March II

Part of my job as base manager involves collecting the empty water jugs and jerry cans that we use and getting them refilled. We get our water filled at a local distiller, called Mushu, which is down the road. Each jug only costs 10 pesos to fill. That is less than 25 cents per jug. Apparently, the reason for why water is so cheap is because free water is provided by Tent City down the road. Different private NGOs give water to all of the disaster victims. In turn, this causes the local water distillery to lower their prices because their customers will just fill up at the free watering hole.

Besides checking on our water supplies, I also ensure that there is enough food for volunteers in the mornings. We have hired four women to cook our lunches and dinners; however, breakfast is my responsibility. I now have a normal routine for collecting breakfast supplies. After dinner in the evenings I will harass one of the fine lads on base, usually Chris, the project director, to take me on the sidecar motorcycle to pick up the bread at the bakery. (My next goal is to master driving the motorbike… I just have to practice shifting gears and not stalling). The bakery provides a fair bit of selection of breads, such as cinnamon, pineapple, chocolate, cassava, grind-up pork, banana, sugar coated, etc; however, all of the breads, even the plain ones, are pretty sweet. I have been having difficulty finding non-sweet or even salty breads for breakfasts. The bakery does not offer any whole wheat or other grains/barley options. Sadly, all of the bread that they sell can be squeezed into a tiny little ball without much pressure. Though I do love chowing down on the bread in the morning, they are not very filling.

For fruit in the morning, I usually go into tent city, which is a five minute walk down the road, but sometimes a fruit man will come by or I will pick it up while in town. Pineapples, mangoes and bananas seem to be the regular purchases, but sometimes I like to mix it up with durian, (grapefruit berries), watermelon, oranges, papaya or cantaloupe. I try to stick with what is in season. I am not sure where the apples I see around town are grown—probably the USA.

The job board is another responsibility to which I must attend. This involves making sure that I have an accurate count of the number of volunteers for the next day, as well as jobs to fit those numbers. It gets complicated when there is mud, deconstruction, construction and block building jobs going on. For the last week it has been pretty easy because we have not had enough volunteers to do anything but the Habitat construction. That project has become a priority because we have a deadline. It makes me sad that we have to prioritize and solely focus on building cement structures; however, All Hands needs to be accountable to Habitat for Humanity. I believe taking down housing and removing the mud is just as important because it allows those families to be able to move back to their land or to start rebuilding and/or cleaning their houses again.

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