Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Hello Everyone,

Several things have been happening over the past few weeks that have made it difficult to contact you all. If anyone is waiting for me to reply to an email, it will be a while longer.

The situation in Cap-Haitien has been tense, with bandits stopping tap taps and robbing the passengers. Also there have been 3 kidnappings in Cap-Haitien this past week or so, with the kidnappers now using taxis to abduct their victims. And when a Haitian warns me against using tap taps and taxis, I take it very seriously. I am fine, though, and have enough food at the house to last for about a week.

Today I came to town by taxi with Jacques (his wife nearly died this week). I had just loaded my emails at the internet cafe, then the system crashed, and all the phone lines went down, so I could not read any of them. I managed to buy a new phone card, though, so I've passed on this update via my cell phone. We've still got no hydro.

The rain has stopped, and it's very hot now. Six of our kids have eye infections. There's a particularly nasty bacteria going around right now. One girl has shingles, an infected urinary tract, worms and anemia. These multiple infections are what many of these kids deal with every day. Four have serious dental conditions (I'm sure one needs a root canal, and our dentist has disappeared so no idea how he is going to get help).

Two groups of visitors stopped by to say hello -- Jan, Anne, Jane and Ben from Colorado, and Jen and Elizabeth from Ontario. The Colorado group were driving a 4WD vehicle I had never seen before. If anyone has any information about it, let us know. I believe it is a Pinzgauer, and they said it was really great for getting up the mountains. They raised funds in the U.S. to buy it, then ship it to Haiti. These vehicles cost about $15,000, and from what I saw, they would be ideal for this terrain. However, as a lone woman in a high profile vehicle, I think I would be a target. Better to save for a less flashy used truck to haul supplies.

[Editor's note: I found two sites: SwissArmyVehicles and PinzgauerCanada, which says: The Pinzgauer, affectionately referred to by a few as the "Hummer Hunter," has been produced by the Austrian firm of Steyr-Daimler-Puch since 1968 and is available in four-wheel and six-wheel drive configurations. The vehicles imported into North America by Pinzgauer were built to specifications required to meet the needs of the Swiss armed forces.]

The cost for a one-year Imagine Canada database access has been donated by a board member (Thanks, Cindy!) so we can now begin searching Canadian corporations for grant opportunities.

Christmas break is just starting, and the kids will be off school until about January 8. I hope the break will be 'uneventful'.

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard all year to help us help these kids and their families, and to all who are working on fundraisers to continue the work. A Merry Christmas to all, and the best for the New Year.



Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Hello Everyone,

I arrived safely back in Cap-Hatien in the rainy season, and it's rained nearly every day. The temperature hasn`t dropped yet, though. That will happen closer to Christmas. Until then, it's really humid.

On Monday at 1 p.m., the hydro came on! Everyone was in a euphoric state. The power went off again at 5:30p.m. That four and a half hours is the longest block of hydro since last March. We charged phones, I ironed and made toast. We even plugged in the fridge. Those in our neighbourhood who bought into the private transformer (transformateur privee) have some electricity daily. We paid into it but NOW are told the wire (fil) to hook it up will cost another $1500 Haitian dollars (about $220 US). It is always something.

Abel is somehow managing to work full time and go to school. His Philo classes are from 3-8, so he works from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., then packs a lunch and goes to school.

Two boxes arrived from Pennsylvania and we have distributed the clothes. We are saving the candy until Christmas for a special treat. As you know, kids, especially malnourished kids, shouldn't have many sweets, but for Christmas, well, that's special. Much gratitude to Mme Cindy and her community for their continuing support of our 'Starfish' here.

The little digital camera I purchased in Ft. Laudable is amazing. Brother James (Fre Jimps) has the capability to send pictures from a camera via his computer. I will try to send some pictures when I can.

Many students currently on the waiting list are showing up here at Lakay Fondasyon hoping that we can sponsor them. The fees for preimiere trimest are due by next week on the final day before exams begin. Students who haven't paid fees will not be able to write (konpoze) exams, thus losing the year.

Marlene is determined to apply for nursing again at the hospital next summer, and I am looking for options for her in the interim. Right now, she is doing some work for us in the office and will take a 4 month computer course beginning in January. We are still seeking a sponsor to see her through 4 years of training.

Fritz was very happy when I gave him the money for his paintings. I will bring more of his work back with me in the spring. If anyone would like to order something special from him, please let me know. (See catalog paintings) As well, he works with a metal artist and a wood sculptor, so I am looking into helping them find markets.

Until next time, Pi ta


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Orangeville Ontario

Hello Everyone!

As I count down the days until I return to Haiti, I've been very busy making arrangements and speaking to groups around southern Ontario. Last week, Pat [board chair Pat Materiuk] and I visited King's College, University of Western Ontario in London, where Pat and I spoke to two first year classes (90 in each) and one third year class. David [board youth liaison, Dave Materiuk] helped with the final presentation. We talked to them about travelling to Cap-Haitien next summer to fulfill their credit placement requirement. These students can receive a full credit toward degree following a placement of one month. Anyone interested in more information about a placement with Starthrower Foundation will contact Pat. She will then meet with them and do all the preparation work.

As these classes were in the evening, Pat had scheduled daytime meetings at John Paul II High School to speak to groups from various grade levels. And a big Thank You to Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School students, chaplain Brenda Holtkamp, and teachers Jane Finney and Hannah Burza. Last Friday, after the final of four presentations, I was presented with a cheque from the Assisi Society.

Mme CIndy In Pennsylvania is making two presentations at local organizations, and showing the video, which was made this past summer in Haiti. Cindy is putting the video on DVD and refining to 15 minutes. (Thanks, Cindy! Editing video is a huge task!)

Last Sunday, I showed the video to a gathering at the home of Ann, in Caledon. It was a very enjoyable afternoon with many new faces asking questions about Haiti and our work there. And on November 23rd, Harmony Natural Health Clinic, in Orangeville, will hold an open house. Bev [board secretary-treasurer Bev Fleming] will be there with the Starthrower Foundation display, and will answer questions about our work in Haiti. Dr. Wendy, the owner of Harmony Natural Health Clinic, will be enlisting sponsors for her marathon run in January.

Terri Holden, a personal trainer at Fit for Your Life, in Orangeville, is holding a Christmas get-together fund raiser for Starthrower (date to be announced). Terri will be showing either the video or the shortened DVD, which Cindy will be sending to us here.

Thanks to those who purchased some of the art works [catalogue list has been amended to show those works still available]. I know that Fritz, the artist, will be very pleased to receive payment for his works, which will help make this Christmas a very special one for him and his young family. Thanks, too, to those who visited Abel at Lakay Fondasyon last week, and dropped off protein powder and vitamins.

Bev and I have also been busy trying to arrange shipment to Haiti of the donations sitting here in Orangeville. Last Saturday, four students from Robert Hall Secondary School, two students from Orangeville District Secondary School, and our amazing accountant, Nancy Pratt, and her daughters, Samantha and Jennifer, arrived at my place at 9 a.m., and we packed donations until 3 p.m. Approximately two-thirds of donations are now packed, labelled and ready to go. It will not be possible to pack the remaining donations before I leave. We have been offered space to ship half a pallette (28 cu.ft/12 banana boxes) and three boxes of ring notebooks, on a shipment leaving Canada for Cap-Haitien this weekend. This very generous offer comes from another NGO working in Cap-Haitien. It allows us to send backpacks, vitamins, pencil cases, T-shirts, socks and some toothbrushes. We still have roughly two palettes to be shipped. Bev is looking into other arrangements for these boxes. We believe the best route would be to send the remaining 40 banana boxes by either truck or air to Ft. Lauderdale, then ship by sea to Cap Haitien. We have found a reliable, and not too expensive shipping company in Ft. Lauderdale. Bev is currently searching for a trucking company to donate the cost of transport from Orangeville to Ft. Lauderdale, as well as a preferred rate from an air carrier.

I leave Orangeville on Monday, November 20th, and arrive in Cap-Haitien on Wednesday, November 22. Thanks to generous donations received to date, we currently have funds to keep all programs going until March 2007. Donations made between now and February, which are needed to keep operating beyond March 1, will be transferred to me in Haiti.

The Starthrower Foundation annual general meeting will take place early in the new year. Those of you (or someone you know) in southern Ontario, who would like to be considered for a position on the Starthrower Foundation board of directors, please contact Bev for details using the email form.

Until next time, kenbe red,kenbe pa lage


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Orangeville, Ontario

Hello Everyone!

Two fundraisers took place in the past few weeks, and we are grateful for the monies raised. In the United Kingdom, Francilien completed his second marathon this year, with proceeds to go to sponsoring student(s). Here in Orangeville, Janice, the owner of As We Grow, did a wonderful job on the (Loonies* for Haiti Day (*loonies are slang for Canadian $1 coins featuring the loon). Janice was totally organized, worked steadily all day, and encouraged every customer to donate. As well, she is donating a percentage of sales for the day. Fundraisers are doubly valuable, as they also serve to raise awareness for our efforts and for the extreme poverty in Haiti. A big Thank You! to all who worked so hard.

