Thursday, August 9, 2007

To and From Port-Au-Prince and School News

Hello Everyone,

It seems as though the electricity and satellite signal have joined forces to keep me from communicating. By the time they arrive in tandem, so much has happened I can't remember what I wanted to tell you. I know -- I should write it down, just too busy!!

Last week, I travelled to Port-au-Prince in search of a truck, as well as to track down a shipment of donated meds. Auguste and I travelled with Rosemary, Jud and Sofo in their new Mitsubishi truck. Unfortunately, NO vehicle is comfortable on that trip! It's 250 km / 155 miles (much of it up and down mountains) and it takes 7 to 8 hours on a good day (no accidents, no robbers, no rain).

That same week, Elorge, Marlene and Frantzy travelled to Port-au-Prince by bus to register (inskri) for medical school. We still do not have sponsors for them, but I know the support will come. This was their first time through the country to Port-au-Prince, as it was for Auguste. For them to be able to see their capital city -- priceless! They will travel back the first week of September to write entrance exams. The first 120 applicants are accepted.

Last Friday, Deles and Robert travelled to Limbe to write entrance exams for a 3-year university program in Agronomy. Again, there's no $, but it will come, in bits and pieces. Robert was so excited because the results for Philo and Rheto came out the same day, and he was bon (pass). Elorge was also bon, Frantzy and Auguste were ajourne -- they have a week to study then they have to rewrite everything. Jhennie was ajourne for Rheto, and Julia, Micheline and Rosenie were elimine (fail).

We received 179 young people in July (we are not open weekends) and added 43 to the new waiting list: 20 are from Sen Rafayel with 8 from last year's waiting list.

Our tutoring program in Sen Rafayel was a great success. Everyone passed, most with an average of 7 plus. Most of those that Deles worked with daily were those who were not passing, who had averages between 3 and 4.5. Deles is a natural teacher, but because of the poor pay, lack of job security and lack of respect, he has chosen instead to study agronomy. Perhaps he will teach at the University one day.

Claudy and Louisena came down the mountain from Sen Rafayel yesterday. We sent back lists and money to register 48 students at 6 different schools. Results for 9eme came out yesterday so we will begin to register next week. We preregistered a dozen last week in Cap-Haitien. Rosenie is holding down the office and overseeing text book prep as Auguste is studying.

Next week we also begin to prepare backpacks as the book lists will be ready. We have the students -- all we need is the financial support.

Boss Elektrisyen is here today installing a light above the new door which now allows us to access and use the roof as another space. I ate dinner up there last night. It is about 15 degrees cooler up there! I dare say our guests next week (David, Kathleen and Marc) might want to take the hammocks up there and sleep. I bought the hammocks before leaving Canada, and they (visitors) will be bringing them here for me. If the hammocks are effective, then they will make for an inexpensive bed, with a bonus -- no place for the mice to make a home.

I reported eye infections for Jhennie and Dieugrand. Both also needed glasses. Dieugrand has his now, and we pick up Jhennie's on Saturday. This means she will have them to write exams on Monday. Hopefully, no more headaches for her!!!

We're still without a vehicle. We saw a couple of new trucks in Port-au-Prince. However, they last on the lot about as long as it takes for the paperwork to dry. Without the money to buy them on the spot, you're out of luck. Our work is very restricted while we must depend on public transit. This summer has been particularly difficult as more and more drivers refuse to pick up blans (non-Haitians).

We have visitors coming in Sept., and next February and March. March should be particularly interesting, as two groups arrive at the same time. Anyone have any bunk beds we could set up??

As well, a long term visitor will probably travelling back here with me in November. She is a friend of Sister Rosemary and will travel to the Nutrition Centre each day.

As many of you know, we had to discontinue the food distribution program as of July 1, in order to pay for text book prep. Maybe next year we can feed everyone AND provide summer employment for a few. We have to do it this way as text books are too expensive to replace yearly. We get about 4 or 5 years out of our books.

Re: The Arrogance of Charity: I received some great questions about what happens here in Haiti when well-intentioned people send items they think are necessary. Unfortunately, most of the time, when goods that are available here are shipped from abroad, it hurts the local economy, which adds to Haiti's woes. Goods such as foodstuffs and clothing can be purchased in-country.

Haiti does have some farming, as well as rice paddies, coffee plantations, and a spaghetti factory, and here at the house, we make our own peanut butter. So, when these items are purchased elsewhere and sent to us, local growers and merchants cannot compete, and the cycle of poverty deepens. Sending money is always the most helpful response. And when we need something that's NOT available in Haiti, we let you know.



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