Aaron Noble is a 27 year old from Bozeman, Montana, who is working for Partners In Health at the construction site of Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital. Aaron works for Windover LLC, a general contractor in Manchester, MA, so he certainly has a diverse skillset to offer. He will be in Haiti until May—here’s what he has to say about his experience so far.
How did you become involved with Partners In Health?
Jim Ansara, the Mirebalais Director of Construction, reached out to the President of Windover Construction (Lee Dellicker) for help identifying an Assistant Project Manager that had the unique skill set that is required for this project. They were looking for a person who can speak Spanish, is adventurous, is willing to commit a good amount of time to the project, and wanted to do something to better Haiti. When I saw this opportunity, I immediately volunteered. I heard about Mirebalais on a Thursday morning, that Sunday I was on a plane down to Haiti to see the project first hand.
What is your role on site?
My role changes daily. Currently, I am working on electrical rough in: cutting boxes, receptacles and switches, which will provide power and light to each room of the hospital. I have also been helping with the concrete pour for the roof slab
How have you liked working with the Haitian team?
It’s been really fun. I initially taught a team of six Haitians how to use a rotary hammer and grinder to chip and cut block. Now they have been able to teach another crew how to use the tools. It was very satisfying to see how eager the workers on each team were to learn a new skill. Hopefully in the future these skills will help these workers improve their country.
My foreman here on the site is a Haitian who speaks Spanish like me, so we communicate mostly in Spanish. The language barrier in Haiti can be challenging but because we are doing construction, you can always show people how to do it.
The best thing about working here is that the Haitian crew is really excited about working. In the United States, you often have workers complaining about their jobs, whereas here, you have a team working in the blistering sun and they are just plain happy to have a job and be working.
There is no need to be worried about working with the Haitian team. They are fun to work with and they really want to learn. They are really receptive and excited about learning how to use new equipment. Working with the Haitian team has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my experience here.
What was your first impression of Haiti?
My first impression is that life is challenging here. As an American visiting Haiti, you have to be accepting of the fact that things won’t always go your way, and they might not be as easy as they would be at home. But I love a good challenge, so that is good for me!
Where do you live?
We live in a simple house not too far from the hospital site in Mirebalais. We have everything that we need and have great Haitian colleagues and friends who help out if we need anything else.
Were you nervous about coming to Haiti?
No I wasn’t. I like adventure. I have lived in both Bolivia and Chile for six months each, so I probably felt more prepared then the average traveler coming to Haiti.
That said, I would recommend this experience in a heartbeat. It makes you appreciate what you have. You may be eating the same things every day here in Haiti but you appreciate that you have it, because other people down the street might not have food to feed their families. It’s good to change your reality, even if it’s just for a week.
Were you nervous about cholera?
Cholera really isn’t an issue to worry about. Avoiding cholera is about washing your hands, using hand sanitizer. Just be aware of it, but don’t worry about it.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming to volunteer in Mirebalais?
Anybody who has the opportunity to come here won’t regret it. It’s fun and I love it down here. Just bring sunscreen!