As many of you know, a partial list of students on the waiting list has been posted. We have only paid first trimeste fees for this year. The students will need help at Christmas in order to continue and be eligible to write exams, then pick up reports needed for 2nd and 3rd trimeste. Currently, we have no money for them. Only those in Lycee or apprenticeship are paid for the entire year.

Marlene D. was not accepted into nursing at Justinien [local hospital], and she needs a sponsor to complete her education at inivesite prive (private nursing schools). She has secured information from 2 schools. The tuition for each is $9000 Haitian ($1,300 US) per year for 4 years. Since the practicum takes place in Port-au-Prince, she needs another $300-$500 US for travel and living expenses. If she doesn't find a sponsor, everything stops for her. Why have we supported her the last 6 years if not to make a difference? If you know someone who could see her through 4 years of nursing achool, it would be wonderful. Another donor has come forward for both Elorge and Frandy starting next year, and will see them through medical school in Cuba for as long as it takes.

We have not yet found the resources to ship our donated supplies from here to Cap-Haitien, though we continue to look for someone who is able to help us with the shipment. Receipt of Bev's letter to the Governor General of Canada's office asking for help with shipping was acknowledged, with the comment to 'allow 6 weeks minimum for a response'.

In part, Bev said:

"After much research, we have found a shipping company in Fort Lauderdale which can ship safely to Cap-Haitien and through customs. The cost is $8.00 US per cubic foot. We estimate our supplies are about 80 cubic feet. The challenge is to truck the supplies from Ontario to Fort Lauderdale, and to pay for both the land trucking and the ocean shipping. We can use student volunteers to pack the shipment here."

It's now 5 months and counting, and there's been no further word. As well, Bev continues to send letters of enquiry to organizations and individuals who might be able to help.

Abel (in Cap-Haitien) tells me that we have a problem with the beans we have been distributing. Because we purchase in quantity before I leave, they are now full of ti bet yo (little bugs).

I plan to return to Haiti on November 20, and then stay for 4 or 5 months (March, April 2007). With the funds currently available, I will keep the house open for December, and keep the food program going as long as possible. As well, I will take Fritz the proceeds from all his paintings that have been sold by that time. {See paintings catalog).

Kenbe, Blessings,


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

Hello, Everyone!

I thought you all would be interested in the communication system we've set up from Haiti for when I have to return to Canada. I leave enough money for Abel to email me once a week, if there's satellite/electricity. In addition, he has money for emergencies, as does Jack. Here is the latest news from Abel. It also provides an opportunity to see Kreyol.

In this email Abel tells me that Brother James (from the Azile) came to visit with 3 Americans and 2 Haitians. Other news is: Charlie (Tchale) the cat has stopped vomiting (pa noze anko); Marlene Dejoie was NOT successful in her application to nursing training at the hospital (Justinien) and is seeking information about private training schools; however they are extremely expensive (Yo tre che anpil).

Modeline Joseph travelled to the hospital in Milot for consultation. She has either a vaginal tumor or cyst (timeur ou quiste) and needs 1800 gourdes (about $50USD ) for an operation, plus travel expenses and post-op meds. Dieugrand asked if I could bring him back a flashlight which does not require batteries.

Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 01:53:26 +0200 (CEST)

bonjou Madam

Nou kontan pran nouvèl ou. Nou tout byen.

frè Jimps te vizite lakay nou jedi 13 oktob 2006 ak 3 vizitè etranje e 2 ayisyen men mwen pa konnen non y. li te mande'm kilè w'ap vini.

chat byen yo byen, tchali pa noze ankò.

Dejoie Marlène pa bon nan egzamen pou li antre nan lekòl enfimyè - a. Li di lot lekol enfimyè ki genyen yo, yo trè chè anpil. Li pa konnen kisa ou ap deside.

Joseph Modeline li te ale nan lopital Milo Doktè- a di li gen ( timeur ou quiste) nan vant. Doktè a di se operasyon pou li fè. men li pa gen kob la. Se 1800 goud pou operasyon -an.

Dieugrand di silvouplè si ou trouve ti flach ki pa sèvi ak batri pote yonn pou li. paske lè li leve lannwit pou li wè kote l'ap mete pye-l. mèsi davans.

Nou kontan paske ou pa pimal, n'ap priye pou ou retounen paske nou anvi wè ou..

God bless you!!!

Mèsi a la prochèn


Pi ta


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Hello, Everyone!

Thanks to donors in England , the U.S. and Canada, we've sponsored 71 young people. I think (going from memory) there are 12 in trades (metiye-yo) and the rest are in high school. This leaves 79 students whom we sponsored last year still unregistered, as well as hundreds of other hopefuls on our second wait list.

The largest segment of those still not sponsored is in Sen Rafayel. I have not been able to travel to Sen Rafayel for the past 2 years as we have no vehicle, and public transit along that route is very unsafe. Unfortunately, some of the money and supplies we sent did not arrive at the intended destination. If we concentrate on Cap-Haitien, we are able to make home visits as well as make certain very little (hopefully nothing) goes astray.

Djohn came down the mountain on Friday with Claudy to pick up back packs and text books for Sen Rafayel. He was very happy to hear that Mme Cindy in Pennsylvania is sending a carpenter's scraper (gratwa) for him. I saw that he was very ill, so I took a chance and sent him with one of the girls to the corner clinic as I was certain he had malaria. Unfortunately, I was right, but fortunately, the nurse was able to make this diagnosis, and we sent him home with the necessary meds.

Dieumane is very ill with a parasite infection. Jhennie has an eye infection and needs glasses. She had a prescription which she lost and the doctor who prescribed it has since left Haiti. We will try to find another. Everyone here needs sunglasses and hats. The dust is very hard on the eyes and carries everything. Our neighbours continue to burn tires (couatchou). I think the smell is part of my genetic code now.

Elorge's kompoze was pa bon, meaning he will have to repeat the year. Unfortunately every one who had to kompoze anko was pa bon. Also unfortunately, we now need to find a new school for Elorge as his school in Sen Rafayel will not offer Philo this year due to decreased enrolment. Many who must repeat the year do not have the means to pay for a second try.

I was able to change my flight back to Toronto. I leave Wednesday, September 13, and arrive in Toronto on Friday night. Depending on how fast I can recuperate, I hope I can return to Cap-Haitien earlier than planned, perhaps by mid November. Because I am leaving early, our Day of Reflection (Sept. 17) has been cancelled as the house will be closed. Food distribution will continue on a weekly basis while I am gone. Jud is taking Abel to the market on Monday morning to purchase enough supplies for 10 weeks. He and Dieugrand will package on Saturdays and distribute on Sundays.

This past Friday was the last day for work for most of the summer staff. Rosenie will work on Monday and Tuesday with Abel to finish purchasing and processing the few text books we still need. Mme Carmene cooked diri ak pwa et legim (rice, beans and veggies) on Friday, and we had an end-of-summer meal together. Mme Marjorie is visiting from Sarnia, Ontario, and she joined us for the afternoon.

Kenbe, Sharon

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

Hello Everyone,

As you may know, I am back in Ontario to attend to health concerns as well as to work on fundraising and Starthrower Foundation's year end (September 30).

I would like to thank the Patton Township Lions Club at State College, Pennsylvania, and Don and Sharon H. Together, they purchased a Perkin's Brailler for Guilene M. in Sen Rafayel. Also thanks to Cindy W. for finding a manual typewriter for Guilene (and also, I believe, a battery operated cassette recorder). When Guilene gets these items, she will be able to keep up with class work even though she's not in a specially equipped school. She is entering 2eme secondaire, the 5th year of high school. It is likely she will stay in Sen Rafayel to complete high school as the area of Port au Prince in which her previous school is located is in the middle of much of the action. The challenge now is to transport these items safely from Pennsylvania to Haiti.

Thanks to all our Marathoners for their past and future fundraising efforts. We all wish them success. Francilien ran a marathon in the United Kingdom on October 1. Orangeville, Ontario, naturopath Dr. Wendy Davis plans to run a marathon at Disneyworld in January 2007 for Starthrower, and one of her friends will run a half-marathon for us.

As We Grow, a clothing store in Orangeville, Ontario, owned by Janice Gooding, is sponsoring a Starthrower Foundation Information day on Saturday, Oct 28. I will be set up in a tent to show the video that was shot in Cap-Haitien this past summer. If you will be in the area, please come by to show your support. Janice Gooding is challenging the community of Orangeville to line Broadway (our main street) with loonies ($1 coins) for Starthrower. Brownies and Girl Guides will facilitate collection. (More information: As We Grow - The Cardwell Collection, 113 Broadway, Orangeville, ON Phone (519) 941-8733) (See also Fundraisers)

Our treasurer, Bev, reports that Starthrower Foundations's annual general meeting is tentatively set for November 5, 2006, in London, Ontario. Bev adds that 'Our financial health is nil', including the monies needed for the annual (mandatory) audit. Bev says that Starthrower is still waiting for responses on our proposals for grants.

