J/P returns to FODH with AID
On Saturday, September 11th J/P was able to bring 30 tents and over 900 hygiene kits to Friends of Deaf Haitians tent city camp (FODH). I was to be down at FODH this day to help with the distribution as well as to meet Tom Kim from churches Helping Churches. Tom had a land surveyor with him to talk about a place for the building for the school and church. I wasn’t crazy about having both groups there because I knew it would be a lot of interpreting as well as my input. The times they were scheduled to be there were hours apart, but I knew they would over lap. It was hot and I needed to be 100% focused and available to both, it was a lot.
There were some security issues leaving the J/P camp, but we finally made it to FODH with two trucks full of supplies and about 10 volunteers. The first thing we did when we got there was hand out tickets for the hygiene kits. Each tent got one ticket and that entitled them to three hygiene kits. When all the tickets were handed out, everyone made two lines; a men’s line and a woman’s line. Things went fine for the first few minutes until we realized there was a miscount and only brought 600 hygiene kits.
The J/ P people kept remarking how unlike other distributions this one was. It was the calmest, most organized, easiest distribution they had ever done. We simply explained the mistake and sent someone to retrieve the missing hygiene kits. This created an opportunity for the J/P people to hang out and chat with some people in FODH. I on the other hand switched my focus to Tom Kim with Churches Helping Churches and surveying the land for the school building.
We tried to find the person to talk to who would know about the red stakes and what their purpose was. Widler (the on site camp co-director) gave us the number for Georgia who helped to set the camp up in the initial stages. Georgia gave us the name of Aaron who works for the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). Aaron was able to inform us as to the purpose of the red stakes. The IFRC and the Haitian government have plans for the land FODH is on. It is the first site of rebuilding. The IFRC will be putting in 375 “temporary shelters”, a school, market and a water/sewage system on the land. It is the start of an attempt to help the Haitian people out of tents and into safer structures. Although they are called “temporary shelter”, if they are taken care of, the shelters will be able to be sustained as long as someone is willing to do so. This information was good and bad for me. I quickly realized I could no longer build my school on the property as there were already plans for one. The structures on the property that is called La Piste are for single mother families and those who are handicapped. This does NOT mean that the deaf community who are currently living on La Piste will be promised a shelter.
Realizing the land was destined for the village and a school was already in the plans, we decided to hold off in looking at the land. Tom and I decided we would see how things played out over the next few months, but that he was still interested in helping in my endeavors if possible.
After Tom left, I went back to where the group from J/P were trying to communicate with those of the FODH camp. There were sitting outside of a tent under a tarp that was shielding everyone from the mid-day sun. It was difficult at times trying to communicate with everyone and for everyone, but everyone was patient and no one seemed to mind. I was the only one aside of a few CODA’s (children of deaf adults) who could communicate between both languages, English and some version of sign language. Somehow the conversation switched to soccer.
In Haiti fans either root for Brazil or Argentina. Someone asked Julie, who is staff at J/P and has been in charge of their involvement at FODH, which team she prefers. Julie and I both sided with Brazil. A few of the Brazil fans did a sign where they shook their fist in the air. I did not know what this meant and really struggled to figure it out. Finally someone showed me a picture of Pele, one of the more famous Brazilian soccer players and I was able to figure out this was their sign for the player. After about 40 minutes, the truck returned with the rest of the hygiene kits and the distribution was calmly completed.
Although I found that I would not be able to build a school, I had been in Haiti just over two weeks and was beginning to see change. Every day I realize a little more of my purpose in Haiti, God’s plan for me was beginning to unfold. This was a day that I felt especially satisfied with my faith in the unknown.