From the field: Jack Haddad, Haiti Outreach Intern in Pignon
I woke up to the sound of five roosters chanting their morning anthem. My back was itchy, and I had no idea why. Weak sun-rays pierced through the holes of a tin roof, and found their way onto my bed. I caught a glimpse of something moving in the corner, and then I heard a “Move!” (Kreyol word for Evil) followed by the noise you hear when you step on a bag of potatoes. Boss Odino had just sent a Tarantula back to its maker. It took me a moment to realize that I was not going to roll out of bed towards the smell of scrambled eggs and ham served with a side of the “Star-ledger” (New Jersey newspaper).
At this point I have spent two months in Haiti as an intern for the NGO Haiti Outreach. This story is from when I was in Dan Gryen, a small village on the Island of La Gonave, off the western coast of Haiti. Bosses Odino and Nathan served as my mentors while I embarked on a week-long excursion to reinstall a broken well in the town. I had just left Pignon which is where Haiti Outreach is based, as well as where I have been staying for the past two months. Dan Gryen was my home for four days, as I shared a bedroom with the bosses at a local’s home. He had a spare room that he could lend us for a few nights. It was right next to five roosters all trapped in cages. Our room was also only a twenty minute walk away from the malfunctioning well.
The well had been broken for a few years when we arrived. Without the well, the unfortunate villagers had to resort to a nearby Basin for all of their water needs. This includes washing their clothes, cooking food, and (sadly) hydration. The Basin was entirely dependent on rain; therefore if it didn’t rain, the people couldn’t get their water. They had to walk to a nearby town or market to get water. The bosses understood that reinstalling a new and improved well was important for these people, and they did not miss a mark when it came time to get to work.
Honestly, I stood on the sidelines for the week as Odino and Nathan tossed, turned, and tinkered with every tool they had brought on our trip. When an obstacle popped up in their path, they were quick to navigate around it.
“Shoot, did boss Odino just drop his welding mask and thus shatter the protective glass? Oh well, we have to keep working. These supports aren’t going to weld themselves. “
“Darn, it looks like the frame that we just built for the solar panels isn’t the right size. Seems like it’s time to start hammering away at it to make it the right size.”
Like clockwork, the bosses worked away until a new solar powered pump was up and working for the citizens of Dan Gryen. Odino and Nathan are living proof that Haitians are capable of making their country a better place.
The well was finished on a Thursday morning, and we arrived at the Wesleyan Guest House that Friday afternoon. After a typical Haitian meal of rice smothered in vegetable sauce and freshly baked cookies (washed down by a cold glass of Coca Cola), I shared a conversation with my mentors. After discussing Haiti and the States in the dining hall, I crawled back to bed waiting in anticipation for what Haiti had to offer me tomorrow.