Sunday, August 30, 2009

Haiti School Registration, Supplies, Shipping Backpacks, Exam Results

Hello Everyone,

As yet, I don't have an update from Sewoz (Sister Rosemary) on her trip to France with our student. When she phoned on their return two weeks ago, the phone connection was too poor and full of static, and she has been on retreat ever since. She did say the trip went amazingly well, and I will report details when I again hear from her and Rosenie.

Registrations, Text Books, Uniforms
Auguste, our director of education, has emailed that he is extremely busy registering (fe insripyson an) our students in school in Cap-Haitien, and arranging for registration in Sen Rafayel.

When students are registered, the schools provides the book lists and uniform material samples they will need to attend classes this fall. As the text book lists come in to our office, Starthrower's book repair team begins to assemble the necessary texts, and to compile lists of books that we do not already have. Each day, the staff will go to the market. look through the book stalls and let the vendors know which titles we need, and to hold them for us.

As well, funds to cover the cost of material for uniforms, and tailor / seamstress fees, and buying items like underwear and shoes will be distributed to each student. Claudy in Sen Rafayel is coming to Cap-Haitien this weekend to pick up the money needed to pay for inskripsyon and uniforms in Sen Rafayel schools.

Tuition First Semester
This coming week Auguste will make a return visit to the Cap-Haitien schools to pay the first trimester fees, and Claudy will make another trip to Cap-Haitien to pick up money to pay tuition in Sen Rafayel. Starthrower makes school tuition payments in stages because carrying large sums of money is not wise anywhere, and especially ill advised in Haiti.

School Starts, Exam Results
Haiti school classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, September 7, barring any tropical storms or hurricanes. The weather this year has been much calmer than last year. However, now that Bill and Danny have skirted Haiti, there is another storm brewing with the potential to escalate: See National Hurricane Center

Those students who were ajournee rewrote final state exams last week and are once again awaiting the results.

Sponsors Needed
Vincent, Brunie, Plenitude, Gaby, Alland, Wisly, Casimyr and Osmann are still praying for sponsors (see this post and this post for details on some of these students). Brunie, Gaby, Alland and Wisly will travel to Leogane to write entrance exams for Nursing Sciences program next week.

Currently we have no back packs to fill with supplies and distribute to about 125 students. Judy in NB Canada has some backpacks ready to ship, as do I here in Orangeville, but there is no cost effective way to get them to Haiti. Daniel in Toronto has purchased some in the U.S, and is working with cargo company CasXpress in Ft Lauderdale to ship 48 packs.

If anyone is planning to travel to Florida or Haiti and can deliver these packs part way or all the way to Haiti, please let us know. We are following up on a shipment of supplies (Thanks, Kayla) whose journey to Haiti began in June, and as of yet, have not arrived in Haiti. But many thanks to all who are doing their best to help these students. Whenever the packs arrive, they will be put to immediate use

Reading List
I have been reading lately; it's gift to have the energy and the time. In Teatime for the Traditionally Built, a novel by Alexander McCall Smith, his fictional African Bishop, speaking to a distraught parishioner worried about 'future doom', says,
"Our concern should be what is happening right now. There is plenty of work for love to do'".(p.56)

There is plenty of work for love to do: Such a simple sentence, yet such a profound sentiment.

In Wayne Dyer's Change your Thoughts, Change your Life, he quotes his teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj (pg. 23):

"Wisdom is knowing nothing, Love is knowing everything, and between the two, my life moves. And while you're living, stay as close to Love as you can."

What a challenge: To stay as close to love as you can. Easier said than done with the busy-ness and distractions of every day life. But what a difference we could make in this world if we each consciously make the effort to stay as close to love as we can. Think of the healing that could take place!

Boulder CO Trip
On the weekend of September 11, I plan to travel to Boulder, CO to attend a fundraiser to support our Potable Water Distribution Program. This will be my first solo trip since last summer, and I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Thank You
On a personal note, I spent a day at St. Anne's Spa in Grafton, ON as the guest of owner Jim Corcoran. Jim had invited me to come to St. Anne's last summer, before my illness and surgeries intervened. Thank you, Jim and staff, for a very relaxing, rejuvenating day! As I have another major surgery scheduled for October 20, the timing was perfect.

