Saturday, December 29, 2007

Starthrower Food program, illness update from Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Season's Greetings, Everyone!

Sorry about the hiatus from connecting with all of you. I went back to Dr. B yesterday for more blood work. Typhoid did not respond to first round of antibiotics and I also have malaria. I don't need to worry about lack of appetite as I am filling up on meds.

Sorry to anyone waiting email replies -- working electricity does not [coincide with] my sporadic bursts of energy. Also, the same neighbour had AGAIN (3rd time ) branched into our hydro line, meaning nothing here worked effectively -- computers, iron, coffee maker, toaster.

Both Auguste and Carmen also saw Dr. B. again. Auguste has strep throat and UTI, and Carmene has malaria and gastric ulcer. Jack returned yesterday after nearly 3 weeks absence, still no diagnosis so the folks in Sen Rafayel treated him for everything, Did the same to Marlene. I think next time Auguste and Carmen will take advantage of the offer to see Dr. B here at the expense of the Fondasyon. Everyone is weak and wan.

Took Erzilia to see Dr. B also. Somehow, we must find the money to send the really ill to him, as the clinics are understaffed and overworked thereby making serious mistakes. Erzilia was diagnosed with typhoid and treated with chloroquine, which is used for malaria. I had no energy to go and talk to the clinic staff, and they were on short hours anyway due to holiday. I asked Erzilia not to start the meds and then Dr. B and his lab diagnosed her with tyohoid, intestinal parasites and a fungal infection. She is finally receiving proper treatment but has been unable to work for the last 3 weekends, leaving the load to Dieugrand and Rosenie. Proper diagnosis and treatment the first time could have shortened duration.

Currently, just in Cap-Haitien, we have 8 cases of malaria, 5 typhoid, 12 anemic, 4 fungal skin infections, 6 UTI. I haven't heard from Sen Rafayel yet. We've started distributing potable water from the 5 gallon jugs we buy. Using any gallon container we can find and sterilize.

We're still trying to clean up the storm damage to house as well as storm damage to kids. This rise in illnesses always follows a storm, no matter what it is called.

Gaby and Jean Ricot recovered from malaria. (Gaby needed 3 rounds of meds) They have been working part time helping fill the void created by Jack's absence.

Afraid energy gone again -- headache is back but neck not as sore and stiff. With illness here in Haiti, one does not take to one's bed but works on, with the exception of those who go 'en deyo' (to the countryside) as Jack and Marlene chose to do.

Housing continues to be a challenge. John Charlees is the latest to be put out of his 'ti kay' (home). As of yesterday, we had received 340 visitors asking for help in December alone. Staff were off Monday p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, but the students kept coming as the illnesses are significant.

[Visitor] arriving January 1 till January 15. If I am in good shape in a few weeks, I will head to Charlotte, NC for a fundraiser Jan. 17-22, stopping in Ft Lauderdale on return to purchase house supplies. This will coincide with the Haiti visa requirements as well.

Customs officials at the docks have ended their strike, however they will not begin work until Jan 7th. Supplies I sent Nov. 19 are still floating on a boat somewhere. No idea if or when they will arrive as the Haitian government has changed all regulations for passing customs plus have upped all the prices for all services in order to pay an international debt of several million Euros.

A warm 'thank you' to visitors from New Jersey, North Carolina and Colorado. The vitamins, protein bars and powder, Ensure drinks etc., have all been distributed, meaning everyone has enough for the month of January. Thanks to donations from the USA, the UK, and Canada, we have doubled the amount of food being distributed (meaning more staff also). Have also begun to distribute 'chabon' (charcoal) for cooking. One of our girls (Paulaine) literally danced for joy when she saw the increased food.

Have also begun distributing funds for shoes for second term, which is set to begin January 7 (or in some cases, Jan 14th) Hygiene products for 2nd trimeste were distributed last week with food sacks.

Plis pi ta

Friday, December 14, 2007

Typhoid, Malaria Infect Starthrower Staff in Haiti

[Here are two emails I received from Sharon. When I read the first one, I replied to ask if this was part of an update. This morning, I received her permission to post, along with additional information. Here is the news, in Sharon's words, in the order received.

Message #1

Hello Everyone

Glad to know that the travellers returned safely. Sorry to be so impersonal with the multiple mailing but my energy level and pain level have changed places. Apologies for not getting out of bed when you left. I hope everyone has their shots up to date.

I saw Dr Bell today and analysis confirmed I have Typhoid. The ear (and lip) infection is a secondary opportunistic fungal infection. No wonder I fell over a lot Friday night trying to get to the bathroom.

Interesting here is that I had blood work done a week before I left [Canada] to check my vaccination levels: Typhoid was just fine. So even when one thinks one is covered, one is not. Apparently that vaccine is notorious for its ineffectiveness. I am certain that is what Jack and Marlene have (as Rosenie was just recovering when I arrived -- apparently the prime time for transmission) although I have not heard from them as they are 'en deyo' (in the country), a favourite place for sick Haitians.

Thanks again for everything you brought -- so much has been distributed already -- and thanks mostly for the gift of your presence. You give us all a sense of support and being cared about that is needed to make this journey grow with grace.

Look forward to hearing from one and all

Message #2

Sure, please post the email, if only to deter those who think coming to Haiti is no big deal. Walk a mile in my shoes takes on new meaning, although I still cannot. At least I have a larger roof over my head, a bed, mosquito net etc. Food however is not something tempting. Guess I get to try the Haitian Typhoid diet.

Bad news 'on the water front'. AJ the water expert who came from New Jersey last week did numerous tests on our well. Some results not ready but basically we have human waste entering our well. Difficult to tell if from septics or from the kartye above us on the mountain. Rains wash everything down to and through our property. There is also an old cemetery directly above us where human bones lie within eyesight so should not be surprised by anything.

Water purification system is due to arrive whenever the current customs strike is over, although AJ did not like the one purchased and asked that it be upgraded for a more effective model. Would take more time but with the current strike we have time. We apparently have enough water, flow time was very good, so once clean, we will be able to distribute.

When that happens will find $$ to hire Dieugrand full time. Will also need to find containers in large quantities. He will then be director of Nutrition and water programs. Titles make such a difference.

Customs strike is affecting many. The supplies I shipped in Nov. were scheduled to arrive this Thursday. CASCO office tells me all ships are being sent back to departure port, leaving them holding goods as well as the bill for sending them twice. Also means we go without items needed.

Purchased 20 feet of new wire to replace what had been cut [by the lady next door during the storm] and diverted house line via a new route to deter Mme from cutting it down again. Had to ask another neighbor if we could use his house to re-route. Perfect opportunity for some one else to branch into ours. Our other neighbor had branched in again after I left for Canada end Sept.

Back to bed -- feeling quite [ill] especially the headache. See Dr. Bell again Sat. AM.

3 new cases of Malaria today and one new candidate for eyeglasses. Many finished writing exams so came today for referrals for consults. Auguste, Rosenie and Modeline all working in Direksyon (Education Office)So busy. Thank goodness for the energy and patience of these young people.

Jack's brother Wisky is working in his absence. He is on holiday from apprenticeship as the boss closed the garage for December. Great timing for us.

For information on Typhoid, see the Mayo Clinic (USA) Infectious Diseases pages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sub tropical storm Olga a Hurricane as far as Cap-Haitien concerned!

Hello Everyone,

This is Karen. Sharon called a few minutes ago to let us know she is okay, albeit ill with an inner ear infection and hoping to find a doctor for meds.

She says Saturday was nice and sunny, then the winds picked up and the clouds moved in, and it's been raining hard ever since. Last night, the winds got very strong, and the storm was fierce from 11:15 p.m. to 5 a.m. today. I said yes, that sub tropical storm Olga blew up very suddenly and parts of the domincan were evacuated. She countered with "Sub tropical? That was a hurricane!"

She says there is a lot of wind damage, with trees down, roofs blown off, and no hydro in Cap-Haitien at all. The house is okay except that there are major leaks where the previous patching was done, with water pooling and coming in to three rooms. Mold and mildew are growing already, and the landlord has been contacted.

