Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Hello, Everyone,

The director of a new school in Sen Rafayel came down the mountain this morning just as I was leaving. I informed him that currently there were no funds for September, and left him with Abel who could provide all the information. The director is trying to break new ground: He wants to begin charging a flat rate for tuition, instead of charging by trimester. The fee would also include the cost of the uniform. Not having to supply a uniform would be much less work for us. We wouldn't have to go to the market to purchase material, or take the bus up the mountain to deliver it to Sen Rafayel, or arrange to send payment from Cap-Haitien to the different tailors/seamstresses in Sen Rafayel. (I have never been comfortable sending money by bus. Very risky.)

The whitewashing is on schedule. We began last week, with me giving them constant instructions about setting the ladders properly and not climbing up unless at least one spotter was holding it steady. Esmann declared that he was Haitian, and therefore did not need rules. His ladder gave way and he fell on the cement, landing on his right knee. We had to send someone running down to the street to find a taxi, then agree on a price for the trip, and navigate it up our street and into the compound, and then pick up the injured Esmann and fit him into the taxi. When the universe sees fit to provide us with a vehicle, we need a truck! It will simplify our lives.The hospital could not do an x-ray, though, as they had no electricity just then. An x-ray the next morning showed no damage. His knee is still quite swollen but the meds are working, and he is back to work.

The next morning, Julia was washing dishes after morning coffee. I heat water on the stove every morning for washing. I noticed the water had been changed. When I asked Julia where the water had gone, she replied,"It was hot so I threw it out and filled up with cold." So we had the discussion about mikwob-yo (bacteria) and the need for hot water or a few drops of klowos (Clorox)

These two incidents led to a meeting with Jack and Abel, who in turn met with all staff re: Health and Safety. They are going to have a 10-minute staff meeting every Monday at 8 a.m. to review and update.

Sister Rosemary gave us a gift of four aprons. (The seven students working on books need to cover their clothing for work.) I had two aprons here, and will search the market for one more.

The badges are a big hit. Everyone insists on wearing them when they arrive for work in the morning, saying that 'in case we have visitors, they will know our names and that we work for the fondasyon.'

We have a new neighbor. She moved into the big house beside us. She is Haitian American and speaks English. She will be coming and going as her family is all in the States. She told me about a group buying a transformateur privee (private transformer) for more consistent hydro. (This is week 4 since I have been back, and we haven't had any.) The cost to buy in to this group is $1000 Haitian ($145 US) plus the wire, which we already have, plus a monthly bill from EDH. We already pay for ice every day, as we have a fridge but no hydro, so the cost of private hydro versus buying ice would be about the same amount. Of course, there's no guarantee as to how much or how frequently we'd receive service, but it would be more than we do right now.

I am scheduled to travel to Port au Prince first of August to make inquiries for a 'permis de sejours'. This would mean I could stay in Haiti year round and just renew in Port Au Prince once a year. This trip depends on the situation there, though. Things are boiling over again with more kidnappings and daily random shootings.

Mme Cindy in Pennsylvania has sent protein powder, and Mme Carmene will make mamba (peanut butter) to mix for a protein boost.

On that note, I will close, as time is nearly up. Blessings to all.

Kenbe pa lage, Sharon

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13-15, 2006 Cap-Haitien

Hello Everyone,

There's still no electricity. When there is a breeze or it's windy, it feels like you are standing in front of a hot oven. The water pressure in our well (not safe for drinking water) is low so we are pumping very little each day. We are buying and consuming up to 20 gallons of potable per day. I think that should be the daily level for the summer.

The mosquitoes seem to be worse this year, not from standing rain water, but from the pooled raw sewage that makes and ideal breeding ground. I mention this because my legs look like hamburger from the bites from the mosquitoes that seem to live under the wooden carels in this cybercafe.

We're still scraping the house and security wall and plan to begin whitewashing next week. We will need to increase the security here at Lakay Fondasyon for when I return to Canada. I've had two reports of intruders in our compound during the day when no staff are around. I will add one security staff to the day shift. I also had an intruder the second night I was here. Someone entered the compound by the parking space. I thought at first it was a just a cat, but cats don`t carry flashlights. I frightened them off.

Frandy, Jean Ricot, Marlene, Julia, Jhennie and Micjeline have come to work with us. We set up 3 stations for text book preparations. At the first one, set up in the parking area, we use white out and erasers to clean them up. In the corner, we repair them using scissors, glue and material scraps for binding, then cover each book with plastic. At the third station, on the gallery, we do the final inspection. Abel has set up a chart so that jobs are rotated daily.