I know what a fine job Auguste and staff are doing, and that we are all doing everything possible to keep programs running smoothly in my absence.

Thanks again to everyone who is supporting these young people. You are helping them change their lives, and that of their country.

Beni w (Blessings)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Haiti National Exam Results ~ Starthower Students Make Us Proud!

Haiti Exam Results are now posted for the country as a whole, and overall, Starthrower's high school students are more than holding their own, they are doing better than the national average!

This is especially gratifying for us at Starthrower, since these Haiti - wide results include all socio-economic levels, while Starthrower sponsored students are almost exclusively drawn from the poorest of the poor. Yet, once again, these hardworking and motivated young people have demonstrated that given proper support, they can not only compete with Haiti as a whole, they can and do excel!

I am not sure of whom I am prouder: Our students for their hard work, our staff who tutor them, or our sponsors who enable them to go to school! A pat on the back and big hugs to all of you!

2009 Exam Results are In
For 2009 Haiti overall: 23.42 percent success (16.27 percent en rhéto; 32.68 percent en philo) [Selon les statistiques fournies par le Bureau national des examens d'Etat (BUNEXE)].

Starthrower students' 2009 average is currently at 40 percent but hopefully that will improve after the rewrites.

[For those wanting more information, go to Haiti MENFP. Unfortunately, we don't know the breakdown for Haiti north, as the site only gives a breakdown for 3 of the 6 departments in the country.]

Last year, 2008, we had 100 percent pass at the Philo level.(see post July 2008) This year, Deles was unable to tutor students in Sen Rafayel due to his own school schedule, and his absence was keenly felt. Both he and Auguste are natural born teachers, and their tutoring and mentoring is a large factor in the students' success.

The 2008 Haiti country average was 62.19 percent. Quite a drop in 2009, notes Charles, who follows the results from Switzerland, considering the general calm this year in Haiti. But remember, too, that the 2008-9 school year began a month later than usual due to the series of tropical storms and hurricanes that hit in September.

For Starthrower Students July State Exams

Sen Rafayel: 2 pass Philo; 4 ajournee
Cap-Haiien: 2 pass Philo; 2 ajournee.

There were no failures at this level. Those who are ajournee (adjourned) will rewrite exams from August 24-27.

Congratulations to Gaby D. (Philo) and Rose-Guerlande B. (Rheto) who were bon (passed).

(Anna and Cindy from Penn. were able to meet and talk to Gaby, as he happened to be doing a bit of maintenance on the house.)

Gaby has worked very hard since he came to us 5 years ago. He has had malaria at least once every year, as well as other infections. The little kay (house) in which he and his brother, Lusnot, live has been flooded every year. And so every year, the boys have to find temporary shelter while cleaning up.

Now that he has graduated, Gaby wants to continue on to become a nurse, or a medical technologist. I have asked him to decide before we ask for a sponsor. Luckily, either course of study is less expensive than university tuition, and either one will lead to a good job when completed.

Alland and Wisly dropped by the other day. They originally wanted to be doctors but when they didn't get in to State University, and also decided the cost was too prohibitive for sponsorship, they settled on Agriculture at the University at Limbe, which costs between $4500 and $5000 per year.

Now they have been talking and thinking that they would like to apply to the new School of Nursing program at Leogane (they probably talked to Gaby!) which costs about $3,000 per year, and includes room and board. With their original interest in medicine, and with nursing school costs much lower than medical school, a much lower amount of sponsorship money is needed. Conversely, donations go further when programs cost less, and so will benefit a greater number of students.

Inskripsyon Registering for Fall Term
Auguste, Starthrower's director of education, is starting to visit area schools to pay for inskripsyon in order to hold places for our sponsored students. And we still need backpacks for September, though not as many as we did last week, thanks to Daniel in Toronto. He is trying out a new shipping route to send some of the needed backpacks and pencil cases, and will let us know how successful it is!