Last night, in the middle of the storm, one of the neighbour ladies went out and cut down all the power lines to the nearby houses. There is no reasoning with this woman, nor any likelihood of recovering any damages from her. Sharon is arranging for new wiring to be laid as soon as possible.

She asks everyone who is waiting for a reply to an email from her to be patient and she will answer as soon as she is able.

********FORGOT TO SAY*******
Customs at the dock in Cap-Haitien Haiti are on strike and so any shipments coming in are being turned back, according to the information Sharon has. She has been waiting for goods she sent from Ft. Lauderdale, and likely they will not be allowed in until this is settled.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Cap-Haitien Haiti -- leptospirosis, dengue, typhoid, yellow fever?

Hello Everyone,

FInally, we have electricity. We seem to be in the midst of a medical AND hydro-electric crisis. Whatever is making our kids ill is very hard to detect by conventional analysis. I had a visit from an American doctor yesterday who offered many suggestions -- leptospirosis, dengue, typhoid, yellow fever -- but ended saying the symptoms to not EXACTLY fit any one diease. That's my conclusion as well, after searching web sites (when the hydro comes on at 2 a.m. for 30 minutes).

Our neighbour had again branched into our hydro lines, so we were paying for his family electricity. Again, I had to pay an electrician to take down HIS lines.

I've just sent Gaby, Rosenie and Guilene by taxi, along with Dieugrand, Wisky and Daniel to help them. They will see Dr. Jerome (private practice.) The hospital 'gen grev' (is on strike -- doctors and nurses not paid). Each clinic had tested and prescribed and each patient had gotten worse. I sent them to Dr. Bell, but they learned that Dr. Bell is sick, and his office is closed; His brother, also a doctor, is also sick, and HIS office is closed. I secured a phone number for Dr. Jerome from Soeur Giselle a neighbour, and Dr.Jerome is working today so I have sent everyone off to see him.

Marlene is in Sen Rafayel. We have had no communication since she went last week.

Yesterday (Sunday), we had 46 in for food sacks. Next week, we will add a second distribution, and charbon {charcoal} for cooking.

The boxes Pat sent in July from Orangeville arrived last week. Perfect timing. All of the vitamin C has been distributed. Hopefully it can provide a boost to immune systems in desperate need. We are using copious amounts of hand sanitizer as so many unknowns and seemingly contagious.

Christamene needs glasses and will rendevou with Auguste at Optika next Monday.

Most students are writing exams now and will finish by the 15th. Claudy and Louisena came down from Sen Rafayel on Saturday. The food situation in the village is desperate, as the gardens which has just started again were wiped out when cyclone Noel went through. We discussed the possibility of weekly distribution there as well. However currently that would mean trucking up the mountain. Will talk again midweek.

Visitors due today at 8:30 a.m. It's now nearly noon. Hopefully, they'll arrive before those scheduled to arrive tomorrow get here.

We are trying to add some pizzazz to our birthday box. If anyone would like to send a one of a kind item (a watch. a game of checkers, a game of dominoes, a makeup kit for the girls, a nail kit, a hair cutting kit, a small radio, a walk man, a Brazil team jersey (soccer) etc), so we can offer students one item from the birthday box and also give them a Haitian-made card signed by the staff with 100 gourds in it (just under $3). So many students have no one to remember them.

That's all for now. There's someone at the gate, and Rosenie is at the Doctor. I have been doing her job for the last week.

Pi Ta

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday News

This morning is tense. 2 died in Jack's kartye yesterday -- a 4 yr old girl who was in his daughter's class (the daughter who is recovering from ??) and a 50 yr old man. Both had been tested but nothing showed. Our Marlene (Same kartye -- Rosenie's roommate) whom I sent to another clinic THursday for blood work because I disagreed with Malaria treatment without analysis, has just been taken to hospital. The blood work showed nothing yet the vomiting has been constant since Fri- and gravol doesn't touch it. Fever started before vomiting. New blood work showed nothing. So we wait. If they admit her, I will head down immediately as every item needed must be provided by family -- tubes, syringes, meds, food, blankets, nightgown. Also someone needs to sleep on the floor by her bed in case she needs help during the night.

Many thanks to Lucie and Peter for their generous donation. We will be purchasing our new truck in PAP as soon as I have my Haitian papers, hopefully within the next 2 weeks. I have phoned the dealership in PAP and Mme Gabriele is checking stock. I will transfer a deposit to prepare the vehicle then transfer the rest before pick up. In time to put under the Christmas tree (except we don't have one). Perfect timing with so many ill and unable to walk for treatment/diagnosis.

[As for what is making everyone so ill if it is not malaria, it could be something like} 'leptospirosis" that results from animal urine entering water. A very good bet as the well in that kartye is a large open hole in the side of the mountain and everyone uses it for everything. When {tropical storm] Noel went through 3 weeks ago all water levels rose and mixed, and of course we have animal urine in the streets all the time. The perfect nightmare. This explains so many others in need of consult yesterday with similar symptoms. Can't figure out why not showing up in analysis as is bacterial.

I haven't heard from Sen Rafayel yet. Phones not working.)


PS Rosenie just called from the hospital -- tests came back negative so hosp. sending her for more. Typhus, we can diagnose; dengue another bet.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Greetings from Cap

Greetings from Cap

I arrived Tues. 20th about 3:30 pm. Auguste was there to meet me with a taxi and we were home in 20 minutes. This was the first time the house has been left open for staff. Shortly before leaving, I finally had the locks changed on the 3 front doors. This provided 3 keys for each lock. The antique lock we inherited had only one key and could not be duplicated.

So Mme Carmene worked 2 days a week and Mme Joceline 1 day a week keeping things clean. What a treat not spending the first 3 or 4 days trying to get rid of layers of dust, new families of mice. Unfortunately the ravets (cockroaches) felt the need to stay and greet me. Instead of layers of dust, I was greeted to sparkling windows, clean screens, fresh curtains and beds made and ready not only for me but for visitors as well.

Then 24 hours of straight rain. It is the rainy season and I didn't really need the reminder as the previous 3 weeks of steady rain plus cyclone Noel had left high water marks on the security wall and mold and mildew covering every surface. Then followed two days of glorious sun (about 85) - currently rain out of nowhere after a sunny morning in which Dieugrand, Rosenie and I worked on the grass and in the garden. They are now preparing sacks of rice and beans, small bottles of oil which will be distributed tomorrow (Sunday).

We have been so busy each day we have not had time to eat lunch, go into town to the bank, visit the nutrition centre and say hi. We have a steady stream of kids with illnesses. 5 with eye infections and there are no eye drops to be found. There are apparently so many infections after the storm that meds in stock are depleted.. We try to make them comfortable, but drops would really help. Eyes are very swollen, red, streaming and sometimes burning, sometimes hurt to touch.

We also have had 8 cases of malaria however 4 were diagnosed without blood tests. That is another problem when there is a shortage of doctors and only a nurse practitioner. Although they are very ill, I am sending them to a second clinic for blood work as Malaria meds are so hard on the body. Also if used and Malaria is not present you have a problem when it does appear.

3 more cases of typhoid. Jak's daughter did not respond to the Malaria meds so he took her back to the clinic. No malaria this time but symptoms still presenting. She is only 5 and has lost so much weight she looks like a little skeleton. I had brought some Rice Protein Powder for personal use, and that seems to be giving her an appetite.

Sherline arrived Thurs am at 7 as she had a rendevous at the clinic to check on her Malaria. I asked if she had finished the meds and she said no she wasn't able to because the nurse told her to take them with food . When I asked how often she ate she said once a week - the sack she picks up from us on Sunday. She told me there were 5 in the house and they each depended on that little sack for their weekly meal. Auguste and I conferred and we are going to provide her with a weekly stipend which she will pick up on Sunday with her food sack. She will be able to purchase a sandwich, juice and water and take her meds. This is a temporary solution for one person.

