25 Hours in Haiti
Once inside the mission, Jones and Nobles joined Gresham, Pastor Vincent, the school’s headmaster, and a local architect assigned to help with the project. “We walked around the campus with the architect to come up with a project plan,” Nobles says. “We had a two-minute project meeting and then taped 10 paper targets in the main area and started scanning with the Focus3D. We then taped about 60 targets around the campus on the sides of the buildings, constantly moving the globes ahead of us and using the lead targets.”
By 6 p.m., Jones, Nobles and the architect had completed scanning the campus and had moved onto the roof. However, a rain storm abruptly hit and ended work for the day. The men packed up their gear and headed over to New Life Children’s Home, an orphanage owned by a woman named Miriam who had once found Pastor Vincent when he was a small child, almost dead from starvation, and nursed him back to health. (He ended up going to college in Tennessee and returning to Haiti to start several schools and orphanages.)
New Life Children’s Home, which houses close to 100 children, has running water, bathrooms, electricity, bedrooms and many of the other comforts most people in the U.S. take for granted. The electricity is provided by generators that are turned off at night to save on fuel.
After a late dinner, Gresham asked Jones and Nobles to look at a few of the buildings at the orphanage to see if they could be scanned and documented. They did a quick assessment of what could be done given their tight timeframe and decided to scan one of the more complicated buildings the next morning. The crew was onsite by 7 a.m.
“This time we had our system down,” says Nobles. “We put out our paper targets and a couple of lead weight targets, started scanning and ran a level loop through them.”
The men then returned to the mission to finish scanning the school roof, as well as some additional areas inside the church. They also ran levels through the targets to elevate the scan model.
“When you are working inside the campus gates, you forget where you are,” says Jones. “But when you are on the roof, it all comes back. Not 15 feet away, we could see a small alley filled with families and kids. Even though they were too poor to eat, they would look up at us and smile and laugh. They were very excited to see something different.”
As Jones and Nobles worked on the roof, one man called out to them. Nobles looked down. “He just wanted to thank us,” Nobles says.
Their vantage point provided a clear view of the “river,” which is nothing more than the local sewer system runoff covered in garbage. Hogs, goats and cows graze alongside it.
By 10 a.m., all of the scans of the buildings and school were complete. Pastor Vincent took the group on a tour of the surrounding area known as Destiny Village. “Despite the extreme poverty, the children smiled when we passed them and seemed happy,” Nobles says. “We saw a lot of people who were cleaning their clothes in the street or making ‘dirt cookies.’ Even though the place looked chaotic, there was a flow to it, and the people took pride in what they were able to accomplish.” Tables next to the road held stacks of one gallon jugs and a funnel, which Jones and Nobles later learned was a gas station.
“I took a lot of pictures and some video on my iPhone, but after a while, you feel bad documenting the poverty surrounding you and realize how little they have, need or want,” says Jones. “What my household throws away in a week would feed two or three families in Haiti.”
By 1:30 p.m. on March 16, a mere 25 hours after they had begun their work, Jones and Nobles had completed 60 scans and were on their way home. But the time they spent in Haiti will stay with them forever.
“I’m glad we were able to use scanning technology in Haiti as there is no better, faster or more precise way to document data,” Tate said. “But the scanning was the easy part. The hardest part was seeing how these people live and the difference between our lives and theirs. We know we can’t save all kids displaced by earthquakes, hurricanes, dishonest dictators and government corruption. But if this kitchen gets built and the kids get fed, we may have helped to save a few. That was worth 25 hours in Haiti.”
Scotty Fletcher is a writer based in Atlanta. She can be reached at email@example.com. For more information about LandAir Surveying Co., visit www.landairsurveying.com. More information about Nobles Consulting Group is at www.ncginc.com.