Friday, August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 84: Nearly Three Months

Strange to think it's been nearly three months now since I returned. The time is going by faster this time around. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that Haiti feels more normal now. It has lost some of its wonder, which isn't a critique so much as it is a simple fact of life - exposure breeds familiarity. I've also been almost entirely focused on what it is I came back to do, that being the biosand filter program, and unlike before, when I met M, I don't have anything here that holds enough meaning to me to pull my attention away in any significant way. That will change in a month or so, once graduate school applications begin. That is a priority for me. I want to be in England next year, at a great school, studying something amazing. But still, that is easily manageable. I can do both.

I'm rambling. In some ways I think that's probably the most appropriate final product of the last month and a half. It has been a turbulent ride. Chris passed away, which shook this place to its foundations. Then Paddy and I had to sack Reginald, our field supervisor, for something that we didn't see coming. It was very disappointing, and took the wind out of our sails for a few days. I've never had to sack a friend before. What we've come to discover since makes me want to discredit him as a friend to begin with, but that'd be a lie. I liked Reginald, at least the side of himself he showed me, and he truly felt like a good friend. Escorting him to the front gate after taking away his badge was a really uncomfortable thing to have to do. Immediately following that Tropical Storm Emily opted to threaten Hispaniola and the base went into lockdown. Everything got packed up and stowed away, shutting down all programs for three or four days. As it turns out, Emily was a bust - she died as soon as she made contact w/ the island. Never made it to Leogane. Back to work we went, hoping to play catch-up. But, as it turns out, Emily has a big sister by the name of Irene. So, two weeks later back into lockdown we went. The second time was much smoother than the first - we were all well-practiced - but regardless, another three days lost, and again, the storm didn't happen. Irene missed us. Unlike Emily, she's not done though. Some of the northern Caribbean islands are being battered by her, now a Category 3 and soon expected to be a Category 4, as I type this. We dodged a bullet.

Irene cometh, except, she doesnth.
Paddy has been away in New York for a week and I've been doing his job along with my own, which I enjoy. It is busy, and sometimes I need to remind myself to slow down and chill for a bit, but all said and done I enjoy the planning aspect of this program, which is something that has largely been handled by Paddy until I feel confident that all of our staff, especially our supervisors, are trained up to the level that they can work mostly independent of me. Once that happens, I'll transition into a role that more directly supports Paddy w/ the meta-level stuff. The end-game is important. What exactly IS going to happen with this program come end of year? At this point in time that isn't a question Paddy and I have ever gotten a clear answer to so we are planning for a couple options. No real need to get into the specifics of it, but the most important thing for both of us is to find a way to keep the program going, but it under the All Hands' banner or with another NGO, and to keep our team employed. The ideal end-game would be to help the team become their own NGO, recognized by the Haitian government, and run entirely by Haitians with support from outside funders. That was our original plan, but given the time-frame, I don't see how we can get to that level before All Hands' is set to leave. Still, if we can get another NGO interested in biosand filters to take the program, that should keep the jobs and keep the filters coming. Bon bagay.

Chris's family is arriving on Saturday to take part in the opening ceremonies for Schools 12 and 13, which Chris worked on the entire time he was here. They are being dedicated to him. I look forward to meeting them. If they are anything like he was, they'll be wonderful people.

Until soon then.

Ile-a-Vache, Haiti. 5:30 AM. July 2011.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 80: A Quote

"I'm at this river the other day, and here's what I see: three men washing some Land Rovers in the water, two pigs having sex, a group of children gutting some pigs and cleaning their intestines right next to the pigs having sex, and a few women washing clothes and bathing — all in the same tiny part of the river. And next to all of that was a hand-washing poster put up by some NGO to teach people good hygiene."

Rolling Stone - How The World Failed Haiti

Ah Haiti, you crazy, broken, beautiful place you...