As I talked with everyone who came over the last 3 days ( and the weekend staff today) I realized that for most our sack is the only food they have in a week. If staff did not have work here, no daily meal. Enough for a day or 2 (if others are not eating from it.) Staff and I agree that we need to double food distributed and begin distributing charcoal for cooking. It is $100. H a bag in good weather and goes up to $500. bag in the rainy season (now) This means we will need more donations .

On a another note, our university students are enjoying the experience although Vincent is ill. He has blood in his sputum, so tests are being done. Thank goodness there is an infirmary on campus. One of the computers (ordinateur) donated by Seton Hall has gone to Limbe with the guys as they were paying to use the schools computers. This gives them one to share. Thank you again Seton Hall.

We set up one of the printers which arrived courtesy of Steve in New Jersey and it works like a charm. The staff all stood around watching as it printed test pictures and letters. We have set up the gallery table and bench inside the front door so that only those with permission may enter and have access to the "cybercafe".

On that note I will close. We have visitors arriving the first week of December. The men will help us install the solar panels they donated and the women will spend some time getting to know our students and programs and hopefully make some home visits with us.

Alal pwochen - (until the next time)
Kenbe pa lage (hang in there)

Hi again

It is 1 pm Sunday. We have already had 30 in for food sacks, keeping Erzilia and Dieugrand very busy. Of those 30, 10 needed medical referrals (meaning we need another staff member to work Sunday ) Of those 30, only 2 ate on a daily basis (brother and sister. However, he has malaria) Hopefully Rosenie will be able to work Sunday instead of Saturday and we will replace her Saturday.

This leads me to send a request for items we need:

Ensure supplements

Protein bars - good quality with high protein percentage

Antiviral Kleenex

Vitamin C (Esther C if possible - easier on stomach)

Multi vitamins (chewable if possible)

Protein powder

Herbal teas for colds, sore throat etc. (Traditional Medicinals< makes a very effective line.

Money to purchase mosquito nets and beds - could be a single campaign.

I'm sure something else will come to mind but this is a good start.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

TS Noel's Aftermath in Cap-Haitien, Student Status

Hello Everyone,

I finally heard from Auguste this afternoon. With the storm, the phones and internet have been down. There's no electricity in Cap-Haitien. I don't know how or where he sent the email from. No damage, just rain from Noel. However Sen Rafayel is more isolated as the river is very high making it impossible now for any vehicles to go up or down.

Remember the bridge was washed out the week before last Christmas, making it necessary to traverse the river. In spite of the massive UN presence no one has replaced the bridge to allow vehicle traffic to resume.

Rosenie and Sherline have been diagnosed with Typhoid fever. Marlene finally got to the hospital at Milot for a consultation on the lump on her breast (she's been trying since last summer). She has a date of Nov. 21 for surgery. Modeline's date was changed 4 times in the Winter / Spring so we understand from experience that a date change is possible. Dieugrand travelled with her and will do the same for the surgery date. What surgery exactly? I have no idea.

I arrive back November 20, so I will ask Auguste to try to find a taxi driver who will take them and wait and deliver them home. Milot is about 30 miles away on roads that are in very bad shape. Public transit is available but not after surgery. If surgery takes place that day, we will bring her back to the house to recoup. If Rosenie is sufficiently recovered, I will ask her to come help. She can use the job. Timing is everything.

We will have visitors coming December 4-8, two of whom will stay at our place and will travel with us for home visits.

ale - kenbe pa


PS If you are on Facebook, join our new group : Starthrowers in Haiti.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Updates Food, Medical, Students in Haiti

Hello Everyone,

A rather lengthy update. I am sorry it's been so long.

Food Program:
I will leave Toronto on November 18, and stop in Fort Lauderdale to purchase and ship supplies for the house, then go to Cap-Haitien on November 20. I am going back a few weeks earlier than in previous years as the number of students arriving each weekend for food and medical referrals are increasing each week, and the staff is running out of supplies and money.

When we stopped food distribution on July 1 (due to lack of funds), we had 25 students coming weekly for food sacks. At that time, we only had 80 students being sponsored, and half of those were up the mountain in Sen Rafayel.

Currently, we have 138 students registered. The first week 31 came for food, the following week, 40 came, and last week, 50. We will evaluate our financial situation at Christmas as to whether we are able to continue. The folks at Starthrower America have a shipment due to arrive via CASCO this month (October), so there will be rice and oil. When it arrives, we will have a bit of a breather, since then we will only be needing funds for beans and the sacks.

As you know, I prefer to purchase everything in Haiti in order to support the local growers and merchants, but when it is a matter of continuing the program or not, we will go with Charity for a while to keep the program going.

Student Updates:
Micheline passed entrance exam) for Medical Technology. She began this 4 year program on October 5th. She needs a sponsor: The cost will be about $3,500 US a year as she must travel back and forth to Vertieres daily by tap tap, as well as need money to eat. There is no cafeteria, nor dormitory, at the school.

Deles and Vincent are enjoying the agronomy program at the University of Limbe. Deles has a sponsor for this 4 year program, Vincent is need of support. The cost here is about $2,400 US/ per year (If I remember correctly)

Marlene and Elorge each have a sponsor. They are applying to University in the Dominican Republic, where they hope to travel to in March to study intensive Spanish for 3 months, then write entrance exams. I have spoken with the 2 sponsors for Marlene and Elorge and they are agreeable to them attending medical school out of the country. (Marlene's sonogram for the pelvic growth resulted in no specific diagnosis and we have not been able to get a mammogram yet)

Elorge and Frantzy are again preparing "pyes-yo" (the papers necessary for application to medical school). They were not accepted at Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince, and, as 'poor' students, they were not treated nicely by the university there, For their new applications, they need to have medicals again, and to get new copies of all certificates. They must obtain originals again, as the copies of those sent to Notre Dame are not acceptable and Notre Dame does not return application material. This is both expensive and time consuming to start again. They also need passport and visa this time, which means they have to go to Port-au-Prince again.

Frantzy is in need of a sponsor, though. (Why Frantzy wants to be a doctor: His younger brother, Ernst, was one of our students. We sent him to the school for the deaf (Lekol des enfants sourdes). He contracted an ear infection almost 3 years ago. His parents, Carmene (our cook-housekeeper; she is his mother) and Frank borrowed money, and took him to the hospital for a consult, but found they could not afford the antibiotics or surgery recommended. Ernst died 3 days after that. He was 13 years old. Frantzy hopes that, by becoming a doctor, he can prevent more unnecessary deaths like his brother's.) We are going to try to register Frantzy in Cuba as well. So far, I have not received a reply to my query on his behalf.

Jhennie is also applying to study Medical Technology in the DR as she has friends there who can provide a safe space.

Medical Update:
Auguste tells me that Osner (who is about 18 inches taller that Auguste) came to the house very ill with fever. He had passed out outside our gate (portail). Auguste put him on our bicycle and took him to the clinic. Osner has malaria. We use everything to transport our ailing students -- the wheelbarrow, taxis, the bicycle. The vehicle I so often talk about is not a luxury but a necessity for so many reasons. Every time we use the wheelbarrow or bicycle to take someone to the hosp or clinic, we are putting everyone at risk. Perhaps we'll find one under the tree for Christmas.

One of our new girls, Guilene, in Cap-Haitien, came for medical consult. She is anemic with kidney stones (ti roch nan pipi) and genital/urinary tract infection. Remember most of these consults are with nurse practitioners as doctors are few in number.

Auguste has been so busy with medical referrals coming to the house that he has not yet registered for the English and computer courses he is going to take.

Thank you!
The reality of Haiti, according to UNICEF, is this : 50% OF THOSE ELIGIBLE BEGIN PRIMARY SCHOOL; OF THOSE WHO BEGIN, less than 2% complete high school. Starthrower is striving to break the seemingly endless cycle of absolute poverty by supporting those who can and will change their country. Thank you to those of you who have so faithfully support these young people. If you are looking at site for the first time, please join us. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Together we can change the world.

