Sunday, February 28, 2010

Water, Propane, Food, Medical, Dental, Supplies ~ This Week in Haiti

The News this week from Starthrower in Haiti: Water, Propane, Food Distribution, Medical, Dental, Supplies

Propane Supply Found
We've been without ice for almost 2 weeks. Vegetarian lifestyle is the most reasonable option. And we ran out of propane last Sunday.

Staff had been scouring the city to find a refill tank. More important than cooking, we need it to boil the well water.

Jacques arrived from town on Wednesday with a full tank of propane. It took stops at 7 shops to find it, but we have it! The first shop was closed, and the next 6 had no stock.

They returned to the first shop to find it open and in possession of only 5 full tanks and about 30 empty ones, and that's it for Cap-Haitien.

Current price of a propane tank refill is $600 Haitian or 3000 HTG = $78.54 US. For a full tank (not just a refill - I would say 'new tank' but the word 'new' would be misleading) the price is $1500 Haitian or 7500 HTG = $196.34 US.

We did manage to secure potable water for this week's distribution. Hurray ! And we finally got enough sun over a few days for solar power.

Rice and beans arriving, Water
Rosenie and I prepared food sacks on Sunday and we distributed them all week.

This is in addition to the simple meal we provide each of the kids when they drop in.

They bring their gallon jugs for potable refills at the same time. Monday was crazy busy as expected as we resumed  food distribution.

Sherlyne wrote a note asking if we could lend her money to buy food as she goes many days without eating. This is the norm.

Instead of a loan I offered her a job on weekends helping Rosenie purchase and package food, oil etc. It frees me up and allows them to continue working whenever schools finally reopen.

On Tuesday morning, Erzilia also wrote a note (in French -- talk about keeping up with studies!) and then came in asking for work, so she will cover the office with Auguste on Thursdays and Fridays for a few weeks.

Student Health - Medical, Dental
Jean-Ricot and Christamene went to Milot Tuesday for extensive dental work.
They'd gotten up at 4 a.m. to travel to Milot at 5 a.m. They were fortunate enough to each get a consult, as only 10 consults are done per day.

Adlyn arrived on Tuesday, after having had a circumcision (needed due to recurrring infections from bathing with dirty water) to bring us his prescription forms.

Rosema also arrived Tuesday, having come from the clinic. He'd been back and forth 3 times, walking each way, each time, and he is so sick. I diagnosed malaria but waited for the experts to agree. I don't want to give him something he doesn't need. Unfortunately my diagnostic skills are quite accurate. At least we can treat it.

We continue to have success with the natural product Allimax that has an antibiotic effect. I Am NOT a paid spokesperson; I just have had success personally using it and now here with the kids: The stubborn wound on Jack's arm closed in 3 days, and he did not need an xray as the pain disappeared, and the arthritis he has in his joints is now gone for the first time in years.

Rosenie's chest infection cleared up and our pup is still alive and showing signs of improvement (when I can slip the capsule into her food).

Many of our young people suffer from arthritic complaints from sleeping on the ground or on concrete. Even with funds for beds and mosquito nets (though the students would be more comfortable), they would still have joint pain.

I always feel so badly sending kids for day surgery, dental surgery, etc on public transit over horrendous road surfaces, knowing the discomfort and often pain they experience. Someday we will have a vehicle. But for now we do what we can with what we have.

Shopping for Shoes

Everyone is in need of shoes, as well. We provide a new pair in September and January.

Although school is still on hiatus, shoe leather wears out at the same rate here.

Roads are non-existent for the most part, or else a series of various sized potholes joined together in an intricate pattern.

As it is the rainy season, the constant mud also takes its toll. Everyone needs black dress shoes but everyone needs different sizes and feet, like teeth, continue to grow despite a life of abject poverty.

Since schools are still closed, they actually have the luxury of taking their time going through the marketplace looking for shoes.

Aftershocks Aftermath
Aftershocks continue, and you get to the point where you don't want to say anything because maybe you're the only one who felt it. Wisly and Alland came down from Sen Rafayel to talk. Together, they speak not a word about the earthquake trauma. Separate them, and stream of consciousness pours out.

Intellectually, they understand that the trauma of their experience at the nursing school in Leogane will fade, although it will always be a part of them. Emotionally, they are still very much in the middle of it. What each talks of independently is the courage of the Doyenne, Mme Alcindor. She is their hero, holding them together and turning them into clinicians.

Thank you For Supplies

Thanks to Mme Cindy and elves in Penn!

Jacques (staff) discovered that the baseball cap (kepi) he received in his bwat nwel (Christmas Box) has a miniature flashlight embedded in it.

