I was enjoying the annual Medical Missions Conference. I was at the Indiana Wesleyan University Booth. I gave my card to a silver haired lady. She turned out to be the VO of Nursing. She read on my card "Structural Engineer" and asked me to go with her to a Haitian Island in the middle of the country. The island is financially separated from the mainland. It has 120,000 people. The Wesleyan University has a college campus there, and a hospital..
The hospital was damage from the 2010 Earthquake. No one had made a determination if it should be used or torn down. I showed up to go with her and there were 15 beautiful nursing students going down also. They were to take 1 semester of college from Haiti. After landing, we loaded our suitcases on the "Mary Ann" sailboat. It was also motorized and 1 hour later we went ashore.
I was housed with Canadians, who come down each year, from Christmas to March. It's bitter cold in Canada, and they know French, So they are annual missionaries. The previous year, the Canadians found an old boat, rebuilt it, put in a new motor and spent 37 days driving it down to the Island of LaGoNaa. Just before they arrived, the Island was hit by a hurricane. It killed the animals and washed their gardens away. The people were starving. The boat was immediately loaded up with rice and beans. They stopped at each village and gave them food.
Many places in Haiti have 6 months of rain and 6 months of drought. The island is one of those places. I Wesleyan missionary in the 1950s climbed the volcano mountain in the dry season on year to see a small water falls that pours all year long. He figured out the volcano mountain was hollow and filled with sand. In the sand was pure water. He piped it down to the city and made a public water fountain. To the people on the island, it was a miracle.
The American nurses would be educated with 15 Haitian nurses. The first thing they decided to do was throw a party so they could all get to know each other. The first thing I did was unload my latest invention, my "Suitcase Block Machine" I had seen how poorly the Haitain-made blocks held up during an earthquake. (they crumble) so I had a machine that pressed sand and dirt and water and concrete mix together with 20,000 pounds of force, from a bottle jack. After my blocks dried in the sun a few days, they could be dropped from 3 feet and not break. The Haitian made blocks broke to pieces when dropped from 6 Inches. I was delighted. I had 10 of the machines made. They cost $250 to make. The machine I learned to make blocks on cost $40,000. It was the size of a car, computerized and powered by a diesel engine, and had to be shipped ahead of time. Mine could be taken apart in 5 minutes and put in a suitcase.
The beach was beautiful. After I filled my wheel barrow with sand, I could not resist going for a swim. But the beauty was a mirage. Under the surface, the water was filled with chair sized boulders. As the waved came in, they knocked you against one boulder, then as the wave went back out it smashed your knees against another. My bleeding knees led me to the hospital emergency room.
Ahead of me was a little girl, cationic. Her illness ? A neighbor had put a voodoo curse on her. She lay there lifeless as her mother cried. The Christian nurse had no weak medicine like WHITE aspirin. Such a boring color obviously has no magical powers. What's this ? Pepto-Bismal ? It is bright pink ! What powerful medicine ! The nurse prayed with the little girl and her mother, then gave her a spoonful. Another miracle ! She immediately was her old self again.
A man wanted to show me his orphanage. It was a sad place, filled with hungry children, with no hope. They ranged in age from 6 to 16. "He didn't even know how he would feed them their next meal". But many of the kids wore nice and brightly colors clothes and shoes. He asked if I could give him some money so they could have dinner. I told him I would ask some local missionaries. He said "No they do not like him" The missionaries said the man is always looking for new faces. Then he has all the kids in the neighborhood come to his house. If they act miserable he will give them all candy to pay them for helping him get money from foreigners.
Two ladies from Canada brought treadle-sewing machines to help Haitian Ladies to be able to start a business. I went out in a boat. The fishermen in the area take coke bottles and tie them to fish traps in the harbor. The bottles are just under the surface. They offered us some lobster and some beautiful conk shells. I paid them. We had lobster bisck for dinner that night. It was wonderful.
Three little ole ladies from a Florida Methodist church came down to see how their church in the mountains was fairing. They hired a driver and went to visit them. Everyone was starving. They brought arts and craft supplies from Hobby Lobby. They showed the mountain ladies how to put them together. They had to stress they would only buy carefully built jewelry. They went ahead and paid them so they could buy bags of food with it. They had stores in Florida that agreed to sell the crafts.
I hired an assistant named Vincent. I made sure he was well fed before we started each day. The local missionaries said I should pay him $15 a day. So I did. We gathered all the supplies and mixed it together. I had a crowd of young men watching me. The first block came out perfectly. Then they stated grabbing the machine and trying to fill it and pumping the jack and pulling it out of each other's hands. Vincent looked at me. We had lost control of every-thing. The blocks were crooked and falling apart. Vincent finally go them to let go of everything and just watch us. We remixed the bad blocks and made a good block. I wanted to celebrate and I didn't want the onlookers to feel bad so I told them all we would celebrate. I would buy them a 50 cent coke. They were very happy about that.
There was a little ole man sitting on a big cooler. As we walked to see him, women joined our like, then children, then others. By the time I paid it was $23. Apparently everyone wanted to celebrate with us. Haitian custom is if you go in a store and buy some cookies in a box, you may leave with the box and go home. BUT if you open the box to eat one, everyone gets in line and asks for one too. You leave the store with an empty box.
I thought it was strange they were using the hospital. Turns out they had 2 hospitals. After the earthquake a Jewish man was on the Island. In the weeks after the event, there was a cholera epidemic. Between the disease and the cracks in the walls, the hospital was abandon. The Jewish man went back to him home in Scotland. he knew a lot of Rock and Roll artists. They held a couple concerts and raised a million dollars to build a new, solar powered hospital.
As you can see from the drawing of the old hospital below, it uses the land poorly. The Vice Pres of IWU hoped to demolish the hospital and put 4 buildings n the same property. A College Admin Building, a Nurse Building, a Teacher Building and a Business Building. I had never surveyed land before but I know how so I got them dimensions of the land. After I returned home to Indiana, I sent the VP of Nursing a wooden box with a map of the campus painted on one side of the box. I had 4 buildings made from a 3-D printer, that were to scale, showing where they could fit on the campus.
I also sent samples of wooden toys that could be made at the college and sold in the USA. They could start a business and send things back to the States to be sold in the college store at Indiana Wesleyan. Bobmalcomb@Yahoo.Com