Friday, July 20, 2007

Hydro, Housing, Workforce and Outrage

Hello Everyone,

We have 18 students working for the summer with another 5 on the (work) waiting list. We just do not have the resources for everyone to work. Nine are working in direksyon (the education program), which involves cleaning, repairing and covering last year's text books to hand out to this year's students. They work 3 days a week and have chosen to start at 7 a.m. when it is cooler. They finish at 1 p.m. Our students are a little slow returning books this year.

The other nine students are working with Jack, taking care of the house and grounds. They work 4 days a week and have also voted to work from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. We are preparing to open the staircase in the kitchen out on to the roof. This should drop the temperature inside considerably as we will replace the current tol (corrugated metal) roof with cement blocks. Here in Haiti, we purchase cement and sand, rent a form and make the cement blocks ourselves. When they are dry enough, we pass them up to the roof using our gwo nechel la (long ladder) with one student every 3 rungs.

Claudy brought textbooks and news from Sen Rafayel. While we here in Cap-Haitien are parched and hoping for rain on a daily basis, Sen Rafayel (up the mountain) again has too much rain, and the gardens, which were coming back after the December flood, have again been destroyed. That little village just cannot catch a break.

As of yesterday, our staff have responded to 102 young people seeking entrance and help. (That is just since I returned on July 1st) We have 14 on our new wait list for September. We have not made any home visits yet, as we are hoping to find a vehicle (or perhaps 2 used vehicles -- we have everyone in Cap on the lookout).

Four of those who came did not have report cards, as they had not paid final trimest (term) fees. Auguste travelled to Semi Lycee Anacaona and paid for 3 of them. Claudy will come down with more books and go back with money to pay fee for Monese. There will be others in the interim who have not been able find out if they passed due to shortage of funds to get report cards released.

Their housing, too, is a growing problem. The little shacks (ti kay yo) which used to cost between $200 and 500 Haitian ($30-$70 USD) are now $1500-$5000 Haitian ($200-$700 USD). That is with no improvements. We are on the constant look for housing. I think it is time to start buying a few and fixing them up for student housing.

Jhennie and Dieugrand both have eye infections. Although we try to provide sunglasses and hats for everyone, by the time these young people reach their teens, a lifetime of sun glare, blowing dust and constant dehydration has already taken its toll.
Electricity has been very intermittent so far.

Last week, everyone went without power as EDH was saving hydro for Sunday night's COPA America soccer match between Brazil and Argentina. This city erupted in a frenzy of dance and music -- and the best part -- no violence. Last night, we still had no electricity, so those waiting for emails, please have patience. Our wonderful system is only as good as the electricity which drives it.

Wednesday morning, I turned on the computer, and saw the headline '195 feared dead in Brazilian plane crash'. What a tragedy, and we are all sorry to hear of the lives lost.

But let's put it in the perspective of the larger picture. Stats tell us that, worldwide, between 24,000 and 30,000 children (anyone 18 yrs of age and younger, according to the UN) die daily as a result of the debt crisis (absolute poverty).

To put the large numbers in perspective, the number of children who die each day, worldwide, is at least 120 of those planes. All those planes -- filled with infants, toddlers, youth, teens -- crashing every day. No survivors. And a significant number of those deaths occur in Haiti, and our grief is real and as profound. This is not old news; this is Current Events. This is happening NOW.

No experts make their way here to examine the tragedy. No teams arrive to comfort family and friends, who grieve and ask 'WHY?"

Why are we not outraged?

Please examine what you are doing to change these statistics. Each number represents a real person. Indifference kills as surely as malnutrition.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Heat, Dehydration a Fact of Life in Haiti

Good Morning.

Yesterday, we were working away and a girl started wailing outside of our compound. As the wailing continued unabated, I went and opened the portail and the staff followed. We saw that a group had gathered about 15-20 feet from our door. I asked what was going on, and one of the young men came over and told me, "Yon jen te tomber mouri." (Literal translation: A youth had fallen down dead.)

I know there is currently a heat wave in parts of Canada and the States. Perhaps it will help people begin to understand conditions here: Try to imagine the heat wave continuing for weeks, and NOT having access to drinking water, nor air conditioning or fans, and to be living in a 6'x6' metal-roofed shack which gathers the heat throughout the days, and not only wrings all water from your body but cooks you as well.

Our mother cat, Lucy, gave birth to one kitten yesterday morning. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of contractions when 2 feral cats charged into the cat house and box where she was akouche. The trauma sent her into hiding , ignoring the newborn, so don't know if it has a chance.

More later (plis pita)


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Back in Cap-Haitien for the Summer

Hello Everyone!

