Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cap-Haitien,nursing students

It's 4:04 am and I'm working in my 'junior garden suite' (ground level room which overlooks the driveway) at the Ports of Call in Providenciales. Although it created a bit of chaos in the house in Cap Haitien, leaving a day early proved to be essential to making to-day's connecting flight to Toronto. The normally 8 am departure left Cap shortly after noon. Apparently the airline is one plane short due to maintenance. Which gives me the luxury of being able to get up at 4 am and blog. No roosters, no sun, just the hum of electricity and an occasional passing vehicle.

Auguste emailed me last night as we were expecting exam results for Sherlyne and Edwina  They had written entrance exams for  University Roi Henri Christophe in Cap Haitien for entrance into the 4 year nursing program.. It has taken the better part of a month and two trips to Port-au-Prince for archived Releve de Notes for every year of school  plus trips to the police station for a statement of good character and Justinien Hospital for medical clearance to secure the papers to register.It is an expensive, time consuming process.

Both were accepted. We are probably going to turn out enough nurses to ease the shortage. Certainly enough to staff our fledgling Sen Rafayel Clinic.

Sherlyne - 1st year nursing
   Sherlyne has a sponsor for the full 4 years of her  program. Thank you Mme Yvonne. 

Edwina - 1st year nursing
Edwina has two sponsorship's which cover approximately half of her fees. Thank you Yvonne and Joan. This year we need another $1500. to get her through first year. That could be one donation or 3 donations of $40. per month (or any variation which gets us there). 

 Venise  also hopes to study nursing but her results came too late for application. She will sit out the year and we'll will look for funds for next year.

When I entered Milot hospital last month with pneumonia, one of our 4th year nursing students Alland was on duty. It was an overwhelming feeling to see him in action,  confident, professional, respectful. These young people make many sacrifices to pursue their chosen profession. Sponsor fees do not cover everything and there are times when they are hungry or without supplies. But Haitian students are world class when it comes to degaje (managing)

4th year nursing students Wisly and Gaby discuss workshop topics for 
both our centers with director Auguste.We ask them to give something back and the
 information programs 
were their idea.

All of our students are excelling both academically and in their practicum programs. Our boys continue maintaining top of the class standing. Brunie enters third year with a 90% average.
Brunie receiving her cap.
The school year for senior nursing students has already begun. First years will begin Oct. 28th. With the exception of Sherlyne, all of our nursing students are in need of sponsorship funds. The others are supported
by groups of Starthrowers In Action. Sadly this past year two of our sponsors died. Perhaps we could dedicate Starthrowers in Action to students in medical fields. Just a thought!

About 90% of our Cap-Haitien students.
Before I left on Thursday, we attempted to get our Cap-Haitien secondary students together for a group shot. It was the same as Sen Rafayel. Kids realizing they are not alone, eating together, getting to know each other, beginning new friendships which for some will last a lifetime.

Full house in Cap
As I mentioned last blog, it takes a dedicated staff to operate so many programs  successfully: intake, home visits, text book refurbish, registration, uniforms, medical, dental, eyeglass, potable water distribution, study sacks, tutoring etc.

In addition to secondary school, our university programs are all managed by Cap-Haitien staff.

Cap-Haitian staff:
Front row: Jolie(canine security)
2nd row:Dieugrand (grounds)Auguste (director)Joceline (house)
Edwina (book program) Lusnot (branch coordinator)
3rd: Sherlyne (book program coordinator) Camiose (book program)
Rosema (grounds/dogs) Myriame (Book program and office support)
Rear: me
The new year has begun. Thank you for the part you played. I hope that you will be around for the further adventures of Starthrower in Haiti. Please tell a friend.

If you are in the Orangeville area, I will be speaking at the Mill St. Branch Library this Wednesday at 7 pm. Hope to see you there.

Kembe pa lage.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sen Rafayel: school opens, home visits

In Sen Rafayel on Tueday morning,  roosters  crowed, the sun shone,  humidity was nil as heavy rain Monday night took care of that. Tuesday was the first day of school in the village (bouk-la). Monday afternoon staff posed for a group photo just before the rain began. Saint-Luc (student) a new part-time security staff member was missing.

