Haven Haiti Day 7 Diary
Our volunteers last day in Haiti working with the HavenHaiti Charity House Building Mission
The final push to the finish. President Carter asked that we try not to leave Haiti without finishing all the houses so there is a huge focus today on covering as much ground as possible. It is supposed to be a half day but I have a feeling that we will be down to the wire.
It’s hard for many people in the group to understand that there are lots of bits and pieces to be done like fitting locks on doors, putting on window latches gutters and down pipes etc. An additional problem is that many of these tasks can only be completed by skilled staff and there is a shortage of these on the site.
But the spirit on the site is good and there is a great willingness to pull together and get work done. I put a small team together and we start working on the two houses next to us. The other team is delighted as they were well behind. At the end of the day we have all 10 houses on our street finished which is a huge achievement and is a credit to the team. Some or all of our team members have worked on 7 houses substantially completing work on 5 houses. There is lots of bargaining going on, I ask one team for the lend of a drill bit and am told ‘no problem…..but I need a few windows put in’ so I get stuck in and get my drill bit!
One team member can’t get a ladder or a scaffold but finds a branch of a tree to use as an extension for a paint roller and the work doesn’t stop!
President Carter comes around in the afternoon and is instantly impressed, I have named my crew Team Rhode Ireland (island) and he remarks on the name. The Habitat for Humanity then organise house dedications which are really nice as every member of the team gets to meet the new homeowner and to stand up and say something themselves by way of a contribution.
Its a great way to finish the week as it gives people the opportunity to personally wish the new homeowner well and to receive thanks on behalf of all the many people who donated to each volunteers campaign. This is the part about this type of charity work that I think is brilliant because you get to see what the money is being spent on and share that with other people.
It gets a bit emotional leaving the site for the last time, I am encouraged by the improvements from last year and hopeful that the community will continue to grow in our absence. The great thing is that in doing this work we have extended the lives of 100’s of Haitians, given them a home where the can lead a health life and provided them with the chance to improve their circumstances. It is in my view the right way to rebuild the country.
That evening I volunteer for the last dinner duty and its, Beef stew, baked ham and back by popular demand Chicken Curry. After this week Americans all over the world will be queuing for a curry and chips after a night out and will wonder where it started!
Our American colleagues are leaving at 3am in the morning so we say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. It leaves a lump in your throat really in that you are thrown together with the team of great people for an intense week, working in extreme circumstances, you give it everything and then suddenly you have to say goodbye.
The flight home is long but there is no problem catching some sleep, the plane is full but it is easy to pick out the 100 snoring irish volunteers from the other passengers. I am looking forward to getting home and am delighted when my wife is there to collect me at the airport and a wholesome irish breakfast awaits at home with the family!
Would I do it again – absolutely! Would I recommend it to others – no problem and really if you are healthy and can help, it is a great experience and a great way to look back and think that you did something, no matter how little to improve the lives of a group of people.
Please log on to Haven Partnership and give your support, they are great people doing a fantastic job.