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.

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