"Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive...then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
Howard Thurman

Saturday, July 31, 2010

One of our Cash for Work teams doing rubble removal
My CFW Co-workers, planning work in one of our camps

The really hard part of work right now is the sheer number of people that need to work but a very limited Cash for Work budget.  It is so hard to be followed by large groups of people asking for work and have to say our jobs are full through October when funding ends.  Cash for Work is such a great way to quickly get cash into the hands of those that need it most after emergency situations.  After the initial burst of cash, the focus needs to move to long-term, sustainable livelihoods programs, but it's tough to tell people who need money right now.  

So, while we wait for more funding we do the best we can with what we have and focus on the positives.  Fortunately, I work with some great guys (shown above) who are working very hard to make a difference in their country.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mark, Emily and Crazy Hen

One of the post-quake changes I find most interesting is the shift in animal locations.  They are almost as homeless as the hundreds of thousands of people here.  We've always noticed the large population of goats, chickens (especially roosters that crow 24/7), pigs, and even sheep living in the city.  Pre-quake they seemed to be inside people's yards.  Now it's a free for all with animals roaming the streets at all hours of day and night. The assumption is that fences and walls were knocked down and people had other things to worry about at the time.  I regularly have pigs and goats wandering through meetings in the camps.  When asked how people know to whom they belong the reply is always, "everyone knows".

Most fascinating to me are the chickens that found their way to the Healing Hands guesthouse.  We first met two of them at the end of February as cute little chicks.  They didn't appear to have a mother so were quickly adopted by the guest house staff and named Mark and Emily (it turns out they are both hens but the names stuck).  Mercia, who happens to be an amazing cook, fed them by hand and then lifted them up into a tree just before dark every night.  Fast forward five months... they are full grown but still follow Mercia around, including into the kitchen.  Last weekend I noticed the new puppy (Gracie) with Mark, patiently sitting under Mercia watching her prepare dinner.  

Mark and Emily remain closely connected and have picked up a friend that we call Crazy Hen -  strictly based on her behavior.  Every night at dusk around 5:30 (we're close to the equator so it's dark at 6pm year round) Mark, Emily and Crazy Hen prepare to launch themselves into the same tree they were lifted into during chickhood.  I honestly had no idea chickens could fly like that - and land on a tiny branch where they roost for the night.  Every time I watch it I remember my favorite episode of WKRP in Cincinnati when Les Nesman and Herb Tarlek do a Thanksgiving grocery store promotion.  They rent a plane to fly over the store and drop turkeys to the surprised but excited customers below.  The quote Les makes as reporting from below with turkeys slamming into the ground all around him is, "As God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly".  

The sad postscript to this story is that this morning at breakfast I noticed the tree our chicken pets live in had four enormous branches missing. Literally 2/3 of the tree, gone.  When asked, the staff reported that because the chickens were sleeping in the tree and the tree was over the patio the chickens were pooping on the patio.  The obvious solution to the problem was to cut down the tree.  In a largely deforested country I thought I was going to cry but decided it might be better to try to explain.  I hope they understood.  BTW - I watched Mark, Emily and Crazy Hen move into another tree tonight.

Emily waiting for Mark to leave the kitchen.
Mark, Emily and Crazy Hen getting ready to launch into the tree.
Mark, waiting for his friends to join him so they can snuggle in for the night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dye mon, gen mon (A Haitian proverb meaning Mountains beyond Mountains)

Haiti is a land of great beauty and of suffering.  Centuries of relative isolation have produced one of the world's poorest countries, yet one of its richest cultures.  We experience it all as we hiked above Port au Prince yesterday.   Beautiful mountains, lush plants and amazing people with great spirit.  We tried to capture it in photos.... the farmers on the sides of the mountains planting new crops, the women and children bringing their carrots, peaches, onions and potatoes to market, occasional small market stands, a 3 year old washing clothes and even three people carrying their Sunday best shirts fresh from the dry cleaner.  The main trail is 10 miles from the point where you have to park your vehicle because the road is not passable except on foot to the National Park with one of two remaining forests left in Haiti.  People live and farm along the way with many of them walking the entire way with their produce nearly every day.   


 Planting new crops.  You can see the rows growing below.

Al practicing his Kreyol

          Boys bringing their families' vegetables to the market.


Radio Interview

I was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio last week.  The story and audio clip are here:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fun Sunday

The plan was to attend a meeting at Wyclef Jean's (Yele Haiti) on Sunday morning and then meet friends to watch the World Cup final game in the afternoon. When I heard Yele was hosting 54 kids from an orphanage they work with and the kids had been practicing singing "We are the World" in English to perform for Wyclef and Black Alex I decided that was the better option for the day!  They were able to perform it on both Anderson Cooper (CNN) and Al Jazeera.  They were very good and super cute - I think they had a really fun day, too.  They said they were so excited the night before that nobody slept.  My days of events and promotions came rushing back as I helped to line them up to put their t-shirts on, get them fed and watered and ready for prime time!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Living in the Rubble

As we approach the 6 month mark post-quake, BBC did a slideshow of life today in Haiti:


Monday, July 5, 2010

Podcast of Deb's Job

I was recently interviewed as part of a podcast for the organization for which I work, American Refugee Committee.  If you are interested in a day in the life of my job and have 8 minutes, you might want to listen....