We are so thankful that I was able to go to this country and serve them with not only architecture, but also compassion and encouragement in the face of a daunting existence. It has taken me a little while to physically and emotionally recover from my trip and to simply reconcile all of what we experienced while there.
To say that Haiti is a challenging environment is an understatement. While there were certainly challenges before the earthquake with poverty and struggles that make our most difficult days seem like a blessing, it is only compounded by what they have experienced with this overwhelming disaster. To physically see and be a part of the daily life that Haitians experience was humbling and definitely eye opening. After being there only a few hours we realized that January’s earthquake only brought the world’s attention to the devastation that has existed there for years. Haitian’s live in basically chaotic landfill conditions with no structure or order. Most do what they want, where they want with little regard for others. It was difficult to process and difficult to instill hope in a nation suffering physically, economically, and spiritually.
The 13 people that made up our Engineering Ministries International team were both talented and as eager to serve as we were. We formed great friendships during our time together. It’s hard not to when you are sharing such close quarters and defending each other against eight inch diameter tarantulas and half crazed chickens that can’t seem to figure out that it’s not morning at midnight! We spent most of our 18 hour days either in 98 degree heat outside or 95 degree heat inside. Those days were filled with tasks to create, from raw land, two communities that would provide permanent housing for displaced earthquake victims as well as teach the Haitians new and lasting construction methods, farming techniques, and marketable trades in hopes of creating a more sustainable lifestyle rather than merely an existence. By the time we left we had surveyed the land, master planned the community, provided water/waste-water and electrical infrastructure, designed five different houses, a community center, and market buildings, and the structural engineering for all of it and presented it to the client, developer, and United Nations with great success. And did I mention this was all multiplied by 2 for two separate properties?! It was an incredible experience to say the least and I am anxious to serve again.