"Parish the Thought" Blog
- Written by David Puckett
Wednesday Nov 12
I am sitting here in the dark with the only light from 2 laptops and 2 pad computers. Everyone is catching up on emails, reading or some other computer entertainment. We are real low on battery power and trying to conserve while waiting for the city power to kick on and recharge our batterries so we have fans for sleeping later. This is not unusual when we have multiple people living in the house, using lights and fans.
Today I got to visit another school Tek4Kids is helping, and an orphanage where we are putting in a water system. To show how much the work we are doing is appreciated, I will share an experience Gary and I had today. We were at the orphanage doing some work in a building where a power panel was located and it started raining hard. After our work was complete we needed to go back to a building where we are installing the water treament system. We were standing in the doorway waiting for the rain to stop and two little girls about 5 years old brought us two very tiny chairs to sit on while we waited. The chairs were the size you would see in a kindergarten class room. We had to sit down in them after the nice offer. You should have seen us trying to sit down in them without falling. We were even able to get back up after the rain stopped. I thought the thoughtfulness shown by these two very cute little girls was amazing and again feel so privileged to have this opportunity.
- Written by David Puckett
The tek4Kids gang is off to Jeremie, Ayiti again. Planning meetings and shopping has been going on for the past week.
Gary called me about 9:30 AM saying he & Cathy were running a bit late (11:00 AM in my drive was the target) plus Don was fighting a cold and had decided not to go.
About 10:45, Gary called again to let me know that they were on the way ... and they had convinced Don he should go. As Bob notes later, I'm wondering if the real motivation was for Don to tow one of the heavy suitcases! It's almost impossible for one person to handle two! For some reason Gary is scheduling things for mid-day Sunday departures ... beats 4:00 AM on Monday's.
At any rate, I'm the limo service it seems. Bob Glaser is on this trip ... first time. Seems like Bob saw the writeup on Tek4Kids that was in the Record back earlier in the year. He remembered Gary's name ... they had gone to St Xavier High School together. Anyway, Bob has gotten involved with the team and decided to jump in.
Bob and his wife, Sue, landed in my drive way first ... then Don pulled in with Gary and Cathy. Quite a scene ... suitcases in the drive, repacking, toss this out, "Dave, can you cut these 1/2 square pieces off so they will fit?", juggle backpacks, carry on bags and HEAVY suitcases into my car.
Too many bodies and luggage for my car, so Bob and Sue head for airport, Don pulls his car into his semi-reserved parking spot in my driveway, and off we go. By the time we pass Newburgh Road on the Watterson, Don is telling everybody to shut up so I don't miss the exit for airport. Turns out Don had pulled a "Dave" driving to my house. He missed the Bardstown Road exit because he, Gary and Cathy were talking. Who says talking on the phone is the dangerous thing! For some of us, driving and talking to anyone ... in the seat next to you or on the phone ... it too much to handle!
Here's the gang a curbside!
We've asked Bob to write some notes for the blog. It's always interesting to hear things from a first time perspective. Some of these notes are from Bob's notes to his family.
We are on the first leg of our trip from Louisville to Charlotte,NC. When we arrived at the airport I found out my 3 traveling companions were booked into 1st class on the plane and I was in the last row of tourist/economy seating. How many trips do I need to make before I get to sit in front with the veterans. We're on a small regional jet and it is packed. We are scheduled to land in about an hour and a half and then will need to sprint to another gate to get our next flight to Miami. A long walk through a big airport in Charlotte. I could not believe how many people were traveling on a Sunday evening and all the stores selling Duke and NC stuff. I was proud to be traveling with my UK hat. We arrived in Miami and went to a hotel for the evening. Traveling with a backpack, a carry on bag and a very large suitcase is a real pain and a lot of work. The backpack and the carryon is what I took with my things for the next two weeks. However all four of us have to take along a large suitcase that has plumbing parts, electrical parts, computers and parts for our work in Haiti. All in all a good uneventful travel day.
Up at 4AM and off to the airport to ensure our luggage was checked and made it on the international flight to Haiti. It's especially important that out big suitcases get all the way to Haiti so we can get them on a bus from Port au Prince to Jeremie so we can get to work as soon as we arrive. Our flight from Miami to Port au Prince arrived at 11AM and we went on a shopping trip to the Hatian version of Home Depot to get more supplies. After 2 hours of shopping in an un airconditioned warehouse at 90 degrees we went to a small airport to catch our last flight in a small 6 seater plane loaded with more luggage and people than I would have thought possible. However we made the trip through an unusual rain safely and then the drive to our home for the next two weeks. After arriving I put away my things, changed into shorts and a tee shirt and had a Haitian beer. I think that will be my drink for the next 2 weeks because I am told the water is unsafe. We will be resting the rest of today so we can start early tomorrow on the many things on Gary's list of things to accomplish on this trip. Nov 11 Some general comments on living in a 3rd world country. There is electric utility provided only a few hours a day and that is not guaranteed. For this reason in the house I am living, which is powered by batteries charged during utility provided power, no lights or other electric devices are on unless absolutely needed and never when someone is not in the room. The power provided by the batteries is limited and you don't want to run out. That is why there is no hot water heater for showers or washing. The power is needed for fans to keep cool and for the minimum lights needed. I find myself carrying a flashlight around to see my way through hallways and up and down stairs.
The next issue is the water is not safe to drink or even brush your teeth with. Also there is a limit of water pumped from a well and a cistern for collecting rain water or purchased water. Again conservation is required with limited (cold) showers, toilets only flushed for solid waste and washing of dishes by hand and very limited clothes washing. Bottled water is purchased for cooking, drinking and things like brushing teeth.
