Monday, August 16, 2010

Hiatus



If you have been wondering where the updates with the beautiful photos of the domes being built are, please be patient! If this project has taught me anything at all, it's that everything comes in good time. There are no photos yet, because we haven't started building yet. The domes, tools and accouterments are safely stored at the Grassroots United base waiting for my return. After the month long struggle to get my shipment simply to clear customs, I needed a break to regroup and recharge.

Yup. I ain't in Port Au Prince right now, toto.

I made a special trip back to Brooklyn for a much needed respite. I had some business to attend to in NYC, bills to pay, cats to buy food for, supplies to pick up. I also had a date. With a very comfortable bed. My bed.

this is me hugging Thenther, Elizabeth's cat

I will be returning to Port Au Prince on Wednesday morning. We begin building the first dome on Thursday. It has been a long wait. It will be very rewarding to actually provide shelter for some very deserving kids who have been through way too much in one lifetime.

I am bringing back 500 sandbags among other supplies. I got work gloves for the girls. I am excited to teach them how to use a c-wrench and drill.

Being in Brooklyn after a month in Haiti really opened my eyes. I have been experiencing this country in an entirely new way since being here for the last few days. Everything works!
Water comes out of the faucets! There is so much food in the supermarket, I had to do deep breathing exercises to avoid hyperventilation.

I also rode my bicycle in traffic, in Brooklyn, as though i was in Port Au Prince driving a motorcycle, only when I went to honk the horn, it sounded like a bell. Not very effective means to warn motorists of my presence. They would be more likely to think I was an ice cream vendor if they heard it at all.

Apparently there is some sort of baggage embargo on with Port Au Prince. American Airlines only allows two checked bags and one carry on. You cannot check more bags AT ALL, even if you pay a penalty. You can't check boxes. So I have been trying to find a very large suitcase or two to pack the 500 sandbags and other misc supplies into. I didn't wish to purchase new suitcases. I am working hard to conserve money.

I just went over to visit my friend's Iris, Catherine and Elizabeth. Elizabeth took me down into the basement which resembled a suitcase grave yard to me. I found a rather large and moldy suitcase and a nice large duffel bag with wheels down there. The sandbags will fit nicely in both cases. Sand bags dont care about mildew, they dont require a fancy vessel to travel within. I had found a source of sandbags right here in my neighborhood in Brooklyn a few weeks before I packed up the initial shipment. Before purchasing them, I consulted with the logistics director at Grassroots United about sourcing them in Haiti. She had told me, "no problem, we can get them here" What she didn't tell me was that the ones available in country were actually rice bags and not designed to be mildew and uv resistant.

After filling 200 of them with sand and then letting them sit in the sun and rain for a few weeks, many of them deteriorated. This was rather disappointing to me. The role the sandbags play is not intrinsic to the anchoring of the frame of the domes, but they are going to be used to hold down the mud flaps on the outer circumference of the covers so that water doesn't flow in.


So, the first thing I did when I got back was call up the place in my neighborhood and ask about the bags. They reassured me that they are indeed designed to hold sand and not rot.
So I went over to pick them up. When I got there I found a young Hassidic woman at the counter. Her eyes got really big when I told her about my project. I said to her, "it's a mitzvah" and she said "you know what a mitzvah is??"

I rode my bike up Myrtle the other day and found a street party happening. There were many people dancing in the street. A troupe of young teenagers performed a hip hop dance routine. A lady got on the mike and asked if there were any men on the block.

I love Brooklyn.

I will be returning to Port Au Prince, recharged and ready for the work ahead.

Stay tuned! The best part of the project is on its way. This final phase is what I have been working towards since the beginning of February.

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