Friday, May 21, 2010


Hi, all! Sorry it's been so long since my last blog! I arrived home from Haiti Sunday night, and life's been sort of a battle since then. I'm happy to report that today I'm in better health and spirits than I have been, and I think I'm going to be ready to face my race tomorrow! Tomorrow is the Warrior Dash Southeast, and I'm going to DOMINATE!

Let me tell y'all a bit about my time in Haiti, first.

I was pretty excited to head out there.

I'm no stranger to volunteer work in third-world countries, so I wasn't too daunted by the idea of sleeping on wooden pallets, showering by pouring buckets of water over my head, or using the bathroom in toilets that don't flush. Par for the course.

This is what the Hands On Disaster Response camp in Leogane, Haiti, looked like.

Here's where I slept.

What was I doing there? Excruciating physical labor! I had no idea how difficult it would be! We sledged, shoveled, and wheelbarrowed concrete rubble from families' home sites to the National Highway so that the UN could haul it to another location.

Here's us working on the rubble.

Here's the Korean branch of the UN hauling it away.

The families' homes were usually connected to the main roads only with narrow alleys and unpaved walkways, so the rubble had to be hauled with wheelbarrows; no heavy machinery could access it.

I worked on an INSANE team of INSANE volunteers who actually raced with the wheelbarrows of concrete rubble! These were NOT light!

HODR had cleared 72 family sites between March and my last day there, May 16. Clearing a site means that the family can pitch their tent on their own land instead of in the street, and it means they can sign up with Habitat for Humanity and start building a new house. It's amazing work.

As you may imagine, everything that the family owned was usually in the house when it collapsed. While working on the Artiste family's site, we pulled out many of their personal possessions. Most were damaged beyond recognition, but they still loved it when we were able to show them something that they recognized. Their favorite was when we pulled out the frame of their TV. We all took turns posing with it.

Here's Caitlynn and me in the TV.

When I say the work we did was excruciating, I mean it. I can't document in photos how much physical pain I felt while I was there. There was not one morning where I was able to sit up upon waking; my back muscles stiffened every night while I slept. The first couple nights, I was unable to hold beverages at dinner because my arms shook too badly. I hoped every day that I would be able to hold up through the 7 hours of daily work. Thankfully, I did.

I felt midly okay by the last morning, but after sitting on airplanes and in airports for the majority of the day and not working my leg muscles at all, I actually had to be assisted off of the plane in Atlanta because both of my quads and knees quit working. There is nothing more embarrassing. I cried almost all of the way home in the car because sitting down put too much pressure on my hamstrings. I was truly worried that I wasn't going to be able to run for weeks.

However, my physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain of seeing Haiti like this. There are almost no inhabitable buildings in Leogane right now. Because each building site contains either a pile of rubble or an uninhabitable building, families are forced to pitch their tents in the street. They have to bathe and use the bathroom in public places because most of the buildings have not just been deemed unhabitable, but unsafe to enter all together. There isn't enough food; there isn't enough water; and there isn't enough medical care.

Haiti needs SO MUCH HELP.

I was only in Port-au-Prince briefly, while driving to and from the airport to Leogane, and I'm glad because I don't think I could handle it. Many of the buildings that are still standing have "Please save us" or "We need help" spray-painted on their walls. Many Haitians have been reduced to begging just to feed their families. Haiti was never a prosperous place, but it was never like this.

If you can help, PLEASE DO. I think I'm going to go back at the beginning of August to work with HODR again. There's just so much more that needs to be done.

I have so many stories to tell, but I'll save some for later! Hope all of you had an amazing week, and I can't wait to tell you about the Warrior Dash on Monday!


  1. wow, Ali. This is an incredible thing that you did. I'm really impressed by how much of your body you put into your work, to the point of sheer muscle failure. Congrats on being so cool and for making it home since. that makes marathon training look like no big thing, right?

  2. Thanks, Emilie! I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go. Yes, I definitely feel like I'm better prepared for the physical part of marathon training now! I don't know that anything can hurt as bad as this did! Once my muscles start fully cooperating again, I think I'm going to be stronger than ever.

  3. Alison, I am so very proud of you and your commitment to making the world a better place. I am honored to call you my daughter. With love, Mom

  4. I can only say that you are truly amazing and I have to agree with your mom, I am honored to call you my niece!!! much love, Aunt Chris

  5. What a truly giving and caring young woman you are Alison! The world would be a better palce if there were more people like you. I do think it's time for me to start giving back, you are my inspiration
    I, too am honored to call you my niece
    All my love, Aunt Lynne