Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Hello Everyone,

I arrived safely back in Cap-Hatien in the rainy season, and it's rained nearly every day. The temperature hasn`t dropped yet, though. That will happen closer to Christmas. Until then, it's really humid.

On Monday at 1 p.m., the hydro came on! Everyone was in a euphoric state. The power went off again at 5:30p.m. That four and a half hours is the longest block of hydro since last March. We charged phones, I ironed and made toast. We even plugged in the fridge. Those in our neighbourhood who bought into the private transformer (transformateur privee) have some electricity daily. We paid into it but NOW are told the wire (fil) to hook it up will cost another $1500 Haitian dollars (about $220 US). It is always something.

Abel is somehow managing to work full time and go to school. His Philo classes are from 3-8, so he works from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., then packs a lunch and goes to school.

Two boxes arrived from Pennsylvania and we have distributed the clothes. We are saving the candy until Christmas for a special treat. As you know, kids, especially malnourished kids, shouldn't have many sweets, but for Christmas, well, that's special. Much gratitude to Mme Cindy and her community for their continuing support of our 'Starfish' here.

The little digital camera I purchased in Ft. Laudable is amazing. Brother James (Fre Jimps) has the capability to send pictures from a camera via his computer. I will try to send some pictures when I can.

Many students currently on the waiting list are showing up here at Lakay Fondasyon hoping that we can sponsor them. The fees for preimiere trimest are due by next week on the final day before exams begin. Students who haven't paid fees will not be able to write (konpoze) exams, thus losing the year.

Marlene is determined to apply for nursing again at the hospital next summer, and I am looking for options for her in the interim. Right now, she is doing some work for us in the office and will take a 4 month computer course beginning in January. We are still seeking a sponsor to see her through 4 years of training.

Fritz was very happy when I gave him the money for his paintings. I will bring more of his work back with me in the spring. If anyone would like to order something special from him, please let me know. (See catalog paintings) As well, he works with a metal artist and a wood sculptor, so I am looking into helping them find markets.

Until next time, Pi ta


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Orangeville Ontario

Hello Everyone!

As I count down the days until I return to Haiti, I've been very busy making arrangements and speaking to groups around southern Ontario. Last week, Pat [board chair Pat Materiuk] and I visited King's College, University of Western Ontario in London, where Pat and I spoke to two first year classes (90 in each) and one third year class. David [board youth liaison, Dave Materiuk] helped with the final presentation. We talked to them about travelling to Cap-Haitien next summer to fulfill their credit placement requirement. These students can receive a full credit toward degree following a placement of one month. Anyone interested in more information about a placement with Starthrower Foundation will contact Pat. She will then meet with them and do all the preparation work.

As these classes were in the evening, Pat had scheduled daytime meetings at John Paul II High School to speak to groups from various grade levels. And a big Thank You to Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School students, chaplain Brenda Holtkamp, and teachers Jane Finney and Hannah Burza. Last Friday, after the final of four presentations, I was presented with a cheque from the Assisi Society.

Mme CIndy In Pennsylvania is making two presentations at local organizations, and showing the video, which was made this past summer in Haiti. Cindy is putting the video on DVD and refining to 15 minutes. (Thanks, Cindy! Editing video is a huge task!)

Last Sunday, I showed the video to a gathering at the home of Ann, in Caledon. It was a very enjoyable afternoon with many new faces asking questions about Haiti and our work there. And on November 23rd, Harmony Natural Health Clinic, in Orangeville, will hold an open house. Bev [board secretary-treasurer Bev Fleming] will be there with the Starthrower Foundation display, and will answer questions about our work in Haiti. Dr. Wendy, the owner of Harmony Natural Health Clinic, will be enlisting sponsors for her marathon run in January.

Terri Holden, a personal trainer at Fit for Your Life, in Orangeville, is holding a Christmas get-together fund raiser for Starthrower (date to be announced). Terri will be showing either the video or the shortened DVD, which Cindy will be sending to us here.

Thanks to those who purchased some of the art works [catalogue list has been amended to show those works still available]. I know that Fritz, the artist, will be very pleased to receive payment for his works, which will help make this Christmas a very special one for him and his young family. Thanks, too, to those who visited Abel at Lakay Fondasyon last week, and dropped off protein powder and vitamins.

