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Getting to the Reality of Life in Haiti

This blog post was guest written by Emilie Windsor, one of our awesomest participants on the OG Haiti Grassroots Engineering trip.

Wow… Where to start?!

As we are getting close to the halfway point of the trip, none of us knows if we feel like we just arrived or if we have been here forever. One thing is for sure, Haiti has taught everyone to live in the present and nothing else! Between our time working hard on our project, learning to speak Kreyol, enduring long tap-tap rides and experiencing too many truly Haitian moments to count, we have learned a lot while becoming an OG family.

First of all, we have been working like dogs and sweating like pigs! Everyone is giving their best every day and the factory is becoming a reality a little bit more each day. Each of us has gotten our hands and much more dirty by mixing and pouring bucket after bucket of concrete, collecting styrofoam in the Port-au-Prince canals (diirrtttyyyy!) and finding a part of the project to take charge. Jonah went wild on testing new shredding techniques, Bryan wracked his brain over the plan for the washing station, Aileen has impressed everyone by designing the roof frame, Ryan has done some serious improvement to the compression machines, Jess and Olivia discovered the joys that power tools offer, Courtney has came up with a rain catchment system and I personally discovered, with the help of the Haitian guys working on base, a slight passion for grinding and welding! We have definitely learned that supplies in Haiti are hard to acquire, but a little creativity and recycling goes a long way! Even though the project has evolved to include a lot of personal components requiring deep thinking, there is always music, dancing and energy circulating around base during our working days!

James smashes concrete like the hulk to build homes in Haiti

In addition to working hard every day, we have had incredible opportunities to get closer to the reality of life in Haiti. Courtney and I spent a morning volunteering at a Tuberculosis clinic run by Partners in Health. There really aren’t words to describe the experience. I can try by mixing overwhelming, shocking and loving all at the same time. One thing is for sure though, it was a great test of our character, showing us how lucky we really are to be born where we were.

We had the chance to visit an orphanage yesterday. It was an awesome feeling! We were definitely all moved in many ways. From playing soccer with the older kids, to hair braiding, to blowing bubbles, to skipping rope, to singing songs in French, English and even Kreyol, we had a great time. The cherry on top? A LOT of hugs and even a couple of naps in arms! It was very heartwarming and a bundle of fun! It’s definitely a must do again as it was very hard to leave the kids.

Finally, through these amazing experiences we had multiple occasions to celebrate and relax. Last Sunday, we went on a guided tour of Port-au-Prince and ended up in our guide, Carla’s, beautiful house in the mountains. After an amazing meal and an excursion to a nearby waterfall, we got caught up in profound storytelling of the origins of the Haitian people. We also celebrated the birthday of Bryan Adams (yup that’s his real name!) and his and James’ graduation from university. One thing is for sure, Haiti Communitere is never boring! I can definitely add that Haitians are the most hospitable, lively and smiling people I have ever met!

If we’ve learned anything from our time here, to quote Demarco’s #1 song: I LOVE MY LIFE! And to end, we’ll leave you with some more dolphin photos…

Diving like dolphins

James diving like a dolphin

Until next time,
Team OG Haiti

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