Thursday, November 21, 2013

Up and Down the mountain: Nursing students, Violence resurfaces

I have good news and not so good news. Which would you like first? The good news? My choice too.
( Sorry about the technical difficulties with this blog regarding underlined words.)

Last week our three nursing students at Leogane graduated with honors from the 4 year nursing program. They are still in the south on campus, preparing to write State National exams for their nursing license. In Haiti, there is always another hoop through which to jump and it always carries a price tag in US dollars. 

Congratulations Gaby, Alland, Wisly
We are so proud of you.
Against all odds, they have endured and succeeded. There were many occasions when we did not have sufficient funds, or couldn't find the supplies they needed, or the computer they shared seized on them. If you haven't realized it by now, Haitian students are some of the most committed, dedicated, stubborn on this planet.

Gaby created this thank you card which belongs to you, to everyone who supported Starthrower thereby helping him on this leg of his journey. I hope that each of you will take to heart a share of Gaby's gratitude and know that this could not have happened had we not worked to-gether, each doing our part. This is the only way to change the world - working to-gether.

Gaby's thank you - in English!!

In Cap Haitien, Camiose and Myriame are beginning the next phase of their journey. After successfully completing State National exams for Philo in July, they secured all necessary support materials and transcripts, wrote and passed entrance exams at Universite Roi Henri Christophe and began classes at the end of October.

Camiose (above), Myriame (below)
 - first year nursing

Fourth year nursing student Brunie has entered her final year and Edwina and Sherlyne have begun  year 2 of the 4 year nursing program. Our other university students are scattered - 4 in Santiago, 2 in Port-Au-Prince , another 3 at other post-secondary institutions in Cap.

This year we had 14 high school graduates, (91% pass rate for Starthrower students - all grade levels) amazing when you consider the odds against, but only 2 have sponsors which allows them to continue post-secondary.

We began this school year with 160 students, 46 new faces. There are still 150 on our Waiting for Admission list. In Sen Rafayel, new admissions  are quite comfortable using the center on a daily basis, and those who have been with us for a year or more are making them feel at home. Auguste sent along some recent pictures which also show the different uniforms for the schools we feed.
Newcomer Benet and senior Milfort
chat at Tigger's Corner

(uniform - College Le Genie)

Newcomers Sylvina and Asline relax after 
 a meal and a day of school
( uniform - Ecole 3eme Cycle Lamartiniere)

Newcomers Ralph and Irlande
(uniform- Lycee Charlemagne Perault)

Now for the not so good news. Auguste emailed at 1:40 this morning. I have copied and pasted his Kreyol and added my translation.

Bonjou Mme
Jodi a Mekredi 20 novanm , bandi ak zam te voye roch, boutey et yo te tire sou Lycee Charlemagne Peralte nan Sen-Rafayel kek elev blese  sa lakoz jounnen lekol la te paralize.
Nou pa konnen kile lekol yo ap rekomanse paske se tre danjere nan moman sa-a antre lapolis et bandi ak zam nan S.R..


Good Morning , Madame

To-day, Wednesday the 20th of November, bandits with weapons threw rocks , bottles and fired bullets into Lycee Charlemagne Perault in Sen Rafayel. Several students were wounded and for this reason the school day was paralyzed.

We do not know when the schools will reopen because it is very dangerous at the present time between police and  armed rebels (bandits)  in Sen Rafayel.

During my visit to Canada, I have been receiving reports of similar activities in Cap-Haitien involving Lycee Philippe Guerrier and Lycee Boukman. Gas bombs were thrown into each school, causing pandemonium and wounding many, sending dozens to the already crowded Hopital Justinien.We have students in both schools. Violence reappeared in Sen Rafayel last month between police and armed bandits and has continued sporadically. We have over 60 students attending Lycee Charlemagne Perault. Our young people know that violence solves nothing. This is why education is so important to them. They want a country of opportunity not oppression.

Country wide anti-government protests have been escalating over the past 2 months, with state supported schools often targeted. Last Monday saw huge demonstrations on the anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres. Another large protest is scheduled for Nov. 29th.  The Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince does a very good job of keeping Canadians in the country informed.

I head back to Cap-Haitien next week, new passport in hand,  new glasses on my face and new orthotics in my shoes. I also go back  in the middle of a Chelation cleanse ( a 3 month process) as blood tests showed that mercury levels in my blood were too high. It is the country which keeps on giving.

While I am concerned for staff and students, given these new rounds of violence, I have the utmost confidence in Auguste's decision making capabilities and I know our coordinators will keep the kids inside the compound should it come to that.

As in the past, we will be present and provide whatever support we can. Safety first. A closing thought:

Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
                                                                                               (Oliver Wendell Holmes)


                                                        Junior Starfish


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