Monday, December 5, 2011

Travels, New Faces and Gifts from PA

According to our local radio station, the government is experiencing a 'kriz gaz', in other words a fuel shortage. This is the first time in my memory we have been given a reason for no electricity.  Thankfully its a macro problem not micro - no problem purchasing fuel for vehicles - this time. Although it's inconvenient and frustrating not being able to communicate with you, we continue to be as busy as the proverbial bees.

Since Jack's departure from the Sen Rafayel project at summer's end, Auguste and I have become the conduit for purchasing and delivering any and ALL building, plumbing, wiring materials up the mountain. We could probably rebuild the National Palace with our new skills. Our poor truck is paying the price. A new starter is on my list of  "Things to purchase in Canada". Danius is coming to-morrow to check the tires/brakes.

Joceline, Auguste and Lusnot loading doors and framing materials.

Lusnot has become a valuable member of the  team, keeping the office open and functioning efficiently when we travel to Sen Rafayel. He will rewrite his Philo exams in July. For those sponsoring Gaby, Lusnot is his brother.
Lusnot working on text-book distribution lists.

Up the mountain

Yesterday we travelled up to Sen Rafayel to deliver hand made cement balusters for the privacy wall. Last week it was porcelain toilets and sinks. Torrential rains have rendered the already treacherous mountain track almost impassable. Ruts are now deeper and mud-filled , more crevasse than crevice,   pulling the tires in unthinkable directions.  We crawled up and back the last two trips. Everything arrived without a scratch. The only damage was to the nerves of the occupants of the truck.

Last week we moved from the depot into the new office. Although not complete, it is far enough along to accommodate staff and programs. Because of the increased space, we have added staff members. All are drawn from our current and former student lists. In the midst of the upheaval, support programs continue to function and we have begun work on programming for our students sitting out the Philo year due to teacher shortage.

Note door behind Guerlande. New staff Wilno and Solange (to my rt)
Guerlande(coordinator), Vilsaint, Edeline, Kesner
If our yard looks foreshortened to you, it is. We have lost 5 feet of frontage to the village, as the magistrate has decided to widen the path in front of our centre  and anything in the proposed way will be razed.  On the bright side,  we don't have to plant grass now,  one less chore. 

Down the mountain

In Cap-Haitien, in addition to providing support for the 100+ young people on our list, we continue intake. In November we added 7 new faces to our roster. There are several stages to our process. Initially, students come calling, asking for support. We request a handwritten letter detailing their situation, including school history. Once we have read the letter, we make a decision. If we continue  an appointment  is made with the students. Depending on  age and living arrangements, we may ask for a parent/guardian to be present. At this stage we check all appropriate papers: birth certificate, report cards. payment cards, attestations for state exams... After papers have been vetted we make a home visit to ascertain there is at least a chance for academic success. There is always something we can do which isn't too invasive to further support - ie mosquito nets or window screens...

Let me introduce brothers Jean-Woody, Fritzman and Raymond-son. Both parents are dead and there is no relative able to take 3 young men. They want to stay to-gether.  After reading their letters, we made an appointment.

Perhaps I was hiding...
On their first visit, instead of the papers requested, they brought book lists. I had to laugh when I saw the body language Auguste captured digitally. Nothing is easy here, nor does it go smoothly. After explaining again what we were requesting and why, the boys left to find the papers we needed. It took them a few days as their living conditions are fluid to say the least.

Mme Marie-Micheline
The latrine (full to capacity) is on an island -
They have been given floor space to sleep by Mme. Marie-Micheline, a friend of a sister of an aunt. After visiting the one-room home and speaking with Mme., we admitted them to the program for the year.  The room which houses Mme., her 5 children and the 3 brothers, is about 8X8. No kitchen, no running water, no privacy. There is a latrine out back, however IF it could be reached,  it is full and in need of expensive cleaning . Cleaning is a non-issue as it is inaccessible,  swamp which surrounds it never dries. This makes mosquitos (marengwen)  and by extension malaria a big issue.

                                                   Raymond-son and Fritzman - new uniforms, new hope

The boys were admitted on the understanding that we pay one trimeste at a time. Thanks to your donor dollars, distributed through our Education Support Program, these boys have 'possibilite'.

First trimeste exams are starting this week, which means the Christmas break is just around the corner. Our weekend staff have been sprucing up tables and chairs for the holidays with a coat of paint. Boxes filled with assorted gifts are arriving daily from Mme. Cindy in PA. We'll package and label them  for students when I return.

Auguste arriving with boxes-Jolie supervises
On Wednesday, I head to Canada for a week to attend the fundraiser at Acheson's in Orangeville.  We're one staff member short as Mme. Carmene is off for the month of December. Last week she received notice that her house has been marked for demolition by the state for the new airport. It is located miles from her house, yet the katye is being razed, with little and more often than not no remuneration. After losing both sons, now her home is going.   The new tikay we are renting for Inea and Dina is also marked for demolition. With so many already living in makeshift tents, the number is swelling instead of dwindling. Many in Fosenmichel have already had their homes destroyed. It is a nightmare from which there is no waking.  If this is prosperity, the price is too high.

It will be a difficult Christmas  for many.

Kembe pa lage


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