One of the things visitors to Haiti Communitere are first to point out is the enthusiasm of the women of the community have towards the work. They are a wonderful bunch. Hopefully by next week we will be in a situation were the walls will start going up and we will get to see their enthusiasm level go up by ten at least.
I was told the Haitians wouldn’t pick up the trash styrofoam along the streets and in the ditches. They were wrong. In fact every morning when the bus arrives with the women there are bags of foam plates etc that the women have picked up on their own time in their community.
I was told they wouldn’t clean up the dirty foam pieces they had picked up. They were wrong. The women are doing an awesome job of just getting after it in the cleaning. There is one caveat there we have to mention. Her name is Roxanne and she is THE FORCE we all have to reckon with. No bigger than a minute but capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound. No one can work around her without putting out their best. Her efforts insure that yours are going to be the best you have to give. Rox is closer to being a third my age than she is to being half of it. She is the parent in this relationship.
When I designed the system I had Owen Geiger and Ronald Omyonga all over me about making sure the jobs were women friendly. That’s because 70 percent of the most impoverished are female. We had to make the tasks where small framed people could do the work efficiently. Today their wisdom came home to me. I figured small handed people. I never figured the hands might be as small as some of those I’m working with now. Yet those same small handed people have hearts the size of Texas and they don’t let tiny hands get in the way of gettin’ her done.
One of the jobs that is critical is making the eyes in the wires that make the blocks. My friend Bob Warner came up with the original idea and I’ve only modified it a little for making those eyes. I’ve told the women that by this time next week they will be turning out works of art when it comes to the eyes.
This is an example of a good eye. A good eye is critical for a couple of very good reason. Mechanically it is important because this eye won’t break under the stress of tying up the block. If there is a knot or a kink in the eye it can break and then it is a pain in the butt to repair. But I also believe a good eye is important for the maker’s own pride. I believe they will feel better about their work and themselves if we encourage them to strive to make the best eye they possibly can.
The are finding the use of tools a little intimidating at times. Their world hasn’t involved much mechanical work and stuff that would be obvious to some men is foreign to them. The wire eye fabrication is a good example of that. The placing and twisting is something they are working at doing proficiently.