Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cap-Haitien Feast, Tropical Storm Fay, Charity, Social Justice, Medical Bills, School Sponsors

Hello Everyone,

Where to start?
Last week passed in a blur of noise and celebration. It was Cap-Haitien's patronal feast celebration (Notre Dame Cap Ayisien). The actual date is August 15th but celebrations begin a full week in advance. Many expats return for this feast. Hotels were full and music was everywhere, 24 hours a day. Sleeping was interesting. Gave new meaning to 'lullabye'.

Still no electricity and it's becoming more difficult to find ice. Our visitors arrive today (Tuesday), so I will have to take a taxi out to the Culligan factory in Morn Rouj to purchase ice. I'm using solar power for a few minutes just to send this update, then I'll get offline and reroute solar to the fridge.

On Friday, Tropical storm Fay blew in to town, ripping roofs off ti kay yo during the night, sending garbage flying in all directions and flooding many houses. On Saturday during the rain, Soeur Ginette dropped in from Sen Rafayel to deliver our students' medical bills and bills for pharmaceutical services. Last year we owed her 35,000 gourdes ($1,000 USD). This year we owe 103,350 gourdes ($2,953.00 USD) and this is money we don't have as yet to pay her. She is, however, extremely patient. The information she provides is so valuable in getting a clear picture of life in the village.

If we can find the funds to begin a pilot program of food and potable water distribution in Sen Rafayel (not to mention enough to restart our program here in Cap-Haitien), I am certain we would see a dramatic decline in the number of clinic visits. Sherline is working on the receipts, grouping them by month and checking the number of visits by each student. Afterwards I will prepare a list of illness, the number of times they occurred and the months when the most illness occurred.

School Sponsorship News
Marlene and Elorge set off Monday morning for Santiago, DR, to begin university life. Their courage is amazing. They also have intelligence and common sense so should be fine. Only Deles, Elorge and Marlene currently have sponsors.

Here at home we have a large number of students waiting to go on, and time is quickly running out for registration deadlines. Half of our kids from last year will sit out the year, as will our high school grads who want to go on.

Due to lack of funds, the graduating and current students NOT continuing this year are:
  1. Micheline 2nd year of Medical technology program
  2. Vincent 2nd year of Agriculture (his sponsor is unable to continue)
  3. Rosenie first year kindergarten teacher
  4. Alland - first year medicine
  5. Brunie - first year nursing
  6. Wisly - first year medicine
  7. Osner- first year agriculture
  8. Gabriel- first year agriculture
  9. Lebrun - first year agriculture
  10. Johnley- first year Genie Mechanique
  11. Danius- first year Genie Mechanique
  12. Frantzy- first year Medical Technology (he has a half scholarship for the 3 year program)
  13. Plenitude (Jean Baptiste) currently in Port-au-Prince studying for entrance exams to study agriculture.

We won't even get to our waiting list of 140+.students this year.
So basically, the bottom line is:
  • No money for food
  • No money for school
  • No money to pay the medical bills
The sad truth . . .
Starthrower received a sizeable donation prior to Christmas 2007 that has yet to be transferred to us here in Haiti. We can't feed these kids here in Haiti, nor can we send them to school or house them while this donation is still sitting in a U.S. bank.

This is another very real example of the 'Arrogance of Charity (see article on the web site). Many well intentioned folks have visited Haiti then left for home without really SEEING, smelling or feeling the misery of the lives of these young people. The lives of the most visitors are comfortable, so they can't see the urgency, the very real need, so why move with any speed?

I shake my head and sigh. Power and control over the poor is such a 'charity' mindset. 'Justice' wouldn't hesitate; a justice minded group would have had those funds here for last Christmas.

Please help if you can. Those who already have, thank you so much on behalf of these amazing young people. They more than deserve a chance, they are owed a chance..

Like Martin Luther King, I too have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have 3 meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

Please be audacious and justice minded. Help us save this year for them.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Exam Rewrites, Waiting Lists Sen Rafayel and Cap-Haitien

Hello Everyone,

Sorry it's been a while since last I wrote, but I've been fighting multiple infections, and simply had no energy to handle email, etc. on top of everything else.

As I write this, it's 6 a.m. on Monday: The house choir across the street (enfas nou) is practising; we had much needed rain last night; and at this current minute, there is electricity. In Haiti, it just doesn't get much better than this! And if we had television, I would be glued to the Olympics coverage.

Yesterday I was cleaning cupboards and drawers in preparation for the visit of Alex and Laura (who are coming from Canada next week), when I came across a newspaper clipping from August 2004, of a letter to the editor of a Toronto newspaper, written by our intrepid web wizard Karen. It is entitled Haiti: Things so much worse. The cut line reads:
"Food supplies are low, electricity limited, garbage is piled up, people are sick and riots, murders continue."
Seems old news is still news four years later.

Last week, Claudy and Fabiola came down the mountain from Sen Rafayel. They left the village at 6 a.m. and arrived here at 2:30 p.m. -- 8 and a half hours to make the 28 km (17.3 miles) trip. The vehicle broke down (enpan) and the bridge is still out. Fabiola came in Louisena's place, as Louisena was preparing to rewrite Rheto exams.

After they had used the facilities, and had something to eat, and stretched a bit, we met in the office. They brought report cards, and reinskripyon dates as well as new book lists. We prepared envelopes and lists for each school. We also made a cursory pass at the waiting list they brought. There are 72 in Sen Rafayel and 70 in Cap-Haitien on the waiting lists alone.

Please keep our kids in your thoughts this week as they retake their exams. We have 3 from Sen Rafayel (who have to go to Grand Riviere Du Nord to rewrite), and 3 in Cap-Haitien.

Claudy and Fabiola told us that during exams, nobody in Sen Rafayel slept, they just studied. If someone had a candle or a wind-up flashlight, several students gathered around the light to study together.

Around 5:30 p.m., Claudy and Fabiola left to return to Sen Rafayel. As we were concerned about their safety and wanted to make sure they got home, Auguste phoned several times throughout the evening. Finally Claudy called him at 2 a.m. to say that they had just arrived in Sen Rafayel. I will be so very glad when we find a vehicle. Putting staff at risk like this is a nightmare.

Although there are no funds, I have again juggled the rent money in order to send Alland, Brunie and Wisky to Port-Au-Prince (Potoprens) to write entrance exams to study medicine. If I am going to be awake anyhow, worrying about kids travelling in unsafe conditions, I might as well be awake for several reasons.

We have outgrown our space as many of you who visit us well know. We were offered a lovely house in Audecap which the owner was willing to repair for us; However, lack of funds and no vehicle make this an unviable option. We found a smaller apartment here in Cap-Haitien where we could move our Text Book Program, and free up space here at the house. It was beyond filthy but had potential and good location.

So we made a deal with the owner that we would first go in and clean from top to bottom, then he would paint. But when we arrived, in Jackson's 'old' taxi, ready to clean the place, everything -- filth and all -- had already been painted over. Today we meet with the owner to (hopefully) get our deposit back.

The choir is finished, and the hydro gone (now on solar). Will plug in fridge. More later.



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