Monday, March 26, 2007

When Will it Stop Raining in Cap-Haiten?

Hello Everyone,

Rain, rain and more rain!

First the good news: Thanks to generous donors, we can start the food program again, and keep it going until I return the first of July. The not so good news is that we've had two solid weeks of torrential rain and everything is soaked. It's supposed to rain again tonight. It's so humid, and wet, and there's been no sun, so nothing can dry out. We've even been flooded here at the house, so today we are going to buy some Clorox and brushes and scrub down the mould and mildew growing up the walls. After we have done our house, we will start on the neighbours and the kids' homes. Of course, this means that the stores in town will have had flood damage too, and the rice will be mouldy and buggy, and the prices will be up.

Why has it been raining here for two weeks? We've never had this before. People are saying it's more like November-December weather. Some houses have two feet of water in them. One fellow said that, with the garbage and pigs (manure) outside his front door, the water just floats it all into his house. One group at [mission] said they went outside the other morning to look at the sea. There seemed to be a lot of unusual stuff floating in it, and they couldn't figure out what it was. Then they realized that the 'stuff' was houses that had floated away. We haven't heard from some of our kids in two weeks, and some of them that live in this area must have been flooded out because their houses are near the water. We will try to track them down.

Last week, I found out that [girl student] was being abused, and placed her in another home. When she first came to us, she'd been abused by her father, who had killed her mother. For the first 6 months, she only spoke in whispers. Then about 3 weeks ago (right about when I broke my arm), we noticed that she'd gone back to speaking in whispers again. So last week, I talked to her, and found out that she was again being abused, and moved her to another home. I plan to go check on her today and make sure she is safe. I feel bad -- if I hadn't had this broken arm to deal with, I'm sure I would have noticed it sooner.

Also upsetting is that I found out one of the high schools where our kids go uses a leather strap to discipline the kids, beating them on the soles of their feet. From now on, before I enroll any kids in any school, I will screen schools and find out what their policy is on discipline.

Last week, I kept my appontment with the doctor to see about removing the cast. My arm is still very painful, so I insisted on x-rays before he removed the cast. That took another day, another trip and a long wait, but showed that the one bone in my wrist that I was told is broken is mending. But when the cast came off, and I looked at my hand, I knew something was not right. The back of that hand really hurts, and I have pain on either side of my wrist. Physiotherapy is too painful to endure. I think that there is more wrong with my arm than we know. I have no plans to return to Canada earlier than the end of April -- there's just too much to do here -- but will try to get an appointment with an ortho as soon as I get back. Meanwhile, the [OTC painkiller] helps a bit with the pain.

I did try to do email but when I got there, with all the rain, the connection was down. I will try to get to it as soon as we are done cleaning up here.

Until next time, Kenbe


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Half Marathon Fundraising for Starthrower in the U.K

Hello Everyone,

I am posting (with permission) the following email from Francilien in the U.K. If you know anyone there who would like to support his efforts, please send them this blog post. Francilien is Haiti born, and planning to visit Cap-Haitien this summer. I look forward to meeting him, and to thank him in person for his past two marathon fundraisers that sponsored several children in school.

"I am training hard every other day to run the half marathon I am organised on the 21st of April to raise some funds for the youth in Haiti. I got up at 5 o'clock in the morning every other day and run for two hours before I start working.

The weather is ok in London at the moment and I have met some people who are interested in sponsor me, but I have not yet found anybody who would like to run with me. It does not matter if I have to run on my own. The key point is to get some people who are interested in giving some money for such a good cause. Fortunately, I have talked to quite a lot of people who want to dip in their pocket for that.
Well, the training is going fine. I am determined to keep going and I can see all the youth in Haiti who can do with a helping hand. I thank everybody who is contributing in their development.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the latest update of starthrower foundation. I pray for you all who are working for the good development of starthrowerfoundation in Haiti. May God bless you all.
kimbe pa lague."

If you would like to email Francilien with moral support and encouragement, please use the Starthrower email and it will be sent on to him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Easter Exams Break, Medical News, Family Help

Hello Everyone,

Modeline is scheduled for her surgery on Easter Monday, April 9. Many of the kids are off school now, until after Easter, about 3 weeks. Some are doing exams). The hospital won't be keeping her, so she's coming here for her recovery.

There's a family in Sen Rafayel that needs some help. Kesner, 17, is the eldest, and he is taking care of his twin brother and sister (age 14) and their 13 year old brother since their parents and then another brother passed away. When his parents died a few years ago, Kesner dropped out of school to try to 'take care of his family, now'. As it is, they only eat about once a week, and are missing their schooling. This is just not right. These kids shouldn't be suffering like this. Kesner's decided to learn to sew. I think this is very smart. Once he learns to sew (about three years), he can get money to support the family. We can help him get a good sewing machine and he can be a tailor. I want to go up to Sen Rafayel and see how they are all doing. The kids here at the house think we should close for a day, find a vehicle, go to Sen Rafayel, take the camera, get photos of this family, the schools, their homes and ask everyone to help them. I will see what I can do and let you know.

