Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daily Life in Haiti

I often write about big projects or events that happen here in Haiti. But this post will focus on the little things that make up a day in my life in Haiti.

I’ll begin with where I lay my head most nights, the Haiti Outreach guest house. It’s got 24/7 power and hot water, compliments of the sun. AnnMarie serves up 3 meals a day and there’s rarely a complaint. She’s quite a cook. But I did have to give her a little lesson on baking chocolate chip cookies the other day.

AnnMarie usually makes the traditional Haitian spaghetti for breakfast. This is the one meal I usually pass on, I have a bowl of cereal with powdered milk. But at $5 a box I only splurge every other day.

I’m usually in the office by 6:30 most mornings to prepare for the day ahead. The guys arrive around 8 AM and then we’re off. Some days we head in to the Pignon water system to pour concrete, adjust the pumps or try to clear a blocked line. Other days I’m off to teach the guys how to disinfect a well or how to survey. Here’s a shot of some of my students learning to survey with an abney level.
And a few pictures taken along the survey trail…

Imagine for a moment that this was your house and children...

I’ve finally recruited a student that I’m working with nearly every day, Naton. Here he is learning to enter survey data into Microsoft Excel.
Naton didn’t complete high school but he’s the smartest guy around and learns quickly. Still I have to explain basic math to him. We covered the sine, cosine and tangent functions in about an hour today. I’ve taught him to keep a notebook to record all that we discuss. It’s far from a perfect system but we’re making progress and I'm happy with that.

My water lab is coming together nicely. I built a table and shelves shortly after arriving in Haiti. Since then I’ve received testing equipment to check for about 25 different contaminants. Our most common test is for bacteria contamination. Naton is my guy for running the lab and has mastered the bacteria test. I’ve also taught our well repair technician, Arronce to disinfect wells and check for chlorine residual.

My leatherman broke a few weeks ago and I asked my dad to send me a new one. And today it came in the mail, wohoo! We get all our stuff via airmail down here :) (my house, office and the airstrip are all within a stone’s throw of each other).
I haven’t been running at all here and there aren’t any golf courses in sight so my days are mostly work from dawn to after dark. But I did make time for a haircut the other day. The barber ran a clipper down the middle of my scalp before I had a chance to tell him how I wanted it cut. Let's just say I won't need a haircut for awhile.

The sun shines from 6 to 6 just about every day here. Most nights I’m in my room by 8 pm for an hour or so of reading and then it’s lights out. So far I’ve read “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck which I highly recommend and “Cold” By John Smolens, not so good. My book selection is limited to what others have left on the shelf in the office. I dug through the stack today and found a few Mark Twain books. Should be good reading the next few weeks. Goodnight all.


  1. Old Man,
    That is a great haircut! Just finished reading all of your posts and enjoyed every one. They definitely make a guy think about how spoiled we are here in the states.

  2. It is good to read about the "little things that make up a day in (your) life in Haiti". The people, the places, the simplicity of the smile. It does make you think about "life". Definately a different perspective takes hold once you've been touched by others "issues". My dad has said - over and over again, especially after my moms stroke/heart attack - "RAISE YOUR GAZE". It makes you realize that there is usually someone else with more immediate issues to help with. Also, in doing so... and helping or touching their life... it "lightens your load". Even just with a smile. Things we think are "important" are soon re-adjusted! Good Day! Sue Loose