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,


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