Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Vehicle, Sen Rafayel Cap-Haitien Haiti Schools, Universities, Summer Programs, House Repairs

Hello Everyone,

Here's an update on what's happening with Starthrower Foundation in Haiti. Our apologies for the long interval since the last update. It's been a very busy time.

Here's what has been happening in Haiti:
  • House Repairs
  • Schools, Universities Classes, Students
  • Summer Programs / Travel
  • New Vehicle, Driver

Repairs to Lakay Fondasyon
Lakay Fondasyon Cap-Haitien Haiti Quake Repairs
During my last few weeks in Cap-Haitien, we had been unable to use the internet as staff and bosses were digging through concrete and ceramic in the living room to install the support beam. The cement dust was terrible, so everything needed to be covered.

As the entire ceiling in the living room needs to be replaced (much more cement dust), it is best done while I am in Canada.
House Repairs Cap-Haitien ~ Making it safe
Repairs for quake damage, etc. continue in my absence, specifically the ceiling in the living room/dining room.

Although there are several more supporting beams to be installed, the extent of the deconstruction and the cost of materials and salaries for skilled tradespeople make it necessary to await a reply from the report I sent to the owner prior to leaving, that documented costs to date and repairs accomplished and pending.

Hopefully he will share the cost with us.

Schools, Universities Classes
Cap-Haitien High schools: Classes will continue through July in an attempt to cover this year's material.  Our new students Espania, Pico, Wilius, who lost everything in Port-au-Prince following the earthquake, are happy to be back at school  although the aftershocks (4.5 last Thursday) are keeping everyone off centre.

Each school is offering hastily created 'extra courses' for large fees in an attempt to bring in extra revenue. We are not sending our young people to these 'add ons'; They have enough work.

Rosenie is completing the 3rd year of her teacher training for Kindergarten in Cap-Haitien and Micheline her third year of Medical technology at Institute Polytechnique du Cap-Haitien.

Sen Rafayel  Schools will hold classes throughout the summer. When we travel up to Sen Rafayel in July, we will be able to see the situation first hand.

University of Limbe: Agriculture (Agronomie): Deles and Vincent are completing their 3rd year of 5 year degree program. They will write finals the beginning of July. Their program was relatively uninterrupted as Limbe was one of the very few places not disrupted by the quake and aftershocks.

University Santiago, Dominican Republic:  Elorge and Marlene are completing their first year of premed. The first year and a half was intensive Spanish. They have no summers off, as the year consists of three terms with a week off in between each.

We plan to travel to Santiago toward the end of July for a few days. Elorge and Marlene are quite excited about this visit. We will see the Santiago university campus and visit the tikay they are renting.

Home visits are easier now that we have both a reliable truck and an experienced driver. Additionally, there will be more information to pass on to sponsors.

University Port-au-Prince: Plenitude has resumed his first year of a 5 year program for a degree in electrical engineering (Genie Electrique) in an alternate location in Port-au-Prince as the school was destroyed and several students and teachers were killed.

Peterson has recovered from his injuries and is now patiently trying to reconstruct his educational history in order to apply for medical school. He was studying medical technology but having lived through the quake he now wants to be a doctor.

The problem of lost papers is enormous and will have implications for a long time. Not only did students lose what they had, but schools and government offices lost originals.
State university campus in Madeline
: Casimyr and Osmann have resumed their first year of teacher's college at the State university campus in Madeline (outside Cap-Haitien).

Vehicle Purchase, Drivers Licences:
We have a vehicle! It is 2000 Mitsubishi Diesel truck with 4 doors, 4x4, and a new motor (2008), thanks to Ann in Colorado for her generous donation making the vehicle purchase possible. (see previous posts about vehicle).
Inspecting the new vehicle Starthrower Foundation
Jackson has been hired part time to drive for us. Auguste, Jack and Dieugrand have been to Auto ecole and could drive in an emergency. However they do not as yet have drivers licences.

While I'm [currently] in Canada, Jackson is providing driving practice for each of them. Although they already have full time jobs with us, they will be able to drive in an emergency.

The next step for them is to take a state mandated / operated seminar ($800 Haitian; $100 USD). This seminar is offered once a year in Cap-Haitien, usually in September / October.

