Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Haiti Time

Time seems to travel differently in Haiti.  I got a good taste of that yesterday when working on wiring in the hospital.

We got a bit of a late start because we went to the market in Kenscoff in the morning, but we were ready to start at around 10:30.  Since we ran out of ballasts for the lighting in the clinic yesterday, we moved to a utility room, intending to replace an electrical panel or rewire a large inverter.  Both of these items were rat's nests of wiring and needed to be updated.  In trying to figure out where all the wiring went, we discovered that de-energizing the panel would probably take down half of the hospital and was appearing to be a larger job than originally thought.

Plan B was the pediatric ward, which needed new light fixtures.  The ceiling in this room is quite low and the two bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling are constantly being broken by people walking under them. 

We hiked to the depot (the supply room) to grab the new fixtures and other supplies.  Everything is a hike around here because the roads are so steep.  Since we would probably be returning here several more times, I needed my own key.  45 minutes and 3 keys later, we finally had one that worked in the lock.

Back in the pediatric ward, we had to figure out a way to turn off the power.  It was most likely the main panel, located just off the operating room.  The door to the operating room was locked, which sent us on a quest for the key.

Everything here is locked.  If it is not locked, the contents will likely disappear in short order.  The culture here is big on community, and in this community, what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours, and if something is just sitting there, it's acceptable for anyone to just take it.  After all, I need it worse than you do.  Theft is not a bad thing.  So, padlocks are ubiquitous.  And the keys are always somewhere else.

The hospital administrator gave us a large ring of keys, one of which actually worked. We found the panel in a tiny storage room next to the autoclaves, one of which worked, the other which was used to store bananas and a few other items.

None of the breakers was marked, and we really couldn't risk turning off sections of a busy hospital, so we decided to work on it hot.

By this time it was lunch time and we had gotten exactly nothing done.  Neil, one of the pastors and the de-facto electrician, expressed frustration at how little work gets done sometimes.

On the way back to the apartment, we met up with one of the Haitian drivers who greeted us with a broad grin.  He had been to Port-au-Prince and had picked up another box of ballasts for the clinic.  We finished the clinic in the afternoon and even managed to start on the pediatric ward.

Progress, finally.

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