Friday is a wonderful day at our compound. Only the full time staff work, not the students. The students and I actually sit down and talk with each other. Over coffee at 7:45, I learned that the students who work conserving and preserving text books would like to have aprons to wear over their clothes to protect their limited wardrobe from ink and glue. Then, those who work in the garden first change into sandals, shorts and baseball caps. They chimed in, and said they want a uniform, also. Belonging to something is so important to these young people.

(NB: See 'Justice' at Starthrower Foundation home.)

Jud repaired our sewing machine, so we are busy making curtains for the house using donated remnants. In addition to Dieugrand's tailoring skills, Jhennie is proving an able seamstress. Please tell Mme Cindy that I am still trying to contact [person] in St. Raphael about the braille machine. [Person] is ill (it sounds like malaria), so it may be a while.

Abel brought in a newspaper that is printed in Port-au-Prince, that showed pictures of Wyclef Jean [Haitian musician] at the World Cup. Abel wants to email him to ask him to visit us here in Cap-Haitien, reasoning that he would help us if he knew of us. And Dieugrand asked it he could email the [Haiti-born] Governor General of Canada, Mme Jean, to ask her to visit us, too. Dieugrand still has Mme Jean's picture in his shack from last summer. Why not? Can't hurt to ask. This is why I say Fridays are so great.

M. Carlos (administrator of State university satellite campus in Cap-Haitien, and a lawyer, videograher, photographer) is a neighbor who helped us so much our first year here in the house. He came to ask for summer work, so now he is making ID badges for each employee to wear when representing Starthrower Foundation in the community, like when Abel goes to pay school fees, and Jacques, for when he's interviewing prospective bosses about apprenticing our kids. They cost about $1.5 Haitian each (about 20 cents) and the staff are thrilled and so proud. Carmene asked for one for when she shops in the market every morning. The badge is yet another symbol of being part of something, and so important for boosting a sense of self worth. I am also going to ask M. Carlos if he will work with us for two days to videotape home visits, so that I can show everyone what it is that I am talking about [in my updates].

Markendy came one afternoon with his report card. He asked if we would pay for apprenticeship with a barber as he is quitting school. I was surprised to hear this, as he is eligible to enter Rheto (6th year of high school), and I knew he wanted to graduate then train as plumber. When I asked him why the change, he became very subdued and thoughtful, saying, "Peyi-a two dur [The country is too hard]." He is the oldest, although he has a twin sister, Nandecie. His Dad is dead, the family does not eat daily, and his mom is ill. He needs to find a way to take care of everyone. He is 23; he started Grade 1 at age 13. The decisions these young people have to make are so painful. I don`t want to see him give up on his dream because once he leaves school it is so difficult to go back.

On my way to this cybercafe today, I walked past a young girl in the market. She was about 14 or so, I think. She was holding a dirty piece of plastic that must have been wrapped around something wet, as it was covered in moisture and she was licking it. The entire country is thirsty.

I reiterate my awe of Haiti's people, and this country. There is such beauty and dignity, if you take the time to look and listen. I curled up under the mosquito net last night and listened to the house choir that was practising across the street. Such amazing joy that I am speechless at times (I know some find that hard to believe), and so very thankful for the opportunity to serve here.

I will keep in touch whenever possible, but enough for now. I am taking of advantage of the satellite signals whenever I can to let you all know what is happening. Who knows? My next email could be tomorrow or next month.

Kenbe red (hang tough)!


Friday, July 7, 2006


Hello Everyone,

First of all, thank you to everyone who requested their emails be forwarded to me in Haiti. Unfortunately, I am not able to answer each personally, or immediately, but I will try to do so over time.

I arrived Sunday (July 2), my flight an hour and a half later than scheduled, and my luggage did not arrive at all. I arranged to return to the Cap-Haitiën airport the following day only to be told that my luggage (with the supplies etc.) had arrived on Sunday after all, but had been put in storage with cargo by mistake.

Jack Dieugrand and Abel were working at the house, and waiting for the supplies. The week before I returned to Haiti, there was a fire in the hydro wires that run from the street into Lakay Fondasyon. Our neighbour cut these wires to stop the cascade. Welcome home. Lack of hydro to the house is not a big problem as right now, the entire city is without electricity.

We are using 15 gallons of potable water per day. We will need more when the senior students finish writing national exams and resume their visits to the house. We have six students now working with the regular staff: Edwina, Chrisatmene, Rosenie, Rodney, Esmann and Wisky. (See student photos). They all arrive 30 minutes early for work so they can get a drink of water, and use our toilet.

It's been difficult to purchase supplies locally as the stores are nearly empty of stock.The shipments are not getting here from the Dominican Republic or Port-Au-Prince.

