Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weather, Sen Rafayel and Okap

I am only writing from personal knowledge of my little corner of Canada when I say that weather always seems be a topic of conversation, regardless of the season. Too hot, too dry, too cold, too wet, just right, favorite season, too much snow, not enough... Even given the possibility that Tropical Storm Emily might come calling early to-morrow, there is no weather talk here. Perhaps that is due to the absence of the Weather Channel, and by extension most forms of informing media. Even the small, traditional battery-run transistor radio is difficult to find in the marketplace.  If not for the National Hurricane Centre advisories on our computer (thank you again Jackie!!) we would be in the dark, so to speak. With that advance, we are able to inform our staff , their families and friends. So they have been apprised of Emily's potential path and  ability to create havoc. They also have a little prep time and know not to arrive for work.

Sen Rafayel

In Sen Rafayel, the weather continues to be a conundrum and a hindrance.  Instead of the parched , dry weather typical of the summer months, heavy rains persist, instantly turning roads and paths into mud which challenges travel by vehicle and foot. A week ago we headed to Sen Rafayel to visit the constuction sight, continue home visits, complete interviews for a coordinator for our new center and meet with 2 of the young people we considered in crisis after reading their letters.

The building sight was really coming along, although slowed by the all too frequent rain. The roof on the security center was drying, held in place by bamboo poles, the trench had been dug for the center,  ready for footings and posts. I could picture each room as I walked the marked off ground.  The process unearthed some massive roots from the giant mango tree we had removed, creating  more work but saving us headaches in the long run.

 We hired Guerlande Cherfils, one of our Philo students this year, as
co-ordinator of our new center, here with senior staffer Djohn.
                                                                                                                
Three home visits were packed in: Wilnise, sleeping on a bed of  broken cement blocks, Chalanda and family  living in a 6x8 tikay with earthquake cracks running from floor to ceiling, and Rose-Evenia's family in a one-room temporary loaner after the death of the family matriarch. They have to move again in October.

Chalanda stands beside one of many large cracks
 from quake - the owner will not repair.

Wilnise - sleeping space for 8


Back to the office to meet with Denouse, parents dead, living with her only sister and  an abusive brother-in-law and Darline, orphaned, no siblings, slowly dying of malnutrition. Temporary housing found, rents paid, we were on the road as the sky had turned black in minutes and the deluge began.

It semed as though the rain was pushing us down the mountainside. It was amazing to watch the road in front and beside the truck. The rain was literally carving it. Shortly after arriving in Cap, a phone call from Jack. The pounding rain had washed the fill back into the trenches, and sent a load of rocks in as well. Last week was spent digging out the root system and moving the rocks. Saturday we headed back as our lease on the rental space expires this week. The security centre was now free standing (bamboo supports removed) so we packed up everything in the truck and moved into our new space. Staff had cleaned Friday so the move was a piece of cake - 2 loads - easy peezy as the gang on The Big Bang Theory would say.

We set up the office in the utility depot and the text book repair program in the food storage depot. Sherlyne, our student program coordinator travelled up with us to demonstrate book repair techniques. As the mango roots had been removed and the fallen rocks and gravel moved back, once again we measured off the center and staked it for a second dig.  Again the day was cut short by darkening sky, strong winds and fierce rain. Again we were washed down the mountain, the mud so strong we crawled for safety sake.

And now Emily is dropping in...

Cap-Haitien

In Cap, tutoring for upcoming rewrites and text book repair programs continue.  Paudeline is enjoying her summer school, Micheline is beginning final co-op for her diploma in Medical Technology. Althega came in with a school bulletin as well as severe dental pain. We sent him to Milot for dental work. His end of year report was a joy to read - he began Medical Technology at the Polytechnique in January. He completed first year a semester ahead with an 89.9% average.

Talien arrived Monday for his tutoring session with Camiose appearing very distraught so the 3 of us sat down. Last week our new President was in town and during the trip through Talien's zone, protests broke out. Rocks, bottles and bullets flew and protestors turned into a gang of thieves, ransacking every tikay. He lost everything. We'll be making a home visit later to-day to see what we can do temporarily and have given him the go ahead to look for another place in a safer part of town.  All this and he has to rewrite exams next week for 5 days.

Inskripsyon began for some, and results began to filter in for post secondary students.  Still no news on results for State National exams.  Our focus however was on Inea and younger sister Dina: finding, renting and setting up a decent tikay for them, setting up cooking/ feeding regimens, hiring senior students to monitor Tuberculosis medications. We happened to be present for a home visit by a staff member from the clinic to follow-up with the woman who was transmitting the TB.  We deposited the girls and nurse in their old neighborhood and left as our list of jobs to accomplish was long.

15 yr old Dina sits on the new bed in the  tikay she will
share with sister Inea. It is basic but clean and safe, with well and latrine.
Monday, we sent Dina to the hospital in Milot with senior student Edwina for Tuberculosis testing.  After 5 consecutive trips, each beginning at 5 am on a tap-tap, we finally had results Friday.  No tuberculosis but multiple vaginal and urinary tract infections. Edwina said it was almost funny to listen to the nurse tell Dina that she had to make certain she bathed with clean water - an orphaned 15 year old with Grade 2 education and no living adult relations - only a 17 yr old sister who is seriously ill.

As Inea had a serious allergic reaction to the TB meds and the doctor at Milot hopital told her to keep taking them, I made a trip to the Tuberculosis clinic in Fort St. Michel to follow up with clinic staff. While there, I spoke with the nurse who had made the home visit. She reported she was able to find the girls' former landlord and do preliminary testing in the home, as Mme refused to go to hospital. Thankfully she did agree to the tests and will receive help.

Everyday we have frantic young people knocking on the portay wanting to know if we will be able to send them to school. We won't know how many we can take on until September, once the 170 from this past school year have been placed. After that we'll respond to the letters according to the priorities which have emerged. Then we'll interview, check papers, make home visits, register with schools, provide funds for uniforms and shoes, prepare backpacks, text books with school and hygiene supplies.

In two weeks time, we' ll be taking Rose-Guerlande, our dentist in waiting, to Santiago for intensive Spanish. We'll take it a semester at a time and the universe will provide sponsors. With the murder of a Haitian university student in the Dominican Republic 2 weeks ago, we are more aware than ever of the responsibility we have to place our students in safe surroundings. The student killed had gone to look for a student apartment. Makes the idea of a Foundation house in Santiago very appealing, as we pay rent for each student.

In the meantime,  good to touch base with you.

Pran swen
Sharon

1 comment:

murrday said...

Bless you all and may everyone get through Hurricane Emily, the mud and all other concerns safely!

All the Best, Peg

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