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Haiti Team Returns!

Port au Prince

February 29, 2912

The Endeavour in Haiti crew: Dave Hope, Soumare "Sam" Barker, Shane MacInnes, Paul Adlaf, Tina Therrien, Jean-Paul "JP" Efford, Megan Carter

Here we are… departure day for the Endeavour group. I’ve had such fun with these guys – I’ll miss them. I feel really blessed with the group who came on this excursion. They are resourceful, hard working, talented, and a lot of fun to boot. Going into this endeavour was definitely an unknown for all of us – not knowing exactly how we would gel, what projects would really unfold, whether or not people would be able to handle the sometimes tough conditions in Haiti. They definitely rocked it out, and pulled off a lot of projects in our (relatively) short time here.


Starting with our time at Haiti Communitère and making the Ubunto blox cleaning station and the new hen house, to going to Deslandes and finishing the compost toilet building to painting the earth block school, the group jumped in enthusiastically and met their challenges. We were only sorry that Centre Inspiration Jeunesse (CIJ) couldn’t get wood there for us in order to make doors for the washrooms. Alas, we finished all that we possibly could.

Our work day would start somewhere around 8 or 8:30 am until around noon – early morning is one of the cooler times of day. By noon, the heat was generally unbearable (highs of over 30º every day, with little to no shade cover. We worked straight through the first few days (with a lunch break!), but soon found that we needed a mid day break, and would break for two or three hours, returning to work by late afternoon and working until dusk. This proved to be the best way to survive, and was by far, the coolest time of day to work.

Our jobsite had constant spectators; mostly youth, but also some adults. Kids were keen to help out. Haitian kids don’t have a lot of toys, and are content to spend long periods of time just hanging out with adults. I think they especially enjoyed spending time with us, as we gave them lots of positive attention. Many kids pitched in to help with various tasks at the jobsite, such as collecting straw for plaster, mixing plaster, painting, and cleaning. They are extremely observant, carefully watching how you do a task, then picking up a tool (without being asked) and replicating the job. It’s uncanny how good they are at that!

The community in Deslandes is really appreciative of our work and our interactions with them. We were the first invited group to go to Deslandes (who weren’t funders), so we were testing new waters all round. There are recommendations and suggestions from us and from the folks in Deslandes for how to improve the experience for future groups- but we sure were treated well there.

I feel like our venture was successful: beyond achieving building goals, it was about being integrated in village life for a couple of weeks, of laughing with the community, of playing with kids, of knowing what water shortages are like, what extreme heat is like, and having to accept that there are always going to be hungry people in such a community, and that we can’t help everyone. We have completed an 8-stall composting toilet facility that is desperately needed in the community, and this model is being replicated in some of the poorest areas in Port au Prince, so we can be proud of the little bit that we have done while here. The lasting impressions of the beauty of the Artibonite River landscape, the smiling faces of the children we saw daily, and the beautiful people we connected with won’t soon be forgotten.

-Tina Therrien, Endeavour in Haiti project leader



First Report from Endeavour in Haiti

by Tina Therrien, Program Coordinator

The first ever Endeavour group has arrived safely in Port au Prince, where we are based at Haiti Communitère ( for our first few days. Haiti Communitère (HC) has been working in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010, specialising in post disaster relief. A combination of international volunteers plus some local Haitians make up the core team of HC. Located about a kilometer from the airport, this is a great landing pad for volunteers coming into Haiti, as a place to get grounded, and network with others working on rebuild efforts.

The Ti Kay Pay (Little Straw House) in Port au Prince

There are many different natural building experiments and prototype buildings that have been built here on the base, from an earthship (built by Michael Reynolds and volunteers), a super adobe shelter (long earthbag tubes), shipping container conversions, a straw bale house, a new bottle wall/clay straw house, and a fiberglass structure. Bales of trash (Ubunto blocks) are at the beginning stages of being incorporated into a structure. There is no shortage of innovative ideas for rebuild efforts in Haiti.

Some of these structures are being built with earthquake & hurricane resistance incorporated into the design, while others aren’t necessarily. I feel that if we are coming and trying to share ideas with Haitians, our prototypes need to be able to stand up to sure winds of up to 130mph. Haitians also have to like the look of the house – some of the more ‘out there’ designs aren’t quite so desirable to local folks.

Earthship in Port au Prince

Building in Haiti can be challenging. First of all there is the intense heat to deal with, but a lack of materials and functional tools is almost always the case. You have to be resourceful with the materials at hand – you won’t necessarily be able to get new materials (and most Haitians couldn’t afford them anyway), and if you do to purchase new materials, it can take much longer than you expected at the store, or waiting for delivery. Actually, every stage of building here takes longer, so we have to throw out our North American jobsite timelines and develop some realistic Haiti timelines. And even then, it will likely take longer than you think!

The heat of Haiti can be taxing to newcomers, as we found out yesterday, with a high of 95ºF. We got our bearings, and tried to find some volunteer projects here at the base for the next couple of days, since the original project we were going to get involved with is ahead of schedule (unheard of in Haiti – way to go Andy Mueller & team!). Our design teams quickly sketched out plans for a new chicken coop, and a washing station to be built with Ubunto blocks (we’ll attend a demo later today, and will write more about this soon). Dave jumped onto the jackhammer, breaking up chunks of rubble that can then be run through the rubble crusher. Sam and Megan tried out the rubble crusher, which is a great workout for sure… but a lot of work. We’re making sure to drink lots of fluids, and find shade while we can.

Megan and Sam crush rubble

Dave and JP have already realised that their initial plan of rebuilding the chicken coop isn’t feasible in the two days we are here with the materials at hand, so their revised plan involves making a new door (sorely needed) and a new nesting area that will hopefully encourage more egg laying.

Megan and Shane are building a table and shelving system that will become part of a washing station for Styrofoam containers at the Ubuntu block station. Paul is floating in between jobsites when he’s not behind the camera. Sam jumped in to finish painting some lockers inside the house at HC, so really, at this point it’s only me who isn’t contributing. It is strange to be here and not be on a jobsite, so I think I’ll finish this and get out there.

Everyone got acquainted with the Hole in the Wall, which is… a hole in the wall to the neighbour’s house, and from there, they sell soft drinks and Haitian beer (beer is less than a dollar!).

We’re staying here until Sunday morning, when Ospri, from Centre d’Inspiration Jeunesse, will pick us up and take us to a beach en route to Deslandes in the Artibonite Valley. Our internet access in Deslandes will be either sporadic or non-existent, but we’ll do our best to get news of our adventures out there as often as we can.

Now, onto the jobsite to see how things are progressing. And maybe get my hands dirty too!

tina therrien


Haiti Program Information Meeting

Join us for an information meeting about the Endeavour in Haiti program on Sunday, November 20th!

At this meeting, program leader Tina Therrien will outline the details of the program and answer questions from potential participants.

Tbe meeting will be held at Sadlier House in Peterborough from 2:30 – 4:00pm. For more information call us at 705-868-5328. If you are interested in this program but cannot attend the meeting, please let us know. We may be able to set up a Skype connection.