Our rain reservoir continues to leak as does our kitchen tap. Boss elektrisyen repaired the hydro wire. We are waiting for Bos Plombye and Bos Mason to see about the reservoir.

I am going to use the rent money for September to continue the food distribution program, and Abel and I are making school decisions on a case by case basis. Rose Claudelle no longer has to worry about sharing space with 18 cousins. She has been put out of her house by tonton and must find alternate space.

Djohn D. and Claudy J. are coming down the mountain from Sen Rafayel on Saturday (July 8) with text books that need repairs and recovering. Jude is coming on Saturday morning to check out the sewing machine. We are so busy there is barely time to sit down and talk with each other.

The two boxes sent by Mme Cindy and Mme Paula arrived from Pennsylvania. Thank you so much, all who worked on this. They contained a large quantity of kepi-yo (baseball hats) which Abel is distributing to everyone who comes with report card. So far everyone has passed. What a miracle! The biggest celebration is for the improvement in Math and Science marks, thanks to Abel's tutoring.

I have told the students that school is on hold, due to lack of funds right now, and they understand. However, they also think that blans [whites, foreigners] can do anything short of pulling rabbits out of hats.

Thanks to the Starthrowers in Ontario, who are currently working on fundraising. My internet time is almost up. I will try to write again soon. It's about 130F in the shade. No wonder we are using potable water by the galloné!

Kenbe pa lage [hang in there, don't let go]


Current Status

Wait List for the program:: 51
In school or apprenticeship :: 150
Weekly food distribution (cooking oil, rice, beans) :: Cap-Haitiën 40
Staff :: Sen Rafayel 5
Staff :: Cap-Haitiën 5 full time, 30 part time

Monday, July 3, 2006

Mississauga, Canada

(This update is a compilation of communications for the past six weeks.)

Hello Everyone,

There's been an encouraging response to Sharon's report on Starthrower Foundation's urgent plea for funds needed to keep Lakay Fondasyon open, and to pay tuition due in September, 2006. Sharon says Starthrower Foundation received about $8,000, which allows us to keep the drop-in centre open, and provide each student with a simple meal each day. As well, we can provide students and staff with full and/or part time work for the summer months.

The summer staff will prepare text books for the coming school year, although currently there are insufficient funds to continue school support. However, if this urgently-needed support comes in during the summer, we will be ready. Also, the distribution of weekly food sacks has been discontinued as of today (July 3, 2006). It is Sharon's belief that this disruption in service is temporary. Emergency medical and dental needs will be evaluated case by case.

Sharon was scheduled to arrive in Cap-Haitien on July 2, to open Lakay Fondasyon and inventory two boxes of donations from Pennsylvania that arrived in June, when she was in Canada.

Special thanks to the individual donors in the U.S., the U.K. and in Canada, including three Canadian high schools (Brampton, Ontario :: Cardinal Leger; Chaplain Henriette Mazenc-Dolak; and teachers Kathi Part and Trevor Hilton, London Ontario :: St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Chaplain Brad Davis, and John Paul II High School; Chaplain Pat Materiuk). (See Hamburgers For Haiti photos)

Special thanks, too, to Francilien, 'our' marathoner in the U.K., who completed the Edinburgh Marathon, and dedicated the money he raised to Starthrower Foundation. Francilien raised sufficient funds to sponsor one student for the upcoming school year. This young man plans to run another marathon in September. Well done, Francilien!

(See his report at Starthrowers U.K.)

Starthrower Foundation is actively exploring all possible grant opportunities over the summer. One such application has been favourably received, we are told, and a response is expected in September.

Starting in July, Starthrower Foundation will be selling Haitian crafts at an Orangeville, Ontario, coffee house. In June, Sharon and new board member Bev Fleming attended a local market to sell Haitian crafts, and to raise funds as well as awareness of the great need of students in Haiti.

As well, Sharon met with the administrator of the Peace and Justice degree program at King's College, University of Western Ontario (London), to discuss the possibility of our hosting interns at Lakay Fondasyon for Summer, 2007. The students are required to do an out-of-country co-op with an NGO (non government organization) for a period of 1-3 months. Sharon will speak to all classes in October/November to begin preparation for those who wish to do their co-op in Haiti. Having the assistance of a student who is specialising in this field would be a great benefit to Starthrower Foundation; we would be responsible for room and board only.

Note :: Effective August, 2006, Paypal (our 'Donate' button link) is launching its new Canada site. We have been advised that all Canadian users will be seamlessly and automatically moved to the Paypal Canada site.

On Sharon's behalf, Kenbe pa lage



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