I arrived back in Cap-Haitien safe and sound via Ft Lauderdale. I was up at 3 a.m. to get to airport by 4:15, then the flight was delayed 45 mins but no explanation. Jack and Auguste met me at the airport here.

Auguste weighs about 65 pounds after his bout of malaria. Jack's wife, Angeline, and 2 daughters all have typhoid, so he sent them by bus up the mountain to Sen Rafayel, where family can care for them.

I noticed quite a difference coming in from the airport: The streets are so clean now (in comparison). But I fear the price is too high -- the further marginalization of the poor from lost income for those not allowed to sell on the streets.

Rosenie and Dieugrand were at the house waiting for me. Rosenie had made a beautiful paper flower centrepiece as a welcome home gift. We opened the house and began to clean, and Rodney M. arrived about 10 minutes later looking for work.

No electricity, so Jack and Rodney went looking for ice for the fridge and for potable water as we were out. In the meantime, Elorge arrived from Sen Rafayel. He is writing finals beginning Monday, and needed money. Everyone who writes must go to another centre, and he has to go to Grand Riviere du Nord. He worked for a few hours, then Jack bought bananas and bread so everyone ate together.

Auguste also writes this week so Rosenie will work in the office in his place.

Hydro just arrived (it is about 6:15) but a storm is brewing -- wind, thunder, some lightning. The cats (our natural pest control devices) are also happy to see me as I brought food. I think Lucy 2 is with child so more kittens on the way.

Our first three days have been memorable. Rosenie is working in direksyon this week while Auguste writes (konpoze) exams for Philo-a (7th and last year of high school).

Monday morning, we had 15 students arrive before noon, and we went through 20 gallons of potable water that day. (I look forward to the day we have a water purification system on our well so we can distribute to our guys.) Eight of those who came were looking for summer employment.

We have not started to process text books yet, as Claudy and Louisena have to track them down in Sen Rafayel, then arrange for transport down the mountain. Claudy telephoned this morning (Weds.) to say that they had started. It is easier here in Cap as everyone brings in their books when they bring in their report cards.

Those who did not ask for work asked if we could send them to summer school. Marlene is going to study Francais Intensif as she will be writing an entrance exam somewhere for medical school.

We paid the registration (inskripsyon) fee for Deles at the University in Limbe. He then writes an entrance exam Aug. 3. If successful, he will begin a 4 year program studying Agronomy. The fees for his program total $1400 US per year (subject to change in the following years but not by much), which includes room and board for the two semesters as well as transportation to and from Sen Rafayel. It would be great if someone, or perhaps a group, could take on this young man. He is a very hard worker and will not let you down.

Deles and Marlene were our first graduates, completing high school last year. Due to lack of funds, they have spent the year tutoring and studying computers while generally just waiting for support. Marlene wants to become a doctor, as does Frantzy. He will finish this year. They both need support for this undertaking. Elorge (his photo is on the website home page) has a sponsor already for medical school.

I am going to begin by registering them at the University of Notre Dame in Haiti, as I do not have the energy to gather information for schools out of country. Perhaps we have someone reading this who could gather all the info needed for us to make a decision should they not pass entrance here (Cuba, Caribbean, Dominican Republic,specifically). We need to know the cost of everything (tuition, room, board, books, travel etc). We also have to send someone to Port-au-Prince to begin the passport and visa process.

I will provide the cost for medical student(s) in Haiti in the next update.
Rosenie and Marlene were put out of their ti kay (house) yesterday morning. The owner arrived as they were leaving for work and said he wanted them out by noon as he wanted the house for a relative. If they did not do so, he was going to bring the police. So I sent Jack with them to move their possessions to his house temporarily. The going rate for a one room shack (no water, no toilet) is between $1500 and 5000 Haitian ($210-700 US). They found one for $1500, and we loaned them the money.

M Brutus arrived at 6 a.m. today for the rent money. We will begin construction on opening the kitchen staircase out to the room next week, after our visitors from Windsor leave. We will be finished (maybe) by the time David, Kathleen and Marc arrive Aug. 15th.

Modeline came for pain meds as she now has pain at the site of her surgery. She still wants to attend summer school, however. She also has to rewrite finals 30 July as she passed the trimeste after the operation, butnot the 2 prior.

On a lighter note:
On my first night home, I'd gotten into bed when I realized I'd forgotten my flashlight outside the netting. As I reached for it, I knocked over the glass on the bedside table, and it fell and broke. Then a small fragment of glass that had landed in my sandal cut my toe when I put it on, so I went into the bathroom to wash and bandage my toe. There, I was met by a 3-inch cockroach and a much larger tarantula, who were doing a welcome dance for me. It's very difficult to vanquish unwanted guests with a wind up flashlight!

Will send now as hydro very iffy.



Related Posts with Thumbnails