For some reason I thought today was going to be a lull. Boy was I wrong. The plan was to go to market and chill out.. and to be honest I was in need of a vegging out moment. An emotional roller coaster to say the least and mentally, emotionally, and psychologically I am drained. I awoke this morning with my final action item for my assessment. The basic measurement of the structure. Now for those not familiar with architecture or construction its pretty paramount to measure the structure to know what you are dealing with. Mentally and physically it was a lot to tackle and not fun in damn near 100F heat with 80% humidity. It felt like bonecrusher and Monique wear bearhuggin me. Just HOT! Nonetheless the work of the brotherhood had to be done!
Before I could get focused though, the good brother Samuel Darguin suggested we go to marche (Creole for market). I figured why not.. so we and our other teammates decided to get hydrated and get on with the task (Got some more water out the bag AND bottle, dammit it’s HOT!) But before we left I was kinda cycling through the last few days and found myself in conversation with Bro. Darguin about how does one readjust to “regular living” after what one has seen here? Quite the answer given! He stated that folks should be uncomfortable and reminded me of why this project is important to Alpha and all people of the African Diaspora. It reminded me of why I was so headstrong about getting down here. Haiti was the FIRST free country for Africans in 1804! Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was the FIRST AFRICAN-American collegiate fraternity founded In 1906. We owe this to our culture and to our history and ourselves to show the work of the brotherhood WHEREEVER downtrodden people need assistance! I take that VERY seriously and so does Brother Darguin. We ended the convo as time had come to go but it was good to share such thoughts with a like minded Brother of Alpha. So we pile into a tap-tap 8 deep blasting Reggae and we were on our way. It was dark hot and rough…NO im not talking about the back of Forest Whitakers neck, im talking about the cabin of the tap-tap… bumping along in a street that makes Chicago potholes look like paved asphalt. I am talking craters that when you hit them the radio turns off and you click your teeth! Praise the Lord I don’t have motion sickness!
20 mins later we arrive and it’s the epitome of chaos! Driving through it is one thing.. walking through it.. well lets just say if I did have insurance my premium would have went up 1000%. It was hot and messy and chaotic.. and most of our group were referred to as “Blams” which is Creole for White foreigner (someone correct me if I am off) thing is not a one of us was Caucasian but the minute we spoke we gave our American accents. And like a good business person, they went for the tourists.. we smiled saying No Merci (no thank you) and moved through this hot sordid bananza of perilous capitalism. Now seeing as that I am from Chicago and been threw Jewtown (its not a slur its what is referred to for the non-Chicagoans reading) its very similar but then its also on steroids. VERY close quarters open products including fish poultry vegetables and the like. And its been salted to preserve so the air had quite aroma. We flew through it as Mr. Darguin and an associate were hunting for rabbits and goats. At one point we arrived to get to the rabbit vendor and the physician in our group suggested that we all take extra strong antibiotics because it’s a good chance we could have been exposed to malaria carrying mosquitoes. (Not what u wanna hear on a Friday afternoon in the month of June) So we get through and get to the goat section. Given yesterday I got to watch billy get assassinated and was digesting him I wasn’t worried to come to death row but it was quite the scene. Hundreds of goats being handled looking to be sold to the highest bidder for a weekend dinner. While our host was looking for the perfect specimens we stood off in the distance covering our nose from the dust and every other thing our physician made us paranoid about.
After a 20 minute wait we got William and Wallly our two need dinners ( I mean goats) and made our to the tap-tap to get back. Walking back through the market the fatigue of the last few days attempted to set in but my training overpowered my body to keep going, 100 degree heat, intense environment 30 pound bag on my back, felt like boot camp lol.
We get back to the compound and we are all tired to some extent. Me, I was, but wanted to fight through it as duty awaited and it is hard for me to relax when work beckons. However I had to sit down and in sitting down the group got to talk and share stories and just relax. All of us there are consumed by utilizing our various skills for the improvement of the country but it was good to sit back and catch a breeze and just laugh
A few hours slipped by and I find myself rested. Looking to get it done.. I decided to not wait on help and make it happen!
Grabbing tape measure and looking at my sketch of the existing building.. it felt good! Not because of what I was doing, but because of something I was doing that I was going to design! Realizing from the watching of the kids, to the photos taken.. to even taking basic measurements. My work was critical NOT for someones bottom line but to POSITIVELY affect a community.. DAMN that felt good.
I started to measure and one of the local helpers who work on the compound was assigned to grab some photos of me working. No big deal… while working he saw I needed some help and instinctively grabbed the tape measure. So he and I begun chatting as he is a stand up guy. Native Haitian who survived the earthquake and speaks good English. I met him on Day 1 when I arrived at the airport and he helped me keep my wits about me so we got cool! I figured since he wanted to help least I could do was tell him I was doing. I explained to him how to read an Imperial tape measure as the WORLD is in Metric and he took to it like a fish to water. I showed him my sketch of the layout to show him where we were standing in the building and showed him how it was like a map. And knew IMMEDIATELY where he was in the building! He was a natural! As I was showing him what a rise and run was regarding stairs, as a member of another organization, a Caucasian lady, pulled him aside and said and I quote “You don’t need to do what he says, you don’t have to work for him” NOW once again I was faced with a potential Ni$$a moment as expressed in the show Boondocks! As I was thoroughly offended by such an accusation and if she was listening she would have seen I was teaching him. But as with anything in life you have those that don’t understand what it is you do, so they react based on fear. I chose to ignore it but the guy who was helping me blew her off! He was a grown man and he wanted to learn and NOT be treated to a pity party! The people I have met in this community want help but they ultimately want to be taught how to help themselves, and you gotta respect that!
We kept going and I showed him how to pick up things that a building can tell you and what the importance of columns and slabs were and it was great. We ended our lil apprenticeship and laughed and joked. I stopped and asked him “If there was anything that he could do, what would he like to do, without flinching he said Computer Science!” He quickly followed it up with but I’ll do whatever to make money and live ya know” So much was said in those two sentences! He told me is dream but how it has to be tempered by reality, hearbreaking! So I am making a call to arms to anyone reading this.. if you have any computer science book(s) to give away hit me up and I want to get this man a book and whatever I can to get him one step closer to his dream! Serious inquiries hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
After measuring, feeling good that I have done the work of the Brotherhood I sat down and enjoyed a lovely cool breeze we came into a great Haitian dinner of Goat, rice and beans, and macaroni pie. And great great kola champagne! A fitting way to end the day.
Even now as I write this I converse with a young Haitian boy looking to learn English. I realize more than ever that I cant save the world, BUT I can do my part to make the world a better place, and humbly give thanks to Bro Skip Mason, General President and Bro Samuel Darguin for allowing me the opportunity to represent the Brotherhood. Not one to speak on it but Alpha is indeed in my heart and to be of service to a greater good is truly redeeming to the soul. As I prepare to work on my assessment report it gives me great joy to know that my work will be implemented for a greater good, and representing the Espirite De Fraternite in its truest fashion. I end the day quoting from my personal favorite poem of Alpha. House of Alpha.
Goodwill IS the monarch of THIS HOUSE
God is indeed good
(P.S. Big up to the Blackhawks for winning the Stanley Cup, Cubs fans got a LONG wait lol)