Blessings and thanks to all who support these amazing young people. If everyone who supports them tells one more person, we will be able to do even more. Special thanks to all the visitors who came to see us this past summer, We learn from every one of them, and hopefully, they learn from us. When people can see what we are doing in Haiti, and how their donations are spent, I am sure they come away with a new appreciation of the work we are doing, and the work still to be done.

Special thanks to the Grade 5 and 6 Girls Club at Golf Road Junior Public School in Scarborough, Ontario. Their fundraising efforts have made it possible to send a Haitian student, Sankara, to school in Sen Rafayel for the full year.

On a personal note:
Some have asked about my wrist. I am not having it re-broken. Current pain is mostly from the compression resulting from misalignment. Apparently that would remain the same. I now have a uniquely crooked wrist.

Before I close, Deles and Vincent both asked if it was possible for us to ask for a laptop for each of them. So on their behalf, I put out the request.

Kenbe red


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Things We Need -- Updated List

Hello Everyone,

We are madly trying to get everyone in school. Hope to finish inskripson this week then begin paying trimeste fees. Money has been distributed and the kids are responsible for finding a tailor or seamstress, as well as purchasing shoes (hard to find good black dress shoes -- one thing we could use -- new only sizes 6-12 incl. no heels for the girls).

Micheline cried all during work yesterday, so after feeding her and suggesting she lay down, she fell asleep for 2 hours. When she woke, she told us she has been put out of her ti kay and must find a new place by Friday. Housing is such a problem.

The state radio tells us that results for those who rewrote in August will be available today. Will let you know who did what.

More good news - Brunie G. in SR is 'bon' for Rheto so we now have 5 entering Philo in Sen Rafayel and one in Grande Riviere du Nord.

An updated list of items we need. The most urgently needed are in red. (If you'd like to donate any of these items, please send us an email first so we can avoid duplication.)
• Protein powder (ongoing - we use one 2-gallon container each month)
• Vitamin C and chewable Multi vitamins (ongoing)
• Backpacks (50 immediately and 150 for the new year)
• Shoes -- mens and womens new black dress shoes sizes 6-12 inclusive. No high heels.
• Socks and runners for the winter months (Sen Rafayel is about 20 degrees colder)
• Dramamine, Gravol
• Container for carrying gasoline
• Work gloves
• Tooth brushes* (adult)
• Pencil sharpeners, erasers, ball point pens (blue ink)
• Sunglasses, Baseball caps, sun hats, Cotton scarves, handkerchiefs
• Ibuprofen, Tylenol
• Tools -- sanding machine, electric saw, electric drill with multi heads - (to drill cement), measuring tape (heavy duty)
• Cat food (dry Purina One for Sensitive systems, tinned Friskies
• Cat carrying case for vet trips (cats keep the rats at bay)
When Auguste arrived for work as I was updating this list, he mentioned he would like a'machin pou koupe gazon an (a machine to cut the grass). We are still using scissors. A general roar of approval went up when he said this. A weed whacker (gas or electric) would probably work. A real lawn mower even better.
ALA pwochen


Back to School, New Starfish, New Starthrowers

Hello Everyone,

I received a phone call last night to tell me that the supplies from Pennsylvania came last week, but that they had just found our phone number to let us know. Jack will call on Monday morning and make arrangements to travel and go secure them. As usual, Mme Cindy has perfect timing. With school opening, whatever she sends will be used quickly. Thank you, Mme Cindy and State College Pennsylvania.

Carmene will be making our "Proba" (protein/peanut butter mix) just before I return from Canada at the end of November, and we need the protein powder. We will package and distribute it the first week of December. I hope to distribute Vitamin C at the same time, if we have enough. We distributed extra Vitamin C with the multi vitamins last winter and on the whole everyone seemed to stay healthier.

We are NOT working today, our first and only Saturday of repose since I got back. The week has been insane trying to prepare 100 plus young people for school. Some uniforms are not ready and some schools are not ready meaning those involved will get a later start. Many of the text books have been changed this year, so this week Julia, Jhennie and Micheline will continue working with Rosenie to search the marketplace. This is a hot, frustrating process. They usually buy a sandwich and a drink to keep up their energy.

They come home by taxi, and then the new books are processed. Each page is checked for printing errors and missed pages, then photocopies of the missing pages are made. This means making another trip into la ville by tap tap or taxi, then searching for a place which has either electricity or a generator operating to run the photocopier, then returning home, and inserting the missing pages, where necessary. All books are covered with plastic, which we also buy in the market. After covering all the texts, we stamp with our special 'dam', check the list then print the name of the recipient in the upper right hand corner. Then the books are either inserted in waiting backpacks, or if backpacks have been delivered already, texts are wrapped in plastic bags and scotch tape, and labelled, ready for delivery. We also have to change 4 complete booklists as the state was late with some results. Four of our Grade 9ers need to be upgraded to 3eme.

Claudy and Louisena came down the mountain from Sen Rafayel yesterday to pick up the back packs for College Bon Berger. They also took first trimest fees for College Bon Berger and College VIncent Oge. We took on 3 new Starfish from Sen Rafayel. All have been sitting out for at least a year due to the death of one or both parents. All are in class Rheto. Uniform money was sent and books will be purchased, then back packs prepared and will be sent along with school funds on Thursday when Claudy comes back. He will bring a different partner as Louisena starts school Monday, Sept 17. Claudy starts Monday, Sept. 24.

Soeur Ginette also visited us on Friday. She brought the receipts and bill for consultations and meds dispensed at her little clinic in Sen Rafayel. The total for these 6 months was 34,000 gourdes ($6800 Haitian or $1000 USD). There were only 30 on her list last year. This year, there are more than 60. I will go through each fiche and record illnesses and recurrences.

We have a visitor arriving this week. Jeff will be with us for 5 days and Mme. Carmene has already prepared a menu for each day. It should be a nice quiet time for him as most of the craziness is behind us. This week, we will visit all Cap-Haitien schools and pay frais and first trimest fees. Next Saturday, we will visit the University in Limbe with Jeff to see how Deles and Vincent are settling in to their new lives. Thanks to all who have worked so hard to give these amazing young people 'possibilite'.

I would like to officially welcome Starthrower America and thank their board of directors for taking on such a huge challenge. Thank you, Mark, Lucie, Steve, Peggy, Jeff and Peter.

There are times in the midst of the chaos and seeming confusion when I stop and really look at what is happening here, like the jobs everyone does with such efficiency and joy. I listen to the conversations and the laughter, and remember the deep grief many carried with them when they first came. I think of the newly arrived Starfish, still overwhelmed with grief and fear and I am also overwhelmed at how blessed I am to be part of this amazing journey.
Kenbe red


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Student News, Sen Rafayel Update, and Ice Cubes

Hello Everyone!

The staff just arrived en masse and with great noise. They were carrying Auguste in celebration of his "bon" Philo results. (He passed!) When I said they would have to do the same for Jhennie when she arrived after her hospital appointment (she was bon also), they replied No, because Jhennie is young, the right age for a student. Auguste, they said, is a ti gran moun (usually a person who has reached 100 years old. He is 30.)

Jhennie now must decide what she will do next as her Philo was bon. Unfortunately Frantzy was pa bon. He will rewrite in December. If his medical entrance exams were bon, they will hold a place for him to start in January (so we are told). Elorge, Marlene and Frantzy survived medical school entrance exams, although the boys had to purchase new clothes (dress shoes, pants, shirts) in order to be allowed in to write them.

Auguste is going to stay full time with Starthrower Foundation as Director of Education. He will liaise with all school administrations and students, and do intake, monitor their school progress and attendance, pay for medical, dental etc consultations, facilitate home visits, tutor all subjects, all levels. In addition, he will take courses in Enfomatik and English.

Rosenie will go to school (Rheto) evenings and work 3 days a week here managing (purchase, prep, distribution) all supplies, like text books, hygiene products, meds etc. We will hire one new staff member for food prep and distribution on weekends to help Dieugrand.

