Today was the first day that work was not a part of the agenda. As a result of Centeilla (our excellent cook) being given the day off, Patrick was responsible for preparing our meal. However, after noticing how Patrick cracked the eggs, Trace and Susan decided that they would take over (smile). To his credit, Patrick did brew two awseome pots of coffee. Following breakfast, a few members of the group attended a local church service at a PID staff member's church. Although many of us were unable to understand the words, we were all equally moved by the devout faith and devotion pouring from the congregation in a small cement building of worship. Several of the team members felt that this experience provided them with an authentic cultural experience and a look into the faith that has provided the Haitian people with hope and a perseverance to continue in a difficult world.
D'Andra Orey (Professor, Jackson, MS)
After returning from church service, we all loaded up on a bus and headed to the beach. When passing our work site, we noticed that a shiny new roof had been placed on the house that we were working on. It was extremely exciting to see the progress that has been made in less then a full week of work. When driving in the direction of the beach it quikly became obvious that the infra structure was much better when compared to the roads in the Port-au -Prince area. Upon our return, we headed South in the direction of Petion-Ville to get pizza. As we traveled, we began to notice a vast improvement in the buildings (e.g., aesthetics of the business building such as banks). It what one could describe as a tale of two mountains, the mountain area immediately above our work grounds is populated with people living in dilapidated houses who were displaced immediately following the earthquake. The further we drove in the direction of the northern mountains, the more wealthy it became. To be sure, it was refreshing to see the wealth possesed by a few elites. However, upon returning to Blanchard, reality set in, and we will be back to work on Monday morning, in our efforts to help improve the living conditions of those in the North.
Kalen Orey (19, college student from Jackson, MS)
Trying to deal with driving that is not commonly found in the U.S., it was quite difficult getting aquainted with being in busy traffic and hearing loud horns. As we arrived at the beach, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the view of the ocean's clear water was. The brightness of the green palm trees fell rite in with the color. Coming from a state such as Mississippi, I have noticed that there are similar situations. With that being said, seeing big buildings that have well paying jobs but surrounded by low income neighborhoods that some people can barely pay rent in is somewhat depressing.
Jake Salter (17 year old high school student from Portland, Maine)
A combination of breathtaking views and clear refreshing ocean water reminded the group what a beautiful place Haiti remains despite the incredible poverty and unfortunate disasters. As we left the Port au Prince area, the housing (if you can even call it that) became less dense and more developed. It is depressing to see the amount of excess most live in when so many have so little.