This weekend, in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving. Every one of us has much to be thankful for. Let's truly appreciate all that we have been given, and re-dedicate ourselves to helping those those less fortunate.



Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Hello Everyone,

Since my health is not improving as it should be, I may be back in Canada a few weeks earlier than planned. I am making arrangements to complete as many enrolments as possible during the coming week, in the event I have to return earlier for medical treatment. (It will also depend on if I can get a flight or not.)

Special thanks to those generous donors who came forward since the last update. You are all making a great difference, and I thank you on behalf of all the students.

I am wondering if anyone can help with a siituation that has arisen with Deles, one of our students in Sen Rayayel. Ever since I have know him, Deles has dreamed of becoming a priest. To be accepted into the seminary, he first had to graduate, and this he accomplished this summer. However, when he met with the priest last week, he was told he is too old to enter the seminary. It's very sad to see his dream crushed. When I spoke with him about other career choices, he thought of agronomy. To get training in agronomy, he would have to go to university in Port-au-Prince, and that is not a problem. What he needs is money to pay for room and board in Port-au-Prince. If anyone has suggestions or can think of ways to help him, please contact me.

I'll be in touch as soon as I can to let you know my plans.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


Hello Everyone,

We had amazing winds last night and today it's overcast. Given the weather conditions, I am amazed that there is a signal at all. This is my third attempt to send you this update.

(Editor's Note: I advised Sharon today that Hurricane Ernesto is centered to the south of Haiti. With much of Haiti deforested, heavy rains cause devastating flash floods.)

Re: Numbers in July :: We had 154 youth knock on our portail seeking help for paying for school. In August so far, we've had 197. Our active wait list shows 36 students waiting for high school and another 6 for trades/apprenticeships. I estimate Starthrower Foundation needs $11,000 US by the end of September in order to accommodate everyone for first trimest. We will not be able to help the other 255 students as we do not have enough time to visit each home to do an intake interview and request necessary support documents.

We have given birth to a new group of about 20 of our staff and students that meets every Tuesday and Thursday in our parking space to sing and improvise skits. Wouldn`t a Canadian tour for these youngsters be a great idea?

Thanks to Sue in England, we have some scientific calculators ready to be transported from Canada. We are just waiting for someone to bring them to us in Cap-Haitien. It may be December 1, when I return to Cap-Haitien. In the meantime the kids will have to do without. They are used to that.

(Editor's Note: Hurricane permitting, the calculators may arrive as soon as next week.)

We've found out why there's been no electricity for 2 months. On Friday, Jacques noticed rest of kartiye had it and we did not. He went in search of Bos Elekrisyen and miraculously found him. Bos came and checked everything and said that the house was fine (he tested everything with the generator). The problem is the line from EDH (pronounced A - Day - Ash, Electrique d' Ayiti). This means we will never have electricity as the wait list for their services is estimated at 2 years.

Rosenie arrived for work on Friday with cuts. She was bleeding and her skirt was ripped. She had fallen coming out of her ti kay (little house). Our visitors from last summer will remember that her house is built on a garbage dump, so tetanus is a worry. We cleaned and covered her wounds, and gave her meds for pain, as well as money for a tetanus shot. I will let you know if she was able to find one.

I am still very sick and to add insult to injury I now have a sore throat. Seems a virus has decided I am a good host. I am certain people wonder why I am sick so often. You have to understand that I am constantly walking in, and breathing in, raw sewage and garbage. Garbage fires are everywhere all the time -- old tires, old oil, rusted car parts etc. Everything is going into our bodies. At Lakay Fondasyon, we only burn leaves and paper products at the house but our neighbours continue burning everything.

Blessings, Sharon

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cap-Haitien (Okap)

Hello Everyone!

We now have 9 registered in trades and are up to about 45 in various levels of high school.This is how we work. During the summer students must bring in kane-yo (report cards). We talk with them as to if they wish to continue, or to repeat if they failed, or to enter a metye (trade). We also counsel them about tutoring for feb (weak) subjects. Those in 9eme AF (also called katrieme), Philo and Rheto must konpoze (write) national exams, then wait for rezilta (results). For katrieme, they pass or fail. For Rheto and Philo, they bon (pass), ajournee (almost pass so must write konpoze, a make-up exam in August), or eliminee (fail). You can see that we spend a lot of time waiting for results.

Deles was bon for Philo. Elorge was ajournee. He just finished writing again. He had to go to another centre in Grande Riviere du Nord to konpoze. Jhennie and Frandy were bon for Rheto. Micheline and Julia were eliminee for Rheto. With results and photos, we then go to the high schools and pay inskri or reinskri to hold a place for them. In September, we pay frais dèntree (a yearly fee), then we pay for each trimest. This year I am paying for everyone by trimest. This means there is more money in September to send more students.

Throughout the summer, we repair and recover all text books collected after Juin exams. Once inskri in paid we are given book lists and material samples for uniforms. We are now putting book lists together in back packs along with hygiene products. At the same time we prepare lists of textbooks we do not have. Then we send teams out to the market to search for needed books.

Thanks to recent donations (and as soon as the funds are transferred from Canada to Haiti), we can now begin to purchase material and then have uniforms made, as well as purchase shoes. All schools require black shoes. Everybody loves black running shoes for comfort but we cannot buy them here.

The last week August and the first week in September, we will revisit the schools and pay frais d èntreand premier trimest. In two of the high schools (Semi Lycee Anacaona and Institut Coanabo), if we send 6 students, we pay full price for 5 and can send the sixth for demi bous (half price per trimest; frais is always full price). This allows us to send more students. After all of this is paid for, I will know what is left, if anything, and will start intake on the 2 waiting lists. I have asked each youth to have patience. They understand waiting.

We received some notebooks and pencils from another Canadian NGO here, that helped us to prepare basic back packs. We try to provide what will be needed for a trimest. In December and January, we prepare and distribute packages with hygiene products and school supplies for the second trimest. We also pay remaining balances on school fees.

By not paying the full year in September, we can send about 3 times the number of students to school. There are many more requests coming in for training in apprenticeships. This is understandable, as many of them only started Grade 1 at age 14 or 15. They are now young adults and are making decisions re: family responsibilities. Young Kesner C. (Starfish) is entering a couturier and cuisine program at Sant Familiale Sen Jozef in Sen Rafayel. Daniel D. is apprenticing in mayogani (mahogany carving for decoration and furniture). Makendy is apprenticing with a barber and his sister Nandecie is taking a year in Infomatik (computers).

Thanks to some recent donations, Erzilia will enter a sewing/cooking program and Marlene is in the process of gathering necessary material to apply for nursing. Roseline enters her second year of couturier, moving from Cap-Haitien to Sen Rafayel. Life in the big city is just too hard for most, but Sen Rafayel is not a whole lot easier. Wisky and Denis enter their last year as mechanic apprentices, and Djohn D. is in his last year as carpenter`s apprentice. Currently, there are 6 on the wait list for apprenticeships and about 140 on the wait list for secondary school.

Thanks to all who have recently sent donations. What a big difference this has made! Please tell a friend about us and we can make a bigger difference!!!

Re: items needed We always need hand sanitizer, Septo Bac (treatment for septic tank), dry cat food, envelopes, single bed sheets, pillow cases, pillows, kitchen supplies and household goods like tea pots, baking sheets, muffin tins.

Thanks everyone!

Alapwochen, Sharon

Monday, August 14, 2006


Hello Everyone!

When I was in Port-au-Prince last week, I found it to be a city living in fear. At the Canadian embassy, we were warned to avoid many areas of the city. Of course, these areas, for us, were unavoidable, so we travelled with extreme caution (and a wonderful chauffeur). Kidnappings are an hourly rather that daily occurrence in PAP, and gunfire in some places is constant.

Back home in Cap-Haitien, Soeur Ginette has presented her bill for services and meds for 2006-2007. She is a Canadian religious sister and nurse working in Sen Rafayel. She has been here for 35 years. Her little clinic keeps our kids alive. We have 80 on the list for her, and 36 of those saw her for a total of 110 visits. Of those, everyone was anaemic (no surprise), and 18 had malaria, 2 had typhoid, 34 had skin infections, 10 had pneumonia, 10 had eye and ear infections as well as parasites, diarrhea, accidents, dehydration, vaginal infections etc. We paid a total of 30,000 gourdes/$857.00 USD (divide by 35 for U.S. equivalency).

On Wednesday, we worked with M. Carlos making our video. We filmed Lakay Fondasyon inside and out, showing our work, Then on Friday, we piled into a truck (with a bad starter) and made 6 home visits to our kids all over Cap-Haitien. We finished the video back at Lakay Fondasyon, on the gallery, with a few words from Abel, Jack, Rosenie and me. The finished product will be ready for Monday (August 14). It will need a lot of editing in Canada but, hopefully, it will provide a sense of what we are doing and WHY.

Usually I pool donated funds to provide support for as many as possible. However, I am now asking for special help for two of our girls.

