Sunday, October 11, 2009

Haiti News Students, Airline, Shipping, Schools, Hydro, Heat, New Campaigns

Bonjou tout moun / Hello Everyone!

I am back, safe and sound from Cap-Haitien. The trip was all too brief but certainly very busy and rewarding! Here's some news about shipping, new airline to Haiti, and pictures of some of the post-secondary students and life in Lakay.

Student News - Good News
Auguste and I reviewed the finances, and requests for aid from students, and then took Jackson's taxi to town to do the banking. As always, a challenge in Haiti, but they're all sorted out now.

Nursing School Students: Wisly, Alland, (Sharon) Brunie, Gaby

Looking over the papers from the School of Nursing, plus a phone call for clarification, we found out that what appeared to be a yearly fee of $200USD per student for dormitory and cafeteria use is actually turned out to be a monthly fee. Yikes!

Vincent, Auguste, Sharon, Cap-Haitien Haiti

Vincent, our third year agriculture student at the university in Limbe, and Plenitude had both received the demi bous (half bursary) they applied for. Vincent 's dormitory fees were waived for the year.

Plenitude demi-bous for the university in Port-Au-Prince to begin a 5 year program in master electronics. There is no dorm or cafeteria there, but a small allowance from Starthrower will allow him share a ti kay (house) and to eat daily.

Casimyr, Sharon, Osmann ~ Teacher's College Haiti

Casimyr and Osman were both admitted to the 5 year Teacher's College program. We provide a small stipend to assist with room and board. This is a new state university highly recommended by one of the nuns currently in second year. A phone call from Rosemary yesterday provided new information: There is free bus service for these students to the school. It is a fair distance outside of Cap-Haitien.

Micheline ~ Year 2 Medical Technology

Micheline successfully entered the second year of the Medical Technology program. It was so good to talk to all of them, and catch up and celebrate their successes with them.

Rosenie, back from her trip to France, also successfully entered the second year Kindergarten teacher training. Talking with Rosenie was a riot! I didn't have to say a word. All she could talk about was the trip to France and every new experience from airplane rides to the food to the Eiffel Tower, to meeting young people from all around the world to the challenge of many languages!

I am so proud of our staff and students. In my absence everything continued. As there were enough funds in the bank to get everyone enrolled in to school and cover tuition until Christmas, Auguste and I agreed to go moso pa moso (pay a portion at a time) and leave it to the universe to provide for January to June. This is a strategy we have employed many times.

Haiti Shipping
On the way to Haiti, in Ft. Lauderdale, I purchased, packaged and delivered supplies needed in Haiti and took the boxes to CAS Xpress (the new shipping company), who assured me that the supplies would arrive in Cap-Haitien via Port-au-Prince on October 20. We shall see. We are still waiting for boxes sent in June and August.

Florida Coastal Airlines
Since Lynx Airlines, the usual carrier, has ceased operations, Marjorie, who travelled with me from Ft Lauderdale, and I flew to Cap-Haitien on the new Florida Coastal Airline (see Lynx site for details). The plane had 31 seats and a lavatory, though no running water. WOW! After a smooth flight, then the usual dance through customs, we were finally out the door to meet Auguste and Jackson, our usual taxi driver. I was HOME. I would have kissed the ground except that it is too difficult for me to get down and up!

Lakay Fondasyon - Our Home in Haiti
In the taxi to the house (kay la), we all talked non-stop as we caught up with each other's news. Then to greet me at the house were Carmene, who takes care of the house and cooking, Joceline, Jack, Wisky and Diuegrand. It was so very good to see them all.

And the garden! How it had grown. The house was spic and span, cleaned by Joceline and Carmene. Because my surgical dressings must be changed daily, the house had to be as clean as it possibly could. It also smelled heavenly!

Carmene had cooked us dinner, her variation of traditional Haitian foods -- Mayi Moulen (a cornmeal mush cooked with kidney beans, coconut, peppers, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese) and Militon Gratine, a very mild pepper-like vegetable. A real treat! Sister Rosemary and long time driver, Jud, joined us for a catch-up visit. So much has happened while I have been in Canada.

Hydro and Heat
Once again, I woke with the roosters at 4 a.m. and, miracle of miracles, we had electricity! Hydro seemed to work during the night for a few hours, so that made it the ideal time to do my dressing change. It was also a little cooler then. When we arrived, Sister Rosemary reported that the temperature in the courtyard at the convent was 47 C (117 F) in the shade. This is very unusual heat for the end of September; It was more like July.

