The schedule has been funny, and I didn’t visit site solay for a couple months.
It can be a rough neighborhood, but it’s peaceful presently.
Today I went down to look over our project.
You’ll recall it’s in the flood plain, raised up with hundreds of truckloads of rubble hauled from downtown. Don Mertke might have managed it better, but it’ll do. It’s just a few feet above the surrounding swamp, but it fared better through tropical storm Sandy than North Jersey did.
The slum began life as a nod to Papa Doc’s wife, the florid name, “city of the sun”, as deluded as the notion that it could be rendered into something nice. Those days are long gone.
Nowadays it’s situated around a sewage drainage ditch that empties unimpeded into the Bay of Gonaive, a pig’s paradise.
When Rick first went down, hoping to start the internet cafe, it was all scraps of corrugated aluminum, baling wire and a few sticks not suitable for charcoal, all wet feet, porous rooves if any. In a big rain, they’d sleep sitting up.
You couldn’t get high enough to grasp the third dimension, but it seemed unending- a maize of misery and failure. Hopeless.
Rick didn’t give a rip about that. He lay the footing, graded it,
built the hospital, built the houses, dealt with the local powers to fill the houses, walled it in, put in a container bakery the Italians donated- count on the Italians to send food.
Improved the hospital, staffed it, put in call rooms,
a cholera treatment center,
and a hospice unit.
Over a couple years, it took shape. On the approach to ILS 10, it looks organized now, mostly in blue, a tiny anti-oasis, dry amidst all the wet. I’m enough of a realist to still see the open sewage drain in the right lower corner of this shot:
But it is better. The shanties are in retreat. You can see their limit now.
On the Southeast section, in bright pastels, we built 3 COPA houses,
mostly with money from Jim and Lisa Barker, and Andy Bresler, and the Knollenbergs, Mike Murdock, TJ Shembekar, Kevin Sandler, a couple anonymous donors, a few I’m probably forgetting, and JW Davis, our Birmingham benefactor, a great promoter of East Lake.
Maybe not so big a thing to us, but it is a contentment to sleep supine, listen as the rain pounds the roof. Snug.
They thank you for that.
I do, too.