Thursday, October 14, 2010

Changes, Sewing Machines and Heroes

October is a month of change - seasons change, clocks change, in some places we get out the winter clothing.  Daniel has been working furiously to create our new website which showcases the young people we serve, as well as some of those on our active waiting list.  As of to-day, it is live, yet another change.  We will be adding more faces from time to time, as we are still waiting for some state exam results for those who wrote their exams the last week of September.

Daniel's time with us in Cap-Haitien provided hands on experience which will add to the impact of the new site.  Please check it out - same place starthrowerfoundation.org.

Thanks to David in New Brunswick, two of our summer graduates will be self-employed.  Paulaine (in Cap-Haitien) and Kesner (in Sen Rafayel) each graduated from sewing/cooking programs.  Paulaine received her sewing machine last week.  We transported it in the back of the truck, Auguste and I holding on to it as the journey was brief but the road jarring.


Here's a short video of the delivery.  Better quality video on our website.
video

Thanks to Cindy in PA and the Flip video she sent via Daniel, there have been many moments of fun and opportunities to connect. 


Nothing happens quickly in Haiti and most transactions depend on having funds on hand.  The sewing machine for Kesner was sold to someone who happened to be on the spot, however the boss who sold the machine to Paulaine is on the lookout for another and will phone us when it arrives.  Another connection.

Secondary school officially opened Mon Oct 4, although some of last year's students are still waiting for results, so they missed placements.  Nothing is simple or easy and there are always surprises which present themselves.  There are still schools with structural damage from the Jan. 12 earthquake, so Plenito's 2nd year (of a 5 yr degree program) in electrical engineering is up in the air.  Administration was determined to open in the damaged location but the students banded together and wrote a letter, asking that an alternate, safe site be found.  He was concerned about our reaction to this action.  For me, this is the difference education makes - it helps people find their voice and put it together with other voices.  He contacted us today, saying that administration is determined to open in the old location, so the entire class is now looking for a university offering a degree program in electrical engineering.  The challenge will be to find one which accepts their first year credentials.

Our centre is still in need of repairs as a result of quake damage.  I can't imagine sitting in a classroom with the knowledge that it has been labelled for demolition.

Elorge and Marlene (below) returned to the Dominican Republic to find that fees per credit and inscription fees had all been raised.  Every student was in the same predicament, so they banded together in a quiet protest.  The fee increase remained, but again - the courage and determination to make their voices heard.


Many thanks to Cindy and David S. in Inglewood, Ontario for their donation of a reconditioned laptop.  Daniel delivered it to us and it left Cap-Haitien Monday Oct 11 headed for Leogane, in the care of our nursing students who are thrilled to have it.  They now share 2 laptops among the 4 students.  There are other students still in need of wireless laptops, so please contact me if you have one to donate.  There are visitors coming who will each be able to transport one.

Rain has been hampering communication in Cap-Haitien for the past week.  Internet locations in town have been without a signal.  Our centre (Lakay Fondasyon) is still without internet service and the batteries for the solar/inverter system have all died a natural death.  As they were a gift, we will replace them only when funds permit.  After rent and staff salaries, school fees and supplies have priority, then food and water distribution.

I will be in Canada for about a month to meet with our bookkeeper and fulfil speaking engagements.  In my absence, Auguste will continue running the centre and Micheline and Erzilia are continuing to purchase text books in the market, cover and label them and deliver to those waiting.  Below - Erzilia on the floor of the office labelling text books.


Jack looks after the grounds with Lusnot and Dieugrand working security.  Carmene and Joceline keep the house in shape.  Although their hours are cut back out of necessity, with the exception of Jackson, our driver, everyone is still working.  As he still has his taxi business, he'll be just fine.  Daniel has added a page to the new website showcasing our staff.  We hope that it's an opportunity for you to put faces on the names I mention so frequently.

For the last 6 years our book renew program has kept our spending on new text books to a minimum.  This year the pilot secondary programs (nouvo secondaire I, II, III and IV) have made demands on our funds and staff.  However, Erzilia and Micheline are not complaining as it has created a weekend job for them.

So I'll end where I began - with an invitation to look over the new site and become acquainted with the courageous young people we serve.  We've kept their stories brief to give you an idea of the challenges they face in their lives.  They are heroes.

Kembe pa lage

Sharon

4 comments:

Stephen said...

I am "Silversard" who has been following Sharon and this website for a number of years. On occasion I have donated a few dollars to the program and would have done more, but am committed to other children's works in Cap Haitien. About 3 weeks ago I learned that I will not be on this planet much longer and so I am trying to wrap up my earthly life in just a few short weeks or months. However, I leave behind real and adopted family in USA and Haiti who will continue to work in Haiti on dental issues, construction issues, and, of course, the needs of all the people for literacy, employment, food, etc. I write this comment only to be able to say "good bye" and that I wish this "loose band of brothers" much success in the years ahead. Too me, it looks like you have the right hearts, ideas, and spirit to "throw many of those starfis" back into the see and know they will survive and one day thrive . . . I will be watching and waiting :-)

Stephen Sardeson, Baraboo, WI, USA

Sharon said...

Stephen - Thank you for taking the time to send your message. Your support over the years has been much appreciated. You remind me that whatever we do with our lives, it is the connections, the relationships which nourish and strengthen us.
Thank you also for your love of Haiti and your courage - let's say 'pi ta' instead of goodbye.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Beni-w
Sharon

Karen said...

Stephen,

All of us are served to live each day as if it were our last; That Bell tolls for us all.

That you are hearing it from a little distance is a blessing in itself.

Thank you for making such a difference in so many lives!

Wishing you Joy and Peace,

Karen

Peg said...

Steven, may you be greeted with joy at the crossing.

Bless you very much, Peg

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