1) Erzilia A., who did not pass 8eme, which is not a surprise as her mother died this year (her dad died many years ago). She is deep in depression, and struggling to care for several younger siblings. She would like to learn 'couture et cuisine' (cooking and sewing). I found a small private school in our neighbourhood. She went to see it and smiled for the first time since I have known her. It's a 2-year course and the cost is $300 USD a year (see photo :: Starfish).

2) Marlene D. came to us 6 years ago, and is all alone in the world. She shares a 'ti kay' (little house) with Rosenie and Marie Carmene. She just successfully completed Philo (7th and final year) and wants to be a nurse. The training here is 3 years (if you can get in). It is expensive even to apply. We are in the process of securing the papers needed to write the entrance tests. Will know amount needed after successful entrance exam.

Last year, Starthrower sponsored 150 students, and there are 30 on the waiting list. Of these 180 kids, we have enrolled 11 who attend the least expensive high school and 4 in apprenticeships.

Thanks to Mme Sue in the U.K. for her donation for scientific calculators and other supplies. Since these calculators are like gold here, I will wait until I can bring them back with me when I return December 1. The kids understand, and the calculators will make a good Christmas gift. Mme Cindy in the U.S. and I are setting up accounts with CASCO, a shipping company that should be less expensive to ship goods to Cap-Haitien.

Re: My health :: I am taking Buscopan, an antispasmodic, that seems to be helping to keep me on my feet. After a full day's wait in another doctorès waiting room, I finally gave up and went to the clinic on our 'cornwe' where I send our kids. They have a Cuban doctor there. I waited all morning to be told by a nurse practitioner to come back the next day at 10 a.m. It was she who suggested I try the Buscopan along with anti nausea meds. But when I came back the the next day, I was told the doctor had gone to Port-au-Prince. I will phone him on the weekend. I will return to Canada for treatment if necessary, but for now I am okay.

Internet has been difficult this past week, with the computers either crashing or sending multiples and cutting out. I will try to send more information this week.

Blessings, Sharon

Monday, August 7, 2006


Hello. tout moun!

I've been out of commission for the past two weeks with a diagnosed kidney infection and possible stones. The Haitian doctor I saw (one of about a dozen in the entire country), (for the wealthy only -- my visit cost about $30 US) was using equipment about 50 years old. If I hadn't been so ill, I would have run away, screaming, at the sight of the lab that did my blood work. I will go back to the lab on Monday (August 7) for further testing as Dr. B. thinks I have kidney stones. If so, or if this infection doesn't start to move out, I must find another doctor, as he is on holiday for the rest of the summer.

I did travel to Port-au-Prince last Wednesday, and returned on Friday. If people think Lynx Air planes are small and uncomfortable, then they *must* try Caribintair! However, the trip down [to PAP] took only half an hour. Flying is the only way to travel this country when you are ill!

Now, though, I have the requirements for a 'permis de sejour' [long-stay visa], so I will begin the process in Canada with the police check, fingerprinting, medical etc. I also travelled to Petionville, to the infant hospital. I briefly sat with a four month old boy in the agony of meningitis. Two others died while I was there. The cardboard boxes in which the bodies are placed are no larger that a birthday cake box. I wonder how many times your heart can break? If I ever needed to be reminded that what Starthrower does in vital, this trip did it. With education and attendant supports, our young adults are the ones who can change the future of their country.

Sorry time is up will send more tomorrow.


[Ed note: I received this update on August 5, and delayed posting until I heard more from Sharon.

So far, nothing. I will try to reach her by phone tomorrow if I still haven't heard from her}

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Hello, Everyone,

The director of a new school in Sen Rafayel came down the mountain this morning just as I was leaving. I informed him that currently there were no funds for September, and left him with Abel who could provide all the information. The director is trying to break new ground: He wants to begin charging a flat rate for tuition, instead of charging by trimester. The fee would also include the cost of the uniform. Not having to supply a uniform would be much less work for us. We wouldn't have to go to the market to purchase material, or take the bus up the mountain to deliver it to Sen Rafayel, or arrange to send payment from Cap-Haitien to the different tailors/seamstresses in Sen Rafayel. (I have never been comfortable sending money by bus. Very risky.)

The whitewashing is on schedule. We began last week, with me giving them constant instructions about setting the ladders properly and not climbing up unless at least one spotter was holding it steady. Esmann declared that he was Haitian, and therefore did not need rules. His ladder gave way and he fell on the cement, landing on his right knee. We had to send someone running down to the street to find a taxi, then agree on a price for the trip, and navigate it up our street and into the compound, and then pick up the injured Esmann and fit him into the taxi. When the universe sees fit to provide us with a vehicle, we need a truck! It will simplify our lives.The hospital could not do an x-ray, though, as they had no electricity just then. An x-ray the next morning showed no damage. His knee is still quite swollen but the meds are working, and he is back to work.

The next morning, Julia was washing dishes after morning coffee. I heat water on the stove every morning for washing. I noticed the water had been changed. When I asked Julia where the water had gone, she replied,"It was hot so I threw it out and filled up with cold." So we had the discussion about mikwob-yo (bacteria) and the need for hot water or a few drops of klowos (Clorox)

These two incidents led to a meeting with Jack and Abel, who in turn met with all staff re: Health and Safety. They are going to have a 10-minute staff meeting every Monday at 8 a.m. to review and update.

Sister Rosemary gave us a gift of four aprons. (The seven students working on books need to cover their clothing for work.) I had two aprons here, and will search the market for one more.

The badges are a big hit. Everyone insists on wearing them when they arrive for work in the morning, saying that 'in case we have visitors, they will know our names and that we work for the fondasyon.'

We have a new neighbor. She moved into the big house beside us. She is Haitian American and speaks English. She will be coming and going as her family is all in the States. She told me about a group buying a transformateur privee (private transformer) for more consistent hydro. (This is week 4 since I have been back, and we haven't had any.) The cost to buy in to this group is $1000 Haitian ($145 US) plus the wire, which we already have, plus a monthly bill from EDH. We already pay for ice every day, as we have a fridge but no hydro, so the cost of private hydro versus buying ice would be about the same amount. Of course, there's no guarantee as to how much or how frequently we'd receive service, but it would be more than we do right now.

I am scheduled to travel to Port au Prince first of August to make inquiries for a 'permis de sejours'. This would mean I could stay in Haiti year round and just renew in Port Au Prince once a year. This trip depends on the situation there, though. Things are boiling over again with more kidnappings and daily random shootings.

Mme Cindy in Pennsylvania has sent protein powder, and Mme Carmene will make mamba (peanut butter) to mix for a protein boost.

On that note, I will close, as time is nearly up. Blessings to all.

Kenbe pa lage, Sharon

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13-15, 2006 Cap-Haitien

Hello Everyone,

There's still no electricity. When there is a breeze or it's windy, it feels like you are standing in front of a hot oven. The water pressure in our well (not safe for drinking water) is low so we are pumping very little each day. We are buying and consuming up to 20 gallons of potable per day. I think that should be the daily level for the summer.

The mosquitoes seem to be worse this year, not from standing rain water, but from the pooled raw sewage that makes and ideal breeding ground. I mention this because my legs look like hamburger from the bites from the mosquitoes that seem to live under the wooden carels in this cybercafe.

We're still scraping the house and security wall and plan to begin whitewashing next week. We will need to increase the security here at Lakay Fondasyon for when I return to Canada. I've had two reports of intruders in our compound during the day when no staff are around. I will add one security staff to the day shift. I also had an intruder the second night I was here. Someone entered the compound by the parking space. I thought at first it was a just a cat, but cats don`t carry flashlights. I frightened them off.

Frandy, Jean Ricot, Marlene, Julia, Jhennie and Micjeline have come to work with us. We set up 3 stations for text book preparations. At the first one, set up in the parking area, we use white out and erasers to clean them up. In the corner, we repair them using scissors, glue and material scraps for binding, then cover each book with plastic. At the third station, on the gallery, we do the final inspection. Abel has set up a chart so that jobs are rotated daily.

Friday is a wonderful day at our compound. Only the full time staff work, not the students. The students and I actually sit down and talk with each other. Over coffee at 7:45, I learned that the students who work conserving and preserving text books would like to have aprons to wear over their clothes to protect their limited wardrobe from ink and glue. Then, those who work in the garden first change into sandals, shorts and baseball caps. They chimed in, and said they want a uniform, also. Belonging to something is so important to these young people.

(NB: See 'Justice' at Starthrower Foundation home.)

Jud repaired our sewing machine, so we are busy making curtains for the house using donated remnants. In addition to Dieugrand's tailoring skills, Jhennie is proving an able seamstress. Please tell Mme Cindy that I am still trying to contact [person] in St. Raphael about the braille machine. [Person] is ill (it sounds like malaria), so it may be a while.

Abel brought in a newspaper that is printed in Port-au-Prince, that showed pictures of Wyclef Jean [Haitian musician] at the World Cup. Abel wants to email him to ask him to visit us here in Cap-Haitien, reasoning that he would help us if he knew of us. And Dieugrand asked it he could email the [Haiti-born] Governor General of Canada, Mme Jean, to ask her to visit us, too. Dieugrand still has Mme Jean's picture in his shack from last summer. Why not? Can't hurt to ask. This is why I say Fridays are so great.

