Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Surrounded by Miracles and that is just the Beginning

After the Demons went away I slept a good four and a half hours until the earth spun enough on its axis for me to see the light of morning start filtering into my room.  I had only woken up once immediately after tearing myself out of a nightmare.  In the clear dream my dog Danger, who has been around awhile came over the misty mountain ridge towards me.  We were alone up high with huge rocky drop offs on each side.  There were short rhododendrons and a sparse amount of fir trees to the left, and to the right some of the top stones of an old dilapidated dry stack wall that could have been built three hundred years ago lay scattered near the base.  Although she looked exactly like she does in real life, in this dream her face was not right, it was contorted and the skin around her mouth was pulled back tight exposing her intimidating bite.  The closer she came to me, the more I knew that something was terribly wrong.  The wind was making noise in the trees and when she got just a meter in front of me, she turned exposing her side and a bloody hole clean through her broken rib cage.  I could see right through her to the ground on the other side. She was covered in a light coat of dark oil. Slowly open your eyes in darkness and take a drink from the water bottle, just a sip and shortly fall back to sleep, but do not forget what you just saw, heard and felt.

From the roof terrace I saw early morning light filtering from the east over the top of the horse shoe shaped mountain range that separates Haiti from the Dominican Republic.  From my position on the roof I was high enough up that I was in direct line of sight with the glowing disc 93 million miles away.  However, the mountains are so tall that they cast a giant shadow over the entire downtown area of the port below.  The contrast was interesting for it made the entire lower city look like a pencil sketch that contained three years worth of detailed effort.  Morning urban noises sounded off all around me, several roosters, doors slamming, a random dog bark, children singing, parents parenting, cars and horns all came together in the daily morning routine of PAP.

Downstairs I went to the empty terrace cafe, found the same table that I sat the night before and broke out the little packet of documents that I had brought with me.  There were emails and hand written notes from Herr Thomas, a German/American hydroponics guru who through his network and the backing of a gracious local benefactor is trying to get the first two containers loaded with growing equipment(pumps, racks, gutter system, trays, water containers, peat moss plugs, seeds & hoops) solar panels, water purification equipment, bedding and a to be determined short list of specific requests to a forty acre parcel supporting the community known as Babancourt.  The idea is that this small town will take the equipment out of the containers, get a growing operation up and running then use the empty containers as shelter.  Over time the growing operation will expand to the point where the people of the area will be producing enough vegetables on a daily basis to be able to add their own nutritional requirements.  Plus the growing operation will create jobs for the people to supply produce to sellers in the local market.  Small on the ground agricultural developmental progress in a place that is void of soil.

A small steel pot of coffee came just as an Italian professor walked in and took the table next to me.  We introduced each other and I learned that he was in Haiti to award two post grad grants for two Haitian students to come study at a faculty within the University of Rome.  He ranted a bit about some of the challenges he is facing with his contacts in PAP.  I explained to him that in the next day or two I planned to visit a few locations being considered to receive a donation of self contained growing operations. 

Not sure of anything at this point I decided that first thing this morning I would call the first two contacts and let them know that I was in town.  Maybe that would get something going by tomorrow, I thought to myself just as a tall white man came from across the room and stood in front of me.  He was a German named Thomas, the synchronicity amazed me.  Thomas G. was the leader of a three person film crew working for the German television station WDR. He and his crew had been in Haiti for a week to the day and had been getting their work done.  He said that he had overheard some of the talk about containers coming from the USA with growing equipment on board and he wanted to know more.  Of course I gave him a more detailed brief of the intentions of the original Thomas and his philanthropic group back in Charlotte.  I offered him some coffee but he declined and asked me what my plan was for the day.  "Nothing solid yet", I explained and then added that I would make some calls here shortly and possibly go exploring out of the hotel up the mountain towards that hillside you can see from the roof.

This new German Thomas told me that he and his crew were leaving shortly for a school run by Catholic Sisters up on a mountain top near Carrefour.  Kinder Not Hilfe is a German NGO that has been working with the Ecole St. Francois de Sales since before the quake.  KNH was now ready to donate in a 3.4 million dollar architectural project for the rebuilding of a new school for the children of the area.  After Thomas' crew documents the hand off of drawings at the Sister's school they were headed to the UN(IOM) HQ at the airport for a completely different project trying to get some numbers and truth from a Uruguayan Commander.  When he got done giving me his itinerary for the day he asked me bluntly, "It is going to be a long day, would you like to go with us?"
An hour later my day bag was packed and I was standing in the foyer being introduced to the rest of the crew.  Then Holgen who was hired as the German's translator showed up.  Minutes later the first car with the KNH people arrived followed by the second car for the crew.  Thomas had me ride out in the KNH car so I could talk to Katia, the communications director about the Charlotte-Haiti project.  Sitting next to me was Alvero, the Chilean Architect employed by KNH to created the plans for the new school.  On the way out of PAP we made one stop at a pharmacy for Katia's sore throat. I told her about the benefits of gargling a warm salt water solution a few times a day v. the pills and liquids created by an industry.  She was too young to be so skeptical. 

Our driver drove us through more quake torn neighborhoods and the remnants of the previous night's flooding.  The span and scale of destruction was hard to get my head around, it was as far as I could see in all directions and the closer I got to it the more horrifying it became.  We drove for over an hour and a half before the car turned hard left out of Carrefour for the mountains.  The roads were narrow and in some spots missing huge chunks that had been sucked down into the ravines below.  It started to rain the further up the hill we went.  Village to village around the next corner a saddled white donkey stood silently on a dirt mound in the daytime downpour.  Water dripped from his chin and tail, he looked melancholy but not uncomfortable or out of his element. Kids played under the little awnings of the endless shanties that lined the narrow mountain streets.  We made a hard left hand turn and the road shot straight up through the dense almost jungle like vegetation.  There were no other houses on this section of road, the hill was too steep and we were about to enter the mountain top property of the school. 

Holgen on the left is talking to Sister Jiselle.  Thomas G. is on the right in the straw hat. 

These large UNICEF GP tents are presently being used as class rooms, the cafeteria and some dormitory space.
Both feet off the ground. 
KNH's Katia and Sister Jiselle. 
Alvero the architect from Chile. 
It is hard to see how steep this section of road was, the rain wasn't helping. 


Anonymous said...

Bill- T-r-a-n-s-f-e-r.

Thoughts to words, good job.

wv: voadeds. Glad I voadeds last week.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill. FWIW I'm enjoying the Haiti content. Keep it coming. -Bill