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40 Stakes May 2011 I know the airport drill by now. American Airlines built its own terminal, very quickly, after the earthquake. It has an air-conditioned gallery that leads to Euro-style shuttle buses that drive us past the cracked and abandoned original building. A lackluster band plays jittery Caribbean music outside the customs barn. The huge metal shelter is teeming with people. Creaky fans on standards offer little relief from the stifling heat; drowsy custom agents offer little speed in processing the crowd. People cut in front of me, but I have neither the energy nor the chutzpah to stand my ground. Eventually I get my passport stamp, shoulder my hockey bags, and push ahead, mumbling non, meci, non, meci over and over to the red-shirted ambassadors pawing at my stuff. I would like them to lighten my load, but I can never tell which ones are real and which are fake, and I’m not about to pull out my wallet and fetch a tip in this crowd. They drop away scowling, cheated out of the alms they consider their due. This is the first time I’ve arrived in Haiti by myself; I feel acutely alone. Out of doors and under the covered walk that leads to the parking area, the red shirts back off. I inhale the dry, cindery air. It scorches my lungs. I motor myself through the chaos. Actually, it hardly seems like chaos anymore. It’s just another day in Port-auPrince . It’s good to be back. Cherybin, Mission of Hope’s number-two driver, waits at the end of the walk. Gone are the days when Lex would smooth a few palms to gain access to the baggage area and escort us through the gauntlet. Now Lex doesn’t even come to fetch me. I should be 41 Stakes pleased that I’m a veteran, but Cherybin is a letdown. Between his English and my Creole we might manage ten words on the trip to Grand Goave whereas Lex would animate the journey with reminiscences of the route. This is where drug lords stopped us; this is where we had to push the car through the flood; this is where the police bulldozed a brand new gas station because the owner refused to pay them off. His enthusiasm would inspire me for our work. We are going to build a restaurant in the mountains; we are going to build a trade school on the hill; we are going to build houses along the flats. Lex is the Robert Moses of Grand Goave, and when he proclaims, Someday we are going to have a university here, I stare willfully past the dirt paths, the sagging tents, the endless debris, and I believe him. Since January, the projects have proceeded with bursts of activity interrupted by unpredictable halts: political unrest, lack of materials, and the habitual crawl of Haitian life. The Be Like Brit orphanage site is clear, the excavation dug, and the intricate task of bending, cutting, and tying steel reinforcing for the concrete foundation is under way. Len’s nephew Patrick, one of many outof -work construction guys in the United States, is full-time superintendent . Between Patrick and Gama, the orphanage is in good hands; we hope to pour our first concrete later this month. Progress at Mission of Hope School is equally impressive. The marketing folks at TRO JB assembled a proposal that we submitted to A Heart for Children in March. We received quick approval of a 255,000-euro grant. Lex immediately demolished the earthquake-damaged structures and began excavating. While Be Like Brit sits on four acres of open land, Mission of Hope occupies a walled urban plot of less than half an acre. The logistics of constructing a three-story building that takes up almost half of the site while preserving the remaining buildings and accommodating hundreds of schoolchildren as well as ongoing church activities are daunting. I worry about injuries; back home, OSHA would close us down in a heartbeat. Though I’ve been gone four months, I keep up-to-date through remote communication. Technology moves our effort forward in ways that would have been impossible a decade ago. SGH and I receive daily emails from Haiti, study photos of work in progress , and observe real-time YouTube clips. We provide immediate direction by overlaying comments and Photoshop sketches on 42 Architecture by Moonlight the images. Thanks to satellite Internet, it...


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MARC Record
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