Bev and I have also been busy trying to arrange shipment to Haiti of the donations sitting here in Orangeville. Last Saturday, four students from Robert Hall Secondary School, two students from Orangeville District Secondary School, and our amazing accountant, Nancy Pratt, and her daughters, Samantha and Jennifer, arrived at my place at 9 a.m., and we packed donations until 3 p.m. Approximately two-thirds of donations are now packed, labelled and ready to go. It will not be possible to pack the remaining donations before I leave. We have been offered space to ship half a pallette (28 cu.ft/12 banana boxes) and three boxes of ring notebooks, on a shipment leaving Canada for Cap-Haitien this weekend. This very generous offer comes from another NGO working in Cap-Haitien. It allows us to send backpacks, vitamins, pencil cases, T-shirts, socks and some toothbrushes. We still have roughly two palettes to be shipped. Bev is looking into other arrangements for these boxes. We believe the best route would be to send the remaining 40 banana boxes by either truck or air to Ft. Lauderdale, then ship by sea to Cap Haitien. We have found a reliable, and not too expensive shipping company in Ft. Lauderdale. Bev is currently searching for a trucking company to donate the cost of transport from Orangeville to Ft. Lauderdale, as well as a preferred rate from an air carrier.

I leave Orangeville on Monday, November 20th, and arrive in Cap-Haitien on Wednesday, November 22. Thanks to generous donations received to date, we currently have funds to keep all programs going until March 2007. Donations made between now and February, which are needed to keep operating beyond March 1, will be transferred to me in Haiti.

The Starthrower Foundation annual general meeting will take place early in the new year. Those of you (or someone you know) in southern Ontario, who would like to be considered for a position on the Starthrower Foundation board of directors, please contact Bev for details using the email form.

Until next time, kenbe red,kenbe pa lage


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Orangeville, Ontario

Hello Everyone!

Two fundraisers took place in the past few weeks, and we are grateful for the monies raised. In the United Kingdom, Francilien completed his second marathon this year, with proceeds to go to sponsoring student(s). Here in Orangeville, Janice, the owner of As We Grow, did a wonderful job on the (Loonies* for Haiti Day (*loonies are slang for Canadian $1 coins featuring the loon). Janice was totally organized, worked steadily all day, and encouraged every customer to donate. As well, she is donating a percentage of sales for the day. Fundraisers are doubly valuable, as they also serve to raise awareness for our efforts and for the extreme poverty in Haiti. A big Thank You! to all who worked so hard.

As many of you know, a partial list of students on the waiting list has been posted. We have only paid first trimeste fees for this year. The students will need help at Christmas in order to continue and be eligible to write exams, then pick up reports needed for 2nd and 3rd trimeste. Currently, we have no money for them. Only those in Lycee or apprenticeship are paid for the entire year.

Marlene D. was not accepted into nursing at Justinien [local hospital], and she needs a sponsor to complete her education at inivesite prive (private nursing schools). She has secured information from 2 schools. The tuition for each is $9000 Haitian ($1,300 US) per year for 4 years. Since the practicum takes place in Port-au-Prince, she needs another $300-$500 US for travel and living expenses. If she doesn't find a sponsor, everything stops for her. Why have we supported her the last 6 years if not to make a difference? If you know someone who could see her through 4 years of nursing achool, it would be wonderful. Another donor has come forward for both Elorge and Frandy starting next year, and will see them through medical school in Cuba for as long as it takes.

We have not yet found the resources to ship our donated supplies from here to Cap-Haitien, though we continue to look for someone who is able to help us with the shipment. Receipt of Bev's letter to the Governor General of Canada's office asking for help with shipping was acknowledged, with the comment to 'allow 6 weeks minimum for a response'.

In part, Bev said:

"After much research, we have found a shipping company in Fort Lauderdale which can ship safely to Cap-Haitien and through customs. The cost is $8.00 US per cubic foot. We estimate our supplies are about 80 cubic feet. The challenge is to truck the supplies from Ontario to Fort Lauderdale, and to pay for both the land trucking and the ocean shipping. We can use student volunteers to pack the shipment here."

It's now 5 months and counting, and there's been no further word. As well, Bev continues to send letters of enquiry to organizations and individuals who might be able to help.

Abel (in Cap-Haitien) tells me that we have a problem with the beans we have been distributing. Because we purchase in quantity before I leave, they are now full of ti bet yo (little bugs).

I plan to return to Haiti on November 20, and then stay for 4 or 5 months (March, April 2007). With the funds currently available, I will keep the house open for December, and keep the food program going as long as possible. As well, I will take Fritz the proceeds from all his paintings that have been sold by that time. {See paintings catalog).

Kenbe, Blessings,



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