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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Small Town Riots in Haiti

As a community, what do you do when the Mayor receives $22,500.00 dollars for community projects, but instead of using it for the community, places it in his pocket?  Well, if you are part of the community of Maniche, where, by the way, we are constructing the new H.E.R.O. Residence for Orphans, you riot! 

Last week I went on a three day trip to Maniche to examine our land and begin the process of site preparation for future construction.  Our goal is to build the perimeter wall for the land by March, allowing us to proceed with the construction of the main buildings.  Our goal is to finish the construction of the first dormitory by the end of this year, a goal that I know we can accomplish.

But, I digress.  I arrived in Maniche on a calm, Monday evening.  I was travelling with our Residence Director, Brice, the previous owner of the land, Kerby, and Brice’s brother, an individual that had worked for the Ministry of Justice in Haiti.  Tuesday morning began in earnest as we contacted a local surveyor to survey the land, and hired some individuals to dig 9 feet into the soil so that we could take a bag full of soil back to Port-au-Prince for composite testing.  This information will determine the type of structure that can be built on the land.  As the afternoon wore on we decided a trip back to Les Cayes was necessary, usually a 45 minute adventure, but we soon learned that all of the roads were blocked with rocks and burning coconut tree fronds.  We had to use a secondary route, one that took 90 minutes, to get to Les Cayes.  We eventually found what we were looking for, a topographer, but I almost had a heart attack when he wanted over $600.00 for a simple topographical map.  Our search being rendered fruitless, we began our return trip to Maniche.

Along the way we kept asking, “is the road to Maniche clear?”  Yea, yea, no problem everyone claimed.  Of course, as we near Maniche on the rocky road, one of the small bridges needed to cross a drain has been destroyed by rioters!  Thankfully, there was a large truck coming up the opposite way, also blocked, with about 30 people on board.  Everybody disembarked and started throwing large rocks into the 3 foot depression where the bridge had been, and finally, an hour later, there were enough rocks filling the depression that we were able to finally make it across.  “Yes, Yes!  Of course, the road is clear!” 

One of the highlights of the trip was my conversations with local youth in Maniche.  It was truly refreshing to hear their optimism and vision for Maniche, and their goals for turning the community into an area of success, rather than poverty.  I am glad that H.E.R.O. is building a residence for orphans in Maniche, it is not only an opportunity to help the orphans in all of Haiti, but also the community of Maniche.  Until next time!


Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D

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