Saturday, September 3, 2011

Brazilian Peacekeepers Reunion

Guess where I am right now? I am at OECC, the Taiwanese overseas engineering company that lends their living quarters to Tzu Chi volunteers, for those of you who are new to my Haiti blogs!!! What? How you asked? Well, I am with Tzu Chi right now. Curtis SB got into Haiti this morning at 7:30am and came to pick me up at the Lamardelle crèche at around 11am! How incredible is that? The internet was out due to the heavy storms that rolled in yesterday, so I wasn’t able to get a hold of him to make sure that he was coming. It all turned out perfectly and when he arrived with Pierrot I was ecstatic. I ate breakfast this morning at around 9am and I was wondering if I should do the laundry or do some work on my computer. I couldn’t decide and then one of the staff members came running to me to tell me that a driver by the name of Pierrot was coming to pick me up soon. Bingo! Problem solved! So I showed Pierrot and Curtis SB around the Lamardelle crèche and also the women’s amputee camp next door. They were very impressed with the way the crèche was run and wanted to know if there was anything they could help. They are going to return to the crèche when Mr. Duncan, executive director, returns from Canada to further discuss collaboration ideas.

Curtis SB wanted to go see the border of Haiti and Dominican Republic, so we took the opposite direction of the city. The Lamardelle orphanage is only about 30min from the Dominican Republic border, so it is super close. Just when we started to go that direction, Curtis SB changed his mind and said to turn around, back to the city. When Pierrot turned the car around, right in the middle of the busy main road, the car decided to break down. Oh boy was that inconvenient! So there we were, stopped in the middle of the busy road, cars were passing us by at incredible speeds. Curtis SB and I both got out of the car to start pushing the vehicle toward the side of the road. We must have tried re-starting the car 20 to 30 times, but it just wouldn’t budge. People were kind enough to stop by to see if they can help or not. Nothing seemed to work at all. We opened up the front hood and we can see that the battery was not even attached to where it is suppose to be. Ha, go figure! So we tried to find material on the side of the road to fix the battery, but no luck. Finally, I was like, “Hey Pierrot, I have a hair tie, would that work?” Sure enough, it worked wonderfully! Way to have extra hair bands on your wrist, totally came in handy in this situation! We tied the battery down and closed the hood. There were some mechanical technicians that came to look at the car and they wanted to change the battery. Good thing Pierrot was start enough to know that they were just pulling our legs. We all started to push the car and then we heard the engine start. What an adventure that was! Pushing the car in the middle of a busy street is no picnic I tell ya! So the mechanical technicians did absolutely nothing and they still wanted money from us. They said that because they had to take the local taxi to come and help us and also we needed to pay the driver for them as well. I guess yes time is money. 500 goudes (= $12.50 USD) is a little bit ridiculous for doing absolutely nothing though. Oh well, the car started and we were outta there!!!

We headed over to the Route Neuve tent city to see what was the progress of the transitional shelters there. Everything seemed to be okay after the re-enforcements, which were just large branches on the side of the shelters, were put in. All 36 transitional shelters were up and in good condition. We visited the locals there and they stilled remembered us. When I got out of the car all the children came running to me and yelled “LORI, LORI, LORI!” Oh my goodness, what good memory they have. I was so touched that they still remembered me. All the children are getting so big now, the last time that I saw them, which was back in June this year, they were still tiny little things. Most of the boys have grown twice their size already. I was incredibly surprised! All the children and I walked around the camp and had a great time laughing at each other. I am going to miss those children! Their smiles and hugs mean the world to me!

After resting at OECC for a little bit, Curtis, Pierrot, and I headed over to BRABATT II (Brazilian Peacekeepers Battalion II) to see Major Machado. He is leaving this coming Monday, back to Brazil. It has already been another 6 months and it is that time again for rotations of the troops. We met up with the peacekeepers and met the new guy, Major Roland, who will be replacing Major Machado’s post for the next 6 months. We all chatted and ate some very yummy black beans with bread, yogurt, and orange juice. I was so happy to be able to be back at BRABATT II, it is one of my favorite places in Haiti. I love being there and chatting with the peacekeepers. I have the utter most respect for what they do for Haiti. So the Brazilian troops have a very close relationship with the Tzu Chi Foundation. Ever since the earthquake, they were the ones that would protect us during distributions of goods to the people of Haiti. They were also the ones that introduced us to different orphanages that needed help. We work very closely with their charity department to help fund different projects and to bring some hope for the orphanages in Haiti. I have became very close with many of the peacekeepers in BRABATT II and it is going to be very sad to see Major Machado go, but I do bless him on a safe return back to his family in Brazil.

It was a great day and another gift, I got my second hot shower since I’ve been in Haiti tonight…it felt…incredible!

1 comment:

  1. i am soooooooooo happy for you, what a great surprising reunion!
    i hope there are opportunities for tzu chi and creche working together in the future. that will be wonderful!

    btw, you are such a handy girl!

    love mom+