HAITI: Project Gonaives 90 Day Report

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After 90 days of the life labou, 118 volunteers (93 international, 25 local) from 14 countries have cycled through the doors of Project Gonaives helping to clear mud, facilitate distributions, organize programs for children, and more. Here is a look at our last 30 days:

Shovel it, Dump it
In three months of work, volunteers have cleared flood wreckage and mud from 66 houses, allowing 94 families to return home. While the government does provide direct support to clear mud from streets and public spaces, residents are responsible to move their mud out to the roads. HODR volunteers work with individual families providing motivation, extra muscle, and hope to small pocket neighborhoods that lay away from the big roads swarming with machines. We remain dedicated to this program for the remaining month and a half of this project.

Stock it, Store it
All 15,000 CRS/UNICEF backpacks have been loaded up and moved on from our facility, after a month and a half of storage. Each backpack is stuffed with a variety of school supplies destined for primary school children in Goniaves. We also helped PSI to load and store 1000 mosquito nets as part of their distribution of materials to rural areas. The heavy bales of nets have now all been moved off of our porch and given to families.

Pump it, Test it
Over the past 3 weeks HODR volunteers have helped Oxfam Intermon (IO) collect water samples from 168 rehabilitated wells. Every morning a team of local and foreign volunteers set off in search of wells that IO has previously cleaned, repaired, and improved. This critical phase includes drawing samples from the wells, keeping them on ice, and transporting them to the government-run water testing lab in the city of Gonaives. In true HODR fashion we actually use a cooler strapped to the back of a bicycle for the transport link!

Plot it, Map it
As CRS rolls in new staff to their office here in Gonaives, they continue to look to HODR for training and support with GPS. Our volunteers expanded our training module and created documentation as well, providing classroom and field training to 6 additional CRS staff.

Pour it, Cure it
We are at work on a project where we will design, build, and install concrete well rings. The goal is to develop the masonry process of prefabricating concrete rings that can then be set in place with appropriate drainage, creating a raised platform that mitigates risk of future flooding while improving the immediate environment around the well (no standing water, thus reduced contamination). This method can then be shared with other NGOs working on water and sanitation to allow them to increase the speed and cost-effectiveness with which they can implement well rehabilitation programs. This project is funded by a grant from UNICEF.

Clean it, Paint it
HODR has completed the exterior painting at École Emmaus, the final step in our rehabilitation work at this school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. The school is now a point of normalcy in a neighborhood still very much ravaged by the storms. If you look at the MSNBC video you will see a very different place than what exists now. Everything is clean and fresh with students at their desks! Other NGO partners have entered to help with other aspects of the need; ACF cleaned the water well at school and the clinic is set to open this week with a new stock of medicine from CRS. We celebrated the conclusion of our work with a Haitian feast hosted by the sisters who run the school.

Clap it, Sing it
Saturday afternoon games with the children of Ebenezer Camp remains a staple in our schedule. The opportunity to play, connect, and expel our last drop of energy at week’s end is a favorite program of the volunteers. The children know the drill now, and easily run through a wide variety of Haitian songs and games to engage kids of all ages.

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The efforts of HODR volunteers have attracted attention beyond the NGOs and local government of Gonaives. Marc and Stef were recently interviewed by Project Management Network magazine for HODR’s work in Bangladesh during Project Rayenda (2008). Two photojournalists from NEED Magazine also joined the crew in Gonaives to document volunteer life on deployment. Both stories are scheduled to go to print in February.

With a month and a half of Project Gonaives remaining, there is still time to come and pitch in! Email Tom at info@hodr.org to book your seat on the shuttle today.

Stefanie Chang
Project Director
Project Gonaives

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