M. Carlos (administrator of State university satellite campus in Cap-Haitien, and a lawyer, videograher, photographer) is a neighbor who helped us so much our first year here in the house. He came to ask for summer work, so now he is making ID badges for each employee to wear when representing Starthrower Foundation in the community, like when Abel goes to pay school fees, and Jacques, for when he's interviewing prospective bosses about apprenticing our kids. They cost about $1.5 Haitian each (about 20 cents) and the staff are thrilled and so proud. Carmene asked for one for when she shops in the market every morning. The badge is yet another symbol of being part of something, and so important for boosting a sense of self worth. I am also going to ask M. Carlos if he will work with us for two days to videotape home visits, so that I can show everyone what it is that I am talking about [in my updates].

Markendy came one afternoon with his report card. He asked if we would pay for apprenticeship with a barber as he is quitting school. I was surprised to hear this, as he is eligible to enter Rheto (6th year of high school), and I knew he wanted to graduate then train as plumber. When I asked him why the change, he became very subdued and thoughtful, saying, "Peyi-a two dur [The country is too hard]." He is the oldest, although he has a twin sister, Nandecie. His Dad is dead, the family does not eat daily, and his mom is ill. He needs to find a way to take care of everyone. He is 23; he started Grade 1 at age 13. The decisions these young people have to make are so painful. I don`t want to see him give up on his dream because once he leaves school it is so difficult to go back.

On my way to this cybercafe today, I walked past a young girl in the market. She was about 14 or so, I think. She was holding a dirty piece of plastic that must have been wrapped around something wet, as it was covered in moisture and she was licking it. The entire country is thirsty.

I reiterate my awe of Haiti's people, and this country. There is such beauty and dignity, if you take the time to look and listen. I curled up under the mosquito net last night and listened to the house choir that was practising across the street. Such amazing joy that I am speechless at times (I know some find that hard to believe), and so very thankful for the opportunity to serve here.

I will keep in touch whenever possible, but enough for now. I am taking of advantage of the satellite signals whenever I can to let you all know what is happening. Who knows? My next email could be tomorrow or next month.

Kenbe red (hang tough)!


Friday, July 7, 2006


Hello Everyone,

First of all, thank you to everyone who requested their emails be forwarded to me in Haiti. Unfortunately, I am not able to answer each personally, or immediately, but I will try to do so over time.

I arrived Sunday (July 2), my flight an hour and a half later than scheduled, and my luggage did not arrive at all. I arranged to return to the Cap-Haitiën airport the following day only to be told that my luggage (with the supplies etc.) had arrived on Sunday after all, but had been put in storage with cargo by mistake.

Jack Dieugrand and Abel were working at the house, and waiting for the supplies. The week before I returned to Haiti, there was a fire in the hydro wires that run from the street into Lakay Fondasyon. Our neighbour cut these wires to stop the cascade. Welcome home. Lack of hydro to the house is not a big problem as right now, the entire city is without electricity.

We are using 15 gallons of potable water per day. We will need more when the senior students finish writing national exams and resume their visits to the house. We have six students now working with the regular staff: Edwina, Chrisatmene, Rosenie, Rodney, Esmann and Wisky. (See student photos). They all arrive 30 minutes early for work so they can get a drink of water, and use our toilet.

It's been difficult to purchase supplies locally as the stores are nearly empty of stock.The shipments are not getting here from the Dominican Republic or Port-Au-Prince.

Our rain reservoir continues to leak as does our kitchen tap. Boss elektrisyen repaired the hydro wire. We are waiting for Bos Plombye and Bos Mason to see about the reservoir.

I am going to use the rent money for September to continue the food distribution program, and Abel and I are making school decisions on a case by case basis. Rose Claudelle no longer has to worry about sharing space with 18 cousins. She has been put out of her house by tonton and must find alternate space.

Djohn D. and Claudy J. are coming down the mountain from Sen Rafayel on Saturday (July 8) with text books that need repairs and recovering. Jude is coming on Saturday morning to check out the sewing machine. We are so busy there is barely time to sit down and talk with each other.

The two boxes sent by Mme Cindy and Mme Paula arrived from Pennsylvania. Thank you so much, all who worked on this. They contained a large quantity of kepi-yo (baseball hats) which Abel is distributing to everyone who comes with report card. So far everyone has passed. What a miracle! The biggest celebration is for the improvement in Math and Science marks, thanks to Abel's tutoring.

I have told the students that school is on hold, due to lack of funds right now, and they understand. However, they also think that blans [whites, foreigners] can do anything short of pulling rabbits out of hats.

Thanks to the Starthrowers in Ontario, who are currently working on fundraising. My internet time is almost up. I will try to write again soon. It's about 130F in the shade. No wonder we are using potable water by the galloné!

Kenbe pa lage [hang in there, don't let go]


Current Status

Wait List for the program:: 51
In school or apprenticeship :: 150
Weekly food distribution (cooking oil, rice, beans) :: Cap-Haitiën 40
Staff :: Sen Rafayel 5
Staff :: Cap-Haitiën 5 full time, 30 part time

Monday, July 3, 2006

Mississauga, Canada

(This update is a compilation of communications for the past six weeks.)

Hello Everyone,

There's been an encouraging response to Sharon's report on Starthrower Foundation's urgent plea for funds needed to keep Lakay Fondasyon open, and to pay tuition due in September, 2006. Sharon says Starthrower Foundation received about $8,000, which allows us to keep the drop-in centre open, and provide each student with a simple meal each day. As well, we can provide students and staff with full and/or part time work for the summer months.

The summer staff will prepare text books for the coming school year, although currently there are insufficient funds to continue school support. However, if this urgently-needed support comes in during the summer, we will be ready. Also, the distribution of weekly food sacks has been discontinued as of today (July 3, 2006). It is Sharon's belief that this disruption in service is temporary. Emergency medical and dental needs will be evaluated case by case.

Sharon was scheduled to arrive in Cap-Haitien on July 2, to open Lakay Fondasyon and inventory two boxes of donations from Pennsylvania that arrived in June, when she was in Canada.

Special thanks to the individual donors in the U.S., the U.K. and in Canada, including three Canadian high schools (Brampton, Ontario :: Cardinal Leger; Chaplain Henriette Mazenc-Dolak; and teachers Kathi Part and Trevor Hilton, London Ontario :: St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Chaplain Brad Davis, and John Paul II High School; Chaplain Pat Materiuk). (See Hamburgers For Haiti photos)

Special thanks, too, to Francilien, 'our' marathoner in the U.K., who completed the Edinburgh Marathon, and dedicated the money he raised to Starthrower Foundation. Francilien raised sufficient funds to sponsor one student for the upcoming school year. This young man plans to run another marathon in September. Well done, Francilien!

(See his report at Starthrowers U.K.)

Starthrower Foundation is actively exploring all possible grant opportunities over the summer. One such application has been favourably received, we are told, and a response is expected in September.

Starting in July, Starthrower Foundation will be selling Haitian crafts at an Orangeville, Ontario, coffee house. In June, Sharon and new board member Bev Fleming attended a local market to sell Haitian crafts, and to raise funds as well as awareness of the great need of students in Haiti.

As well, Sharon met with the administrator of the Peace and Justice degree program at King's College, University of Western Ontario (London), to discuss the possibility of our hosting interns at Lakay Fondasyon for Summer, 2007. The students are required to do an out-of-country co-op with an NGO (non government organization) for a period of 1-3 months. Sharon will speak to all classes in October/November to begin preparation for those who wish to do their co-op in Haiti. Having the assistance of a student who is specialising in this field would be a great benefit to Starthrower Foundation; we would be responsible for room and board only.

Note :: Effective August, 2006, Paypal (our 'Donate' button link) is launching its new Canada site. We have been advised that all Canadian users will be seamlessly and automatically moved to the Paypal Canada site.

On Sharon's behalf, Kenbe pa lage


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Orangeville, Ontario

The State of Starthrower Foundation

Hello Everyone,

As you may know I am back in Canada until the end of June before returning to Cap-Haitien, where the situation will be very different for the foreseeable future.


Due to lack of funds, we are no longer able to support the nutrition, medical care and education support programs at Lakay Fondasyon in Haiti. Until sufficient funds become available/are raised, I will continue to pay the rent out of my personal retirement funds. I will try to keep the house there as long as possible as it is one of a kind - - location, number of rooms, garden etc. and well suited to our needs. I have enough money to cover 3-6 months of rent in Cap-Haitien. After that everything is finished. I feel badly for everyone -- the kids, their families, our staff. With us they have had regular work and pay for the first time in their lives and it will finish July 1st. It should be interesting trying to run the house by myself.