As there is still little and intermittent electricity, he's very grateful from a security standpoint, and it's hands free!

What a boon! This country could use about 5,000,000 of these!

Mme Cindy also sent chocolate chip cookie mix, so the kids will have a treat. There is no margarine in sticks available in any of the markets, so we're trying a pouch margarine from Indonesia which came to us via the Dominican Republic.

Our biggest challenge when cooking is a having to use a 6-year-old propane stove which has no temperature settings, only a series of dash lines between min & max. We frequently overcook food and oft times undercook, making everything oven cooked an adventure.

Thank You to Nadia and Daniel from Toronto, for turning a holiday into an opportunity to send supplies to us. They had come to Orangeville in January to help pack a bag of donations stored in my apartment, and  packed a few more bags with their own. They were travelling to Provo, Turks and Caicos, so they took all the bags with them to Provo, then sent them to us via Air Turks and Caicos. Thanks again!

Haiti, Canada, Chile
It's been a month since I returned to Haiti. The comparative luxury (electricity, flush toilet, blankets and bed) of my modest one bedroom apartment above a store on main street in Orangeville, is difficult to picture.

I had forgotten the smell of burning tires, the ferocity of storms during the rainy season. On Thursday, the winds started mid afternoon and howled all night long. Many toll roofs have been blown away.

I'd almost forgotten how incredibly difficult life is here in Haiti, and the immense courage of the Haitians.

Pi ta

PS Tale of Two Quakes: Saturday's Mag 8.8 earthquake in Chile invited media comparisons' with Haiti's Mag 7 quake on January 12. See Associated Press story in the Sunday Toronto Star.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cap-Haitien Schools Collapse, Earthquake, Update Medical Dental, Water, and More Christmas Boxes Arrive

News from Cap-Haitien and Sen Rafayel Haiti

Bonjou tout moun!  Hello Everyone!

This week began innocently enough. I was allowed to turn the water back on Sunday night at 6 p.m., the plumbing operations, performed Saturday were sufficiently dry and I was exhausted so bed at 6:30.

When one is up with the roosters at 4 a.m., fatigue sets in early. Besides we had endured a weekend of torrential rains and that lulls me.

Another Quake Felt in Cap-Haitien

At 7:49 p.m. (according to my cell phone), an aftershock tossed my bed from side to side. It certainly took my attention off the book I was reading.

The options were to stay in bed and wait for another shock, or join the rest leaving their houses and heading for the street in the pouring rain. I chose option A.

Monday morning rain continued unabated.  I rose and opened the house, fed the animals, fed night security, boiled water for dishes (we cook with propane, so must go outside in the rain). Auguste was back from his week off, and his shoulders had descended from his ears and were sitting in the appropriate place. As well he was smiling despite the rain.

Tuesday was the first of three days March for the Official Mourning Period. It began at 6 a.m. and wove through town from the airport, closing businesses, hospitals and clinics, and stoppin traffic until 6 p.m., so all staff walked to and from our center.
Jack, Dieugrand, Christamene, Jean Ricot
arrived and decided to work inside as the rain was so heavy. Jack had repaired the quake damage in one room and it needed to be painted. Perfect indoor work. Outdoor repairs are impossible with all the rain.

Joceline arrived and began to clean bathrooms, Carmene arrived from the market an hour later. Thank goodness she took a cab. Students were arriving, Claudy was on the phone from Sen Rafayel, but I had to go to town to the bank to pick up the Moneygram sent from PA to help Carmene manage her houseful.

Jackson (cab) arrived within 20 minutes and off we went. When the rains come, huge amounts of water are dumped. Although he parked on the sidewalk in front of Fonkoze (bank), the water still came up over my shoes.

Inside I knew what a sardine must experience wedged in a tin. The place was full of folks waiting for Moneygrams. The guard said I would probably get processed about 3 p.m.

This was 10:30. There were 8 chairs, and more than 40 people. I would have stayed except for the fact that one must surrender either passport or Haitian identity card.

I'm uneasy when my passport is somewhere I can't see and dozens are milling around in front of me. So I secured my passport and asked for the daily rate of exchange. Armed with that information we went looking for ice for the house. None to be found and the road was so bad we past several taxis which had lost tires in the potholes.

Home at last and Martha is waiting, so sick from not eating or sleeping. But she can't eat/sleep because she keeps feeling the  ground move. So after she drank a little tea, ate a little bread and cream cheese and half a gravol tablet, she began to settle.