Dr. Coq, Sister Rosemary, Dr. Jerome, Sharon

On Sunday just before Marjorie and I left to go to the airport for our flight from Cap-Haitien to Ft Lauderdale, in addition to Rosemary, Dr. Coq (surgeon) and Dr. Jerome (Internal Medicine) came to our kay la. They had heard on the street that I was back in town, and they wanted to say hello and take some pictures of 'the team'. My gratitude to them is boundless: They literally saved my life!

I'm so glad I took the time and took the chance to make the trip to Haiti. Seeing how well the centre is running, and knowing for sure how the staff and students are doing will help me through my upcoming surgery and recovery.

Two New Campaigns for school, food program
Although Starthrower Foundation welcomes individual sponsors for our students, we decided that 'many hands make light work'. That is, many small donations soon add up! The two new campaigns will be ongoing, and run in tandem.

We need to raise $20,000 USD to cover costs for our post secondary students, and a similar amount to restart our Food Distribution Program for secondary school students. This week we received $660.00 USD. Thank you so much! We are on our way!

It bears mentioning that when one donates through Canada Helps, it is not necessary to register or set up an account (see information in right menu). And already, several fundraisers are being planned in Ontario. Working together, we CAN make a difference!

Thanks, Everyone, for your continued support.

And Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Beni tout moun

PS If you are planning a fundraiser, do let us know and we can post details on the web site.

PPS Rose Youdeline's sewing machine arrived last week. It has been assembled and will be delivered up the mountain to her in Sen Rafayel this week. See photo on this post.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Climate Change Haiti Deforestation Hurricanes Poverty Linked

In small island countries like Haiti, climate change is exacerbated by a dispiriting merry-go-round of deforestation (removal of trees), Caribbean hurricanes and tropical storms, and the resulting landslides and floods, and lack of infrastructure and extreme poverty: Is poverty the chicken or the egg? Which came first? Or are climate and poverty co-dependent?

Since climate change is the focus for today -- Blog Action Day 2009 -- and Haiti and its poor are the focus of the Starthrower Foundation blog, it's a good time to think about how climate change affects poor countries like Haiti, and how the actions of Haitians and lack of actions of First World countries keep Haiti on a poverty continuum.

Effects of global warming on Haiti has a Top Ten list of the effects of global warming climate change; Haiti has seven of them.

Disappearance of coral reefs:

The beaches of northern Haiti near Cormier Plage are composed of sheets of dead coral:

From the air, the deforested (treeless) mountains of Haiti mark the border with its greener island-mate, the Dominican Republic. Without trees to hold soil and absorb rainfall, the stage is set for landslides. Poor people do what they can to survive, and use whatever materials are available to them, like cutting trees to make charcoal for fuel.

Rise in sea levels
As an island country, Haiti is at the mercy of rising sea levels. Major Haiti cities such as Cap-Haitien, Port-au-Prince and Gonaives are located at or near sea level. Gonaives has been devastated by floods several years in a row.

More killer storms:

Haiti is in the Caribbean hurricane zone. While 2009 saw no hurricanes or major tropical storms make landfall, the country is still feeling the effects of 2008's major hurricanes.

Crop failures
Crop losses from storm-induced landslides and flooding in 2008 meant poor people got poorer, hungry people lost a source of food, and farmers had no crops to market.

Water shortages
Like all poor countries, Haiti lacks the infrastructure to provide clean drinking water and irrigation for farms.

Fossil fuels use:
Poor countries like Haiti, those who have vehicles at all will have older, less fuel efficient vehicles and use more polluting 2-cycle engines. Most cars and trucks are used gas guzzlers discarded by richer countries.

Reforestation, Hurricane preparedness
The vicious cycle continues as poverty begets poverty. Even first world countries are unable to decide how to cope with the effects of climate change; poor countries cannot cope at all. Hurricane and storm warnings and shelters would help lower loss of life and property. Reforestation of Haiti would be a good start; Planting trees would help reduce the devastating effects of hurricane rains and flooding, and protect crops.

But given that Haiti is a small island nation roughly the size of the U.S. state of Maryland, would new forests in Haiti make much of an impact globally? Compared to the deforestation of millions of acres in large rain forests like the Amazon, likely not.

Making a Difference, One Child at a Time
But like Starthrower Foundation's slogan (making a difference, one child at a time), we can make a difference one poor country at a time, if needs be. Working in Haiti, we can help them to mitigate the effects of climate change; By planting one tree at a time, upgrading one vehicle at a time, cleaning one well at a time. Helping one country at time, we can help effect change over time.

As long as we don't run out of time.

-Karen Zabawa
Related: Blog Action Day 2008


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