Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monday February 4th
Day 10 in DR, Day 6 for Rotary

Today is another work day with the third rotation of the jobs. I have done water filter installation (last Thursday) and construction of a latrine building (last Friday). Today my team is going to batay 50 to continue the work of the other teams, building a fire pit where the batay can burn its garbage.

After a 7am breakfast, we pile into the large bus to go to the Good Samaritan hospital, pick up 3 more volunteers who are nurse technicians working in the DR for a year, join the professional workmen in their truck with all their tools and some materials, and head off in convoy to the batay. Batay 50 is the farthest we've been yet, and it takes a good 1.5 hours to get there. The bags of cement have been stored in the church, which is at the opposite end of the worksite at the batay, and the concrete blocks have been stacked at yet another location. I spend the morning helping to move these essential ingredients down to the worksite, driving the manual diesel truck because I am the only one, apart from the professional workers (who are busy), who is comfortable with a manual transmission.

This location, of the 4 batays I have visited, is the least comfortable: it's super hot, the church is too far to serve as a cool refuge, the sky is blue with no hope of rain to cool us off, and it is all heavy work, lifting concrete blocks, mixing cement and mortar, keeping the 3 professional bricklayers supplied, and we're baking in the sun.

We have lunch at the church, almost too exhausted to walk uphill and across the batay to get there, but it's pleasantly cool inside once we're there. Work resumes for the afternoon, and it's non-stop until 4:15pm. To be fair, no-one forces anyone to do anything, and each member can work as much or as little as they want, and work at whatever task interests them.

Below us is a brook, and the women of the batay wash their clothes there, wash themselves there, and wash their children there. I watch a young boy pee into the water. Late in the afternoon, a herd of cows and bulls is driven down to the water where they stomp around drinking and peeing and poohing. Small wonder that the health of the batay inhabitants suffers. And it's basic sanitation and clean drinking water, along with medical clinics, that Dr Bob and the Good Samaritan hospital are pioneering.

Tonight, we have the social visit of the Rotary DG and her husband. Tomorrow morning we will be with them at Good Samaritan Hospital where the DG will be training the Health Promotors from the batay's in the importance of hand-washing.

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