Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ti fi kay

Today we built Dome Number 6. Yesterday we did not build. It was my birthday!
Monday we constructed Dome Number 5.

I will start with today and go backwards this time, just for a little change of pace.

We made our way back to Bon Repos to bring a dome to Dr. Robert's Orphanage and School. Dr. Robert's teaches at a nurse's school but he also is the director of a small orphanage as well. He is a sweet man who speaks some English and reminds me of Mr. Rogers, but instead of a sweater, he is wearing a scrubs shirt.

Pretty large and awesome yard the kids have to play in, with several big trees providing ample shade and appendages to support several swings. There is a shack with a chalk board and desks for the kids to sit at, kind of an outdoorsy classroom. They have a cement building where they prepare food and the girls have been sleeping. The boys have two large tents that they share. Today, we were building a dome for the girls!

Half way through the day, I realized I had forgotten the bag of zip ties back at the base. Also there was a guy at the base working who works also for an orphanage. He wanted to show me the orphanage so I could see if they need a dome. So, today's driver, Dan, and I went back to the base and I left Nephtalie in charge of the build. A first. Leaving them to supervise themselves and build it right.

the Dome Team!
So we went back, I got the zip ties and scarfed down a peanut butter sandwich. The Dream Team was eating spaghetti for lunch at the dome site but it had hot dogs in it which I dont care too much about eating. I dont usually munch on hot dogs, not since I was a kid and had serious food poisoning from a hot dog. Right, Jen? My sister remembers that trip to Buffalo. We had a great time puking on the train. But that is another story, another lifetime ago!

We arrived back at the dome site, handed off the zip ties and I checked the work. Perfect.
Dr. Roberts had invited a friend of his who also runs an orphanage "nearby" for me to meet.
He wanted to show me his orphanage to see if maybe I would put a dome there, I guess.
So, I decided to let the Dream Teens to continue supervising themselves on doing the hardest part of the build without me, putting the cover on, while I went with Jefflo and this other dude and the driver to check out the other two orphanages.

First, we followed dude in his totally new SUV to his "nearby" orphanage. It was totally far! I really get frustrated when people stretch the truth to suit their needs. Its pretty annoying. But, this is Haiti. So we finally arrived at the guys Orphanage. I immediately couldn't help but notice that he had Two Houses, which were completely undamaged in any way. It added to my feeling of irritation a wee bit that not only was his place not "nearby" at all, he clearly didn't need shelter. When I said this to him, in as polite a manner as possible, through a translator, he claimed that they didn't use the nicer of the two houses at all. As he was saying this I was taking mental notes of the fresh fluffy looking curtains in the window and the kids freely coming and going from inside the house he doesn't use at all. Truth was rather like putty in this fellows hands. When he realized I wasn't buying what he was selling, salt water taffy, he changed his horse midstream. "We need food" he stammered. I did not doubt this in the least. Everyone needs Mange. "I dont have food" I said to him through a translator, "I only have shelter, and clearly, you do not need shelter. Not like some places who have nothing. I hope you can agree that there are other places who are in greater need of shelter than you, oui?"

It's sometimes precarious for me to even visit an orphanage. I do not like the unrealistic expectations that my visits can unintentionally set up. It is by nature of the climate in Haiti that a person with my complexion from elsewhere is seen as some sort of potential savior. It makes me feel totally insufficient to their needs at times. I am being seen as a one stop warehouse for all the necessities of life when all I truly can provide is pretty limited to shelter. And a soccer ball. And a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap and some organic peanut butter. A minuscule amount compared to what they actually require to survive.

We got back into the tap tap, Dan's tap tap, and drove off to find the other orphanage Jefflo's place. This time I was told, "it's really far' and it was! We went a great distance on a pretty smooth road, fortunately, so we could go fast at least. It was a beautiful ride into the country side, but according to the driver, we were still in Port Au Prince. They told me the name of the town, but I can't remember. I have kind of a terrible memory for place names...
The hillsides were spotted with an assortment of shacks made out of tarps, fragile looking wood, tin and cloth. They were chaotically dispersed amongst the greenery. The plant life was mostly bushes, not alot of trees, so to my eyes, the shelters looked hot. We passed at least one tent encampment, though, that consisted of a plethora of same looking orderly rowed shelters. All blue. Bright blue. I couldn't help but wonder whose color choice that was and why on earth did they think people would enjoy living in a bright blue community.

