Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Blog

Week ending 17th. December
This week was a busy one as Leslie Buckley, Haven’s Founder came out to Port au Prince to visit our projects and get an update on what is happening around the country.
Ciara, Leslie and I went driving around the city, and the greater Port au Prince area showing him what we have been up to since his last trip to the area.
First we went to Croix de Bouquet to see our Transitional Shelter project, funded by Plan International. While we were there we were able to hand over 20 houses to families. Haven have almost completed 100 T Shelters here in Croix De Bouquet. The families living here used to live on a campsite, under weather beaten tarpaulins, sleeping on blankets spread upon the bare earth.
Haiti is a tough place to be at the best of times, but these are the days that make the hard days worthwhile. And there are plenty more of them to come, with Haven having a further 600 shelters left to complete in and around PaP.

We then moved on to visit one of our water and sanitation (WASH) programmes, which we are constructing with UNICEF funding in 13 schools across the capital. We met with the school’s Principal, and also with Kone from Unicef, whom we have partnered with to carry out this project, bringing a clean water supply, hygiene promotion workshops and latrines to these 200 school children aged from four to 18. Leslie and I got plenty of feedback on how the project is working, what we have done really well to date and what still needs to be improved. We are learning every step of the way.
We then moved on to Camp Crise, one of the 57 campsites in which we are working. Here we met our Community Development Workers, who were in the middle of doing a Hygiene Promotion demonstration. These workshops have been a key part of our workload since the earthquake struck; but since the Cholera broke it is even more important. Haven’s message is simple but incredibly important. It incorporates 6 basic principles:
• Always use latrines, never defecate in the open
• Always wash your hands after toileting, before handling food, after changing diapers, before and after collecting water, before going to sleep at night and first thing on waking
• Never drink untreated water
• Keep prepared food covered at all times
• Full body washes with soap and clean water daily
• Never walk barefoot – always wear washable shoes or sandals

We also brought Leslie to see the Gabion rubble House. The Haven team have termed this the rubble house, as it is literally built using the rubble from the toppled buildings. Rubble is used every step of the way from the foundation through to the plaster! We are particularly proud of this project as we are the first organisation to pilot the method, and we are attracting a lot of attention as a result.
After Leslie left I took a visit to see the Iron Market - the Haitian version of the IFSC! This area was also demolished by the earthquake which Irish businessman and Haven Board member Denis O’Brien, invested in to get this district up and running again. It has now reached completion. It was due to be officially opened this week, but the ceremony had to be postponed because of the political protests. The opening date is now rescheduled for mid January which is a relief to the project team there as recent unrest has caused some delays.
Tonight we are having our final team meeting with our entire staff, both local and expat, based in Haiti. We will give each other updates on what is happening across the country on all of Haven’s sites, covering all topics, from community development, to cholera, shelter, and of course our diminishing budgets!
Once all that is done we will kick back for a little bit of a Christmas party in the Haven house. Haitian Jackson, who was due to perform for our volunteers in October finally gets a gig and it promises to be great craic. Come Saturday our group will disperse, some bound for rural Haiti, Dublin, Longford, Galway and of course the Republic of Cork.
Gerry and Gareth will hold the fort until we return, needless to say there will be plenty of excitement waiting for us on our return in 2011.
Happy Christmas to all.

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