Schools Cap-Haitien Collapse
Jackson had just arrived in town spurred on by a call from his brother: Le Petit Ecole, a private primary school in Carrenage (downtown Cap-Haitien) had collapsed and he was going to help. We learned that 4 Grade 4 students were killed, up to 8 more students plus a teacher were seriously injured.

We later learned that one of the little boys who died was the only son of M. Brutus, our rental agent. I have spoken to that boy so many times on the phone from the time he was learning to talk.  Our condolences to the family.

Also killed was the only son of Dr. Toussaint, a local pediatrician. Mudslide and huge boulders had crashed down the mountain, landing on the roof of the school.

This is a yearly occurrence during the rainy season. In the last 2 days, 3 more schools in Cap-Haitien have had walls. etc. collapse.

These were all private schools for the wealthy: Kay Frere (primary and secondary), College Regina (not sure about levels offered) and College Notre Dame (primary and secondary).

Thankfully no one was injured, as these schools had closed after the disaster at Le Petit Ecole.

Lakay Fondasyon Damage, Injuries

Wednesday night the rain continued unabated and what was left of our damaged covered parking / study space came down. Jack had arrived early to help me as I had had no security overnight, and after filling water pails for me to boil, he poured a cup of coffee.

He never got to drink it, though, as a very large mouse poked its head out from between the tins of dry goods. Into action we went, dispatching the mouse and deciding to rearrange to pantry area completely. The mouse had been very industrious and it needed a good cleaning.

Jack, who had been injured when working on repairing the covered study area, is going for an x-ray on his knee. Though the wounds on his forehead and leg from the wood falling on him have healed, the one on his arm is still quite nasty. I am changing the dressing every 2 days,. He also has pain in the knee area where he was frappe.

Carmene phoned during to say that she had a very high fever and could not work. I couldn't urge her to get tested for Malaria as hospital (and many business) were still closed for National Mourning.

Auguste has started to talk about his fears for the country and trying to deal with kids who have the same fears but he feels he mustn't show his.
Sen Rafayel Medical Dental, Guilene, Gaby

The students in Sen Rafayel have phoned us, but not come down into Cap-Haitien because of rain, mud, rocks blocking route. But Friday, Claudy made it down from Sen Rafayel with requests for money from hospitals, dentists, clinics.

For example, the dentist in Pignon charged $270 Haitian for a visit: $50 Haitian ($7 US) for registration, $70 Haitian ($10 US) for a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss, and $150 Haitian ($20 US) for the actual dental work (composite).

I never begrudge payment for dental work, but the charge for dental hygiene products which in Canada would be a gift from the dentist gets my Irish up. Besides we provide these supplies to the students at the beginning of every trimest (except for the floss, as we can't get it). So we learned today that we specify we pay for treatment only.

Christamene and Jean Ricot
both have dental problems so we are sending them to the dental clinic at Sacre Coeur Hospital in Milot although we know they are overrun with victims of the earthquake.

We sent Guilene to the hospital in Pignon as she is having pain in her shoulders and back. Small wonder after being trapped under the rubble in Port-au-Prince for 6 days.  We sent her to Lopital Bienfaisance in Pignon; she needs 2 x-rays for a total of $700 Haitian ($93 US), payable up front.

Since she couldn't pay, they sent her back down the mountain by camionet over terrible roads with who knows what pain (and she is blind) to get the money before they would take the x rays.

Truth or Rumour? Study Abroad Program
Gaby (student nurse) sent a letter from Sen Rafayel via Claudy today. He has again heard on Haitian radio (each station has a different version) that other countries are offering to help those students who were post secondary in the Port-au-Prince area  continue their studies abroad.

I have heard nothing about this. If anyone has any info, please let me know.

Gaby also said in his letter that after 2 weeks in Sen-Rafayel, "I think I can take back me."  How profoundly moving and descriptive. Bear in mind, English is about his 4th language.

Schools Opening After Easter?
A local magistrate said on the radio that schools should remain closed at least until Easter (April 5-6), which would mean a one-semester year rather than trimest. At this time, I don't know if our payment would be honoured.

At the beginning of every trimeste, we distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, facecloths etc. and the girls drop in whenever they need pads. Part of Rosenie's job is to purchase and prepare hygiene products for distribution. She purchased everything on  February 7.

She was off on Friday when Claudy had come down from Sen Rafayel and when we had sent everything that she had purchased back with him (prices are higher in the Sen Rafayel market).

Imagine her surprise when she arrived for work and found she had nothing to work with. At least she knew where to go to find supplies and I knew exactly what things would cost.  So she is preparing hygiene packages for distribution and tomorrow, we package rice, beans and oil to distribute. See food program details here.

