Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 5

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 5

Tuesday morning

boat- Haven Haiti Diary 2015The boat trip this morning is nice and cool, It is still 28 degrees at night in high humidity. Everyone is up early this morning and rearing to go. I pack some of the gifts that we brought and bring them along, we have crayons and chalkfor the kids at the school. Today we are putting a door into an opening to create a new office for the manager of the orphanage. My first job is to take some shelves off the wall, behind one of them there is a family of cockroaches living! These are not your average European types but big brown Caribbean flying roaches. My trusty assistant John Boyle uses his big Mayo boot and squashes them.

I’m in the stores getting some material this morning and I come across a local machete, this thing is lethal, the blade is heavy and sharp and you can see how it does so much damage. The nurse was showing me a guy that had slashed his own shin while cutting sugar cane and he was lucky to save his leg.

I get the door on which is pretty major as I haven’t hung a door in years but it passes the test! The rest of the team are making great progress, the planting team have almost 3,000 trees planted and on the way are seeing most of the island. The path team are doing major work, they are working on the side of a hill mixing concrete and transporting it with a wheelbarrow to where its being poured, everything is being done by hand and in this heat is just back breaking work.

The playground teammassey ferguson -Haven Haiti Diary 2015 are making really good progress and they are now starting to paint the playground area in bright colours. The kids are looking on in great anticipation. Up to now they had no toys and this will be something really unique for them. My buddy John Boyle is called away to get a Massey Ferguson 35 running. I don’t know how he does it but with little or nothing by way of parts or tools he gets it firing within a couple of hours!

Today we are joined by David Kane, my friend from Block Island in Rhode Island USA, he is helping me finish off the doors and hang some new doors on the shower block outside, we also get a chance to put a new roof on a gas store outside the kitchen. During this piece of work I disturb a nest of ants and they start running up my arm biting along the way. They are feckin sore and it takes me ages to get rid of them.

It looks all the time like there is going to be a thunder storm today and it’s a little darker due to being overcast but its still really warm and our water boy is saying that the group are now consuming over 10 litres of water a day.

drinking Rum-Haven Haiti Diary 2015After my evening swim we go back to the bar and the Haven girls have set up a pub quiz for us during which I get to sample some of the local Haitian rum. Its delicious with coke or ginger ale or lemonade for that matter! I will have no problem sleeping tonight!

We don’t do well in the quiz as my answers get a bit garbled after a while and my American teammates get three American general knowledge questions wrong!

I end up in bed somehow and its literally lights out, my room mate sets the alarm for the morning!

Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 4

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 4

It’s Monday morning. We are 5 hours behind Irish time so already the emails are flying in. Among them more donations which I am really grateful for. They are going to a great cause.

One piece of news which is really great is that Dundalk RFC have won promotion to the All Ireland League. I was sorry I missed the game but was delighted with the result.

On the way to the site this morning we pass a fishingDeclan sawing wood-Haven Haiti Diary 2015 boat. As with everything else here it has no engine and is held together with plastic and string. The Haitian sailors though are really skilled as the have to sail up to nets and pots with no power and stop the boat with no brakes!

My first job when we get to the orphanage is to repair the doors of an office which are badly rotten and need some work. I am working with John another volunteer from Mayo, the heat is unbelievable even at 7 am. It’s about 32 degrees with 80% humidity. We have been told to drink plenty of water and by the end of the day I have consumed almost 10 litres and not gone to the loo once!

orphanage -Haven Haiti Diary 2015I take a walk through the orphanage, there are 70 children here and about 20 of these are disabled. They are lucky as over the years wheel chairs and other mobility aids have been delivered to give them somecomfort but its still really tough to look at. You wonder how many of these lovely faces will be still alive in a few months’ time. One little guy catches my eye as he is whizzing around on a little trolley. I had one just like it when I was a kid and used to wheel play blocks around in it. San San uses it to get around by pushing his hands along the ground. He has developed great upper body strength and is into everything.

We are getting through fixing the door,we cut the rotten wood off the bottom and put a new piece on. It takes a couple of hours but at the end I’m proud of the job we have done and my carpentry skills are coming back to me!

Lunch doesn’t come quick enough! Lunch time-Haven Haiti Diary 2015We don’t take a break in the morning so we work from 8 am to about 1 pm and we dig into the salad and bread that Franks team from Stellar Haiti have prepared.

John Boyle from Mayo is my partner for the day and we get through a fair amount of work! The afternoon gets tougher as the sun gets warmer. The idea is to keep busy though and its not hard as we know we only have a short time here and we want to get as much done as possible.

After we get the boat home I go for a swim with some of the other volunteers, its magic! That evening we have a really nice meal where we are staying and there is a great sense of teamwork around the camp. We are looking forward to tomorrow and no one really stays out late its just bed and get ready for the next days work!



