Kate in Haiti's Blog

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Carrying gifts from afar. December 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kateinhaiti @ 5:00 pm

Yesterday I thought I’d help transport materials to one of our school construction sites. It was a Saturday so our drivers weren’t in work, I can drive, and I must have been filled with the Christmas spirit or something, so I volunteered. It turned out to be an interesting day, and one of unexpected beauty.

We started out at out warehouses loading timber; from there we drove for about 2 hours to get to the first drop-off point. This is as far as a truck can go. Even though I have been working here for quite a while now, and do know how far the distances we operate in are, it never fails to strike me just how remotely we do work. I talk about it all the time in meetings – “Remember, we work in remote and inaccessible areas, so we can’t produce that report as qucikly as you can if you just need to walk around a camp where everyone lives close together” – but everytime I experience it, it amazes me anew. Especially travelling in the pick-up trucks. Each truck has a maximum load; for example either 10 bags of cememnet, or 16 2x4s.

Once we had reached the first drop-off point, a pick-up truck is needed to shuttle the materials to a second drop-off site and can only carry it’s maximum load each time. It is 40 minutes drive to the second drop-off point, and as an example – we have 300 bags of cememnet to move. At 10 bags a time, and the ability to do about 3 trips in a working day, it would take one pick-up truck 2 weeks to move it all – and that’s just the cement, to say nothing of the huge amount of timber!

Oh, but what a drive! I haven’t done any offroading for about 3 or 4 years, and it was quite fun to shift the Hilux into 4 wheel drive and navigate a dramatic mountain path, with sheer drops down one side and mountainsides on the other. And the scenary! In three return trips to the second drop-off site I did not get bored of it; the rolling mountain, and long views out to the ocean …. it reminds me of what a fertile country this is, and what a privilidge it is to be able to be working here.

But once the materials reach the second drop-off point, their journey is not yet over. From there, the communities carry the materials by hand to the school site – a further three hour walk (and that’s when you aren’t encumbered with a bag of cement or a 2×4). The commitment of the communities continues to amaze me; they carry their school peice by peice, for hours up and down the mountains, so that their children can learn.

One day I will do that walk ….. when I have more time. It is such a busy time here, and I am now into my final week before my Christmas Leave. The cholera crisis has put new pressures on the team, and with the elections causing disturbances and delays in work, November was a difficult month. I wish I had more time now to be able to do more of what I did yesterday; acting as driver and translator, in the front line of the work, and really understanding by experience rather than getting only snippets of experience with which I go into meetings and defend my team and the excellent job they’re doing. With a new year will come new opportunities, and I mean to make the most of them.