Wednesday, September 8, 2010

ou se bon zanmi mwe

I am waiting for a truck to come and pick up my crew, equipment and myself today to go to Bon Repos to build two domes at one location. We are helping an organization start a brand new orphanage. I am extremely excited to be in a position to help the street kids of Port Au Prince be taken care of. A few days ago, Lynn Currier from the Haitkaah Social Justice Project contacted me the other day. She wrote a long email to me explaining how she has been struggling to find support for her project to build an orphanage to house the street kids on Port Au Prince, whom it seems, have fallen through the cracks in many ways and are without any support whatsoever. I was excited by her email and responded immediately telling her that if she wanted a dome built on her site she would have to move swiftly because I am leaving Port Au Prince on Friday to go to Jacmel to build there.
I told her that I would be happy to go and assess any sites they had in mind to see if it was an appropriate place to put a dome (or two)

Dr. Julie Bertrand of Kore Timoun met up with us and brought me to see two sites. The second one I viewed in the dark. I decided after lengthy discussions with this wonderful woman who started her own project when she was 12 (!) to support their endeavors with everything I could muster.

One of the beauties of being a small organization, with basically one core member is that decisions can be made quickly and acted upon just as swiftly. From the time she contacted me to the time I am building on her site is just 3 days. The domes will go up in one and a half days. We will build a shade structure over the two domes with some bamboo I am purchasing from my colleagues at Kleiworks and some tarps being donated by Dave Holmes from International Medical Corps.

Once the shelters are in place, the orphanage will start to take shape. There are several organizations poised to place amenities on the site, but they require shelters to be present before they can act. I am providing the necessary puzzle piece to start the ball rolling to get those kids in housing. Many of them are severely malnourished. Many of them are runaway restavecs.

I dont even know what the orphanage is going to be called yet!

This will be dome number eight and nine.

Dome number ten will be being build in Jacmel this weekend. I met a man named Pastor Abraham who runs a school and orphanage in Jacmel who I made a very solid connection with. He has 800 students at his school which he founded in 1999. His curriculum includes music, art, construction and dance in addition to the basic reading, writing arithmetic. My next project is forming in my mind as this, my first humanitarian project comes to a close. When I was in art school, a favorite teacher of mine told me to always start a new painting before the one I was working on was done. That way you would have your foot in the pool ready to start swimming again when the work was done.

I have my foot in a new pool. The connections I am making with Haitian organizations are cherished by me. This is what I came here for. To work with and for Haitians.

I am excited as well to begin designing a hub system for bamboo dome construction. When I was in Jacmel over the weekend we met with a Taiwanese bamboo expert named Jimmy Jine who is paid by the government of Taiwan to serve as a consultant for a Haitian Organization called Complex Bamboo. They support the reforestation of Haiti with bamboo, improved poultry production and the cultivation of tropical fruit trees among the peasant farmers in Haiti. They have a bamboo nursery, a bamboo furniture factory and they also raise chickens.

I absolutely loved Jacmel.
I am excited to be donating all of my tools to an excellent school where many people will benefit from them. I will be moving my entire project to Jacmel on Friday to wrap it up with the final build of dome number ten.

I am still waiting for this darn truck to pick us up. It's Haiti. It's hot. Part of my tent collapsed this morning inexplicably. I guess it sensed that my time is coming to a close here in Port Au Prince.

Our trip back from Jacmel was intense. We were on two motorbikes and we rode over the mountain pass at the perfect time of day to do so; sunset. It was superb. Many people were perched along the road in groups socializing as the sun set. It was a serene drive.. until we hit Carrefore. Then all hell broke loose! Mud!

Huge holes in the road, trucks, cars, people, motobikes all swarming around like crazy wind up toys who somehow magically dont collide. I videotaped from the back of the bike, but I cant upload it until I get back to my home computer in Brooklyn

I plan on spending a few days decompressing on the beach in Jacmel, doing some water color portraits and drinking coconuts before I return to the states to start resourcing for the next trip to Haiti.


  1. Sweet... No other words describe what you are doing...
    U Sam

  2. Hi, I'm an architect working in Haiti currently working for an NGO in POP, Haiti, and would like to get in touch with you or Complex Bamboo. Do they have a Haitian number we could call. We would like to build several houses from Bamboo near Petit Guave, and Grande Guave, and we would like to source the material. I have a thorough knowledge of bamboo, as i developed housing projects in India from Bamboo all over the rural sector. Thank you for any leads, and good work!

  3. my email is