We now have a total of $600 (Canadian) for the summer, with grateful thanks to the web site donors. Due to the banking system in Haiti, I cannot access our bank account funds unless I am in Canada, so there is always a lag between donations and cash in hand. There's a very good chance we will not be sending anyone to school next year (with the exception of Marcellus, who is being sponsored by a donor in the UK), nor providing medical/dental support nor food sacks. As June 1st approaches, I want to let you know that I am trying to keep the house with my own money, which I estimate will last 3-6 months. That is my money to live on for the rest of my life. Even though bits will come in, without a sizable donation(s) :

• the house in Cap-Haitien will be closed as a drop-in centre -- no daily meal and no tutoring, which is crucial to academic success

• no school support -- no fees paid, no uniforms, no books, no hygiene supplies

• no food distribution program, no weekly sacks-

• no medical/dental support for anyone; currently there are 10 young people in need of medical attention but we have no money.

• all current full time Haitian staff laid off and no summer jobs for Haitian students. Though we pay them a minimal salary, it has been invaluable in supporting them between school terms, and helping support their familes. The self-worth engendered by earning one's own money is priceless.

This situation will become effective on July 1st. This makes it impossible to receive shipped clothing items as there will be no distribution network. Also, because the kids have no phones and their little shacks have no addresses, many will just 'disappear' and we will never find them again. It costs $80US per box to ship to Florida. After that, it costs me money to pick up. It is so much more reasonable to send the money. It can do more good. It can save lives. Used jeans, however much appreciated, can't do that. The schools and stores want money. Plus these items do no good if these young people cannot attend school, pick up a food sack each week, go to the hospital/clinic when ill, and have no summer job.

WHAT IS BEING DONE (to the best of my knowledge)::

• Francilien, who is running in a UK marathon on June 11 in support of Starthrower Foundation, reports this week: "I am ready and have been doing a lot training. I am sure, I will be able to raise some money. Thank you once again for your social works and we do appreciate it."

• Cindy and Paula in the US report that once they have raised funds to cover their current project of sponsoring Haitian students in US schools, they will donate subsequent funds to Starthrower Foundation. Again, thanks to their (greatly appreciated!) efforts collecting and shipping supplies to Haiti, many students had new clothes and shoes. Unfortunately, as previously noted, clothing shipments are no longer viable.

• In July 2005, the board was advised to check a publication called CANADIAN DIRECTORY TO FOUNDATIONS AND CORPORATIONS (available at university or other large libraries as an in-library-only reference book or for sale at a cost of several hundred dollars) as a resource for determining those corporations likely to support charities working off shore. Unflortunately, there are no volunteers available with the time needed to travel to a university library and spend the time poring over the material. If someone in Canada can help with this resource, please contact us.

This past week, an Orangeville, Ontario resident (Bev) wrote to the local paper noting that "I am hoping that you can meet Sharon and perhaps publish an article before she returns to Haiti in late June. I believe there are many in our community who would be interested in the true story of the tragic conditions in Haiti, and who might access the Web site and ultimately help in some way. I am trying to help to raise the Foundation's profile in our community and have arranged a couple of speaking opportunities at Service Clubs." [Editor's Note: Sharon will address breakfast meetings of an international service club on May 31 and June 14 in her area.]

Bev also wrote to Canada's Haitian-born Governor General with a view to raising Starthrower's profile in the community at large. As well, she asked the Governor General for specific help in shipping goods and for access to government funding. She says, in part :

"Excellency, I have read that you have facilitated shipments to countries in need through our armed forces. I am wondering if this is a possibility in this circumstance. Sharon's apartment is full of school supplies, vitamins, clothing, shoes, etc. She tells me a container shipment costs $10,000. We also need help to apply for and access Federal Funding. And perhaps there is a way that our cause could become known to the Haitian communities in the Province of Quebec. I am sure there are many persons of Haitian descent who would help with the Foundation's goals."

• Hamburgers for Haiti :: This annual fundraiser in London, Ontario in support of Starthrower will go ahead at St. Thomas Aquinas School only. It will be held on June 20 and I have been asked to be present. I will rent a vehicle and drive to London (I gave up my car last year).

• On the morning of June 20 (when I will be in London for Hamburgers for Haiti), I will meet with the administrator of the peace and justice degree program at the University of Western Ontario to make him aware of what we are doing and ask if he has any ideas or contacts.

And as I am in Haiti much of the time and so unable to attend board meetings, I am resigning from the board at the next meeting. I will leave with the challenge to recruit new members, and to take the initiative for fundraising. If everything we have worked for has to stop for a year while Starthrower Foundation's regrouping takes place, then we stop and regroup. The Board meeting is set for Mon. June 12 at noon, and will be held at John Paul II high school in London, Ontario, in the office of Chaplain Pat Materiuk.

Although I welcome these positive fundraising initiatives and am hoping that they come to fruition, the sad fact is that right now, there is no money. Thanks to everyone who supported us this past year, and thanks to those who are currently working to raise funds.

Like so many of the world's charitable organizations, Starthrower Foundation is greatly affected by the so-called 'Donor Faitgue' occasioned by recent natural disasters (the December, 2004 tsunami in Asia, the Summer 2005 hurricanes in the United States, and the current massive earthquake in Indonesia) that understandably draw the bulk of the world's government aid and the public's charitable donations.

Ironically, aid to the tsunami and Katrina victims is mired in distribution problems. Many months after the fact, much of it has still not reached those affected. (See Anderson Cooper 360 CNN blog and the Times report) for details.)

Donations to Starthrower Foundation go directly to those who need them, just as fast as we can get them there. None of the donations to Starthrower Foundation are used to pay administration, web site costs, travel or other expenses. Those expenses are borne by the volunteers.

'Making a difference, one child at a time' is our slogan. If we are able to help only *one* child at a time, then that's what we'll do. And keep working so that we can sponsor more and more, as funds allow.



Thursday, April 20, 2006

April 20-30, 2006 Cap-Haitien

Hello Everyone!

all April we have had hydro for a total of three hours and 45 minutes. Our camera has died a peaceful death. We have tried 3 new batteries -- each one takes 2 pictures then shuts down. I guess we go digital. Unfortunately will not have pictures of our Remembrance Service tomorrow. Perhaps it will be more effective without the presence of a camera.

Cindy in Penn. is mailing the carpenter plane for Djohn. Two if the three boxes she sent arrived and we tracked them down. Our taxi bill is outrageous but we have some shoes, vitamins, Tshirts and tinned food items. It is amazing to watch how the staff become energized when boxes arrive. They take it as a sign that someone cares about Haiti.

School has resumed after Easter Break (Konje Pak) so we are swamped with new 'Starfish' looking for support. At the beginning of the term anyone who has not paid all fees is put out (Yo mete li deyo). They are trying to salvage their year but we nave no money. We have added 28 to the waiting list. If possible, we will take them on in September after our current crop is settled and paid for.

Report cards are being distributed this week and we are seeing positive results from the tutoring that has been ongoing. Of course the young people are feeling better about themselves and Abel is feeling encouraged about his work.

I found an Internet cafe by chance when making a home visit to one of our kids. Abel and I are going to visit as many kids as possible and take photos. We have many without water and toilets, and need numbers in order to further assist. We have so many problems that I need to see for myself. In addition to no food or water or toilets, rats and mosquitoes are problematic.

Bos Plombye (plumber) came Monday and installed a new drain valve on our reservoir, leaving a masonry hole the size of an 18 wheeler, so Bos Mason arrived yesterday to repair both the hole and a leak which ran the circumference of the reservoir. Once the cement dries, we need a good rain to fill the tank and we are ready to wash.

Monday is the Fet de Travay (celebration of work/Labour Day) so only Abel and Degrand will work -- their choice -- and we will make home visits to those who live in Fo sen Michel (Fort Saint Michael).

Thursday we travelled to BelAir with Rose Claudelle (26/01/90 - grade 8AF, second year high school) to see her home. It's 2 rooms, about 5ft.x5ft each. There's a single bed in each room, an outdoor cooking area, an outdoor toilet that cannot be used as it is full. Water must be purchased for 2 gourdes a pail. There are 18 people living in the house, will be 19 when her sister Noseline returns from Port-au-Prince. She is also one of ours but became very ill in October and was taken in by an aunt.

Because of the rat problem, we are buying screening (til) in large quantities and trying to cover window openings. As the walls on the huts are often curved, it is impossible to make a frame. We found a carpenter who will make a small fence (barye) and cover it with til for the front door opening. We are trying this at Dieugrand's house. If it deters the rats we will have more made.

Julia fell on Saturday and landed on a nail which embedded itself in her derriere. The nail is apparently about 3 inches long. Her brother Jack arrived at work on Monday telling me she could not sleep well and had a fever. I sent Abel and Jack on bicycles to his house with money for a taxi and the clinic. It's the only option as she is unable to walk. She is on antibiotics but the nail has not been removed as the clinic does not have a doctor.

[a few days later] Julia's wound swelled (li te enfle) and burst (pete), expelling the nail and she is beginning to heal.

I have often wondered about the psychological dimension of the poverty these young people are experiencing. In the last month 3 of them have come to me thinking there was something wrong because they couldn't stop crying. One said, "I have a problem. I'm remembering my mother and I just cry because she left me. What will happen if you leave too?"

