Sunday, June 19, 2011

N'ap kembe -- We're hanging in


By 7:30 am the temperature in our courtyard (lakou-a) was 47.8 celsius. Inside was a comparatively balmy 37. Couple that with saturation point humidity and even the dogs, cats, goats, pigs and chickens move as litttle as possible. Only the roosters remain perky. Although we hear on the radio and read in Le Nouvelliste that the state and EDH (Electrique d'Haiti) are working to-gether to bring more electricity, there is as yet  no proof in the pudding. Apparently they are going to plant trees. Great long term project with job potential for our 2 agriculture students who have 1 year remaining for their degree. Short term, no electricity = no fans to move the air.

After a night of feral cats yowling,  katye dogs snarling, our own two dogs coughing and sneezing, Lucy the cat vomiting, 3 house choirs competing for airspace, 2 fiery pastors exhorting their congregations and voodoo drums holding pedal point, I am as wrung out as the laundry I just finished (hand laundry, of course).

Seemingly in one day we moved  from incessant rain to punishing summer. Our young people in 7eme, 8eme, 3eme and 2nd (1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th years of high school) started writing exams last week, the rest anticipate State Nationals. Everyone drops in looking for a place to revive with food and a cold drink. Some take a break from studies to chat, play dominoes, read the paper.  If I'm a puddle of perspiration with the luxury of staying put, little wonder our young people arrive and collapse.

Vida - gathering energy to write Reto in July

Mona (reclining) and Edwige take some time before writing 9eme end of June

Gabriel -explains a thesis -  2nd year university -Education

Jean-Ritot - readies for Reto without benefit
of professors
In Cap, Jean-Ritot, Malaensia, Dialine and Viola in State Lycees are doing what they can to prepare for the Nationals, having had little or no instruction due to the absence of teachers. Frustration abounds because once placed in a stream for secondary (Nouvo Secondaire or Original), one needs the written permission of the school director to change schools. Once that hurdle has been crossed, try finding a school which 1) offers the same stream which 2) has an opening and 3)will accept you.

Edwina- takes a break from Reto studies to
catch up on the news
Dialine -also no teachers

Sherlyne (lt. corner), Myriame, Rosema, Ganel, Kinston (standing)
Auguste and Paudeline. A game of dominoes.
Occasionally a game of dominoes provides distraction from studies. Sherlyne (bottom lt. corner) reminds me of myself. Even in a social situation, she can always be found with her nose in a book. Last week she asked for candles for studying at night. I found some in Kokiyaj, our newest grocery store which sells a bit of everything. Kinston, (standing) came in looking like Micheline did with the measles. Visible skin was covered with mosquito (marengwen) bites. There was one new  net (moustike-a) remaining , so we air it in the outdoor change room for the required 24 hours and passed it on to him.  Kinston came from another organization and has been drifting from friend to friend for a night's sleep.  He is now with his grandmother so we'll be visiting this week. His new glasses arrived this week just in time for exams. A significant item I often take for granted.

There are approximately a dozen on our new waiting list for mosquito nets. Gabriel came in just after Kinston, with the same bite coverage. If you have the time, click on his home visit video to see where he lives. It provides a clearer picture of why mosquito nets are so important.

Sen Rafayel
The story in Sen Rafayel is very different. Of our 63 students  in State lycees, 32 will write Nationals, having the best preparation possible.

Earlier to-day, Jack came in from the Sen Rafayel building project with news that rain and flashfloods destroyed the bulk of the current corn and banana crops in Dondon on Wednesday. Thankfully the rain was not as heavy in Sen Rafayel as they had just finished manually digging out (fouye) the septic beds (fos pedi) and foundations.  Some soil was washed back in but not enough to significantly set back the project.

Wednesday Auguste and I will head up the mountain (Granjil) with a truck load of cement and an igloo cooler full of ice. It will be our first visit since the purchase, providing the track is passable.

In closing

If you're in the Orangeville area, this Thursday, June 23rd  at 7 pm , Acheson's ,  78 First Street (519 940-4719) is hosting a mini fashion show with proceeds to help cover the shortfall incurred by our nursing students as a result of recent price increases.  Thanks Diane and Cindy.  Sorry I'll miss it.  What a dynamic duo.