Water and Christmas Boxes Arrive

Today (Saturday), Jack called to say the store owner with whom he left our deposit bottles just called him to let us know the potable water had finally arrived, so he is coming to pick up and deliver.

Mme A. just phoned to say that she has 4 boxes for us, the rest of the Christmas boxes from PA. So BIG thank you to Mme Cindy and her elves. Now we hunt down Jackson, our driver, to pick them up.

Donations and Fundraisers
Sunday (tomorrow), we will to go to the airport to pick up the bags that Daniel in Toronto is sending by air from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.         

Thank you all for continuing to support Starthrower Foundation, the students and their families in Haiti, by donating funds,  by donating and offering goods and services from dental and carpenter supplies to trauma counselling and paramedic skills, by holding fundraiser events and in schools.

Kenbe pa lage


PS February Birthdays Starthrower: Evaldine (Feb.10), MarieModeline, Shounoune and staff member Jacques (Feb. 5), Julhomme (Feb 20), Nauseline (Feb 22), Kinston (Feb 24).

Ti Sab (dog, member of security team) still not well but able to stand up albeit very wobbly, still falls down a lot, moves laterally, has developed a large lump on lt. haunch (picture this post).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rice Oil Beans Charcoal Prices Haiti Soar Post Earthquake

Diri, Pwa, Chabon, Sik Blan Costs Rise in Cap-Haitien

Hello Everyone,

If you are poor in Haiti, It costs you more to cook and eat if you are middle class in Canada.

Though the cost of staples in Haiti -- rice, beans, oil -- and charcoal needed to cook them have risen dramatically in the past few years, they have risen more since the quake in January.

Here are some examples of what these basic items cost in Cap-Haitien as of February 19, 2010. For those purists who disagree with my interpretation of gode and marmite, please trust my experience, as Haitian market measurements do not comply with international standards.

Quantities, Measurements
1 gode (pronounced goday) is about one cup;  There are 6 gode in 1 marmite, and 19 marmites in 1 gwo sak (Large sack).

Exchange Rates HTG to USD

On Monday, February 15, 2010, Fonkoze Bank gave an exchange of 38.2 HTG (Haitian gourdes) = $1 USD (US dollar). (See this post for details.) To add to the currency mix in Haiti, the Haitian dollar is also used: $1 Haitian is about 5 HTG or $7-$8 USD.

When buying rice, we get a break by buying the large bags. Nobody gets a break buying beans. These are today's prices (18/FEB/10). Tomorrow will bring a different set of numbers.

Using these rates, as we had to this week, this is what rice, beans, sugar, oil and charcoal cost: 

RICE (diri) : 61 US cents for 1 cup of rice;  $10.17 US for 1 marmite rice, $50 US for a large bag of rice.

When I first came back to Haiti in 1998, 1 gode diri (one cup of rice) cost 3 HTG; The price had since gone up up to 11 HTG; On Tuesday, it was 22 HTG, and Wednesday, one cup of rice cost 23 HTG.

1 gwo sak diri (large bag of rice, approximately 19 marmites) costs $380 Haitian (about $55 USD). Four years ago we thought it outrageous when the price of rice climbed to $250 Haitian ($36 USD) per large bag.

BEANS (pwa): 1 gode pwa (cup of beans) costs 30 HTG (79 cents US); 1 marmite costs $34 Haitian ($4.47 US), and a large bag beans costs $84.93 US.

COOKING OIL: 1 gallon cooking oil costs $60 Haitian ($7.90 US) for the cheapest brand.

SUGAR (sik blan): 1 gode sik blan (1 cup white sugar) costs 66 US cents.

CHARCOAL (chabon) : One marmite (enough to cook one meal) costs $8 Haitian or 40 HTG, or just over $1 US.

A marmite of chabon (charcoal) costs 25 HTG on a good day. The price goes up to 35 HTG per marmite when it rains. Using the 38.2 exchange rate per USD, that would be 92 cents US or almost a dollar for a small amount of chabon which may or may not be sufficient to cook the rice and beans. If the beans are tough (as often happens), one needs a larger amount of chabon to boil them long enough to be edible.

We have the luxury of buying charcoal in quantity,  and so usually pay less per portion. The cost of chabon will settle if we have a few days of sun.

We will begin packing the rice, oil, beans in smaller portions and distributing them to the students this week.

As the above amounts and prices show, the high cost of food and charcoal is a nig reason why the poor of Haiti are malnourished and sick: They have no job and no income, so cannot buy food.

