Today I had my first experiences as a relief worker in Haiti. HODR splits its volunteers into teams to perform different tasks. For my first day here I chose to get involved in what has become affectionately nicknamed a "slab-a-thon." We were essentially removing the concrete slabs and rubble from a church that had collapsed upon itself. Armed with sledgehammers, pickaxes, shovels, and wheelbarrows a group of 7 made a sizable dent in the pile of rubble. The goal is to remove all of the concrete and exposed rebar in order to reveal the building's foundation, making the site usable again for a temporary or eventual permanent structure.
The rapport this organization has with the people of Leogane is remarkable. Two brothers brought us some much appreciated coconuts and mangoes while we were working on their church, refusing to accept any sort of payment for the fruit. A number of neighborhood children hung around the jobsite, picking up whatever tools we weren't using at the moment to "help" us with our work. They were incredibly playful and quite ecstatic to be around us.
Something that struck me as interesting was how people are reusing the rubble left over from the devastating earthquake. Although there is no shortage of the stuff around, many Haitians were having the UN dump it in their front yards to help with flood-season drainage. On some job sites HODR has even reused rubble to repair potholes.
At the end of the day we returned to base in our "Tap-Tap," mid-size pickups with their beds modified to carry passengers which are one of Haiti's primary forms of transportation (expect a post on these in the near future). Dinner consisted of rice and chicken prepared in a local fashion. Although I had some trouble sleeping my first night here due to all of the noise made by roosters, goats, cows, and wild dogs I am sure I won't have any trouble tonight from swinging hammers all day.