Deles and Vincent began classes at the University in Limbe on Monday. We will visit them with our next visitor, Jeff, when he arrives, as Jeff's brother is sponsoring one of the boys. Elorge, Marlene and Frantzy survived medical school entrance exams although the boys had to purchase new clothes (dress shoes, pants, shirts) in order to be allowed in.

In addition to his duties as house manager, Jack does all liaison with the bosses with whom we place students in trades. This mroning, he is meeting with Bos Emile at his garage in Pont Neuf. He will check the premises for supplies, other apprentices, talk with the Bos re his credentials. If he is satisfied, he will pay the bos for the year and all parties will sign a contract. Fabien, the student beginning to train as 'mekanisyen' will come back to the house with Jack for funds for work shoes and clothes as well as a back pack with hygiene products.

Our guest from NC left on Sunday. everyone misses her enthusiasm and smile. While Steve and Mark did not stay at the house, they did come bearing gifts. 4 wireless think pads. We are told 2 printers will follow so we have organized the house for usage once the school year is in full swing. Many of our students still have not started as uniforms are not ready.

We have a lot of problems in Sen Rafayel. Poor Claudy and Louisena, the staff there. People in the village think we owe everyone in the village free education, and, as they see only our staff (we cannot travel there due to lack of vehicle) life is full of harrassment for the two of them. I have deliberately not placed Sen Rafayel first year high school students on the wait list as we may have to finish with the students we currently have, then concentrate on Cap-Haitien students. Perhaps when a vehicle arrives the situation will be reviewed.

The amount of electricity has been greatly reduced as the gas supply in Haiti has temporarily dried up, and we need gas to fire the generators. We are out of water, but I have asked Jack and DIeugrand not to pump it until the hydro goes off again. We have to turn off EDH to 'monte dlo-a' (pump water) which means the fridge won't work. I haven't the heart on this first day of hydro to turn it off. We actually have ice cubes today - 10 of them!!
Pita anko

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to School in Haiti, With Your Help

Hello Everyone,

We have had a very busy two weeks. Our visitors from Canada were here for 10 days working with the staff and travelling into town. It's a good thing they've had wilderness training as the pipes around the house were completely "bouche" (plugged up), so David and Mark helped dig up the cement and the old pipes, then lay the new pipes, and mix and apply new cement. They also travelled to our 'home' hardware store to purchase supplies. They had some culture shock,but I will let one of them elaborate about that.

Kat (Kathleen ) jumped right into helping clean, repair and recover our textbooks for September. She also travelled by taxi with Auguste to inskri (register) some of our kids at school. Our reservoirs on the roof are on their last legs, especially with the extra people using the system every day. We had to pump water twice daily. The day after the visitors departed, the connection sprung a leak so we have just been filling pails for washing.

Our rental agent came in yesterday; he had been away for 5 weeks. He will ask the owner for the funds to purchase a new holding tank for our water. The plumber dropped by today to tell us that he has recommended changing the entire system of drawing our water as it is 'ansyen' (old). We sent Jean Ricot to the hospital in Milot on Friday to see if they could help him. He has had a constant headache since the motorcycle accident in April. Apparently, there is a piece of 'fil' (wire) inside his right eyebrow that is holding things together. The doctor recommended removing it, so that is on our list of things to attend to. We have to get him there and back, as well as find someone to travel with him by public transit. It may be Christmas holidays before that happens.

Deles and Robert travelled to Limbe on Friday to get the results of their entrance exams to study agronomy at the university there. Both were accepted. Micheline has applied to the institute in Vaudreille to study medical technology. Marlene, Elorge and Frantzy will head back to Port-au-Prince the second week of September to write entrance exams for medical studies.

I say this calmly but with a sense of pride in them, and in our progress: These young people represent the first of 'our' students to graduate high school and go on to university.

All of this is happening with the hope that people will open their hearts to help these amazing young people realize their dreams. We have another 140 waiting to start the school year, and we only have enough funds for about 40. That's only 100 to go.

Jack travelled to Port-au-Prince on Sunday with Jud and another driver in a large rental vehicle to pick up a donation of meds from Canada. The trip back took them nearly 9 hours. They travelled through flash floods in the Artibonite and half the cargo was soaked with mud although the truck was canvas covered.

I had asked some staff to come help 'debarke' (unload) the vehicle once they finally arrived back here. They arrived at 6, the electricity arrived at 6:15, so they sat and played checkers and cards on the gallery. Due to the storm, the load arrived at 8:30. The travellers were exhausted and promptly left.

We began unloading and quickly realized that the wet cartons needed to be opened immediately. We worked until 11 p.m. placing the dry cartons in our covered parking space, opening the wet cartons and individual containers, wiping off the mud and piling everything on the table on the gallery,and placing others inside the living room. This being Haiti, the staff were all too frightened to go home at that time of night, as public transit had stopped. So we found a place for everyone to sleep (after eating). The hammocks make great beds.

Everyone was up when I rose at 5 a.m. The boys were sweeping the compound, and Rosenie was opening the gates. After breakfast, we worked all day sorting meds and making space for storage in case of more rain.We will try to distribute them before new visitors arrive next week. We donated some to a small local dispensary today, making many trips with our shiny new (red) wheelbarrow (bouret-la). Our old faithful wheelbarrow died a very ungraceful death while our visitors were here. We are looking for a place on our lawn to bury it full of flowers. A fitting end.

Every year, after paying inskripsyon (registration), I pay only the first trimeste fees. Usually there is not enough money to pay for the full year, anyhow, and sometimes the students cannot complete a full year due to illness or worse. When 'the worst' happens, we are not obligated to pay the remainder of the year. It sounds harsh, but it's a fact of life down here. There have not been many students in that last category, but enough to underscore the wisdom of paying for just one trimeste at a time. The average cost per trimeste is about $300 Haitian ($40 USD) per student per trimeste. Each student also needs a uniform and black shoes (they are not allowed into school without those). This required clothing costs $400 Haitian ($55 USD) per student.

Additionally, each student needs text books, back packs, notebooks, pens. While we recycle many textbooks, we always need to purchase some new ones. Then, by the end of September, we need money for rice, beans and oil, as that's when we begin weekly food distribution on weekends. And so many of them need eyeglasses. As well, all of these activities require staff.

The bottom line for Right Now is we need $10,000 USD, which allows about $100 USD per student times 100 students.

Ala pwochen
P.S. See the updated list of Things We Need.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Haiti School Waiting List and Registrations

Hello Everyone!

It is now almost 6 a.m. and I have been up since 4 a.m. -- my normal rise and shine. The electrician and plumber are both supposed to be here at 6 a.m. so the coffee is ready. We have had no water in the house since Saturday morning. I guess the calcium (kalk) in our well water has stopped up (bouche) our plumbing. I really miss the usual cold trickle of a shower.

Our guests from Canada are already on their way -- they arrive tomorrow -- so am hoping their camping experience works for them here. I have managed to arrange for a driver to meet them at the airport when they arrive. Rosemary is out of the country, but gave me permission to hire their driver and their vehicle for the airport transfer. I really appreciate this, as their driver's work load doubles when she is away.

I realize that I often write things to friends which really should also be presented to all of you. In an earlier communication, I mentioned we had a wait list of 40-plus, and that last Thursday, Claudy and Louisena had come down the mountain from Sen Rafayel, and we spent the entire day putting together lists for Sen Rafayel. I sent back with them the funds to register (inskri) 48 students in College VIncent Oge, Lycee Charlemagne Perault, College Bon Berger, College Roi Henri Christophe, The Nouvo Lycee and Sen Jozef.

Yesterday, Auguste and I spent (tried to spend) the entire day preparing a master list for registrations. We ended up with 107 names on that list, using last Friday as our cut off date. Remember, we had 80 from last year to consider, as well as some we were still in touch with from last year's wait list. Registration only holds a place for these students, until scolarite and first trimeste fees are paid. Only then does a student know whether or not she/he will attend school. We also make certain our young people understand that registration does not mean we will have sufficient funds to pay for the year.