The grief is profound and so deep. I am grateful that it is being expressed. There are no answers and no assurances. We can only be present and listen.

Abel, Carmene and I are putting our heads together to create a 'reflection service' for our kids who have had parents and/or siblings die. The grief is so deep in most of them (and unexpressed) that I thought the time was right. We are planning on Sunday May 7th at 2 p.m.

I leave you with Martin Luther King: 'I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have 3 meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred people have torn down, other centred people will build up.'

May the world d be filled with audacious people.

Beni-w (blessings),


Friday, April 14, 2006

 Good Friday 2006 Cap-Haitien

Hello again,

Lakay Fondasyon is closed for Good Friday, so I took a taxi to the Roi Christophe to see if I could use a computer. I am unable to continue using the Brothers' internet as they have so little hydro, they need to use the computer themselves when possible. I am searching for other locations. The best answer is our own computer with 'inverter' (I'm not sure what that is) and internet.

I am writing again because yesterday, one of our neighbors dropped dead in front of our house as everyone was leaving for the day. [The girl who died] looked to be about 14 or 15 years old. Two of the men playing dominoes in the street knew her and carried her to her home. She was so thin. This nightmare needs to see the light of day.

Yesterday, Peterson J. was diagnosed with a heart problem, rheumatism and malaria. The hospital is still on strike but the little clinic we discovered is staffed by a Cuban doctor, and seems to be an answer [to our medical needs] for the time being.

A heavy rain and strong winds on Tuesday and again on Thursday brought down most of our mangoes, so our summer crop will be sparse. Also the rain means the kids are sleeping in mud and sewage, so the sick list grows.

Boss Fleuridor, plumber, came yesterday to survey the damage to our rain water reservoir. He will be back Monday to attempt repairs.

Djohn D., carpenter's apprentice, is in need of a 'rabot' (carpenter's plane). If anyone can help with tools, used or new, it would really help.

Marline V.has an ear infection and the list goes on.

Blessings, Alapwochen,


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hello Everyone!

First of all, for those who have been asking about our financial needs ::

* House $400 US per month ($4,800 US/year)
* Food distribution $1200 US per month ($14,400 US/year)
* Per youth (school, apprenticeship, medical, dental, housing etc.) $1000 US
(150 youth @ $1,000 US = $150,000 US/year)

I am squeaking by with $500 US per student/year and $400 per month for food distribution. If we could provide enough for one meal every day, we would cut down on the amount needed for medical support.

The *good* news this week is that the owner of the house is very pleased with the improvements we have made and has invited us to stay on *without* a rent increase. [Note: The 'improvements' were minor, and necessary to make the house habitable.]

Gas has reached $70 Haitian/gallon (about $10 US/gallon) if you can find it. Several strikes and much frustration.

The hospital is still on strike, so I am sending folks to small clinics. However, like the hospital, they are understaffed and overextended. Many people are sick as a result of recent rains: Jean Ricot is being tested for malaria; Rosenie for TB, Esmann for intestinal infection; and Volcy has a fungal infection on his face.

Alex needs a tetanus shot. He stepped on a nail and it went through his shoe, and his foot is infected. We'll try again tomorrow to get a number at the clinic.

Jetho (apprentice with Boss Paul for masonry in Sen Rafayel) is ill. Sr. Jeanette could not diagnose, so she sent him to Dr. Anne., who also could not diagnose, so she sent him to the hospital in Milot.

Dens Excellent came in today to say his 10-year-old sister, Djeniflor, died earlier that morning. He needs money for burial and suitable clothes. Our money is gone. She is the 2nd sibling to die in that family in less than a year -- Benji, age 3, died last summer.

Djohn Dejoie was in this morning, too, from Sen Rafayel, in need of food and another bed. His was stolen in December. Although he only slept on it for 3 months, he finds that he has pain everywhere again from sleeping on the ground. Unable to help him right now.

Abel greeted 115 people at our 'portail' during the last 2 weeks of March. We have added another 20 names to our waiting list. When finances turn around, we will hopefully become proactive instead of always being reactive.

A work group from Rayjon [Canadian charity] came in last week. They were painting for Sr. Rosemary [Sisters of St. Joseph] and all of them came to lunch on Saturday. I have asked them to send a photo for the web site.

Blessings, Kenbe,


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hello Everyone!

Here is my update, with an urgent plea for donations.

We were able to purchase propane on Saturday, and so are able to cook daily again. Also, I have had success with a combination of peanut butter (mamba) and protein powder in restoring energy, but the protein powder is now gone. Any help from anyone would be appreciated.

Hospital Justinien is on strike again as the doctors have not been paid.

The boxes arrived from Pennsylvania last week. The jeans and t-shirts fairly flew out the door as everyone is writing exams and schools are going on field trips. The new clothes are just wonderful, and the kids were all so excited, I took a picture with the last of my film. Eleven students asked for field trip money (We sponsor 150 students in total), and it was only a few dollars each. For the girls, it was the first time they had worn long pants. The field trips are to various sites, like to Labadie to climb the mountain and see the historic ruins, to the Citadelle, and to Kenscott, a small city also with ruins. There are lots of ruins in Haiti. This is the first time our kids have been able to go on the trips.

Cindy in the U.S.(who arrangesd the t-shirts and jeans, etc.) is preparing more supplies and they should arrive mid April. Now we need a container to ship donated goods still waiting in Canada. Can anyone help with this?

In preparing the birthday lists (an idea borrowed from Ron and Diana, a couple from the States who run an orphanage in Petit Anse), I realized that I have miscounted and we currently have 150 students on our lists. Ron and Diana take all the children in their orphanage to swim at a local hotel pool once a month to celebrate birthdays. Our birthday party will be on a smaller scale -- cake and pop on the last Saturday of every month.

Many do not know their actual birthday. Dieugrand's mom died when he was 10, his dad when he was 12. He raised his sister, Christamene. When the opportunity arose for him to go to school, he had no birth certificate. Sister Cecilia talked with women in the village who had known his family, discerned an approximate date and presented that information to the local magistrate for an 'acte de naissance' (birth certificate).

TJ was left as a newborn in a garbage dump. The people who took him in gave him a name and a birth date.

We have sponsored Guilene Mesadieu for 8 years. She is blind from birth, and attends a special school in Port-au-Prince. She has asked that we try to find a manual braille typewriter and a portable tape recorder.

I have never put out a special request for funds but the reality is that without an infusion of new money over the next 2 months, Lakay Fondasyon will close at the end of June 2006. Two years ago, I was given a generous, anonymous donation to "keep me safe" in Haiti. I chose to put it into creating a place where many others, too, could feel safe. That money is gone and the lease on Lakay Fondasyon ends in June.

Last year, I sold my house and car and used that money to sponsor the program. Some wonderful people in England, Canada and the United States are working very hard to support us. However, six people cannot shoulder the burden of this work. It requires many more.

Our web master tells me that we get more than 1200 web site 'hits' each month. If you are reading this, why are you reading this? What is your interest in Starthrower Foundation and in Haiti, and what is your response? Do you think this [situation in Haiti] is sad? Or do you recognize the injustice and want to help? If so, what are you doing about it? Please help keep our doors open and give these young people 'possibilite'.

Blessings, Namaste


Monday, March 20, 2006

Hello Everyone!

It's been busy since I returned a few weeks ago. Here's what's been happening.

Laura's visit [student, London, Canada] came and went in the blink of an eye. Our parcels from Cindy [Starthrower US] are now in Cap-Haitien -- I got the email today -- so I will send Jack to pick them up when I get back home.

Marcellus comes to study every day. On Friday, I gave him the running shoes he had asked for last time, as well as one of the French 'mot cache' books from Yvette in Montreal. Then he told me that it was his birthday, so I checked the records, and he just turned 18. That gave me an idea: I will start a Birthday Club here and acknowledge birthdays by the month. I will post the list on the gallery for all to see, along with pictures. These young people have no one to say 'Happy Birthday' to them, as most are orphans. Abel is compiling the list.

Blessings to Sue Simeon for the money for two of the boys for clothes and food. Thanks too, to all who donated towards vitamins. We are distributing them very rapidly. About a dozen new people come knocking on the portail daily, asking for help with school or apprenticeship. I cannot compile list for future use as there are no addresses here or phone numbers where we can contact them.

Prices continue to rise and some inferior products are creeping in, making things difficult. Like the beans we bought for distribution before I left: They are too hard and take 4-6 hours to cook. Nobody has that much charbo (charcoal), which is $100 Haitian [$15 US] a sak. Hopefully, the new batch will prove more user friendly.

We had a problem at customs upon arrival this time. Haitian official charged me $300 Haitian/$43 US to bring in 36 backpacks. Half were in Laura's luggage but I got dinged because of the "quantity". We need a container for shipments, and someone who can navigate it through customs.