If you have an idea for a fundraiser, small or large, please contact us.  Every dollar makes a difference. We still have a dozen waiting for post-secondary support, plus an evergrowing waiting list for secondary. More later.

Mil mesi pou soutyen-w (a thousand thanks for your support)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Catching Up -- home, hacked, mud, measles, exams

It's good to be home. Yes, the student computer I was carrying was hacked at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, sending an email exchange between myself and our webmaster to places and persons known and unknown. Yes, the Sunday flight from Providenciales to Cap-Haitien was delayed for 3 hours, resulting in staff wondering where I was. Yes, my luggage didn't make it until Monday. What's life without surprises?
It's good to be home!

Carmene - mud wear for the market
To complicate life, we've had 4 consecutive days of rain, humidity hovering around the extremely uncomfortable mark.  Because of the mud (mixing with the garbage and sewage) in the streets, Carmene found the ideal footwear -- castoff boots from other feet in another country, from another time. They don't fit  properly, but I don't know a Haitian who has ever had proper-fitting footwear let alone new.

In spite of the rain, Jack traveled to Sen Rafayel, to order supplies and hire for the next stage of construction, digging the septic beds and foundations. He just returned, after spending the entire day in an open camionet,  and reports mud-slides, rock-fall,  frequent road closures necessitating everyone digging by hand,  accidents and a full size bus and tap-tap sliding off the mountain track. Rain is not a friend when travelling the mountainside. He will head back up again on Monday to oversee the project.

Student News

When safe enough, we will all travel up, as state exams for 9eme, Reto and Philo will take place between June 28-July 14. Our State exam students (48) in Sen Rafayel must travel to Grand Riviere du Nord to write, so we're in the process of purchasing and packaging food to distribute. We'll also distribute funds for the commute.

In Cap, our State exam  students (27) write in a location mandated by the Ministry of Education, but stay in town.  Those writing non-state years have already begun. Our young people attending Lycees in Cap have an uphill battle. For most of the year those attending Boukman and Philippe Guerriere have had no teachers. The state has not been paying them, so they don't show up. It's a much different story in Sen Rafayel where the Lycee, Charlemagne Perault, has the best academic record in the Northern Department.

Thank godness for the natural supplement Allimax -- we're dealing with several new cases of H Pylori, Malaria and Typoid. Cholera is rearing its head again but so far no cases. Micheline , in her final year at the Polytechnique studying Medical Technology, came in with a case of the measles. Apparently the streets and schools are full of them. Although she is near the end of her outbreak, she wouldn't come in. She had treated the spots with an accepted Haitian remedy, Kleren (raw rum) followed by lanmidon (manioc flour). This burned her skin, but is acknowledged  treatment. We provided lotion, vitamins and Allimax plus food sack and potable water. It will be touch and go for her to complete the program this year as she was gravely ill prior to Christmas.

Micheline with measles (lawoujol) after home remedy.
Thanks to our web guy, Daniel, the student computer which was hacked has been scanned and is virus-free. It is on loan to Danius, entering third year business administration in Cap. Nicoly dropped in with registration papers for the Agriculture program at the university in Limbe, so stayed for orientation.  It afforded him the opportunity to familiarize with computer basics, as they are not available in the high schools but necessary for university.

Danius tries out his 'odinate' while Nicoly looks on
We always need new and used laptops in good working condition. Please contact me if you have one to donate.

Othanes (Reto, Cap-Haitian) sent word that his father died in Sen Rafayel and was travelling up for the funeral.

Plenito (first year Electrical Engineering) phoned from Port-au-Prince to update us on his situation. Because of the heavy rains, the student apartment in which he was staying is completely under water, leaving him scrambling for alternate arrangements. Where does one go in a city which already has more than a million people  living under makeshift tents?

And in closing

Four weeks go by in the blink of an eye. While in Canada, in addition to the blur of appointments, speaking engagements, and good times with friends old and new, there is always time to read.  The works of Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) have always spoken to me, and one quote in particular resonated. I leave it with you.

          "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
                                                               the most massive characters are seared with scars."

Kenbe pa lage


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