Expect the unexpected
Crewmembers' best laid plans do not always work out as intended, as Isaac Gibson (USA) realised when he arrived at a building site, prepared to put a new roof on a school--only to find that the building he had visited three months earlier had been demolished.
Isaac, a welder on board Logos Hope, had made an advance visit to Haiti to establish how the ship could help local projects and to arrange the necessary materials. He learned about the school, which Marie Claire Jean Lorthé had started with her late husband. After a devastating earthquake in 2010, the stability of the building was compromised. Isaac made plans to replace the metal sheeting roof and install water tanks, solar panels and a playground for the children.
But when the ship sailed in and Isaac brought a team of crewmembers to begin work, they realised as the metal entrance gate slid open that the school had been knocked down. “I was flabbergasted!” said Isaac, of the shock.
After the initial surprise wore off, Logos Hope's volunteers set to work on the other projects and were able to complete everything else on the job list, including a few additional improvements. The team installed shelving, two 500-gallon water tanks, four solar panels and an electric water pump to replace the well's hand pump. The school had no kitchen: staff members had been cooking over a fire under a tree in the yard, so the crew also built a covered, outdoor kitchen with a sink, a small counter and two stoves.
Isaac learned that Haiti’s power grid is unreliable and that the school only had electricity once or twice a week, for one hour. The solar panels, inverters and 12 batteries the team installed will store power, so the school will have it when needed. “Now they have electricity to power several computers and the electric water pump,” said Isaac.
Crewmembers also built a playground. “The kids were all over it and it was barely built yet!” said Isaac. “They were just coming out of the woodwork. There was a youth music camp in session next door, and those children came to play, too. Marie Claire actually made the kids wash the play equipment with brushes after they had used it, to keep it in good condition!”
While volunteers are told to expect surprises in their unconventional life of service, it is not always easy to prepare for the unexpected. Isaac was thankful that crewmembers could still bless the school in several ways. The roofing material was left for later installation, and Isaac believes that everything worked out for the best, since employing local labour for the rebuild will help the community’s economy.
Those involved in the school project had written their names in a book for Marie Claire. At the end of Logos Hope’s time in Haiti, each member of the team received a personal letter of thanks for the difference they had made.