There's been no hydro for the week so we are using ice like crazy. Rosenie A.'s brother, Yvon, brought a gift on onions this morning. We bailed him out of prison in St. Raphael after he was jailed for not being able to pay for their father's funeral.

At one of the schools in St. Raphael, 0-Bon Berger, there are not enough benches or desks for the kids. When one of our students demanded a place to sit, the director called in the police and had him hauled up before a magistrate. We have 25 kids in that school. I will withdraw them next year and find a school which can accommodate all.

I am still looking for someone to cook up in St. Raphael, as most who come down the mountain seeking help are without food in addition to needing school fees. The average age in Haiti is 16. That means that about 4 to 4.5 million are under age 16, and many are heads of families due to parental deaths. This is SO big. One at a time.




Monday, March 13, 2006

Toronto, Canada

Hello, Everyone!

Sharon is on her way back to Cap-Haitien, in the company of Laura, a London, Ontario high school student making her first trip to Haiti.

Unfortunately, Sharon's time in Canada this past month was not as productive as usual, as she was being treated for a bacterial infection contracted in Haiti. Such infections are a fact of life, despite every precaution. We all wish her a full, and hopefully speedy, recovery. [If you are traveling to Haiti, see the CDC Shigella Information Page for details.]

As soon as she is able, Sharon will send updates via email. I will be posting the pictures she brought back with her as soon as I receive them.

Thanks to all who supported Laura's fundraising Bowling for Haiti to help finance her trip. While Sharon continues to recuperate, Laura will be a great help at Lakay Fondasyon for the two weeks she will be there.

And thanks, too, to all who are supporting Francilien, the U.K. marathoner, who is dedicating two Marathon fundraisers to Starthrower Foundation.


Thursday, February 9, 2006

Hello, Everyone!

Good news! Jack's wife had a baby girl on Monday morning, their second. She has travelled by bus up the mountain with the baby to recuperate with family. Jack came in a few hours after the birth to gather branches from all of our trees as well as a chunk of bark from each. The leaves were used to create a soup for madam to bathe in, and tea was made from the bark. Both tea and soup are to aid postpartum healing.

Ylene Fidele, Volcy Nelson and Odelin Excellent are being treated for malaria.

Djohn Dejois arrived from Sen Rafayel this morning at about 7 a.m. He was ill, but had been to see Soeur Ginette (she has reopened the little clinic). We are sponsoring his apprenticeship as a carpenter. Yesterday while he was at work, thieves broke into his little house, [His mom died last year, his dad is very ill and is with relatives, he has 4 younger sisters). The thieves took everything, including the bed he had purchased from his earnings at Lakay Fondasyon last summer. The money has all been spent by now, so the family has no financial support. I gave him my New Balance runners, and a pair of jeans and a few Tshirts, as well as a large sac diri, pwa and lwil [food].

Lycee Boukman closed last week. The teachers went on strike as they have not been paid since the coup almost 2 years ago. We have 4 students in that school. Some of the other students, mostly seniors, went on a tear, and destroyed every classroom, making it difficult for the school to reopen. Their year is lost. All other schools have been closed as of today and will reopen Feb.13th. We are closing Monday and Tuesday to keep staff safe -- no public transport is allowed. No vehicles are allowed, either, as there were some drive-by shootings at polling stations during the last 2 elections. The kids can get to me on foot for food and repose.

[A donor in the U.S.] is arranging monthly drops of donated school supplies to begin when I return in March.

Kenbe, Sharon

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hello Everyone,

First hydro in 10 days this morning. I tried sending email for 2 hours last week, only to have the [computer crash] each time, and it was not possible to save any of it. I went over to the Azile yesterday and asked Brother Benedict if I could come once a week to use his computer. He thought I could, as we purchased their textbooks for them last summer. (Of course, they need hydro too, but they are located in a different kartye). He also said I may charge my cell phone there. Hallelujah.

Re the offers of help: Anything coming in from Labadie would be WONDERFUL. Also, I can go to Bel Air as it is not far from the house. We currently need 24 scientific calculators (scientific ONLY), multivitamins, backpacks and pencil cases. (Thanks to the donors who have come forward to help with the vitamins and back packs. We always need those.) We always need shoes, socks, Tshirts and jeans, too, but customs charges more than they are worth to release them from cargo. School supplies, they allow me.

Our most pressing need is money for food and supplies. Every week, we are distributing one 110-lb. sack plus one 50-lb. demi-sack of rice and 3 gallons of oil, plus the bags to package each student's portion which allows them enough for 2-3 days. As well, we have to pay for the taxi to transport it all home from the market. Total cost $100US per week. It is better than their only eating once a week or so. With more funds, we could provide a meal a day. People need to know HOW HUNGRY everyone is here, and [that's] why we distribute food sacks weekly. Mme Carmene made mamba (peanut butter) yesterday, so everyone gets a bottle. We also need empty containers with lids for mamba and oil. Currently, we are using anything we can find and sterilize.

It would be great if someone made a one-time donation of $5000 US earmarked JUST for a used vehicle. Then we could get to Labadie and Bel Air. The vehicle is about staying alive, not just for transporting goods. [There was] a murder Friday morning -- a young woman [who was] getting on a taptap. Someone behind her cut her throat and took her purse. If she uses a taptap, she isn't wealthy. Then on Saturday morning, the taptap I was on nearly hit the body of another robbery and murder victim -- a money changer -- that was still lying in the middle of Rue L. It's becoming increasingly difficult to exchange currency. The money changer we used to use was robbed and shot last summer. Then last night, there was another gun fight near our kartye.

I paid for the funeral [see previous update] out of the rent money for March. I did this to keep Williamson, the older brother, out of prison. In Haiti, unpaid debts have a grace period of a week or two, then jail. The prison in Sen Rafayel is one of the worst for human rights abuses, according to a UN inspector with whom I spoke at Christmas.

Tutoring is happening on a daily basis here. Jocelyne PRINTED her name in the pay book for the first time last week. I took a picture of the event, then cried. She just beamed. Abel is a natural teacher, and it's a blessing to have him here. School did reopen on Monday. Christemene and Dieugrand have malaria. Jack broke his toe working in the garden. Esmann came to ask if we could help him make a new uniform (he sings in the church choir). He worked during the holidays for money to purchase material, then had the uniform made, but now the cockroaches (ravets) have eaten much of it.

Yesterday, Rene Preval (former president and current presidential candidate) came to town. Amazing display of music and chanting and dancing. I heard it all, but of course I did not leave the house. None of our staff attended, either, as the threat of violence is palpable. The main street was closed. We are unable to purchase paint to freshen up bedrooms as shopkeepers are staying closed for fear of robberies.

I am coming home Feb. 11 for 4 weeks. I have retreats scheduled, as well as speaking engagements in London and Windsor. When I come back in March, Laura, a 2nd year Grade 12 student, is coming with me [while she is on March Break]. Mme Carmene cheered when I told her we might have a visitor in March. She only gets to cook once a week for me as I eat little.

Blessings, Kenbe,


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bonne annee, everyone!

Abel (the student we sponsored for auto ecole) started working full time here at Lakay Fondasyon last week. He is looking after visitor intake at the security gate (portail), record keeping, tutoring, food purchase, packaging and distribution.

This means that Starthrower Foundation is now able to continue distributing weekly food packages even when I am in Canada. And, when we purchase our truck, we will have Abel as a chauffeur. He is a great help, since I am a blan (foreigner), I am at greater risk of harm when I use public transport. Abel is also tutoring Jocelyn, our laundress (lesivye), who is learning to read and write. In the process, we discovered that we have an incorrect last name for her, but do not know how to spell the correct one, as she has no birth, baptismal or marriage certificates.

Starthrower also covered the burial costs for Joseph's family and added the names of all his siblings to our list of those eligible for medical help at the clinic in Sen Rafayel. Unfortunately, the clinic closed this week so our 80 or so kids in the village are without medical care.

Mme Joseph continues to cook for the students in Sen Rafayel (St. Raphael), although it is not possible to provide her with food sacks due to often violent civil unrest and we cannot offer any security. Elorge and Deles came down the mountain from Sen Rafayel last week for supplies. The high price of gas has raised the price of a return bus fare. It is now $40 Haitian (about $5 USD) for a round trip. Three years ago, it cost $5 Haitian (less than $1USD). [The average daily wage in Haiti is $2USD.]

The country was closed Monday for a general strike (grev), and because of the increasing violence leading up to the nnational elections (now due to be held on February 7, the original inauguration date), the schools have remained closed for an extra week. They might reopen next Monday, January 16.

Plumber (Bos Plombye) came on Tuesday and changed our bathroom tap. We now have running cold water as opposed to dripping cold water. No, that's not true -- the tap still drips as well.

We have 50 people on the list for weekly food sacks. We also provide a sandwich, some fruit and a drink for everyone who comes to the house. We also need more multivitamins. Everyone is taking them faithfully, and I think it will make a difference. We are making peanut butter (mamba) this week. We try to give to each person a jar to supplement the rice and beans.

My time at the internet cafe is almost up. Good to have the opportunity to touch base.

Kenbe, Sharon


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