Nancy talks about her experiences in Haiti

Nancy Dubosse is the Head of Research for our Economic Governance Programme (EGP) within Idasa

I left Leogane yesterday. I was part of the clearing of 61 homes. I participated in the census of two tented camps for displaced persons. I contributed to the content of an earthquake awareness course for teachers. I acted as liaison between local government, community leaders, community residents, and Hands On and its volunteers.

Most importantly though, I had the honour of getting to know the most open-hearted and hard-working group of people that I have ever come across; committed to improving the condition of humanity throughout the world without discrimination. I have nothing less than admiration for all of them, and I would consider it an honour to cross paths with any one of them again. Update from last week: The turnover of volunteers here is phenomenal. We’ve gotten retirees, university students on spring break, mid-career professionals. We had lawyers come for two weeks; more recently a contingent of New York City public school teachers. I’ve seen 200 volunteers (I was the second to arrive for the project), some stayed for only one week; others for as long as six months. They are not only Americans, we also have English, Scottish, Irish, and French. I was trying to think of a profile of a HODR volunteer. Most are left-leaning in terms of their political ideologies; a substantial proportion are smokers (I would estimate 40%); they tend to come from working class backgrounds and have a skill; most are well-traveled and already exposed to life in developing countries; most have rejected race as a social construct and organised religion (my Idasa colleagues know how much that pleases me).

I’ve been doing a lot of community outreach work, though I didn’t realise it until it was pointed out to me. I do well in getting the “story” behind the collapsed houses. And there have been some horrific ones. We recently used one story to create a short documentary about the work Hands On does. We interviewed the family, translated it and a colleagues put pictures and audio together. He just showed it to me, and it brought me to tears. It summarises exactly what I’ve spent the last seven weeks doing.

Many of the volunteers bring cameras with them to take pictures of the community and the sites that we clear. HODR puts pictures on the website, Flickr and Facebook, which you can access from http://www.hodr.org/.

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