Due to lack of transportation, we have only been able to make three home visits. Our young people are scattered throughout Cap-Haitien and Sen Rafayel, which makes it difficult.

Yesterday alone, we had 20 students enter the compound. They came to ask for school support, bringing with them all necessary documents. We turned away another 12, asking them to return with their Acte de Naissance (birth certificate), kane de payman (payment card), denye kane-a (last report card) and atestasyon (official state document, which is purchased after successfully writing state exams for Certificate (to enter high school), or 9eme (end of 3rd year high school) or Rheto and Philo.

The twenty who came yesterday are at the top of our second wait list. As I said in an email to a friend last night, this is a flood, a flood of desperate young people who believe that education is the only answer. One young man said to me, "When I lie down on the floor at night to sleep, and I feel sick and hungry, and I'm sad because I miss my mother, and the rats and cockroaches are clicking away near me, and I am afraid to go to sleep, I know that everything will be better in the morning because I get to go to school. I think I would die if I didn't go to school."

Given the large number of students seeking help, and that the waiting list is constantly changing based on whether or not they pass or fail, makes it very difficult to keep the waiting list on the web site up to date. The school system here is far from perfect.

For example, Paulaine was denied entrance to write Rheto as the state said she had not written 9eme. She brought in her atestasyon for 9eme proving her eligibility, but no matter -- her year is lost. Now she wants to enter a trade.

Modeline successfully wrote 2eme (after having surgery for a tumor in April); however, she is now being denied entry into Rheto as she did not pass 9eme three years ago. The school she attended knew this, but had encouraged her to go on rather than retake the year, so she went on. Now she is stuck with the only option available -- she must retake 9eme, write the exam, and only then go into rheto the next year.

We work with one young person at a time here, and it is never simple or straightforward. Each youth deserves to be heard, even if we aren't able to support them. We had to turn down a young man in Sen Rafayel because he was 30 years old, and just starting his first year of high school. He had an average (moyen) of 7.9 out of 10. We realized he would be almost 40 when he finished high school, and probably married with children. These types of difficult decisions are excruciating. If we had a large fund base, we could offer more financial support, and that young man and those on the wait list would all have 'possibilite'.

I write out of frustration this morning because you and I know that there is enough money in the world to feed, clothe and educate all 4 million of Haiti's orphans. Please help us do more. It is NOT an impossible dream. Together, we can make it happen, but we need to start now. Don't let these amazing, brave young people languish as you plan your next car purchase, house upgrade, vacation. To those who are currently supporting these young people, a big Thank You on their behalf.

The bosses have arrived -- the work day has begun.
Pi ta (later)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cap-Haitien Exams, Sponsor for Medical School

Hello Everyone,

GOOD NEWS ! Marlene has a sponsor for medical school! Everyone is so excited for her. She is studying night and day. That means all of the ones applying now have sponsors, provided they are successful writing entrance exams. Now to find sponsors for the two in Agronomy.

The Not-So-Good news is that Marlene just arrived back from the hospital. She is anemic and has a UTI infection. Sometimes, every day is filled with minutes like this: Good news, bad news, good news.

Esmann also arrived to say that Alex did not come to work this week as he has a fever and needs to go to the hospital. Once again, having a vehicle is so important. I wish the bicycle had a trailer attached.

Auguste dropped in yesterday, taking a study break. When they rewrite next week, it is 8 hours a day for 4 consecutive days. I believe it is the same for university entrance. Then today, when he arrived to work, he told me that yesterday he went past the Department of Education to double check that Monday, Aug. 13 was the date to begin rewrites. When he got there, he saw that the dates had been changed without them informing anyone.

Rewrites now begin Monday, August 20, since Wednesday August 15 is the Feast of Notre Dame. So, if the kids finish writing by August 23rd, we won't have any results before September, which means all bets are off for school opening first week of September, uniforms won't be ready etc...

Sherline just arrived and she is dezole -- she missed her pass by .2 points. She attended Boukman, the high school that was closed half the year because the teachers were on strike because the state didn't pay them. Rodney arrived in tears also -- he missed his year by .1 point.

What a roller coaster! Jack's uncle died this morning. He was 31 with a 6 month old. Auguste and I visited his tikay on Thursday when we made our home visits.



Thursday, August 9, 2007

To and From Port-Au-Prince and School News

Hello Everyone,

It seems as though the electricity and satellite signal have joined forces to keep me from communicating. By the time they arrive in tandem, so much has happened I can't remember what I wanted to tell you. I know -- I should write it down, just too busy!!

Last week, I travelled to Port-au-Prince in search of a truck, as well as to track down a shipment of donated meds. Auguste and I travelled with Rosemary, Jud and Sofo in their new Mitsubishi truck. Unfortunately, NO vehicle is comfortable on that trip! It's 250 km / 155 miles (much of it up and down mountains) and it takes 7 to 8 hours on a good day (no accidents, no robbers, no rain).

That same week, Elorge, Marlene and Frantzy travelled to Port-au-Prince by bus to register (inskri) for medical school. We still do not have sponsors for them, but I know the support will come. This was their first time through the country to Port-au-Prince, as it was for Auguste. For them to be able to see their capital city -- priceless! They will travel back the first week of September to write entrance exams. The first 120 applicants are accepted.

Last Friday, Deles and Robert travelled to Limbe to write entrance exams for a 3-year university program in Agronomy. Again, there's no $, but it will come, in bits and pieces. Robert was so excited because the results for Philo and Rheto came out the same day, and he was bon (pass). Elorge was also bon, Frantzy and Auguste were ajourne -- they have a week to study then they have to rewrite everything. Jhennie was ajourne for Rheto, and Julia, Micheline and Rosenie were elimine (fail).

We received 179 young people in July (we are not open weekends) and added 43 to the new waiting list: 20 are from Sen Rafayel with 8 from last year's waiting list.

Our tutoring program in Sen Rafayel was a great success. Everyone passed, most with an average of 7 plus. Most of those that Deles worked with daily were those who were not passing, who had averages between 3 and 4.5. Deles is a natural teacher, but because of the poor pay, lack of job security and lack of respect, he has chosen instead to study agronomy. Perhaps he will teach at the University one day.

Claudy and Louisena came down the mountain from Sen Rafayel yesterday. We sent back lists and money to register 48 students at 6 different schools. Results for 9eme came out yesterday so we will begin to register next week. We preregistered a dozen last week in Cap-Haitien. Rosenie is holding down the office and overseeing text book prep as Auguste is studying.

Next week we also begin to prepare backpacks as the book lists will be ready. We have the students -- all we need is the financial support.

Boss Elektrisyen is here today installing a light above the new door which now allows us to access and use the roof as another space. I ate dinner up there last night. It is about 15 degrees cooler up there! I dare say our guests next week (David, Kathleen and Marc) might want to take the hammocks up there and sleep. I bought the hammocks before leaving Canada, and they (visitors) will be bringing them here for me. If the hammocks are effective, then they will make for an inexpensive bed, with a bonus -- no place for the mice to make a home.

I reported eye infections for Jhennie and Dieugrand. Both also needed glasses. Dieugrand has his now, and we pick up Jhennie's on Saturday. This means she will have them to write exams on Monday. Hopefully, no more headaches for her!!!

We're still without a vehicle. We saw a couple of new trucks in Port-au-Prince. However, they last on the lot about as long as it takes for the paperwork to dry. Without the money to buy them on the spot, you're out of luck. Our work is very restricted while we must depend on public transit. This summer has been particularly difficult as more and more drivers refuse to pick up blans (non-Haitians).

We have visitors coming in Sept., and next February and March. March should be particularly interesting, as two groups arrive at the same time. Anyone have any bunk beds we could set up??

As well, a long term visitor will probably travelling back here with me in November. She is a friend of Sister Rosemary and will travel to the Nutrition Centre each day.

As many of you know, we had to discontinue the food distribution program as of July 1, in order to pay for text book prep. Maybe next year we can feed everyone AND provide summer employment for a few. We have to do it this way as text books are too expensive to replace yearly. We get about 4 or 5 years out of our books.

