Jordan lends a hand wherever he is needed.

 

Brian Scott, Aaron Noble, and Jordan survey a donation from Stanley Black & Decker

Site Supervisor Brian Scott helps Jordan carry equipment.

Jordan helps out Haitian workers with roof pours.

Jordan Nader is the first construction volunteer to travel to Mirebalais to lend his expertise to the new National Referral and Teaching Hospital. Site Supervisor Brian Scott says, “Jordan has been a fantastic addition to the construction team working in Mirebalais. When a job absolutely has to get done and failure is not an option, Jordan has become our go-to guy and we are very grateful to have him.” Jordan initially planned to work with us for two months this summer before returning home to continue his Engineering studies at Ohio State University. However, he has decided to take his fall semester off to continue working on the project.

Here is what Jordan has to say about his experience thus far in Mirebalais.

How did you become involved with Partners In Health?

I read Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains last summer and became very excited about the work that PIH does in Haiti and other countries. Coincidentally, I happened to randomly meet [Mirebalais Hospital Project Coordinator] John Chew later that year and things came together from there.

What is your role on site? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Basically, I oversee construction, making sure that standards are being upheld, that we are building according to plan and that there are no construction inconsistencies. I spend a majority of my time teaching the foremen how construction is performed in the United States in order to develop a new construction standard for Haitian workers so that their buildings will be built better and hold against natural disasters.

Additionally, I have been setting grades for floor pours, checking concrete cylinders, and helping out wherever else I am needed. I have also become the onsite go-to IT guy. This includes setting up an IT system on site, ensuring that all computers work properly and that Internet access is consistent. To be honest, I do whatever needs to be done.

Have you liked working with the Haitian team on this job site?

I love it. I’ve had previous construction experiences in Haiti and found them to be very frustrating because you couldn’t always get the best tools for the job. Here we have everything we need and get stuff done when it needs to get done.

I can communicate with the Haitian team well through basic Creole. I am learning from them just as much as they are learning from me. Each day, they are teaching me new things about their culture and construction techniques. Overall, we all have the same goal to build the hospital the right way so it really has been a great experience. Each Haitian and American worker alike take the time to make sure each block is laid correctly. This isn’t something you find everywhere.  

 You mentioned you’ve been to Haiti once before. What was your first impression of the country?

My first impression was the major contrast noticed when flying into the country. You first encounter the beautiful water and mountains from above. Then you land in Port-au-Prince and witness people still living in tents. Irony is the perfect term to describe it. There is such beauty and so many resources but progress is just not happening. The people can’t be successful and sustain themselves because of the reliance on the international community.

Has your impression changed since then?

Yes, definitely. It’s a completely different experience living in a rural area instead of Port-au-Prince. People here move and work at a different pace. They are a lot more gung-ho to get this project done and have an overall better attitude. Here, the work is kept in line with what people want and what government thinks they need, not just what our organization wants to do.

Have you worked with other organizations in Haiti before?

Yes, mostly church-based organizations that provide schools and clinics to the people in Cite Soleil, which is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince.  After the earthquake, these organizations recruited volunteers to construct new houses and new schools to support the expanded student population. I oversaw construction on houses, walls, schools, etc. But these were all small-scale projects, nothing of this hospital’s magnitude.  

How has volunteering with PIH in Mirebalais differed from your previous experiences?  

One of the things I like most about PIH is that they are working with the Ministry of Health. By working in tandem with the government, we can make sure that the wants and needs of the people are being met. We aren’t building this hospital for us, but to benefit the people of Haiti.

 

What’s your favorite aspect of working on this project?

I really like the people I work with here and the experience I am getting. I especially like working with [Site Supervisor] Brian Scott. His knowledge of construction is excellent and I’m learning a lot about working on a project of this magnitude from him. This project provides a great opportunity to learn from both American and Haitian colleagues’ experiences.

Do you have any advice for people that are considering volunteering on the hospital?

Be ready for an adventure! It takes patience. There are language barriers, but accept this and learn to communicate with your peers. Try new foods. There is no experience like this, and it is totally worth it. I think everybody should do it!

For more information, learn more about construction volunteering or email the Mirebalais Hospital Volunteer Coordinator, Heidi Burgess, at hburgess@pih.org.

 

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