Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All Hands Base Camp

Just a bit about our base camp. This is probably the best layout we've had yet - especially for a large number of people. The first pic below shows the central courtyard. To the left and right are overhangs. The one on the left holds about 40 bunk beds, the space open to the courtyard. On the roof above it people have set up tents as well.

The overhang to the right has the internet cafe (on picnic tables), an area where people can relax and smoke and have movies (thanks to laptops and the internet), and the carpenter shop. This overhang isn't really safe for people to sleep under - it didn't make it through the earthquake quite intact.

Behind is the office area where there are a few computers people can use and also a laundry area as well as the shower stalls that we built. We use bucket showers - no hot water. However, we brought a solar shower with us that we heat up in the sun everyday. Feels really good.

At the far end of the yard is a covered stage area where some people have put up tents. To the left and right of this are the men's and women's bathrooms. (Really quite a set up) We have real toilets but have to flush using buckets of water.

To the left of the stage is the kitchen and a covered area with a few tables and folding chairs for eating as well as the main door. We eat most of our meals outside the door where there's a large tent.

Dining area:

Joe's bar (cold beer and cokes):

We use a generator for all power. It runs for a few hours each night, running the usual lights, pumping water from the well to cisterns on the roof, etc. as well as charging a bank of about 18 large truck batteries. These batteries run the base during the day. Fuel for the generator is a primary concern during lockdowns when we can't get out and get more fuel. If we run out, we no longer can pump water.

The picture of the two of us is taken up on the roof where people have put up tents. Nice view, more privacy, but you do have to contend with the rain.

The water that we pump is not potable so we have Culligan water delivered as well as using our own bio-sand filters.
We do chlorinate all water, though, as a preventive to cholera.

The man who owns the building also owns a small bar next door. He turns his power off when we turn ours off -- at 10 PM. Everyone has to be in the base at that time. Doors are locked.

We also have guards for the base. They primarily man the gate in front, the Joint Logistics Base on the enclosed five acres out back, and there is a night watchman inside.

We have a cook who mans the kitchen although everyone pitches in to do dishes and to clean the entire place every day. The kitchen itself is pretty rudimentary -- a propane stove with four burners and lots of huge pots and a sink. We do not have refrigeration so everything needs to be eaten up - not a difficult chore if you've been out rubbling all day.

Rainwater catchment system:

Laundry time:

Ever wonder why it is so hard to do business in Haiti? This cheap-a$$ed electric fan that would cost maybe $59 in the States goes for $200 here !
A simple plastic top folding table like the ones in your school cafeteria-- maybe $100 or $125 at Costco? They're $300 each here !! Just about anything that comes from outside sells at a 300 pct markup. Yikes!


  1. be safe wish you well with the hardwork.
    quick question for jo-ann - we are collecting toys at church - would you be able to ship the same out to haiti ?

  2. very nice post..Thanks for sharing this with us.But can you provide some more detailsbanquet chairs?