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Work continues just the way we like it in Haiti -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Work continues just the way we like it in Haiti


Workers get started in the early morning of the third day of the 2011 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. By the end of work Wednesday, some houses had finished roofs and porches. © Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker


The white metal roofs on the houses in Santo gleamed in the harsh afternoon sun on Day 3 of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project outside Léogâne, Haiti. With 100 homes being built simultaneously, all were at different stages. Some work crews were putting up siding, some worked on front porches, and a few began putting up interior walls.

“We’re 98 percent where we need to be at this point,” said Nevil Eastwood, director of this year’s build.

The catchphrase for this project has become “That’s just the way I like it,” which started as a joke by Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford at the orientation dinner Saturday in Atlanta. He told the volunteers they were going to face real challenges in Haiti, from possible logistical breakdowns to large insects in their tents. “But,” he exhorted, “that’s just the way we like it!” Now you can walk down the gravel streets that run through the build site and hear the phrase echoing around. If one volunteer says, “The heat is unbearable,” her co-worker will probably answer, “That’s just the way I like it.”

There haven’t been any serious injuries so far, according to Dr. Jack Geesin, medical director for the project. Monday was the worst for heat-related illnesses, but that has gotten better as workers have acclimated to the 90-degree heat and learned to heed all the warnings about staying hydrated. On Wednesday, the most frequent injuries involved hammers vs. fingers. (The hammers are winning.)

The namesakes of the Carter Work Project weren’t on the build site Wednesday. President and Mrs. Carter made a side trip to the Dominican Republic to help raise awareness about the need for decent housing in that country. Large numbers of informal settlements in precarious conditions — with no proper infrastructure or basic services — put the health and safety of urban residents at risk. Over the next year, Habitat Dominican Republic plans to build, repair or rehabilitate 537 homes.