Friday, March 21, 2008

Haiti customs changes affect water, food prices, goods supply

Hello Everyone,

It's been along time since I was last able to contact you, but I have started these updates on 3 or 4 occasions only to lose hydro, signal etc. We have been experiencing higher than normal periods of blackout. Also, we've had about 10 days with no well water as our generator lost the ability to draw from our well.

It is an interesting phenomenon - even though our well water is tainted, it is still water. Being without a water supply is seriously frightening. Jud managed to coax it back to life and we are once again able to pump.

As we are, and have been, boiling all water, we are currently using much more propane than before. One propane tank used to last for about 8 months, but with our need to boil water, we now use one tank in about 2 months. Jack went to town Monday to refill the tank, and searched all morning, before finding only one tank available in all of Cap-Haitien.

Luckily, one tank was all we needed at the time. Three shops that sell only propane were all closed -- they are just one of the many types of businesses to be affected by recent Haiti customs changes. What will happen the next time we need propane is anyone's guess. Everything in scarce for the poor; the rich do not go without.

The good Water news : As you may remember, in January, we began purchasing 5-gallon containers of potable water, then distributing it by the gallon. This safe drinking water seems to be making a noticeable difference in the overall health of these young people. In the intervening 3 months, we have seen a significant drop in the number of cases of water-borne illnesses.

On July 1, when school finishes for the year, we will continue distributing potable water as long as funds allow. However, due to shortage of funds, we will stop food distribution at that time. Our young people will still be able to come the center Monday to Friday for a light meal and relaxation.

As usual, this summer we will hire as many young people as possible for our annual text book refurbishing for redistribution in the late summer, as well as for general clean up (painting, gardening). As always, Starthrower offers them the dignity of work (see donations in kind page).

Our food supply, too, is greatly affected as a result of the new customs regulations. As well, several shipping companies have closed their doors; they are suffering too. One year ago, we paid about $120 USD per week to fund our Cap-Haitien student food distribution program. This week, we paid almost $400 USD for the same goods. Prices rise higher each day, even as more and more people come knocking on our gate asking for food, work and help with school.

On Wednesday, Claudy and Louisena came down the mountain from Sen Rafayel with a handwritten request from a group of our students asking that we please find a way to feed them. It always comes down to sufficient funds. Thanks to all who have so generously supported them, and who continue to do so. Thanks to you, at least we are doing SOMETHING.

Please help us do more by telling someone about Starthrower Foundation, and help us address the great need in Haiti.

[see Donate for information on how to make a donation]

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails