You are here

Amanda Broseus' Haiti journal

Amanda Broseus installs solar panels in HaitiDay 2, Sunday March 9, 2014

Today, some of the group went to a church service right across from the Graystone House where we're staying. The engineers decided as a group that it would be more beneficial for us to head to the primary school and get a layout of how the project will be implemented and the true power demands of the school. We also made a very long shopping list.

The group that went to the church said it was a unique cultural experience and that they were welcomed with open arms, but I think the engineers were happy with our decision to immediately start focusing on our project and why we came here. Our goal is to actually finish early and maybe be able to go other places for cultural experiences.

The best part of today, besides getting our plan organized and the excitement to start work tomorrow, was going to the beach. I was expecting a short trip, maybe 20-30 minutes like the December trip to the beach, but we were in the hot, overly crowded van for well over an hour. One of the truck benches even broke during the trip, so that was a bit of a setback. The beach was so worth it, though, and was even more beautiful than the one we visited in December. There were tons of kids playing soccer. Some of our group even played with them, and we took a bunch of Ohio State photos in the ocean. There were also street venders, and some people got some amazing deals on keepsakes. All I bought was this horn thing as a gift for my brother. I thought it was pretty cool and hope that he does, too, because he never likes any of the gifts I give him.

Day 3, Monday March 10, 2014
Today we went to numerous hardware stores and got the majority of the small components that we need like outlets, sockets, wire, and junction boxes. I think that all of us having the chance to visit the hardware stores was a good experience, to see how things run in Haiti and to see downtown Les Ceyes. Also, the third shop we visited was really exciting for us to see because it had several solar panel system components that are hard to find all in one place. They had numerous solar panel sizes, batteries, inverters. The information we gathered and prices that Dan recorded are going to be great aid for our Denman project and for projects for SEO in the future!

We also started working at the school after our shopping trip. We had to wait for a while for the doors to be unlocked, but were able to hook up some light fixtures while we waited and start some basic things.

Tonight during discussion I was able to learn various things about the other groups' projects, how they started out and a little of what they planned to do. I was really excited for the water group, mainly because I'm super interested in that area as well. It be really cool if we finished early with our project and we could tag along with theirs and see some of their results. The student organization group also sounds like it has a really interesting project and had a positive first day with the universities. The education students also seemed to have a positive experience and enjoyed visiting with the students, administrators, and teachers at the local schools.

Day 4, Tuesday March 11, 2014
Today was extremely productive for the engineering group. The panels are in Port-Au-Prince and ready to be picked up, which is beyond good news for us. While Jason, Dan, Dr.D, and I went to the store with (our Haiti contact) Clement, the rest of the group was at the site working. We first had to stop by the university with the water and student organization group. We spent a while there waiting for Clement to check his email. I used Molly's phone and tried to send an email to my brother, to tell Mom and Dad that I was okay and all was going well, but I'm not sure that he will check anytime soon and tell Mom and Dad. We had to go to the store because we weren't able to find everything we needed yesterday. We also forgot the grounding rod we bought at the first store we went to, but had no problem getting it today. We visited a couple other stores as well and several other places that Clement needed to stop.

After arriving at the school site, we found that the group that started work in the morning got a ton done wiring wise. We were easily able to pick up where they left off and got even more wiring done for the office and also in the two classrooms. We are actually way ahead of schedule and if we get all the supplies necessary for continuation of work than we should be able to finish early!

Best part of today was most definitely using Clement's phone to call my parents. It was great to hear their voices for a couple of minutes, and my dad literally sounded like he was about to cry with tears of joys because they had been so worried since they hadn't heard from me.

Day 5, Wednesday March 12, 2014
Today we all just headed to the work site together to immediately start working. We were able to wire almost everything in the administrative office, and once the teacher professional development was over we did more wiring inside of the classrooms, too. Because of the professional development, we weren't able to work for large portions of the day because we made too much noise and were too much of a distraction for the teachers. Another distraction happening at the school today was that two men were digging a ditch amazingly fast. I know twice the amount of Americans could not have done what they did in twice the amount of time.

