Sunday, June 21, 2009

Haiti High School Exams, Sewing Machine for Grad, Contracts, Programs

Greetings from Orangeville, ON

Lakay Fondasyon, our centre in Cap-Haitien, is very busy these days as many students have finished writing exams and have begun to return their text books to us.

Rosenie, who directs our summer book restoration program, has finished writing exams and has now started to work full time at the centre.

Foto: Claudy packing the trusty hockey bag with food for distribution in Sen Rafayel, Haiti

It will be a rush for her to sort books, purchase supplies, hire and train staff as she leaves for the adventure of a lifetime mid August -- a trip to France for 10 days to attend a Youth Conference sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph (see earlier post).

She manages this with the occasional assistance of Auguste, our Director Of Education. He is busy with logging report cards, tracking and paying salaries, the food and water distribution programs, and last minute tutoring.

Meanwhile others continue to toil for State finals:
  • Certificat (high school entrance) on June 25, 26
  • 9e AF (third year high school) on June 29, 30 and July 1
  • Rheto and Philo (baccalaureate, the final 2 years of high school) July 6-9

We are continuing to distribute food sacks to those who are writing exams. For the Philo exams, students must travel to another school district, find a place to stay and write for 4 consecutive days.

In Sen Rafayel (the mountain village inland from Cap-Haitien), one of our students has successfully completed the 3 year sewing program at College Sen Jozef and has made a special request.

Her name is Rose-Youdeline, and she wants to start a business making school uniforms. Sr. Fernande, who is the founder and director of the school, can acquire a treadle sewing machine for her for just under $100 USD. This is NOT a new machine, but would be suitable for her needs.

As our meagre resources will now be diverted to the text book refurbishing program, as well as continue to pay for the water distribution, medical and dental referrals, it would be wonderful if someone could help her get started in business.

She will also need supplies, such as needles, thread, buttons, etc., all things that are available in the Cap-Haitien market. For those of you not familiar with how we handle such start-ups, here's what we do. When we receive funds in response to a special request such as this, we make a contract with the student, asking that they repay a portion of the money when they get on their feet.

This model has worked well for us: Those asking for help recognize the contract as a commitment. The small amount that we ask to be repaid to Starthrower is then done so with great pride and accomplishment, and they know that this repayment will be used to help someone else (see Social justice).

Happy Father's Day to all the dads who read this blog. Designated special days like Father's Day, Mother's Day, etc., always put me in a reflective frame of mind.

The reality for many hundreds of thousands of young Haitians is that Dad (and often Mom) died at a very early age, leaving these young people filled with unexpressed grief and very few role models on whom they can rely.

At a hospital visit last week, when I expressed dismay at my slow recuperation, a health care professional said to me, "I don't know why you are so stressed. You're retired, you have no ties, no time commitments."

I didn't tell her that at least a hundred and fifty people were anxious to see me again, to make sure I was all right. I didn't tell her that I wanted to be helping with the book restoration, to be monitoring their progress, that I wanted to celebrate their good exam results or commisserate with them over failures. I doubt she'd have understood.

I admit to being stressed. These young people need and deserve so much -- not just the basics but some joy and comfort as well. They have built Starthrower into more than a community, they have become a family. And we all like to be with our families.

Thank you so much for supporting our family. May you and yours be blessed!


Here is an email in kreyol from Auguste, and my English translation:

Bonswa Manmi

Dieugrand te achte epi Mme Carmene, Martha, Modeline ak Gaby te prepare sak yo. Mwenm et Dieugrand te distribiye nouriti, dlo potab ak vitamin osi. Paske premye semen te gen konje pou fet drapo et profese.

Gen mirak! yo repare pon-an machin yo pa pase nan dlo-a anko. E y'ap repare wout la, y'ap mete gravye sou tout wout la.(men, pou yon ti tan).

4 jenn fiy -yo pa anko vini.

Mesi, Bondye beni-w.

Good Afternoon mother

Dieugrand bought food supplies in the market and Carmene, Martha, Modeline and Gaby prepared the sacks. Dieugrand and I distributed food, water and vitamins (sent by Mme Cindy).

(Students were availabe to help because of holidays: May 1st Fete de l'agriculture et du travail [ Agriculture and Labor Day] and May 18 Jou de Drapeau or flag day)

We have a miracle! The bridge (to Sen Rafayel) has been repaired and the buses no longer have to go through the river. Also they repaired the road by putting down fresh gravel. (that won't last long)

The 4 new students haven't come yet.



Sharon said...


I love the idea of postcards about our kids. Would also be a great keepsake when used as a thank you card. I would carry some with me all the time!!

Re: our kids who have made it through schooling, once on their own we only hear from them infrequently - Markendy (Cap)finished his barber apprenticeship and is working full time in a shop. Djohn (SR)is working as a carpenter while completing his final year of apprenticeship. Jack is working for us as house and grounds manager. He is married with 2 daughters. Auguste works for us as Director of Education. Rosenie works for us as Director of our text book program. However, most are still with us either in post secondary studies or on a waiting list for post secondary support.
We make a very long term commitment to our young people as high school is 7 years.

Beni w

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon and other Starthrower supporters,

I was entralled by the idea outlined in Sharon's blog concerning helping out Rose-Youdeline establish a sewing business in Haiti.

Just imagine: For less than $200, a young, deserving lady can be completely setup in her own small enterprise.I just could not let this opportunity slip away.

Rose has already proven her determination by recently graduating from a three year sewing program at "College Sen Jozef".

My own enthusiasm for this may have been heightened by the fact that I have owned both a large ladies wear store and a sewing distributorship in the past.

Whatever the underlining motivation, I have funded this new venture as was described in Sharon's blog.

Don't know who is the most excited by the possibilities engendered by this development: Rose-Youdeline or me!

Most certainly, I do wish her well as she strikes out on her own. My confidence in her knows no bounds. This has just got to be one courageous and spunky gal!

Don't know about you, but I for one am now praying daily by name for several specific "Starfish" and "Starthrowers".

My only question: "I wonder what name Rose-Youdeline will choose for her new uniform sewing enterprise"?

Blessings to all,

David in
New Brunswick, CANADA

Abfab Art Studio said...

Sharon, so glad to hear your recuperation goes well - albeit slowly when you want to get back to Haiti.

I was thinking of those things you didn't say to the nurse after her comments, and I immediately wanted to create postcards about your Haitian kids and what you're doing to improve their lives with the help of others.

I would have loved for you to have had some of these postcards on you in the hospital - to hand out - and maybe, just maybe, someone would pin them up on noticeboards and others will get to read them.

I'll talk to Karen about doing something like this, and having them sent to you, as a simple but effective way of getting the word out.

I'd also love to hear about the kids who've made it through their schooling - where are they now? What have they achieved? It would be wonderful to see how they're progressing.

Best wishes to you, your team in Haiti, the kids and helpers ... thinking of you often.

in Sydney, Australia


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