“This is Haiti”

Haiti Lesson #1: Don’t expect things to go as planned, even if you make an appointment. Twice.

My first task Monday morning was to accompany Delphine, a long-term volunteer, to the lawyer’s office in a different part of Port-au-Prince to sort out some things for GRU. On the way there, our car broke down. That actually wasn’t a terrible experience for my first day because I got to see more of the city, but still, in terms of getting work done… not so helpful. The rest of my week has been spent improving the organization’s brochure and doing online research. GRU serves as a resource center for other small nonprofits, providing access to a computer lab and a workshop, among other things, so a lot of what I’ve been trying to do is find nonprofits or businesses in Haiti that could utilize our space. Our main area of focus is sustainability/environmentally friendly practices, so one great option would be to find a business in Haiti that manufactures briquettes as an alternative to wood charcoal. There is one organization that employs Haitians to collect trash, and the paper trash gets soaked, shredded by hand, and compressed to form paper briquettes. So in addition to creating an alternative to charcoal, it also creates jobs and cleans up Haiti’s streets, which is very much needed. That organization or something similar is our primary target.

This short video demostrates the paper briquette process. It’s pretty interesting if you have a few minutes.

Okay, back to the lawyer. On Thursday Delphine and I had our second shot at meeting with him. I’m thinking, “Great, so as long as we can actually get there, we might be able to check one thing off our lists”… um, not so much. Before our appointment he called to cancel, saying he’d be sick until Tuesday. Who ever knows how long they’ll be sick for? Sounds like a nice long weekend to me. So, no lawyer this week. There is a saying that has been adopted by many of the long-term volunteers here: “TIH”, or “This is Haiti”. It applies pretty well to this situation. Things just take longer here and sometimes there isn’t much you can do about it.

While it can be a bit frustrating at times trying to get things done that would be easy in most other places, at 5:00 it’s just time to forget about it until tomorrow. For me, a shower and a cold soda or Prestige (Haiti’s local beer – SO good) helps me decompress, and from there the rest of the evening is just as relaxed. Most people just hang out around the base, walk to the store or gas station where you can get some of the comforts of home (hello Starburst and chocolate milk!) and a cheap bottle of wine, or get dinner and drinks somewhere in town.

Tomorrow, David and his Haitian friend Aldy are taking me on a tour of Port-au-Prince. We’ll check out the Palace and some of their favorite lunch spots. From there, the rest of the weekend is wide open, and I’ll always be prepared to say “TIH”…

One Response to ““This is Haiti””
  1. Claudia says:

    HI Fayth, I am loving your blog, which gives a vivid picture of life and experiences there. Thanks for sharing and happy weekend. xxoo CJ

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