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}


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