If you would like to help support Declan and Haven in their build, log on to the Haven website and see how you can help this fantastic organisation.

Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 3

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 3

The two main recognised religions in Haiti are Catholic and Voodoo. It’s Sunday morning and at 8.30 the water taxi takes us in two groups from the hotel to a place called Madame Bernard’s where we go to Mass.

The nun who runs the orphanage where we will be working has asked that we join her and the community in church.

It takes about 30 mins by boat to get there and it’s only when we are pulling away from the jetty that you get a sense of how beautiful the surroundings are. Turquoise water, white sandy beaches and palm trees lining the shore.

The church is full when we Haiti-beach Declan's Haven Haiti Diary 2015 arrive, so all the volunteers stand at the back ‘Irish style’. Even though you know that this is a poor area the locals are really well dressed and kids immaculately turned out. You have to be careful when taking pictures as some people don’t like their photos being taken, you always have to ask permission.

After mass Eilish who works for Soul of Haiti and speaks creole translates part of what the priest says in welcoming the volunteers into the community.

After mass we head up the hill to an orphanage. It is the most underprivileged in society that are cares for here as some have a disability and you wonder how long they can survive. They are cared for really well and have cots and beds to sleep in. They also have wheel chairs and other aids which have obviously been donated over the years.

Our first issue is that because it’s Sunday the nun does not want any work done so its not possible to start anything. This is disappointing as all you want to do is get stuck in and not waste any of the time we have there.

We do however get a briefing from John Moore our leader for the trip. We are told that we will be doing a number of things during the week.

There will be a team planting 3,000 carperenter Declan's Haven Haiti Diary 2015 trees across the island in people’s homes, a painting team and a carpentry team doing some repair work in the orphanage and re-configuring some space.

We get a chance to move materials up from the stores and get ready for the various jobs that are set out.

I am asked to repair a ladder that has been nailed together with rusty bent nails, made out of scraps of wood. No health and safety regulations here!

The local women then put on a concert for us which is he first time they have staged a show in public. It actually is very good with a mixture of songs and traditional Haitian dance.

water_taxi Declan's Haven Haiti Diary 2015 We get the water taxi back to the hotel at 4.30, this gives us a chance to get in a swim before dinner. The water is warm and it feels great just swimming off the jetty as the Caribbean sun sets in the horizon.

Have to stay focused on why we are here though and after dinner it’s time to get an early night for a 5.45 wake up call in the morning.



If you would like to help support Declan and Haven in their build, log on to the Haven website and see how you can help this fantastic organisation.

Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 2

Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 2

It’s amazing how an idyllic island in the middle of the Caribbean can be so poverty stricken when it’s only 3 & 1/2 hrs flight from New York. When you think of the canaries or the south coast of Spain and Portugal and how their economies flourished from tourism.
Haiti has had such a troubled history and is so badly run, it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It takes an entire day to get to our lodgings.

We are up at 5.30 for a 6 am departure from the hotel. That’s two mornings in a row where it’s still dark getting out in the morning. It’s a trend that’s set to continue as I have heard that we have to eat breakfast at 6am and be on the boat by 7am.

terminal-5-at-jfk Haven Haiti Diary 2015Our flight departs at 09.30 from JFK for Port Au Prince. The airport is like a cattlemart. People standing in queues everywhere and between TSA, customs and security it takes over 2.5 hrs to get to the gate.

comon the town Haven Haiti Diary 2015

We land at Port Au Prince at 1pm local time and the first piece of great news is that Dundalk have beaten DLS Palmerstown and are now going senior next season.

There have been several improvements at the airport like a new terminal building, pretty basic but functional. They still take your bags off one of the two luggage belts and throw them in a heap for you to collect. Those that packed chocolate now realize what a bad idea that was as the temp outside is 33deg and the bags have been out in the Haitian sun for a while!

The bus takes us from the airport haiti_bus Haven Haiti Diary 2015south to a place called La Caï where we take a boat to Île a vache which is to be our hike for the week.
We drive through Port Au Prince and while you can see new buildings popping up around the place, it’s still a squalor and will take generations to improve.

The bus driver obviously has a death wish as he drives at 70 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road and only pulls in when an oncoming vehicle is almost on top of him!

We stop at a supermarket for refreshments and water and inside their security man is carrying an over/under pump action shotgun – no mercy for shop lifters here!

Back on the bus and an hour later we are pulling into La Caï where another boat (a rib which seats 30) takes us to the lodgings on the island.

I check in and crash face down on the bed at 10 pm. Lights out!



If you would like to help support Declan and Haven in their build, log on to Declan’s Charity page where you can donate. All donations welcome.