Due to quake damages sustained by government offices, this year there may be a delay.  Upon completion of the seminar, they receive a certificate which must be taken to Port-au-Prince (more money for travel expenses and registration) and registered.

After that another paper is received which must be brought to Cap-Haitien and the DGE office, where one can then apply for a drivers permit (also for a fee: $400 Haitian; $50 USD at last update).
Haiti Students Tshirts From Pennsylvania (Thanks!)
Jackson is more than just a driver: He picks up boxes from Pennsylvania, building supplies, food supplies from the market for distribution, potable water (12 5 gal. jugs at a time); He has worked with Auguste to pick up students (Wilta, Modeline, Othanes) who are too ill to get to us and taken them to clinic, hospital and the x-ray clinic in Carfoumoustiq; and He provides security for Auguste and me when we travel to the bank or when we are paying school fees.

With Jackson taking on driving duties, he is allowing staff to continue work. And, instead of leaving when his driving job is done, he washes his hands and pitches in where needed, filling vitamin bottles for distribution, taking inventory of text books on hand, moving furniture for repairs etc.

Summer 2010 Travel in Haiti
Leogane: Our 4 nursing students were successful writing their end of year exams and will enter the next phase of their training. The Kwaf-la ceremony that marks this transition for  Gaby, Brunie, Alland and Wisly into medical studies will be held on June 25.

Auguste and I will travel to Leogane with Jackson driving, providing we can find a place to stay over. As Leogane students are sleeping in tents behind the school (which is still being used as a field hospital staffed by a team on international doctors), and most of the city was destroyed, it will be necessary to look for a place to stay in Port-au-Prince. The retreat centre where I usually stay was destroyed and many staff were killed.

Sen Rafayel: Sometime in July we will head to Sen Rafayel (again with Jackson driving and providing security) to check on our staff and satellite office, collect text books for our repair distribution program and to pay home visits to students in crisis.

I had hoped to travel the first week of July but the school year will end at different times depending on each school administrator. We'll just have to wait for word and plan accordingly.

Cap-Haitien: While we travel, summer staff and program directors will begin the book repair program at the centre, with whatever books are returned.

It will be a challenging summer as I anticipate most textbooks being returned only a week or 2 before they are needed for the Fall term. We usually need at least 10 weeks to make all repairs etc. We will probably modify the program and prepare books as the lists come in for the new year rather than by grade and subject level.

Things We Need:

For our 4 nursing students we need :
  • 4 FRENCH medical dictionaries and pharmaceutical references; most recent pocket edition
  • Glucometers, watches, clamps , surgical scissors, thermometers, used laptops (wireless), scissors, blue scrubs; I can purchase some here in Canada and take them back with me, but the reference books are proving a challenge.

I head back to Cap-Haitien on June 18 via Turks and Caicos on WestJet and Air T&C. WestJet has a most generous luggage allowance, and Air Turks and Caicos has a lower fee for excess baggage, so I can take back some supplies. If you can help with some of the Things We Need for our nursing students, please contact me ASAP as I am already packing.

Starthrower Foundation Website:
Over the coming weeks, the Starthrower Foundation website will be re-designed to accommodate newer technology. Thanks to Teena at for her generous donation of technical support.

Kenbe pa lage

PS On Friday, Auguste sent me an email, telling me, among other things, that Cap was experiencing a full day of violence: Burning tires, rock and bottle throwing, gun shots, and the citizenry running to get out of the way. The madness spread quickly from zone to zone.

Before I left, we experienced a similar afternoon where the staff remained at our centre for hours after closing due to the amount of, and proximity of, gun fire. Haiti is so fragile, with aftershocks, overcrowding, lack of housing and food, and anger.

It is more important than ever that Starthrower Foundation not only continue its work, but as funds allow, take on more of those Port-au-Prince students displaced to Cap-Haitien with nothing but the borrowed clothes on their backs.

I've looked into their eyes, I have heard their stories, I have laughed and cried and shared a meal with them. 

Some say this is a major turning point in the history of Haiti. I don't know that yet. I do know that Starthrower is already a part of the country's history, thanks to your continuing support.


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