Haiti is a developing country, which entails manic driving, 'haitian' time (a real test of patience) and organised chaos. It reminds me a lot of places in Asia, especially South East Asia. The driving is on par to that of Vietnam, though instead of motorcycles they are SUV's or 4 x 4 jeeps!
However, my thoughts are actually pointing towards a positive of the Haitian government. MTPTC is the Le Ministère des Travaux Publics, Transport et Communications. They basically devised a building system to reveal the structural stability of each building.
Throughout the street corners, road bends and sometimes tucked away behind gated walls lie a very beautiful and creative side to Haiti. Paintings are strewn on the sidewalk, (well Haitian sidewalks, meaning sandy muddy pathways) clay pots hanging off trees and furniture being made and sold on the sides of busy roads.
Art can be seen everywhere, from painted advertisements on the walls, to straw chairs, to brightly coloured buildings to political graffiti. It is really part of the city and I think it is amazing!
Before I bore people with the projects I am currently working on I will introduce you to my 'home.' It has been affectionately called the 'Maison,' not really original as that means house in French.
It belongs to the Uncle of one of the design fellows working with us. It is very common for most Haitian's, with some money, to leave Haiti as soon as they can. This doesn't mean they don't want to come and visit, so most still own properties here.
It is very usual for NGO's to help each other out. The house we stay in is rather large, and we tend to always have a few beds spare. Currently, Global Nomads Group, an American NGO have 3 representatives staying with us. They have a strong relationship with Architecture for Humanity (AFH) and together with Students Rebuild help to fund and implement education programs for the schools we build.
Global Nomads Group basically creates education programs through visual media and technology so that the high school kids in the US can interact with the Haitian high school kids. Tools such as live video-conferencing and multi-media videos enables direct contact and provide continual relationships.
1946 was the last recorded earthquake on Haiti. As a result no one was prepared for such devastation on 12th January 2010. Because in most people's lifetime they have never known or experienced an earthquake. This was why so many people perished, so many buildings collapsed and why the intense destruction.
A home away from home, well not quite, but in the case of attending mass, it was! A typical Catholic mass, so I knew when to stand and when to sit, when to say 'Amen' and when to make the sign of the cross. However, Edinburgh is missing something, a set of bongo drums! That would really make for more upbeat hymns.
So if you haven't guessed I managed to break from the team and attend mass at the Redemptorist church called St Gerard. You would think it would be an easy morning, attending church, however in this case it was really testing my faith.
So I saw that Architecture for Humanity was taking on volunteers to work on rebuilding Haiti, specifically architects and builders. On a whim I decided to apply for it. Not hearing back for about three months, I received in my inbox "Hey Lilian. We'd like you to come down!" (more emphasis if said in an American accent!) I took up their offer and signed their 'Participation Agreement,' believe me, after reading that, it did make me want to change my mind, and not go to Haiti.