Re: The Arrogance of Charity: I received some great questions about what happens here in Haiti when well-intentioned people send items they think are necessary. Unfortunately, most of the time, when goods that are available here are shipped from abroad, it hurts the local economy, which adds to Haiti's woes. Goods such as foodstuffs and clothing can be purchased in-country.

Haiti does have some farming, as well as rice paddies, coffee plantations, and a spaghetti factory, and here at the house, we make our own peanut butter. So, when these items are purchased elsewhere and sent to us, local growers and merchants cannot compete, and the cycle of poverty deepens. Sending money is always the most helpful response. And when we need something that's NOT available in Haiti, we let you know.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Hydro, Housing, Workforce and Outrage

Hello Everyone,

We have 18 students working for the summer with another 5 on the (work) waiting list. We just do not have the resources for everyone to work. Nine are working in direksyon (the education program), which involves cleaning, repairing and covering last year's text books to hand out to this year's students. They work 3 days a week and have chosen to start at 7 a.m. when it is cooler. They finish at 1 p.m. Our students are a little slow returning books this year.

The other nine students are working with Jack, taking care of the house and grounds. They work 4 days a week and have also voted to work from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. We are preparing to open the staircase in the kitchen out on to the roof. This should drop the temperature inside considerably as we will replace the current tol (corrugated metal) roof with cement blocks. Here in Haiti, we purchase cement and sand, rent a form and make the cement blocks ourselves. When they are dry enough, we pass them up to the roof using our gwo nechel la (long ladder) with one student every 3 rungs.

Claudy brought textbooks and news from Sen Rafayel. While we here in Cap-Haitien are parched and hoping for rain on a daily basis, Sen Rafayel (up the mountain) again has too much rain, and the gardens, which were coming back after the December flood, have again been destroyed. That little village just cannot catch a break.

As of yesterday, our staff have responded to 102 young people seeking entrance and help. (That is just since I returned on July 1st) We have 14 on our new wait list for September. We have not made any home visits yet, as we are hoping to find a vehicle (or perhaps 2 used vehicles -- we have everyone in Cap on the lookout).

Four of those who came did not have report cards, as they had not paid final trimest (term) fees. Auguste travelled to Semi Lycee Anacaona and paid for 3 of them. Claudy will come down with more books and go back with money to pay fee for Monese. There will be others in the interim who have not been able find out if they passed due to shortage of funds to get report cards released.

Their housing, too, is a growing problem. The little shacks (ti kay yo) which used to cost between $200 and 500 Haitian ($30-$70 USD) are now $1500-$5000 Haitian ($200-$700 USD). That is with no improvements. We are on the constant look for housing. I think it is time to start buying a few and fixing them up for student housing.

Jhennie and Dieugrand both have eye infections. Although we try to provide sunglasses and hats for everyone, by the time these young people reach their teens, a lifetime of sun glare, blowing dust and constant dehydration has already taken its toll.
Electricity has been very intermittent so far.

Last week, everyone went without power as EDH was saving hydro for Sunday night's COPA America soccer match between Brazil and Argentina. This city erupted in a frenzy of dance and music -- and the best part -- no violence. Last night, we still had no electricity, so those waiting for emails, please have patience. Our wonderful system is only as good as the electricity which drives it.

Wednesday morning, I turned on the computer, and saw the headline '195 feared dead in Brazilian plane crash'. What a tragedy, and we are all sorry to hear of the lives lost.

But let's put it in the perspective of the larger picture. Stats tell us that, worldwide, between 24,000 and 30,000 children (anyone 18 yrs of age and younger, according to the UN) die daily as a result of the debt crisis (absolute poverty).

To put the large numbers in perspective, the number of children who die each day, worldwide, is at least 120 of those planes. All those planes -- filled with infants, toddlers, youth, teens -- crashing every day. No survivors. And a significant number of those deaths occur in Haiti, and our grief is real and as profound. This is not old news; this is Current Events. This is happening NOW.

No experts make their way here to examine the tragedy. No teams arrive to comfort family and friends, who grieve and ask 'WHY?"

Why are we not outraged?

Please examine what you are doing to change these statistics. Each number represents a real person. Indifference kills as surely as malnutrition.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Heat, Dehydration a Fact of Life in Haiti

Good Morning.

Yesterday, we were working away and a girl started wailing outside of our compound. As the wailing continued unabated, I went and opened the portail and the staff followed. We saw that a group had gathered about 15-20 feet from our door. I asked what was going on, and one of the young men came over and told me, "Yon jen te tomber mouri." (Literal translation: A youth had fallen down dead.)

I know there is currently a heat wave in parts of Canada and the States. Perhaps it will help people begin to understand conditions here: Try to imagine the heat wave continuing for weeks, and NOT having access to drinking water, nor air conditioning or fans, and to be living in a 6'x6' metal-roofed shack which gathers the heat throughout the days, and not only wrings all water from your body but cooks you as well.

Our mother cat, Lucy, gave birth to one kitten yesterday morning. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of contractions when 2 feral cats charged into the cat house and box where she was akouche. The trauma sent her into hiding , ignoring the newborn, so don't know if it has a chance.

More later (plis pita)


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Back in Cap-Haitien for the Summer

Hello Everyone!

I arrived back in Cap-Haitien safe and sound via Ft Lauderdale. I was up at 3 a.m. to get to airport by 4:15, then the flight was delayed 45 mins but no explanation. Jack and Auguste met me at the airport here.

Auguste weighs about 65 pounds after his bout of malaria. Jack's wife, Angeline, and 2 daughters all have typhoid, so he sent them by bus up the mountain to Sen Rafayel, where family can care for them.

I noticed quite a difference coming in from the airport: The streets are so clean now (in comparison). But I fear the price is too high -- the further marginalization of the poor from lost income for those not allowed to sell on the streets.

Rosenie and Dieugrand were at the house waiting for me. Rosenie had made a beautiful paper flower centrepiece as a welcome home gift. We opened the house and began to clean, and Rodney M. arrived about 10 minutes later looking for work.

No electricity, so Jack and Rodney went looking for ice for the fridge and for potable water as we were out. In the meantime, Elorge arrived from Sen Rafayel. He is writing finals beginning Monday, and needed money. Everyone who writes must go to another centre, and he has to go to Grand Riviere du Nord. He worked for a few hours, then Jack bought bananas and bread so everyone ate together.

Auguste also writes this week so Rosenie will work in the office in his place.

Hydro just arrived (it is about 6:15) but a storm is brewing -- wind, thunder, some lightning. The cats (our natural pest control devices) are also happy to see me as I brought food. I think Lucy 2 is with child so more kittens on the way.

Our first three days have been memorable. Rosenie is working in direksyon this week while Auguste writes (konpoze) exams for Philo-a (7th and last year of high school).

Monday morning, we had 15 students arrive before noon, and we went through 20 gallons of potable water that day. (I look forward to the day we have a water purification system on our well so we can distribute to our guys.) Eight of those who came were looking for summer employment.

We have not started to process text books yet, as Claudy and Louisena have to track them down in Sen Rafayel, then arrange for transport down the mountain. Claudy telephoned this morning (Weds.) to say that they had started. It is easier here in Cap as everyone brings in their books when they bring in their report cards.

Those who did not ask for work asked if we could send them to summer school. Marlene is going to study Francais Intensif as she will be writing an entrance exam somewhere for medical school.

We paid the registration (inskripsyon) fee for Deles at the University in Limbe. He then writes an entrance exam Aug. 3. If successful, he will begin a 4 year program studying Agronomy. The fees for his program total $1400 US per year (subject to change in the following years but not by much), which includes room and board for the two semesters as well as transportation to and from Sen Rafayel. It would be great if someone, or perhaps a group, could take on this young man. He is a very hard worker and will not let you down.

Deles and Marlene were our first graduates, completing high school last year. Due to lack of funds, they have spent the year tutoring and studying computers while generally just waiting for support. Marlene wants to become a doctor, as does Frantzy. He will finish this year. They both need support for this undertaking. Elorge (his photo is on the website home page) has a sponsor already for medical school.