The roads are mostly a series of the largest pot holes you see on the worst streets in the US. There are no traffic laws so people drive on either side of the street and anywhere they wish. Pedestrians have no right of way so it is each person for themselves. I just had my first taxi ride today in Jeremie on a motorcycle. The taxi (motorcycle) driver would shut off his engine and coast down hills to save gas and then drive like mad when the engine was on. I have seen as many as 3 and 4 people on a single motorcycle. Since being here I am amazed how many people, luggage or supplies can fit in a vehicle. Yesterday when we went shopping in Port au Prince after arrival and we had 5 people, 12 pieces of luggage, and supplies from our shopping trip which included (2) 5 gallon buckets of paint in small suv (about the size of a Honda CRV). Think about that driving down a very bumpy road in 90 degree weather. As we were driving along someone hit us from the rear and the driver never stopped until the back door of our vehicle came open. He only stopped so he could tie it shut. At least the plane we took to Jeremie although crowded was not that loaded. We put some of the luggage and the 5 gallon buckets of paint on a bus to be delivered to Jeremie.
I have been warned by many to be very aware when walking along the road to the schools where we are working. The motorcycles will run you over if you are in the way and it's the pedestrians responsibility to stay out of their way.
Last nights dinner was my first taste of Haitian food. We had plantains that appeared to be fried, a dish of beets and potatoes mixed, dark brown rice, some other dish that was peppery hot (that was likely picklies - DAP) and chicken, which was the only thing I recognized. It was all good as I tried a little of each dish. We also had fresh pineapple. This morning I ate raisin bran with canned milk that was more like cream. They told me they would go out and get some regular milk for tomorrow.
So far today Gary is taking me around and showing me the work they are doing in the schools. It is amazing what they have done providing clean water, battery powered electric and computer technology to the schools. Gary has designed most of the elecric power systems himself and has enhanced the clean water systems provided by other charitable organizations in the past. Don, who is another Tek4Kids volunteer that is with us, has done amazing things with the computer technology and internet access to the schools. This is a wonderful effort and one that should pay great successes for Haiti in years to come. I am so fortunate to be able to play a small role.
We must be in the rainy season as it has rained a lot today and the weather report is to continue for the rest of this week. It does slow down some of the work we have planned but there is more than enough to do and we can change our plans to do inside work. The rain does make it cooler than normal but the humidity is still about 90%.
Tonight for dinner we had goat. My first time eating goat. Also had a Haitian staple which they call yams, but they were white with little taste. Also had plantains, brown rice and the hot cole slaw type dish we had last night. We had a drink made with a Haitian fruit (kowosól) which was very good. So far I have tried everything and it is different but mostly ok.
One good thing about the rain is it is much cooler than I expected (mid 80s for highs and mid 70s at night).
- Written by David Puckett
Sunday, October 19
I think Don slept in today. No blog.
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
Monday, October 20, 2014
Day # 9
Today turned out to be a very productive day. Of course up early as usual. Not sleeping much for some reason. The day started off at the high school where we met, planned the day as best as possible, then it was off to St. Theresa Montessori school. I had not been there since construction began on the second story. What a difference! Hardly looks like the same school. Greeted Clovita, who was as welcoming as ever. Then we did a survey of the second story classrooms including the one that will become the computer lab.
Leaving the Montessori school we headed over to NatCom to inquire about the slow internet speed and to pay for November. Seems the fibre had been severed somewhere between Jeremie and Port Au Prince. NatCom was aware of the problem and was working on a resolution.
Now off to the rectory to meet up with the Monsignor to discuss his plans for feeding 50 of the poorest residents of Jeremie three times a week. Gary and Cathy were generous in giving him a donation that will help feed those 50 for a couple of months. We also found out that the Monsignor had been given an inverter and eight batteries for the church. Gary has offered to install the system in the church while we are here.
Gary mapped out the location of the batteries and inverter, then we headed back to the house to run some tests on the small generator he purchased. While playing around we took a hard look at a problem Nancy was having with the lights in the kitchen and dining room. Both had finally quit working all together. Seems the problem stemmed from loose wires in the switch. All it took was some tightening of the screws holding those wires and problem solved. Nancy will be thrilled.
Now off to Fre Paulin to install the fifteen laptops for Nancy's class tomorrow. Biggest problem will be finding the keys for the locks we use to secure the laptops to the tables. Wasn't as bad as we had anticipated and we were done in an hour or so.
Now back to the house for a quick shower. We are having a dinner guest, Renate Schneider, Vice Rector The University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse (UNOGA). Gary, Cathy and I had visited the school last year and have tried to keep in touch with her. Gary and I were out for a walk last week where we bumped into her and invited her to dinner. Dinner was great as always and the addition of a dinner guest made the evening that much more enjoyable.
Well it's 9:30 PM and everyone else has gone to bed. Stayed up longer working on a camera problem with Mr. Puckett. I am having no more luck than he did, so it's off to bed.
(Dave here ... after Don went to bed I addressed some of the problem before I had to hit the bed)
Tomorrow is another day .......l
- Written by Don Kavanaugh
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Not much happening today either. Up early as usual, off to the high school to work on the computers that are going to Brother Paulin. Gary and the guys working in the school kitchen installing a sink. The guys are off to do some work at the orphanage and Gary and I are headed back to the compound to clean up for Mass.
Mass was two hours long as usual. I must say I really enjoy going to Mass back home but not so much here. The language barrier makes it difficult to enjoy even though I know where we are in the Mass. Need to start reading up on the scripture lesson for the week so I can at least get a sense of what is going on.
Off to bed around 9:00 PM which is late for us. Mass lasting two hours and then dinner afterwards makes for a long day. Began raining around 11:30 PM. Lightning and thunder woke me up. It was a deluge and I could imagine the torrents of water cascading down the hill as I drifted back to sleep.