Post Secondary Sponsors Needed

As well as students listed above,sponsors are needed for Casimyr and Osman, Teacher's College (5 year Co-op), about $3000/year.

That will include a small allowance for room and board as well as travel twice a year home to Sen Rafayel.

If Micheline (see photo here) passes her Philo, she will return for the second year of the medical technologist program. Cost is about $1500/per year which includes a daily travel allowance as well as a stipend for room and board.

Elorge and Marlene, our current students in pre med in Santiago, Dominican Republic, need $5,000-$7,000 per year. This includes apartment, food, travel to Haiti twice a year.

We subsidize the sponsor money as there are always costs popping up throughout the school year which we cannot anticipate.

Johnley wishes to attend the Ecole Professionelle to apprentice electrician. (This is different from Plenitude in that it is not a University program; the requisite is 5 years of high school, or Rheto which he has.

It is a very well known and respected school. Cost per year is about $1500. Will have to check length of program but know that all are co-op. Diplomas are awarded and valued.

For more photos of these and other students see pictures on the Starthrower site.

Once again, thanks to everyone for helping make this possible. And we welcome any and all initiiatives to continue to support these deserving young Haitians!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Travel to Haiti ~ American Visitors Bring Rice, Oil to Lakay Fondasyon in Cap-Haitien

Much excitement this week in Haiti, as long-awaited visitors from America -- Starthrowers Mme Cindy and Anna, on their first trip to Haiti -- traveled by plane and bus to meet the staff and students at Lakay Fondasyon in Cap-Haitien!

Welcome Sign at Lakay Fondasyon

Staff and students had prepared a Welcome sign to greet Mme Cindy and Anna. Until now, the stafff had known of Mme Cindy and her friends in Pennsylvania by name only, and through the parcels they send several times each year. How exciting to put a face to a name, and to finally meet one another!

How to Carry a Sack of Rice in Haiti

And they came bearing gifts! Along with good wishes and clothing, Mme Cindy and Anna, with one of their Haitian friends (yellow shirt), brought some rice and oil they'd bought in Cap-Haitien for Starthrower staff and students. In the foto, Cindy's friend shows Anna how to balance and carry a sack of rice (diri) on her head.

Starthrower Students at Lakay Fondasyon Cap-Haitien

Several of the Starfish sported new Tshirts, which I believe were part of the gifts brought from Pennsylvania. At the Lakay, we keep an assortment of games and balls on hand for the kids to use. You may notice that socks and running shoes are lacking. Flip Flops (those flat, plastic sandals) are fine for walking around, but not suitable for playing soccer.

Mme Cindy, Micheline, Anna at Starthrower Lakay

No one was more excited to finally meet in person than were Anna and Micheline, one of Stathrower's senior staff on the Text Book Refurbishing Program. The girls have been emailing for almost two years (thanks to donors who arranged for internet access and computers at Lakay Fondasyon!), ever since Anna sent Micheline a Christmas gift box as part of Mme Cindy's holiday initiative that year.

Starfish Micheline, Anna, (Friend), Mme Cindy

This visit gave them a chance to meet one another and for the American visitors to see first hand Life in Haiti. Anna and Cindy will be back in the U.S.A. this week, and I look forward to talking to them about their trip.

For those of you interested in travel routes to Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Mme Cindy flew to Santiago, Dominican Republic, then traveled by road via Caribe Tours bus from Santiago DR to Cap-Haitien (Caribe Bus to Haiti Info) This is the same bus service that our two students Elorge and Marlene take to get to medical school in Santiago.

Mme Cindy's trip coincided with high school graduation in Haiti, and she was on hand to congratulate our new grad Gaby! (see update and photo here)

On another but related topic . . .

TS Ana map National Hurricane Center

Travel to Haiti at this time of year (late August, September) is often difficult as this is the time when tropical storms and hurricanes usually appear (see post last September - Hurricane Ike). For current information on tropical storms in the Caribbean see National Hurricane Center updates. Today, Ana and Bill, the first storms of the season, are south east of Hispaniola, Haiti's island.


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