Sunday, July 6, 2008

Plumbers, Dentists, Laundromats, Donations, Shipping, Schools and other Haiti News

Hello Everyone!
For some reason, one of my email accounts won't let me access messages, and I know that there were several messages awaiting replies. I will keep trying, but bear with me, please.

The week has been busy! The plumber finally arrived Thursday. He solved the problem of the major leak in the new sink and taps by cementing it shut. We now have no leak because we have no water flow. However, we were able to turn the water back on in the house so can now flush toilets, boil water for washing.

Dental problems continue to plague us
Ganel came down from Sen Rafayel on Wednesday, in great pain. He has family here in Cap-Haitien, so he stayed with them for a couple of nights. We sent him to the dental clinic at the hospital. Unfortunately, all they do there is pull teeth (rache), and so he lost 3 of his.

Claudy is having the same problems but has no family here. Se Ginette (Soeur Ginette) who is our medical dispensary support in Sen Rafayel throughout the school year, has found a dentist whose practice is in Pignon and who is willing to come to Sen Rafayel on Saturday mornings throughout the school terms and do a clinic. If funds allow, we will try this as a project (pwoje) for the first trimeste then evaluate. This still doesn't help for the summer months, and we still have no solution for dental services in Cap-Haitien.

Does anyone know of a visiting dentist willing to do a clinic here this summer?

Laundromat in Cap-Haitien
Washing by hand here at the house, three times a week, is very labour intensive and Joceline doesn't have the strength to wring towels etc. by hand. We have a laundromat in Cap-Haitien, so I stopped in last week to check it out, get the hours of operation and prices. It is very clean, and they offer pressing on site as well. It is powered by generator.

On Friday, Joceline and I went in with 2 loads. She was amazed with everything, including the taxi ride. To watch the emotions of awe and joy at the workings of a laundromat reminded me again of the privileged world in which I walk when not here. In Canada, I complain about walking to the laundromat.

This week Joceline will strike out on her own, going to the laundromat on half price Tuesday and Friday, in the taxi with Jackson (subject to change at a moment's notice). Jackson picked us up at the laundromat on Friday announcing the machin (car) was en pan (broken down) and he had spent the intervening hour in the garage because pa gen clutch (doesn't have a clutch.) He proceeded to prove that he didn't have a clutch on the trip home! Joceline will also be introduced to the workings of a cell phone as she will need to phone Jackson when ready to come home.

Cell Phones for Safety
We have 2 cell phones at the house, both for staff use. One is Comcel; the other, Digicel. When staff members are away from the house, we always send a phone with them for safety. For example:
  • when Rosenie, Erzilia and Edwina went to Sen Rafayel
  • when staff go to the market for book repair supplies
  • when Dieugrand is purchasing potable water and food supplies
  • when we sent Kenson to Carfoumoustik for radyograf (xray)
There are times when we need more than 2 cell phones, so we have paid half of the purchase price for Jack, Auguste, and Carmene to have a personal phone, with the understanding that it is also used when they are working. We purchase one time card per month for each staff member, and they can charge batteries here with the solar power. Which phone we send depends on which one has a full charge. Our phone number here at the house is entered into each one. I guess we have our own LAN!

Shipping and Things We Need.
In response to a couple of emails, I'll make a general response here. As much as we appreciate the thought and the support, there are a couple of reasons why I ask folks not send donated items unless they are urgently needed.

Urgent supplies
Multivitamins, vitamin C, protein powder, protein bars, pencil cases, note books, back packs, pencil sharpeners, pens. Everything else can be purchased here if sufficient funds available.

Thanks so much to Starthrower Sue in the UK for understanding that our most pressing need is financial -- for schooling, water and food programs, medical and dental, etc. With donations, and proceeds from fundraisers, etc., we should be able to continue the potable water distribution program in Cap-Haitien, and to begin the 6 month trial potable water project in Sen Rafayel. Financial donations will also allow us to plan and implement food distribution in Sen Rafayel for September, and to reintroduce the food distribution program here in Cap-Haitien.

Schools all have different start dates and so we implement programs according to the start of the term, by grade. At year end, each grade writes exams at different times, so this year, we ceased distribution using those dates as our guideline. The ideal, of course, is to have enough funds to feed these young people year round, as well as enough to pay for summer school which everyone requests.

Summer School
We have had to say "No" to summer school this summer. This is very unfortunate, as the extra class time gives the students a head start for the coming year. Summer school would also help them gain acceptance at a Haitian university, as opposed to having to go out of Haiti. Even though the few sponsors we have are OK with our students who do go out of country, we know that this is not the ideal solution. With your assistance, we will be able to do do more to keep these young people home to study.

Dominican Republic, University exams
Next week Marlene and Elorge will travel to Santiago in the Dominican Republic to write entrance exams on July 17th for the Intensive Spanish Program at Pontificia Universite Catholica Madre y Maestra. If accepted, they will be placed according to results. We are still awaiting a reply from our last email to the university, requesting the amount of their current fees, as those provided were from 2005-06. This is one of the challenges of intermittent internet access. The last reply took 2 weeks before we could access it due to signal interference.

Deles and Vincent are still awaiting their exam results. It is proving very difficult for them to go back to Sen Rafayel and sit and do nothing after the busy university schedule. They both asked for summer school but we just didn't have the money.

Home Visits Appointments
Auguste and I have been assembling a time table for home visits during July and August. The custom in Haiti is to make an appointment to visit someone, and then, when you arrive at the designated time, to again ask permission to come in and visit. The host's situation may have changed since the appointment was made, and now the time may not be convenient.

There are many homes that we didn't visit last year as there are a large number of zones that taxi drivers will NOT enter for security reasons. Also there are many places a taxi cannot physically enter as the road is in too poor shape, and the car is too low and has no 4 wheel drive. [We continue to scour the country for an appropriate vehicle. Our rental agent, M Brutus, is looking for a vehicle for us in Miami while his wife awaits the birth of their 2nd child there. Apparently he is able to navigate customs.]

Haiti Culture
As we talked about the home visits, Auguste recounted a recent difficult decision he had to make regarding a visitor (known to staff) who showed up without an appointment, expecting to enter. This put Auguste in an uncomfortable position. Ultimately, Auguste let the visitor come in but he was really torn about this decision, as I had not first let him know to expect someone. The customs in Haiti are so different from North America.

As I thought about this and our own visits to students homes, I thought about the Haitians beautiful customs and that perhaps this is an opportunity to introduce more of Haiti culture to you through the eyes of a Haitian.

And so, Auguste has agreed to write detanzantan (from time to time) and ti pislin (a little at a time), explaining some of the customs, culture and history of this amazing country. I will translate his essays, and let you know when they are posted on the web site. I am only sorry we can't show his delivery -- He is a born story teller!

(Update July 8, 2008 ~ The first of Auguste's Haiti culture and customs articles is posted at Starthrower Foundation Haiti Culture

Kenbe red ala pwochen

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