So we go quite far and up this winding bumpy dirt tract to the top where this kid's orphanage is located. Their gate consists of a wooden frame with a wool blanket on it. I would have taken photos but it seemed too objectifying at the moment. I wish I did, though, so you could have seen this place. It was on a beautiful piece of land. There were about 20 kids and some elderly ladies hanging around. A few men. Jefflo had told me that there were 70 kids living there. There was a rather large, rectangular structure, long and sort of narrow with a cement floor and a tin roof. Some of the walls were made of cinder block. Inside it was surprisingly cool and neat. Bunk beds lined the walls in an orderly fashion. There was an absence of the odor of urine. I thought it was pretty nice.

We went back outside and I sat down on the blanket next to an ancient looking woman with white hair braided in corn rows. She seemed startled by my sudden plopping down besides her and said "get the chair for her" I said in creole " mwen bezwen pa gen chèz" (i need no chair) Jefflo then started to ply me with reasons they need a dome. He pointed to a dilapidated looking tent and explained it was the old madame's tent. I hated to tell him that the domes were intended for orphans, exclusively.

It's hard when you know that people need stuff you have. But they are not the people you had in mind when you dreamed up the project.It's hard to stick to your plan when looking into the sweet old eyes of some lady sitting on a blanket on the top of a mountain.

I said, I didn't know and I'd think about it and we had to go now to pick up the Dream team

I gave them a soccer ball which the kids immediately started playing with

We left and went to check out dome number six. The house for the girls at Dr. Robert's
They were super excited and they ran up to me. "thank you thank you" they said in English. "Pou fi?" they asked me "for girls?" "Oui, ti fi kay" I said to them. They were super psyched and it was then I noticed a fierce rivalry between the boys and girls. "Garcon?" a boy demanded of me, pointing at the dome. "Pa garcon" I said and pointed to their two nice tents

I found it pretty funny and I think they all did too, within reason. I took a photo of the girls in frront of the dome. The kids there are pretty rough, compared to some I have met at orphanages. They seem a bit wild here. They are little wise guys in a way I totally respect. I was having alot of fun with them, they were making really funny faces when I was taking their fotos.

this girl was killing me, she was so adorable.

this boy spoke some english and said he wanted to be a musician

So that was today. Now a brief synopsis of Monday's build

We went to a church community center / orphanage and built them a dome.

we had a bunch of leveling to do on the ground before we built it.
We also had to dig a good sized trench or canal to allow for water drainage..

at this moment, Watson laughed at me and said in creole
not to fart in Nellie's face. Ha ha.

there were several fierce looking women with total new born babies.

this girl had quite a scar above her left eye.
I told her that I thought her scar made her very special.

this boy was rather shy but liked having his foto taken
He had a smudge of dirt on his face and when the other kids saw the foto, they pointed at the dirt and laughed.

this kid spoke english and asked me "do you love jesus?"
I told him I didnt really know him and then realized he would probably
take that the wrong way. So I added that I loved him, though
and then he told me he would love me for eternity

these ladies are in charge there, it seems. At one point, after we had the cover on the dome, Nellie told me, "that lady (the one with the white turbin on) just said she was going to sleep in the dome." That kind of pissed me off, actually. Being as how I was pretty specific that we were building the dome for the kids to sleep in. I didn't work for seven months to house this lady, quite frankly. So I had Nellie, who reluctantly agreed, tell her and the man there very pointedly and specifically that the domes are for kids, only. The man insisted, "two or three grown ups will sleep in there too" "No, absolutely not," I said. They then claimed that there was a rule there that a grownup has to sleep with the kids. I said, "ok, but just one' and they were still insisting on Two! I told them if I came back and checked and found out that the grownups were living in the dome, I would have no qualms about having the team take the dome down, immediately and give it to another orphanage that would use it for the kids, in the way it was intended.

I still think they are going to be sleeping in the damn dome. It makes me mad to think about it, but really, what can I do now?? I guess just hope for the best and spring a surprise visit on their ass. And bring the contract for them to sign that specifically spells it all out for them, in creole, exactly what the agreement is. I wrote it up last night. I will be bringing it to all ten orphanages before I leave country.

I got the kids all excited in the dome. they were being really dramatical
I was showing them how to freeze in cool positions and they caught on right away

Here they were showing me their tough side

Tomorrow I am going back to Desamours place to bring her the rest of the mattresses I promised her. There is a whole stack of mattresses in the giant dome warehouse at Grub, but gaining access to them is proving to be rather wrought with red tapes.

I have run out of orphanage dome sites. I will be scouting some out tomorrow with the moto bike in the morning. I've been mostly staying off the motorcycle since I got back this time, but it's about time I jumped back on the horse!

thanks for reading, and always, if you want to donate money, that is totally appreciated!
If I get enough money I can buy more beds.
I contacted two organizations that provide beds for orphanages today, we'll see how they respond to my request for collaboration!



  1. Wow, want to do this all over again in Kenya?
    U. sam

  2. hi Si, thanks for reading!!
    Uncle Sam, do you have funding?