Staff Sen Rafayel: (rear) Kesner(security) Danius(building projects), Edeline
(branch coordinator)
(middle) Adelaine (student), Solange (hat -full time)) Tigger, Granjil,(canine security)  Angeline(student)
(front) Auguste (director)

We had requested our students be released from classes for half an hour for a first ever group photo.
 School administrators know us and the work we are doing, so they were  accommodating. Auguste taxied to the most distant school, Lycee Charlemagne Perault. Some began arriving on foot about 9 am as  had afternoon classes. Our second floor is well under way, constructed of commercially made blocks. Auguste had found the company. Although we had to wait for the blocks to be made and delivered up the mountain,  delaying start of the second floor, it was worth the wait. The blocks are so strong - the masons working with them were extremely happy.This is my long-winded way of saying we had a second floor on which to pose half of our students.

2nd floor - Lycee Charlemagne Perault
galri - College Le Phare,
in front-College Cacique Henri and College Le Genie.
It requires  dedicated staff to get this many young people ready for school - papers checked, homes visited, text books cleaned, organized, listed, backpacks, hygiene products, school supplies purchased, delivered, uniform material purchased, uniforms sewn, school badges secured, delivered for insertion on pockets, shoes, matching socks -- you name it. Although about a third of the kids arrived too late for this group photo, it still gave everyone the idea that they are not alone. They arrive for interviews one at a time, we visit one at a time. There was a great deal of joking and laughter. It was a memorable moment.

Lakay Jasmine Taxi - service to Lycee Charlemagne Perault

Returning to class placed a great strain on our vehicle. Only in the village is this the norm for transportation.

With the exception of a holiday in Milot, we have been making our way through home visits. The 'holiday' turned out to be a virulent strain of pneumonia which began with a night of fever,pain and vomiting (in Sen Rafayel) followed by a tortuously slow descent down Granjil mountain, me trying not to roll off the bench seat. After finding a new doctor, blood work etc.. I was instructed to get to Milot hospital asap. And there I stayed for the better part of a week while staff unraveled  my symptoms. Thanks to Allimax again I am close to 100%. So back to home visits..

Cap-Haitien has a few left.   Sen Rafayel will take most of the year, given the number of new admissions. 
Rose Magda-Alina

Rose Magda-Alina sleeps on a small square of cement in this tikay owned by an uncle. Her mother has had a stroke and is partially paralyzed -- she lives elsewhere. Her father is dead. In July Rose had an infection in her feet which caused them to swell and blister. She could not walk nor wear shoes. She crawled to our centre. We drove her home and gave her money for the clinic as well as money for a taxi moto. She was writing exams at the time and refused to go to the clinic until exams were finished. She just missed her year with 49%. Because of this she also has to change schools. The Lycee maintains strict academic standards. Her feet have recovered.

Furmancia's tikay was a mixture of paper walls and cement
blocks with no mortar.

Walls are made of cardboard. Her new backpack hangs
away from the bugs and damp.

Her legs were covered with sores
During the visit to Furmancia, I noticed that her legs were covered with open sores. She said they were painful and itchy. I asked her to come into the centre and we would clean them up and apply some cream. Next morning she arrived.

One of many reasons for opening a clinic on site-the room is ready.We have 3 nursing students entering 4th year, one third year and 2 first year.
Two others wait, their passing grades arrived to late to apply.

She returned at 6:30 and we reapplied cream and covered with a light gauze. The inflammation was already receding and the itch had stopped. I couldn't help but think of her and her brothers and sisters in a cardboard house as the rain pounded and the wind howled.

At 6:30 next morning she arrived again, first day of school, for me to remove the bandages, bathe and reapply  cream. They were so much better. As it was the first day of school and she had to get home to put on her uniform I asked Auguste to drive her. She said ( in her very small voice) no thank you - I've left a keen (5 gallon bucket) at the well. I have to fetch water for my family. I can manage.

Our next visit was to sisters Angeline and Siseline. Their tikay was almost as fragile as Furmancia's. One wall was a sheet of Silotex, used as a chalkboard and covered with equations. I am always in awe.

A wall of silotex -a homework station
Auguste (Director) sisters Siseline and Angeline

There are 12 more visits from last week but they have to be put on hold. I am scheduled to depart Saturday morning for Providenciales with a connecting flight to Toronto. A call to an airline employee this morning was not reassuring. He recommended changing my flight to to-morrow if there is a flight and if there is a seat available, as the connection could be in jeopardy. 

So I'm going to pack my meager belongings and try to get the house ready for visitors who will be returning with me in November. Auguste is entering the new year student lists again. The computer he used yesterday will not open to-day. 

Be well


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