Deles, 27, our very first graduate, is still hoping to study agronomy, and is awaiting a sponsor (Someone? Anyone? He's a great guy!). In the interim, he's been tutoring our kids in science before and after school, seven days a week. So many of them need help with science!

Our electrician discovered that two households near us have been tapping into our private transformer to get power to their homes. When he approached them to tell them to disconnect the wires, they refused at first. When he offered to let the police handle it, they took the wires down. I guess we will just have to check the transformer every second day or so.

On Friday, when Mark from the U.S. came to visit, he said he thinks it's possible to set up a Wifi router here so that we can access internet from the house. This would be wonderful. We could be our own little cyber cafe! And the kids could use the internet. Can someone look into that project about 'One Laptop' or 'A Laptop for every child' and see if Haiti qualifies?

We continue to post our monthly Birthday List of those marking their birthday that month. I discovered that for some time now, I've been calling one student by his surname, not his given name. It seems his birth certificate shows his given and surnames in the wrong order. I asked why he hadn't corrected me before now, and he smiled and said, "I didn't want to embarrass you."

With the shipment I'd sent from Canada that came last month, we now have enough multivitamins to carry us through for 6-12 months, depending on the numbers of kids. We could use some chewable vitamin C, though.

Marlene is still waiting for information about getting into nursing schools, and is still staying with me week nights. Sister Rosemary comes on the weekends to help me manage while my arm is in the cast. I am very glad for their help. I never realized how difficult it can be to get by with the use of only one arm. I am due to go back to the doctor on March 21 to have the arm assessed, and possibly have the cast removed. Once the cast is off, I am to have intensive physio for 4 weeks to get back full movement.

Thanks to those who've sent help, and those who've offered to come to Cap-Haitien and volunteer their time and skills. We can do this! We CAN help these kids!

Until next time, Kenbe

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Food Program Suspended, Water Supply Woes, Eye Glasses -- Finally! Nursing Schools Info, and Waiting for Surgery

Hello Everyone,

(This is Karen, again.) I was able to speak to Sharon by phone at 8 a.m. today, and despite the poor connection, I got some more information on what's been happening in Cap-Haitien.

Due to lack of funds, Sharon says the food program will be suspended starting on Saturday and until further notice. There are donations in our Canadian bank, but unfortunately, with the sudden resignation of the treasurer in January, no one besides Sharon can now authorize an off-shore transfer. Board members will contact the bank to see what other arrangements can be made until new signing officers are approved when Sharon comes back to Canada this spring.

Modeline is still awaiting a date for her surgery, and goes every week to the hospital to see if any date has been set. Every week, she's told 'come back next week'.

Marlene (who hopes to go into nursing), and Sharon have been contacting private nursing schools and alumni to ascertain tuition costs, and to make sure these schools are government-accredited. The tuition for most nursing schools is about $500 USD a year; the unknown variable is the length of the practicum (one month or three), and therefore the funds needed for room, board and travel for that period as well as for during the school year. In the meantime, Marlene is staying with Sharon at night, to help her while her wrist is in the cast.

The boxes, including a number of dictionaries, that were shipped from Canada in November arrived in Cap-Haitien last week, so today Marlene will be sorting them, and getting them ready for distribution.

Around Christmas time, Sharon took several of the students to the hospital clinic to arrange to get their eyeglasses. The hospital referred two of them to a local private optician, and they had their glasses within a week. For some reason, the hospital ordered Edwina's glasses themselves; the glasses were lost in Petionville, but have now been found, and she should be able to pick them up today.

During the two weeks of rain, the reservoir sprung 5 leaks, and contaminated the water supply to the house, and well as leaking in through the roof. With an absentee landlord, they had to take care of this themselves, so they manually drained the reservoir and repaired the leaks. As Sharon said, this underscores the need to have place of our own, so that any improvements made benefit Starthrower students and staff, not a landlord.

Sharon says the doctor will remove her cast in three weeks, and that he recommends physiotherapy after that. Meanwhile, visitors are implored to overlook Sharon's less-than-kempt appearance while she is unable to maintain her customary grooming standards.

Sharon sounded in good spirit, and says she is grateful for the support of the local community following her accident. She fell off the bike at home, and knew immediately from the odd angle of her wrist that it was broken. She made her way back into the house, found her cell phone and called Brother James, who took her to the hospital. She also called Sister Rosemary and Jude (they have a vehicle), and they came to the hospital, then took her to the x-ray clinic (about an hour's drive), then back to the hospital for the cast. She is so thankful there was a doctor on call and she got prompt attention, and for the wonderful support from all concerned.

Until next time,
(Karen, for Sharon)

Edit// March 2 :: A big 'Thank You!' to those who responded so promptly with offers to help, especially Jan and friends in the U.S. who arranged a direct transfer of emergency funds, and Francilien, in the U.K. who is arranging a fundraiser half-marathon.


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