To say that I’m glad yesterday is over would be an understatement. Now on our list of things we will NEVER do again:
*Have 40 men working in the yard at once and give them food, twice. While living in Haiti.
Maybe in other countries this would work, but it does not work here. Thinking about all of yesterdays events gets me annoyed and angry again. I hate feeling that way. Especially because it’s our long term staff that are the cause of most of it.
Chris and I have been doing this long enough to know when things feel ‘off’ and to anticipate that things will fall apart on some level. It just always seems to happen on the biggest, most important days.
All of our workers have been working hard on the new building for the last two months. Yesterday was the climax of that work with the pouring of the ceiling/floor between the two levels. From this point on it’s finishing work before we can move onto the second level. They have been working longer hours over the last couple of weeks since Otto got here all so we could get the roof poured before he left. It was a herculean effort and I don’t even want to think about where things would be at if he hadn’t been here. That said, long days, working with someone new and doing work they don’t normally do is a breeding ground for issues. Throw in a few new bosses and another 20+ people yesterday and you have a sense of needing to prove themselves.
Yesterday there were issues that arose with our staff, in front of 20+ people from the community. I won’t go into detail. All of it is very disappointing to Chris and I for several reasons.
On a day when they had a chance to show what great people they are and what type of workers they are they chose to have issues with us, in front of other people. In their minds they are completely justified, disregarding the fact that they made decisions that were Chris’ decisions to make, then got mad at him when he held them accountable. Their behavior for the rest of the day was so they could ‘protest’ how they were treated, but all it did was make them look foolish.
On a day when we wanted to do something nice for everyone here our workers snubbed us and basically told us it wasn’t a sufficient enough gesture. This angers me the most because it blatantly demonstrates an attitude of entitlement. We aren’t obligated by any means to do any of the things we did yesterday. We wanted to do them, as a gift to everyone. It angers me the most, I think, because many people here are always so concerned with being offended, especially when it comes to foreigners and the mistakes we may make within the culture. BUT, there seems to be no regard for how Haitians may offend foreigners. This is a generalization of course, and not applicable to everyone and every situation. Yesterday though, it was very true of us here. Yesterday we went through a big effort to do something nice and it was regarded as not sufficient, with no thought or concern about how we might feel having our gift rejected, or that the resources of the mission were wasted. The result is that Chris and I won’t be jumping at opportunities to do anything like this again, and in the end it is our staff that are on the losing end of the stick. Those that were here for just yesterday were incredibly grateful for the day of work and the extras that we threw in, and they couldn’t understand why our workers would reject what we were offering.
By noon we decided to call in reinforcements and asked the pastor that we rented the cement mixer from to come and organize everyone. He does this as a business, and I don’t think that we would have finished yesterday if it wasn’t for him. We’ve already decided that when it comes time to pour the roof for the second level we’re just going to hire him and he’ll bring his crew and take care of everything. That decision alone took the stress level down about 50%.
If you think of it, please pray for us and our staff. The last two months have been stressful for everyone and we all need to just step back and find our groove again. It’s easy for tempers to flare and for people to say and do things that they normally wouldn’t do, us included, when they’re over tired and stressing out. We all need a good break. Tomorrow is a mandatory day off for our workers so we can all get some rest and hopefully all be in a better frame of mind come Monday.