Sunday, September 19, 2010

Visitor, School supplies, Sen Raphael, Home visits

Last week brought 2 visitors to Lakay Fondasyon, Daniel our website administrator (aka webguy) and ELECTRICITY!  For the first time in 12 years there was electricity daily.  Admittedly it was intermittent, not strong enough to pump water from the well, provide internet access, freeze water or run a fan, but it was present.

The first day of Daniel's visit, we took it easy as the humidity of summer still lingered.  It takes awhile to acclimatize.  Dan jumped into every activity, travelling to town to pick up and then unpack a box of supplies from Cindy and company, weeding our garden, meeting the many new faces which kept arriving for school support, a little chat, food, medical referral etc...  In short, it was a normal day.  The staff carried on its usual jobs.  We have had a surge in Malaria and Typhoid cases over the last 2 weeks, averaging a new case of Malaria daily.  Fortunately, we have been on the receiving end of a wonderful gift - a carton of the natural supplement Allimax donated by the CLM Health Group in Mississauga, Canada.  Dan picked them up and brought several packages.  We have found that it cuts recovery time from Malaria in half.  Many thanks Heather and all staff involved in the donation.  You're generosity is improving quality of life.

Tuesday, we went to town to pick up supplies and check on bank transfers.  I'll try to pursuade Dan to share his impressions of the traffic circus which performs daily in downtown Cap-Haitien. (DAN:  I'll do better than that and post a video... It's not the worst that I've seen there but it will give readers an idea of the madness!)

video
 
With supplies purchased, it was time to fill the Igloo cooler with bottled water and Tampico, and pack everything for the Wednesday trip to Sen Rafayel.  Wednesday at 5 a.m. we made sandwiches after daily chores finished and Auguste, Jack, Daniel, myself and our driver Jackson headed up the mountain of Grand Gilles. The 28 km trip took us 2 and 1/2 hours - including a 5 minute stop in Dondon to purchase bananas (fig yo) - AND we arrived intact.  First up - visit Sister Ginette and catch up on the convent and clinic news.

Then on to the office to deliver a brailler and manual typewriter to Guilene.

The originals, also donated from Pa, were destroyed in the January 12th earthquake which also trapped Guilene for 6 days.  The guys took Guilene home to check her ti kay (house) for appropriate space to house the machines.



We began to distribute back packs and text books to the new crop on 1st and 2nd year high school students.  Then we began interviews in response to letters received from prospective students.  Lunch break at 12:30 saw everyone crammed into one room.


No rest in Sen Rafayel - lunch over, Dan left with the staff to take a look at village schools and some student houses.  Auguste and I had just begun the next round of interviews when Consienne (July post) came in, very quietly announcing that her father had just died (pictured below).  What was she supposed to do? 

With Auguste to handle interviews, I left for her house as Consienne's mother was on her own and she is blind.  I sat with her in the small, dark, musty room furnished only with a single bed, mattress made of old clothes.  Mme was desolate.  Her husband had a fever for 15 days.  She had taken him to a local hospital and asked them to treat him out of compassion, but care was refused.  He was 62.

With the help of staff, we found a villager to perform the ritual bathing of the body (benyen), secured his birth certificate and went to the local magistrate for the death certificate (deklarasyon).  Of course, the office had closed at 2 p.m. so we would have to wait for a day.  Then we found a carpenter to make a coffin (bwat), agreed on a price, then returned to the office, packed up and headed home.

Thursday and Friday were spent doing home visits, showing parts of Haiti not found on a map of tourist attractions.  Gabriel's rented floor space (he does not have a room) is in a house built on a garbage dump (photo below).  The dump was created to stop up the salt water marsh (bouche) which is a breeding ground for so many sources of misery.  Unfortunately, the salt water always wins, eating through the garbage and the houses built on top of it.


At Paudeline's ti kay, our visitor treated neighbourhood children to the 'magic' of instant replay. 


We check everything on home visits - sleeping space, study space, kitchen facilities, latrines (if there is one).  On another home visit, Althega's rental space has an outdoor kitchen but no latrine.  Plastic bags are used and discarded in a not so empty lot across the street.  There is a soccer field built by well meaning visitors but no ball, no shoes (see video below).

video

Saturday morning, upon returning from depositing Dan at the airport, the electricity we had celebrated was gone.  "Where," the staff asked jokingly, "did he pack it - back pack, pocket, or suitcase?"

Our internet at the centre has been suspended so I am writing from the dining room of the Hotel Roi Christophe.  Am hoping to have it restored before I leave for Canada next week but first have to track down the donor for account information.  It has been such a wonderful gift and now a necessary part of our lives.

Every one of the young people mentioned here is in need of a sponsor - from Guilene who will resume studies in Port-au-Prince to Gabriel entering 2nd year university to become a teacher.  To those who support so often, many thanks.  If you're thinking about it - please take the leap.  We have almost 400 on our waiting list between Cap and Sen Rafayel.  Please spread hope.

Ala pwochen

Sharon

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