Day 3 – First Project Day in Haiti
We started the day awaking eager to get to work. After a group breakfast the team hiked up to the top of the mountain to see the school for the community we are working with. The school is situated with an amazing view over all of Cap Haitien but also makes the terrain even tougher. We immediately set off to work and put our gloves on.
We began by dividing the group into two teams; one was delegated to mix cement Haitian style; which is conducted on the floor and with shovels. This cement was used for the rough coat of the classroom walls and smooth out the cinder blocks underneath. The second and larger team formed an assembly line to transport cinder blocks and sand from farther up the mountain. This was quite the production line and took up several hours of labor intensive hauling over rocks and passing down a small cliff. This venture went extremely smoothly and fast thanks to amazing teamwork and the help of two Haitian children K’Vincent and George who were extremely kind and helpful… and only 14. The cinder blocks and sand being transported was to be used on the production of the walls inside which the first team was constructing.
The ultimate goal of our group and the community is for the completion of at least two classrooms. This construction will allow many of the children in the community to attend school as it will allow far easier access to education instead of forcing the children to walk down the mountain to the schools farther in Cap Haitien. This school will also be more affordable and allow child sponsorship to those children and families who are in greater need.
The cement team inside experienced a different interaction with the local workers as they patiently demonstrated how to mix the cement and slap it on the walls. The local Haitian construction workers were quite impressed and surprised with the fact that the majority of our group is females who were working just as labor intensive as everyone else. This is due to the fact that in local Haitian culture the only manual labor women ever do is to fetch water. It was a great exchange of culture and also gave the group inside a taste of local working songs.
Outside the rest of the team really bonded together and created an efficient method of transporting the cinder blocks and buckets of sand from the top of the hill to the school. The team was even able to keep a positive attitude and integrate fun into the hard work at hand. The group would tell jokes, sing songs, and even dance during our production line. We may have made our two local helpers think we were a bit crazy but even they became great friends and joined in the fun with some beat boxing.
Later in the afternoon after we had finished most of the jobs we were able to complete at the time, we split the group in half and took turns walking down to the community to play a few games with the children and talk with the people in the community. We brought a basketball and a football and quickly the kids started to come and play. Although the basketball became a soccer ball in no time at all. Word quickly spread that the “blancs” were playing and several more people arrived; we were then able to play larger games. The second group was even able to teach the children to play ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ which the community found extremely entertaining… although it had multiple mishaps while being learned.
Today was such a powerful experience. The entire group bonded through the labor, learned through the sweat and the laughs and bonded through the mutual experience. It was a day I wouldn’t trade for anything and I cannot wait for the rest to come. Thank you Hero Holiday, thank you Haiti for your hospitality, and thank you to everyone in this great group for working so hard and becoming such great friends in such a short time.