I am going to begin by registering them at the University of Notre Dame in Haiti, as I do not have the energy to gather information for schools out of country. Perhaps we have someone reading this who could gather all the info needed for us to make a decision should they not pass entrance here (Cuba, Caribbean, Dominican Republic,specifically). We need to know the cost of everything (tuition, room, board, books, travel etc). We also have to send someone to Port-au-Prince to begin the passport and visa process.

I will provide the cost for medical student(s) in Haiti in the next update.
Rosenie and Marlene were put out of their ti kay (house) yesterday morning. The owner arrived as they were leaving for work and said he wanted them out by noon as he wanted the house for a relative. If they did not do so, he was going to bring the police. So I sent Jack with them to move their possessions to his house temporarily. The going rate for a one room shack (no water, no toilet) is between $1500 and 5000 Haitian ($210-700 US). They found one for $1500, and we loaned them the money.

M Brutus arrived at 6 a.m. today for the rent money. We will begin construction on opening the kitchen staircase out to the room next week, after our visitors from Windsor leave. We will be finished (maybe) by the time David, Kathleen and Marc arrive Aug. 15th.

Modeline came for pain meds as she now has pain at the site of her surgery. She still wants to attend summer school, however. She also has to rewrite finals 30 July as she passed the trimeste after the operation, butnot the 2 prior.

On a lighter note:
On my first night home, I'd gotten into bed when I realized I'd forgotten my flashlight outside the netting. As I reached for it, I knocked over the glass on the bedside table, and it fell and broke. Then a small fragment of glass that had landed in my sandal cut my toe when I put it on, so I went into the bathroom to wash and bandage my toe. There, I was met by a 3-inch cockroach and a much larger tarantula, who were doing a welcome dance for me. It's very difficult to vanquish unwanted guests with a wind up flashlight!

Will send now as hydro very iffy.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Read a Book, Buy a Tshirt, Host a Fundraiser!

Hello Everyone,

This summer promises to be one of the most productive and busiest ever! And, even if you are not able to be actively involved over the coming months, you can still support Starthrower by doing some of your 'shopping' online.

The Starthrower Foundation Fundraiser shop (Amazon) offers DVDs, CDs, clothing and gourmet food items, as well as books (great time to catch up on summer reading!), Each sale through this link generates a small commission for Starthrower, and every donation helps!

Starthrower's recommended reading list is posted on the fundraiser shop page (below). Supporters outside of Canada can peruse the titles here, then click the link to order, or make a purchase using the fundraiser shop link.

As well, it was recently brought to our attention that a web directory site listed an unpublished Starthrower page for a CafePress online shop (Starthrower logo on shirts, buttons, caps, mugs etc) that we created two years ago, in the course of searching for custom Tshirt suppliers for an upcoming fundraiser. We ended up using a local supplier at that time, so this shop was never 'opened'. We promptly filed this enterprise in the Future Basket, and went on to other matters. However, since it is now currently listed via another web site, we decided we should link/list it on ours. It also proves that nothing is ever truly lost in cyberspace!

Thanks to those who worked on, and supported, the annual Hamburgers For Haiti in London, Ontario.

Thanks, too, to everyone -- in America, the UK, and Canada -- who's working on fundraising, and grant applications, and sourcing equipment and supplies, and to those sending monthly support. You are all helping to make Starthrower Foundation even more effective in its efforts to help the youth in Haiti.

Sharon is leaving this afternoon (Thursday) to return to Cap-Haitien, and, thanks to the internet access now available at Lakay Fondasyon, plans to send regular updates (weather and hydro permitting). Summer in Cap-Haitien is always a busy time, with the staff getting the students ready for the coming school term. This year, Sharon is looking forward to welcoming a number of visitors. (Fair warning -- You may be put to work!)

If you are planning any fundraisers (garage sales, concerts etc) please let us know and we will gladly promote your event on the web site / blog. The art (paintings and masks) that Sharon brought on consignment are currently off the market for use in a fundraiser.

To our American friends, we wish you a Happy Fourth of July!
To all our Canadian friends, we wish you a Happy Canada Day!

Starthrower Foundation Admin.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Haiti Artworks for Sale

Example of Fritz's art previously sold on consignment

Hello Everyone,
I forgot to tell you that I also brought back on consignment 10 small paintings by Fritz and 10 hand carved wooden masks (various sizes) by his cousin. If any one is interested in buying them, or selling them for the artists, I can arrange delivery.

Please, everyone, send healing energy to our centre :: Auguste ( Abel) has malaria.

I am going to meet with some Starthrower supporters in Charlotte on Thursday (June 21) and will be back in Orangeville on Saturday (June 23).

If anyone would like to arrange delivery of the Haiti artworks, please let me know as soon as possible, as I will be returning to Haiti the following week."

Kenbe red

Monday, June 11, 2007

News from Cap-Haitien; Travel Dates

Hello Everyone,

Auguste writes that Sherline was taken to emergency for an eye infection. It cleared up with antibiotics, and she is our latest recipient of glasses.

Auguste also went out to the market and purchased a hat and sunglasses for her, as he now knows that eyes need to be protected. Dieugrand has a UTI. Diuemane has malaria. There are an average of 25 coming each Sunday for food sacks. Claudy came down the mountain for a dental emergency. The frustration is that although we have connected with a Haitian dentist, most of his work is extractions (rache) due to a lifetime of neglect.

We are scheduled to begin construction for opening up the kitchen staircase to the roof on July 2nd. The owner is purchasing materials; we are paying labor.

The annual 'Hamburgers for Haiti' will take place on June 14 at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in London (Ontario). Thanks to Chaplain Brad; board members Pat and Dave will be flipping burgers also.

Many thanks to all those who are working or have been working the past few months to raise funds to support Starthrower's work in Haiti (see fundraisers on the web site).

We also have an incoming gift of solar panels, inverter and batteries; though I am not certain how and when they will be delivered, I know they have been secured. Many thanks!

More news from Cap-Haitien as soon as possible.
I head to Ft Lauderdale June 28, then on to Cap on June 30.


National Exams in Haiti

Hi all!
As June moves along and I prepare to return to Haiti, my thoughts are with our young people who are writing (konpoze) national exams.

Keeping in mind that UN statistics show that Haiti has a population of between 8 and 9 million, and 55% of that pop. is 18 and younger :

Starthrower targets teens and young adults because they are a vital but overlooked segment of Haitian society. It is easy to raise awareness and funds for infants and toddlers; teens and young adults LOOK self sufficient. We know better.

In the entire country this year:

There are 240,000 candidates writing the final year of primary to enter high school (6eme AF).
Now for the group [teens and young adults] that Starthrower supports, national exams must be written:
  • the third year of high school (called 9eme AF - ane fondamental)
  • the 6th year of high school (called Rheto)
  • the 7th and final year (called Philo)
This year, nationally, there are:
  • 148,000 candidates writing 9eme (June 19/20)
  • 75,000 candidates writing Rheto (nouvo, for the first time)(June 25-8)
  • 73,000 candidates writing Philo (nouvo - for the first time)
  • 34,000 candidates writing Rheto for the second time (July 2-5)
  • 14,000 candidates writing Philo for the second try
A youth population of OVER FOUR MILLION.
A total of 344,000
candidates writing national exams at the high school level in the entire country.

Yet only 87,000 by the final year and 14,000 of those are trying for the second time. Look at the rate of attrition. The young people lost.
The following is an excerpt from a speech delivered May 8, 2002 to the UN General Assembly on Children. The message was written and delivered by Gabriela Azarduy Arrieta,13, from Bolivia, and Audrey Cheynut, 17, from Monaco.
We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them. We are not expenses; we are investments. We are not just young people; we are people and citizens of this world. . .
You call us the future but we are also the present.
Your support in the present is an investment in a much brighter future for Haiti. Thanks to every Starthrower reading this. Please stay with us.


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