Posts Tagged ‘Barrier Judie’

The site where we are working is not in a city, so today I made the trip to Port au Prince to retrieve supplies. It is not a pretty place. I went with a driver named Jean-Guardie and a translator, Vanya. Whenever we make the trip we have to leave at 6:00 AM, else we’ll be stuck in traffic for most of the day- getting nothing done.

It had been four days since my last trip, and I feel that I am adjusting to the culture in the village pretty well. The people here are really friendly and eager to communicate. They are hard workers and have ingenious methods for getting things done when resources are low.

Here is a photo of the “earth bag” building method that is being implemented by the crew.

The first two rows of earth bags are placed below ground level to make a sturdy foundation. Barbed wire is laid on each row to get a grip on the bag above it, then the mixture of earth and cement is compacted and allowed to set. Row by row these bags rise into a dome.

It’s an inexpensive method for building, but some things must still come from the city. My trip today was less stressful than the ones last week, mostly because of my guides. Jean-Guardie taught me how to say “you are my friend” in Kreyole, and having Vanya in our posse lightened my spirits. We laughed a lot about communication barriers as we trapsed around the crumbling city looking for hardware in various stores.

Still (and I think the following images will explain), Port au Prince is exemplary if you ever wonder how bad things are in Haiti. There is one highway leading into the city from the south. It is narrow and in poor shape, at one point devolving into a pitted gravel mud pit for half a mile before retching out into the outer reaches of the town. Everything has been crumbled, and there isn’t much economy to speak of. The roads are few and really bad, and vendors crowd the edges with commerce. These factors lend themselves to really slow traffic which, when combined with burning piles of trash, create a volatile air quality. I remind myself constantly that people live in this mess every day.

Despite the bad of Port au Prince, it’s not everywhere here. The surrounding country is equally poor, but not so crammed together in a serviceless maze. Here is one more image to show how wonderful the people here are. Next post I will have better things to say.


I’ve been in Haiti for 7 days. It feels like much longer than that. During my first three days here I was elected from our group to travel to Port au Prince for supplies. It is a very stressful place, and being there is being stuck there. Not only has the city been leveled by earthquake, it is also covered in trash- every square inch. The air quality is very bad due to sewage, traffic that does not move for hours, and a Haitian tendency to burn trash. It is a city choked with pollution and waste. I would almost prefer not to dig up feelings about those trips, and yet have volunteered to go back for supplies again tomorrow.

The place I am staying would be about half an hour south of Port au Prince if the one highway wasn’t in such poor condition and traffic was not reliably terrible. I have spent several hours in standstill, suffocated by exhaust and dust from the road. All along the highway for miles, pedestrians sell their wares and services- clogging the small road, shouting at drivers when they are stopped. When the road is moving, people drive at terrifying speeds, completely disregarding the safety of others.

I have learned, though, that Haiti is not all bad. Through and beyond madness there is a culture populated by beautiful, kind people in a landscape worth seeing. I still consider myself very fortunate to be staying outside of Port au Prince. If you would like to read about the project I am working on, there is a blog here being maintained by all of us.