Haiti – Port-Au Prince / Pignon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  I was assigned to a 3 day volunteer project in Haiti to setup a network for a non-profit organization called Haiti Outreach. 

They specialize in building communities; wells, water, sanitation systems and schools in remote villages/ towns.

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This gave me the opportunity to go to Port Au Prince and a little village called Pignon on the outskirts of Haiti.

 

Some background on Pignon: Majority of the the villagers in Pignon live in mud huts with no electricity and bate in the river. Haiti Outreach is working on running water pipe lines to the small community of 25,000, build a sanitation systems and build additional schools in the surrounding area.

 

I will write more on Pignon in the following days considering my trip starts in the capital Port Au Prince.

 

 

The situation on the ground in Pap remains chaotic with little progress since the earth quack. The homeless continue to survive in tents and live on food relief. Their are 100s of camp grounds all over city. Haiti was very poor to begin with, the earth quack has made things rather worse.

 

The flow of water and food seems to have improved but the reconstructions planning has almost halted. With the rain season coming, the camp grounds are in serious danger of flooding.

 

Nuns from India and life time missionaries are not un-common to see and then you have the crazies (people who show up to haiti with no set plans) with the ambition to help however you can. I am fortunate to have been to able to do what I do best and offer my expertise.

The photo gallery consists of every day life in Pap & Pignon.

Their is a shortage of fuel limiting transportation to the people on the ground. The rich are attended to first and the poor get the ends meet.

Most look helpless and frustrated with lack of change. Haiti which on the same island as Dominicon Republic are a very poor French Colony.

 

The word on the street is that the French lacked management skills leaving the country in this state.

The neighboring country DC is about 30 years ahead of Haiti. Michelle Obama is in town bringing “Hope” to the nation. As I went through Pap I had to be careful of who I took shots from. Some people were not welcoming to the idea of a foreigner taking pictures of the state they were in.

 

 

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To get to Pignon (pronounced pion) I had to take a 6 passenger plane to get their. It was a little town with dirt roads, goats, pigs and naked kids running around.  Some missionary working here have dedicate their whole life on a mission to improve the living standards of some of these communities. My mission was to improve their communication at the head-office by putting in a basic network infrastracture. I won’t into the technical details but in short I put in a Mac Server with a Proxy and switch to improve the performance of their internet and communication within the office.

Majority 0f families of 5 or 6 in Pignon lived in little 400 Sq Feet homes with no electricity or water. They have to  walk miles to get water from a well and do no.1 / no.2 in the bushes. I was lucky enough to have accomadation at the Haiti Outreach guest house. The Haitian food was interesting mostly consisting of meals with Rice.

 

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Downtown Pignon consisted of 4 dirt roads with basic shops where people make a living. A total of 5 Police offered security in the village.
A fellow by the name of Danod was my guide. He was 17 in school, very sharp andspoke English very well. He was smarter then the average Canadian but with limited

oppurtunities to make something of himself. He remained optimistic and said “when their is a will their is a way.”

I did my work early mornings and at night to avoid operation interruption. In the middle I got to know people and toured. On the second day Haiti Outreach took me to a near-by village – Lavotoure about 10 miles out of Pignon. Village is an overstatement. They were building schools for the community. We had to take 4×4 on dirt mud roads to get their. :-)

Another interesting part of what Haiti Outreach does is they also train the community on how to manage the infrastructure they build. For example if they build a well they set a committee of people to maintain the well with a annual budget. The subscribers to the well pay an annual fee sort of like strata fees. Except here it only costs $45 a year.

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When we reach the zone where they are building a school I had an opportunity to meet the kids play some soccer with them. This was certainly one of the highlight for me. We had worn down flat soccer ball but it did job. A few rocks and we were set for a 3 on 3 match :D.

I also got to meet the Mayor of the villages. Average guys with no more then a high school education. As you see in the pictures below they are building 6 class rooms and a bath room. Water pipelines are coming in the near future. My stay ended very fast but I was able to complete 90% of the tasks in the 3 days.

I had to go back to Pap eventually after I wrapped up my project. Doing my nerdy thing was fun especially in the middle of no where.  When I flew back I was going to stay at compound of the missionary aviation company. Again thanks to Haiti Outreach this was made possible.

Basicaly an area where pilots live with their families. It was cool because I got to hang out in the hanger at the airport and watch the UN choppers fly in and out.  Their homes where  actually in the Upper side of town. It didn’t feel like Haiti at all as their was minimal damage. The roads however were not in the best shape.

They had big villas on the hills with pools electricity and hot water. I stayed with a fellow named John. His family had flown out 3 months ago when the earth quake hit.

Another Pilot named Michael just had his family back today from Idaho. For Southerners with thick accents they were extremly welcoming and nice to me considering I am of “IIranian” decent. :-)

Their house was not effected but their outside yard walls fell. It had already been fixed. It appears that in Haiti the reconstruction starts with the rich and then trickles down to the poor. The food system in Haiti atleast for the non-foreigner is everybody gets coupons that gives them rights to certain amount of aid food. I remember it was the same in Iran in the 80s / 90s during war and imposed sanctions by the US. Haiti even before the earth quack did not have the ability to feed itself. It relies strictly on imports. With the port only partially open the situation is even worse. A good reference on Haiti’s geography and history. Click Here.

In the end my trip was way too short; I wish I could have stayed longer. :( I feel silly since people quit their jobs and spend years here. 

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