture below is looking out from the clinic over the rooftops. Crowded and difficult conditions exist—that’s for sure.
After that we toured an area where Habitat had installed solar lights and improved a walkway. We also talked with Marieange who has lived there for 48 years. Habitat retrofitted her house after the earthquake. Retrofitting means that they rehabbed the home, but also strengthened it, particularly at the corners, expecting it to stand during future earthquakes. (Let’s pray there are none.)
The walkways are interesting. They are replacing dirt walkways, which also have water running through them. You may be able to see from the picture that they are now concrete, with a concrete path for the water. While the water still isn’t terribly clean, it stays in the path.
Marieange told us that before the walkway improvements, when they would get dressed up to go to an event, they would walk through the dirt and mud with no shoes, so that they wouldn’t ruin their shoes. Now, they have concrete access. She also went on to say that the lights have helped with safety concerns, and that there’s no difference between night and day.
After all this touring, we hit a restaurant for lunch, went to the National Museum and an Artisan’s shop. The history of Haiti is fascinating—I need to learn more!
Tomorrow, we’re heading out to a rural area to see another project and then also visiting the national office.
I so appreciate this opportunity. Thanks to a wonderful board and staff for their encouragement and to all the donors who specifically helped with the expenses of the trip—and to Natalie from HFHI for the invitation!!!