Note: H.E.L.P. founder Chris Marlow is leading a team on a pilgrimage trip to Haiti the week of February 10-17. Dan King, one of the members of this mission team, is sharing his experiences here on the H.E.L.P. Blog.
His reaction was kind of like, “DUDE! Are you serious?!”
Not only did I just knock a few blocks off of the freshly built wall, but those blocks fell onto the scaffolding (which consists of a couple two-by-fours on a stack of concrete blocks) knocking his sheet of mortar to the ground.
In my defense, it was a little rainy out and the muddy ground that I’m standing on is really slippery. So when my feet start to slide out from underneath me, all I can do was try to catch myself on the wall of freshly laid bricks. As the corner of the wall gives way, everything stops so that we could assess the impact of my little fall.
As some look at me in disbelief that this crazy “blan” could be so extremely uncoordinated, others just laugh at my misfortune. Lucky for me, I’m not the only blan (I won’t mention any names, Kevin) today to knock over a piece of the wall that these men were working hard to build.
The reality is that these men work hard, and good work like this is often difficult to find here in Haiti. Many people wake up every morning here with the first (and only) thing on their mind being how they’ll find a way to make enough money today so that they can eat tonight.
That’s why job creation for the locals is so important when we take on initiatives like the 100 Homes project here in Haiti. The idea isn’t to send a missions team down to build a house in a week for some lucky family. It’s much more important to offer opportunities where multiple people will benefit. At the end of the week not only will a family have a home, but 10-12 men will have earned some good income to support their families as well.
As much as we love the idea of getting a single mom with two kids out of a tent and into a house, I can also see something pretty amazing in the faces of the local Haitian workers that we’re here to support.
Part of it is pride in a job well done. These men are doing good work. In fact, a couple of us blan are giving them the opportunity to do it a second time on parts of the wall. They don’t have all the big fancy tools here, so they work mostly with their hands. It’s not uncommon to see a hammer or shovel that uses a tree branch as the handle. Regardless, they are working hard and creating a quality product. That alone gives them an incredible amount of self-worth.
I also see a sense of relief in the eyes of some of these men. It’s the kind of peace that comes when you know you don’t have to worry about eating tonight… being able to go home and look your wife in the eye and know that you were able to provide for her and the kids today.
For example, one young man I met is a single dad of a two and a half-year old boy. He does construction work because he’s good at it and can get regular work that way. But he dreams of becoming a mechanic someday. He was very proud to talk about his church, and that his boy will be starting school in the Fall when he’s three years old.
Today, I’m really excited for the family that’ll be able to get out of the tent they’ve lived in for so long. But I’m equally as excited for these men who have this chance to work today.
And I promise to stay far away from the new walls.