Monday, October 24, 2011

Going Home, Updates, Funraiser

Monday I return to Haiti.  A month goes by in the blink of an eye. I'm just settling into the Canadian lifestyle, revelling in the crisp Autumn weather and able to string to-gether a couple of sentences in English without lapsing into Kreyol.  Much has happened in Cap-Haitien since my Oct.1st departure.  Construction continues in Sen Rafayel. Gone are the hundreds of bamboo supports and interior finishing (krepisaj) has begun. Septic tanks are ready to go.  The privacy wall has been extended across the front.  Eventually we will be adding a gate for visitors and vehicles to enter and will top the wall with decorative iron work. Doors will open for student use in November and work will continue on the second storey. Although it has served the purpose, staff will be glad to move out of the depot.

Kahlil Gibran wrote:

" I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest with visions to be realized..."

Thanks to the Jasmine Foundation, the  vision  of an education support centre, long held, is fast becoming tangible. I am in awe when I think of what  we are  growing to-gether in Sen Rafayel.

Looking like home.
On a recent trip up Granjil Mountain, it seems our truck was parked in the wrong place at the wrong time. A truck belonging to the company doing road work in Sen Rafayel damaged both the passenger side of our vehicle and the  hood.   Fortunately no one was inside. Insurance in Haiti is a mandatory government program which unfortunately covers nothing. We are depending on the word of the driver for repairs. If they don't materialize, we will live with the battle scars.

Bruised but not bowed
The new center is going to be a busy place. Currently in Sen Rafayel  there are 21 senior students enrolled with us who  are ready to enter Philo, the final year of high school.  Unfortunately the village secondary schools have been unable to find teachers, so our seniors will sit out the year. To facilitate this crisis, we are grouping students who wish to participate and setting up daily study sessions, with a resource person on site.  As we have already purchased materials and text books, we'll add a light meal daily for participants.  At the end of the academic year, we will support those who want to write state nationals as they travel to Grand Riviere du Nord for 4 days in July. Those not wishing to write will return to school full time next fall if a teacher is found. Given that there are still 300 letters from July requesting support, several of whom want to finish Philo, the number of participants will grow once we begin interviews and make the move.

Auguste is qualified to mentor this program, so he will be spending more time in Sen Rafayel. That leaves me to operate the Cap-Haitien center. I will also be making repairs to our rental center as we suffered some damage from the magnitude 6 quake which took place in September off the coast of Cuba.

As usual, Auguste is doing a stellar job in my absence. He sends reports via email every other day so I'm in the loop. I have also added a new skill to my repertoire - texting. It is a surprisingly quick and easy way to touch base.  Should it be necessary, it also means Auguste does not have to be at work for us to connect. The portability is a great plus.

Auguste at work(with Valon, Evains, Dieugrand)
Last week  senior student Camiose was in hospital with typhoid and H-pylori infection. Typhoid is a very debilitating illness, so I have notified her sponsors as it can affect  academic success.  Mme. Joceline is off work as she is  experiencing abdominal pain, leaving Auguste on his own throughout the day. On my advice, Inea has delayed surgery  (Thyroidectomy) until I return. After speaking with an endocrinologist here, I am aware of the critical nature of on going  post-surgical  support.  The 3 letters I have sent to the hospital have gone unanswered, which makes me think she will be sent home post-surgery with no one to follow her.

Inea's initial visit, July 2011 - courage comes at all ages

September -a  smile that says  - I'm going to high school!
So next week, we'll go to see Dr. Jerome to-gether and ask him to take her on.  Replacement thyroid hormones are a life-long commitment if the entire thyroid is removed.  Once everything is in place, we will reschedule the surgery. When she knocked on our gate in July asking for school support, I had no idea we would be connecting for life. At age 16, with both parents deceased and no living grandparents, aunts or uncles, we are her only possibility. Once her Thyroid is removed there is no going back. If possible, I would like to delay the surgery until she has completed the meds for Tuberculosis. She could need support through high school and whatever career path she chooses in order to be able to continue the hormone replacement therapy which would  keep her alive.

This is roughly an 11 year commitment - 7 years of high school and perhaps 4 post secondary (ie: nursing, medical technology..) Additionally we are covering rent and food costs for her and younger sister Dina. One starfish at a time.

In Closing...

Thanks to all who have helped me get around during my stay - Cindy, Jane, Terri, Betty-Lou, Brandy, Daniel and anyone I may have left out. The universe knows.

Mil mesi ( a thousand thanks)  also to the Orangeville unit of the Canadian University Women's Club for  the opportunity to share our work.  Everyone made me feel very welcome and questions were so insightful. It was an exhilarating evening.

Thank you also to Linda and the amazing members, past and present,  of the Golf Road Junior Public School Girl's Club. You are my heroes.

Last but not least, Acheson's of Orangeville will again be holding a Starthrower Funraiser,  Thursday Dec. 8th.  Details to follow.  Our web admin Daniel will be there to sign his graphic novel and do sketches.  I will be there as well -  taking a week to come and support the hard work Diane and Cindy do in putting this day to-gether.  It's also a great opportunity to speak one-on-one with folks who have questions about what we do.

And finally, also from the mind and pen of  Kahlil Gibran:

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh
 and the greatness which does not bow to children."

A guide  for life's journey : remember to laugh and cry and honour the young.
Profound simplicity.



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