Here is the newest update from Travis.
Vacation Tip #1: Don’t hold your breath to avoid the smell in Haiti. If you hold your breath, you eventually have to breathe in deep, and you’ve just defeated the purpose of holding your breath. Take small sips of air.
We went to an orphanage on Monday (Wow, is it Thurday already?). They are living under a bunch of tarps, sleeping on the ground. We helped clean up a bunch of rubble and played with the kids. I kicked around an entirely flat soccer ball for about half an hour. The kids play rough with each other, but help each other up off the ground and dust each other off. Then immediately tackle them to the ground for the ball. We made a tire swing for them, held the little ones, threw a football with the older ones, pushed them on a swing and played dominoes with a mixed set (try to win with that!).
The kids all wanted to help clean up, as you can see in the pictures. They shoveled rocks, ran wheelbarrows full of dirt and bricks, and carried cinder blocks on their heads. At 8-10 years old. Tell your kids to stop complaining about taking out the trash. Or have them carry it on their head. The older kids helped too, pushing over cracked walls and moving rubble. One guy, about 17, was wearing woman’s shoes, flats, I think (they were dressy, with straps, but no high heels…), but his entire heel was off the back. His toes didn’t even fit all the way through the strap part. It was all he had to wear. He pushed a wheelbarrow over uneven and rocky ground for over an hour before he cut his foot on some rebar and we noticed. Maybe I’ll give him my shower shoes or running shoes or something. We had some clothes that were donated, so we gave them those as well. I’m working on getting them some tents. The orphanage is out in the country to the north of the city. It’s not as bad up there as in the slums here in PaP. Still poor, but there are trees and grass and it doesn’t smell so bad.
I’ve been working on providing all the basic life support (port-o-potties, trash, food, bottled water, bulk water, fuel, light sets…) for about 350-450 people in the SPOD (Seaport of Departure), here at the international port in Port au Prince (PaP). We got showers set up last night which is heated and has a pump, which is semi-normal, and should have our first hot meal (by that I mean a pan in hot water, served cafeteria style) tonight for dinner. Albeit, it’s still a shelf-stable meal, so MRE in a pan you eat on a plate, but at least it’s mentally different. One of my main units, the Coast Guard PSU307, is leaving today. About 120 folks. A good bunch of folks. Sad to see them go… and drink a beer without me.
Almost the end of February, eh? It’s hard to grasp with it being so darn hot. It’ll be a shock to the system to go back to Virginia. With a bad farmer’s/sunglasses tan.