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17968: Raber: Re: 17950: Burnham: RE: 17943: (Hermantin)Sun-Sentinel-15-Westminster students raise $3,000 to build school in (fwd)

From: P&M Raber <raber@valkyrie.net>

I have seen plenty of American kids "building" stuff.  In all  instances,
national labor had already done all the masonery work which as you know is
what a school in Haiti is: conccrete with metal roof.  No plumbing, no
electricity or at best a light bulb.  The s are just awaiting the metal
roof.  If the trusses are meant to be made of wood, the American kids help
with that (with  skilled supervision).  The kids just hammer away, plant
bushes around the school, paint Mickey mouse on the walls etc....   It's a
way to occupy teenagers while making them fall in love with Haiti and the
Haitians they work with so they sent support later on.   It takes them a
week in the hot sun to do this and they get VERY tired.  Usually they are
done "building" by the noon sun.  IF they land in Haiti on Saturday, they go
to th ebeach on Suday, start work on Monday( By Wednesday half are sick with
diarrhea or something else). After lunch and a siesta, they are back out of
the shade around 3 or 4 pm playing soccer with the locals, walking in the
community, putting on balloon shows for the community etc.... In many cases
they have helped fundraise for the building on which they are putting the
final touches.  They go back home and encourage others to send money to
build ten more like it.  Most of the youth I have encoutered pay for their
trip with money they have earned.  They fundraise for the school among
friends, churches and schools.   They could send the money to Haiti instead
of going but it is not how your typical teenager thinks.  After they get
back from their visit to Haiti, they no longer act and think like the
typical American teenager.  Many start sponsoring a child or project in
Haiti meaning that within one or two years  (depending on where they live)
after getting back to the States they have sent the equivalent of their
plane ticket back to Haiti plus have acquire a new world view, plus gotten
their acquaintances all fired up to do the same.

This experience also happens with adult laborers but most of the adults are
used in skilled activities (like solving plumbing and electric problems).
Women are usually used in office work where things tend to always
unalphabetize and reshuffle themselves over several months.  It can take two
or three Americans six  8-hour days to reorganize some files and show the
local staff how to keep it so but 6 months later it's back to square one.
After 6 years in the health field in Haiti I had taught tremendous clinical
skills to a number of people but those same people could not stick to the
discipline of keeping good records.  This to say that not only highly
trained volunteers are useful to visit Haiti to "help".  I once hired a
meticulous Haitian local high school graduate to audit some files.   I had
done the same job 6 months earlier (after not doing it  for many months).
It had taken me a week.  It took him 6 weeks plus a visiting group still had
to go over it again a few weeks later.