Declan’s Haven Haiti Diary 2015 -Day 6
Everyone realises today that there is only two days left so there is an extra effort today to get as much done as possible. With the tree planting complete, that crew are back at the orphanage and we have extra hands to get work done. The first job today is to fit out the book store, the other volunteers have spent yesterday emptying out boxes of old books so that we can put up shelves. These books are all going back as nothing here is ever thrown out.
The great thing about these trips apart from the work that’s done is the fact that you meet so many good people, Marc, my roommate is from Atlanta, David and Jim from Block Island, Stephen and Catherine from Dublin, John from Mayo, Noel, Mary, Ailish and so many more people who have raised a minimum of €4,500 each for the charity and who are working flat out doing work that in many cases is outside their comfort zone.
At dinner last night a tarantula crawled out and walked across the wall. They say that they wont bite you if you don’t annoy them and as Billy Connolly says ‘who gets up in the morning and says ‘I think I’ll go out and annoy that feckin spider today’. I leave well enough alone.
There is a bit of panic in the village today, in one of the buildings we are putting a new roof on there is a snake nesting. This is really bad in voodoo land as the creole name is serpent and the locals don’t like this. We manage to knock it to the ground and the locals beat it with sticks until it doesn’t move anymore.
The concrete crew have just one more bit of path to do and for the first time there will be a paved road on the island. Its hard to believe that on the island that there are no roads. People get about by motorbike or what I called a ‘Honkey’ which is a cross between a horse and a donkey.
Tonight we are going to walk back to the place we are staying, its about 12k and we have to go on whats known as ‘Route National 1’ which turns out to be a dirt track that runs east west across the length of the island. There isn’t a square foot of tarmac on this island! We head off up the hill called the citadel and stop at Ailish’s house, which is a one bedroomed square house overlooking the western tip of the island and has breath-taking views.
Ailish is from Loughrea in Galway and has made a decision to stay on the island and work with the charity long term. I know we do a lot in giving up our time for a week but to have the dedication to stay here long term is a vocation and something only people with true dedication can actually commit to.
We continue down the path and pass a thatched home with an outside oven that Ailish says is the local bakery. All along the track there are people outside their houses washing clothes and planting trees and crops, each family has a small holding and the first thing you notice is that there is no running water and no electricity. Each village has a communal well and a solar powered lamp post where the locals can charge their mobile phones.
It’s a fascinating experience to really get among the local population and see what daily life is like. Despite not having anything they seem to be happy and just get on with their daily chores. On the way we see some of the house upgrades that the Haven team complete during the year. I’m disappointed because my phone is dead but the houses are really nice, they have been upgraded from mud huts to a house with block walls that are plastered and have a concrete floor. The charity manage to achieve this on a budget of $500 which is a pittance.
We get back just before dark and I am wrecked! My legs feel like I have done a marathon so I am ready for bed, I walk to the bar and decide that one beer will help me sleep and maybe quench my thirst….!