Last week I weathered another near shipwreck in my service. Despite all my efforts to prevent my masons quitting mid-project: signing a contract, explaining in full the requirements of the work ahead-of-time, investing in a training workshop with them, they did just that, they up and quit. After completing nine of the thirty Eco-Banos, they confirmed my suspicions that something was souring by informing me that our work relationship was over. I was crushed to say the least. Their reasoning was “too much work and too little pay.” Insert tears and whining here. When they found out what a local volunteer was paying his masons they were never the same. They worked, but always making side comments: eso trabajo no es facil, me duele mucho la espalda, este proyecto esta matandome…etc. I must have asked 5 different Dominican masons in my community to see if they would take over the project; all chuckled and said the Project looked too hard. It looked like despite all my efforts to the contrary, my project was going to flop. Enter my savior. Rafael, one of two said quitters brought to my attention a wiry, toothless Haitian mason that was interested in the project. He called me out of my slumber at 6:30 one morning, asking if he could start the project. He told me with enthusiasm that he would start work with me the following Friday, bien temprano, a las 7, I liked this guy already! At 7:05 he was in front of my casita, eager to begin the workday. Unlike my Dominican masons who always rode their motorcycles to the job site even if it was a block away, my new Haitian mason Bobby and his partner Papi impressed me with their lightening quick footpace. They worked through the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and told me that they would work every day until we finish all 30 latrines. Rafael would never work on weekends.
The difference in the Haitian vs. Dominican work ethic, at least in this case, is phenomenal. Speaking from my personal experience in my community, the Haitians are willing to do the most undesirable work, they work extremely hard in the hopes of saving as much money as possible to send home and to eventually go back home themselves. It is rare to find a Haitian in my community that would want to stay on this side of the isla. On the other hand, the Dominicans in my community complain constantly about lack of work, about being impoverished, but are not willing to work hard, or at all, to change their reality. That is not to say that there are not hardworking Dominicans. I just think, in general, the average Haitian, like most uneducated immigrants, are willing to take any work in order to improve their lot in life.
Here are some pics of my new masons working on the project. Also on Saturday I took 20 youth to the local beach. Exhausting but fun
Big spider on my wall
Bobby and Papi working hard
Smoothing the second layer of cement
my new masons
Girls excited about their new latrine
at the Playa with Miguelina y Angelica
Darcia and I