The limitations we are now dealing with are that we ran out of wire that we need to continue into the classrooms and do a few minor things in the administrative office. Our other road block, which was actually resolved tonight between dinner and reflection, was the lack of panels. Thankfully, a van brought them from Port-Au-Prince, and they arrived safely, which was definitely the highlight of the day.

Day 6, Thursday March 13, 2014
Because we needed wire before we could do too much and we needed the panels at the site, we first sent a few to the site with the panels. After they came back we all headed into town. We tried visiting several different hardware stores closer to the school but none of them had the correct wire so we ended up having to just go back to the second store we visited on Monday and getting what we needed. Unfortunately, we realized after we started wiring that we had been shorted by the hardware store so Ryan, the security guard, the translator, and I all took a trip back into town to get another stretch of wire.

Despite this setback that we faced late in the day we got a lot done because the panels were installed on the roof and wired too, the control box was wired around and to, sockets in both of the classrooms were wired to and most of the other necessary wires were stapled in and are ready to be hooked up. We didn't get to work quite as long as we were hoping because we were called back to have dinner. We had been out of water for three hours, though, so we needed to stop even though we didn't want to. Before we did head back for the day Jason used the inverter and the batteries to test the wiring of the outlets inside of the office. One of them worked but one of them did not, so we will have to do some problem shooting tomorrow in the office while the students are in school.

Clement gave a little reflection at reflection tonight and he thanked us, which was incredible because he's been running himself ragged this whole week for all of us and doing his best to make sure that we all have everything we need. I'm very thankful that he's so giving and gracious.

Day 7, Friday March 14, 2014
Today was probably the best day yet. So many great things happened. The engineering group successfully problemshot our system and determined we had wired correctly but had been given bad switches by one of the hardware stores, which is what caused the problems. The guys let me have the privilege of hooking up the solar panels, which I thought was pretty cool. We also had a community lighting ceremony in the evening. We scheduled it for 5 p.m. and were kind of worried because no one was showing up, but by 6 p.m. some people had arrived and the presentation was a success. At the end of it we had Clement flip the switch to turn on all the lights. I was in one of the classrooms with many community members and students, and when the lights went on they all cheered and clapped. It made us feel great. The rest of The Haiti Empowerment group was there, too, and after the lighting there was a lot of playing and interacting with the community.

Before the lighting ceremony I was able to go on a hike with members of the education group, up a mountain across from the school. We were in a bit of a time crunch to get back to the school before the lighting ceremony was supposed to start so we didn't get to stay on the mountain top long, but it was definitely worth the climb and I hope we get to do it again tomorrow. I can't image doing that hike every day just to get water and to go to school everyday. I used to complain about a school bus ride. Wow, was I lucky!

I also borrowed Clement's phone for a couple minutes tonight and was able to call home again. It was great to hear my parents voices and share some of the many positive things that have happened so far!

Day 8 Saturday March 15, 2014
The morning and afternoon went really slowly because of the university presentation, but it was definitely a success. The three who presented today were great, and the deans of the university remembered me from the December meeting I attended with them, which was an honor. The students who were in our sessions seemed really engaged. They paid close attention, took detailed notes, and asked intelligent questions. After the session we took a really big group photo, and then had a meeting with the deans, Dr. Bucci, and the engineering team, and talked about the prospects of future collaboration.

The afternoon was amazing, and went way too quickly, probably because it was our last together in Haiti. When we got back from the university trip there were tons of vendors in the guesthouse yard and we were able to buy some more souvenirs. Then, the majority of us went on another hike up the mountain I climbed yesterday.

The climb today was better because Clement lead us. He showed us his grandmother's grave, her old abandoned house, shared some of his family history, the spot where the house was that he was born in, and the old schoolhouse before his was built. We even went to visit the school's secretary, who lives along the top of the mountain. I think every time I come to Haiti it gets more and more beautiful. No matter how many times I come, I'll never get sick of these sights.

Dinner tonight was amazing because at the end of it Pierre brought in a huge cake that looked professionally done, with "Thank You" on the top. It was an honor to us, and completely unnecessary, but a great end to the week. Before the cake was cut we swayed along as we sang Carmen Ohio. It was one of my favorite events of the trip and I can't wait to see the tape of it that Courtney recorded.