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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Always Plan for a Change of Plans in Haiti

Michele, Lui, and I at the Land

This past Saturday marked the arrival of Dan Hildebrand, the individual that will be responsible for constructing the EcoShells for the H.E.R.O. Residence for Street Children and Orphans. We immediately set out on Sunday morning for Petite-Riviere de Nippes. We had received news that the Catholic Church had some additional land they wanted to donate to H.E.R.O. We arranged to stay overnight at the Manolo Inn, meet with some local contractors, and return Monday morning. Well, nothing turned out as planned, it turned out even better!

We drove into the dusty town of Petite-Riviere de Nippes at 2:00 PM, just in time for the axle to disengage from our tire, the car failing us right in front of Manolo Inn. I had been given the contact number for Father Rebecca, the priest of this area, and I informed him of our breakdown. He immediately came to pick us up, told us we were not staying at the Manolo Inn, but instead would be his guest at the church! His protégé, Willy, threw our bags in the back of the car, and away we went! We arrived at the church to a table set for the four of us, Bris, Dan Hildebrand, Michele, and I, with a spread of local chicken, beet salad, rice, and French fries. What a treat! Father Rebecca, who I have never met before, treated us like family. Immediately after lunch we hopped in the car to see the land. Of course, we had to stop by the soccer field first, just for a few minutes to let Father Rebecca kick the soccer ball around with the secondary school kids, and then we were off. We arrived at the land site, confused to see about 20 locals waiting for us! Father Rebecca had arranged for us to meet the community members, to walk around the land, and to have a conversation about the possibility of constructing a residence for orphans on this particular site. There is still much decision making to be had, but we were all in disbelief at the amazing hospitality that was provided to us.

A Class of 77 Students

After dinner, and a good sleep, we woke up Monday morning to a wonderful breakfast.  Father Rebecca greeted us and then invited us down to the church where he was hosting the Monday morning assembly for the entire 300 secondary school student body.  He proceeded to invite each one of us up, Bris, Michele, Dan, and I, to give a short speech in English, to everyone’s amusement.  He then asked us to help pass out school supplies including rulers, pens, and pencils.  After the secondary school students were dismissed, we were marched over to the primary school, where we were introduced to each classroom (including a class of 77 first graders), and again we passed out school supplies.  While we could have stayed for the entire week with Father Rebecca and his wonderful hosting skills, alas, we had to return to Port-au-Prince for some additional H.E.R.O. duties. 
Passing Out School Supplies

The lesson to take from this weekend was that despite your best plans in Haiti, they will always change.  None of this weekend was planned, but we enjoyed being hosted by an incredible individual, Father Rebecca, looked at an amazing plot of land, and were grateful for the opportunity to pass out school supplies to the students.  Haiti is wonderful!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Great Weekend!

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Brice and I in Les Cayes
What a weekend!  It started off on Thursday with a drive to the province of Nippes where we have been donated land.  This drive is crazy during the dry season, and is truly incredible during the rainy season!  As my friend Brice and I approached the large river that we had to cross to reach the land, we took a moment to stop and ponder whether we should go across or not.  After making the decision that we could cross this 3-4 foot deep river in our SUV, Brice inched us forward into the shallow part of the river.  The water began to rise slowly on the sides of the vehicle, and then before we knew it, we were in the deep part.  Water began to come through the bottom vents and began slowly filling the car.  Even worse, at that point the car became stuck in a rut, and we were still 10 yards from the other side!  The water rose to cover the entire engine, it began filling the cab, reaching our seats, at which point I escaped through the window!  The engine and exhaust eventually filled with water, cutting off power to the engine.  Along with some locals we managed to push the vehicle back to dry land before the entire cab filled with water.  After allowing the car to dry overnight and a quick trip to the mechanic, Brice and I returned back to Port-au-Prince, safe and sound!

Fetching water from the river
The next day, on Saturday, Michele and I, along with Brice and Kerby headed out to Les Cayes to look at some potential additional land for H.E.R.O.  5 hours later we ran into another river, nowhere near the size of the one in Nippes, but one that still had to be crossed to get to the property located in the town of Maniche, near Les Cayes.  As we crossed the 6 inch deep water, we again became stuck!  The wheels ran down into the rocks of the river, embedding the tires, rendering our vehicle immobile.  After 45 minutes of pushing and pulling the vehicle, we were finally free to continue our journey to Maniche.  We stayed overnight in Maniche, visited the land, and the nearby river.  The countryside of Haiti is truly beautiful.  We enjoyed an amazing fish lunch in Les Cayes, gazing out at the beautiful beach and ocean.  This is the type of living I could get used to!

Brice, Kerby, and I at the local public school
Returning to Port-au-Prince one realizes what a congested city it really is.  On both the trips to Nippes and to Les Cayes, once out of the city, there are very few cars on the road.  Back into PAP though, traffic is a nightmare.  After taking a break on Sunday, it was back to work at the Delmas house on Monday.  The bunk beds for the children arrived!  They have been placed into the rooms waiting for their mattresses and sheets.  The two toilets are almost ready for operation and the dining room and outdoor tables have been completed.  We will begin registering children this week!  As soon as the house is completed and the registration process finished the first 12 children will be welcomed!  We are truly excited to make a difference in the lives of Haitian youth!

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Brief Update

As I prepare to return to Nashville this week I want to provide just a brief update of what has been happening these past few weeks for H.E.R.O. In Haiti. As previously mentioned we rented a house in Port-au-Prince that will serve as our temporary residence for children until our permanent development is built. While we have already identified 9 potential children to welcome into our temporary residence, there has been a delay with regard to completing the appropriate paperwork to become a registered residence for street children and orphans in Haiti. While our lawyer has assured us that this is only a minor delay, it is difficult knowing that there are children out there that need our services. However, this extra time will ensure that we have made the necessary preparations for the children, procured the needed supplies, and truly worked with our staff here to create a program that will effectively and efficiently house, educate, and rehabilitate the children of Haiti.

I would like to thank all of those that have donated towards our goal of raising $100,000 Dollars in 100 Days. We are half way to our goal! We have a team from the United States coming at the end of October to complete a survey of the donated land and to begin putting together the site plan for the development. Additionally, the Airform for construction of the EcoShells has been ordered and is in Miami awaiting transport to Haiti. If all goes well, we will begin the construction of the H.E.R.O. Residence for Street Children and Orphans in November. We are counting on all of you, our supporters, to help us reach our goal of raising $100,000 dollars to make this happen!

As always, if you have any questions or comments about our work in Haiti or have ideas for fundraisers or other ways you would like to help, please don’t hesitate to contact me at We hope that you will join us in our efforts to serve the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti.


Steven Kirby
H.E.R.O., President