And remember, these are just a few of the staple items; not a balanced diet, which is why we add, when we can, foods like peanut butter with protein powder mixed in, and supplement with vitamins.

Until next time,


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Update Students, Schools, Fire, Earthquake Aid, Rain : Cap-Haitien Haiti This Week

Post Trauma Stress Continues, Schools Still Closed
Hello Everyone,

Here's more news of what's happening at Lakay Fondasyon in Cap-Hatien, about student stress and fire losses, schools, Port-au-Prince 'refugees', quake damage, and aid.

Student Update
Markendy arrived on Monday. He had finished his apprenticeship barber training more than a year ago, but now he wants to go back to school. Neither he nor Starthrower have any money to set him up in a shop of his own.

His boss (who trained him) needed the tuition we paid for his apprenticeship to keep his own business going. He can't afford to hire Markendy as a barber, but as long as we pay him, he'll give him work.

And while not being able to set up his own shop or to be subsidized by us is part of the reason he wants to go back to school, it's also a symptom of trauma: Like others facing the world outside, here in Haiti, the world of the classroom is much safer and more comfortable.

Fire Destroys Edwina's Ti Kay

Staff arrived one morning with news of a fire in their katye (zone LaBoul). The ti kay in which Edwina lives caught fire the night before.

Everything inside was destroyed, but somehow the building is still standing. It was only about 3 ft. x 5 ft. and 4 people slept, cooked and lived in it. Thank goodness she was wearing her new glasses at the time.

Because it's very cool and damp at night, they had lit a candle (balen) for light and heat, then gone out to use the toilet. They lost everything.

So today, we start to replace their belongings, beginning with her school uniform: Purchasing material, finding a seamstress and getting a wardrobe for her in the market.

Between the earthquake and the fire, Edwina is back to communicating in a whisper, as she did when she first arrived here 4 years ago.

Cap-Haitien Schools, Fees, Home Schools

As yet, we still have no idea of the amount, or for which school fees are owed. One or two schools in Cap-Hatitien tried to open this week, with so-so success.

One school opened, but because 2 of the teachers had been killed in Port-au-Prince, the kids all cried so the staff, not knowing what to do with them, sent them home. I have seen reports that schools outside of Port-au-Prince are all functioning. Not so!

Rosenie passed by her school yesterday to find out when it will open. The secretary who handled everything was killed in the quake. Nobody had any information about when classes will resume.

A home school for the neighborhood started in the house across the street. We are going to start an English club for those wishing to fe pratik (practice). Modeline was so excited when she heard this, as she loves to try out English phrases.

Mme Carmene Family Relief for Port-au-Prince relatives

As I mentioned, Carmene, our cook, needs help with food and clothing as her house is damaged and she is trying to repair it and to support what is now a family of 12 people, all on her salary from Starthrower.

Carmene's widowed sisters and their children, ages 3 months to 17 years, lived in Port-au-Prince, and lost everything in the earthquake. Carmene also took in the son of her brother in Port-au-Prince who was injured and unable to travel, and others in family who might take him in are also injured. They sent him to Cap-Haitien because they expect to die in the street in Port-au-Prince, and want him out. He was in school there, in seconde which is 3rd last year of high school.

We have provided backpacks, shoes, vitamins, hygiene supplies and a few articles of clothing and some money, but that's not nearly enough to put 5 kids in school (uniforms, text books etc.) and feed 12 people. We can't even feed our own kids. While our daily meals continue, food sack distribution has not restarted.

So to help with their immediate needs, Mme Cindy in Pennsylvania arranged to send a Moneygram to them through me. And while it seems simple enough to go to a bank and arrange to collect the funds, this is Haiti. Nothing is that simple. It's taking several days and several cab rides and a walk to the closest Moneygram bank. I stood outside in line in 100F+ heat, then finally approached a (well-armed) security guard, as it seemed as if everyone in line had an account book.

I explained I had come to pick up a Moneygram and he told me they were not available today (pa disponib jodi'a). I asked about the main branch downtown, and he said they close at 2 p.m. or maybe earlier.This is true. Banks are keeping irregular hours but they do open.

So the next day I went into town to our usual bank, but unfortunately, I had only the pin number, not the Moneygram reference number, so I was unable to pick up the donation. I have secured the necessary information by email but will have to wait until Monday to go back to the bank as everything closed Friday for National Day of Mourning. Jackson, our taxi driver, could probably make a good living by driving exclusively for us!

Sister Rosemary stopped in on Tuesday to tell Carmene to send her sisters and their children to the Bureau of the Ministry of Education. They were to take any papers that prove they were from Port-au-Prince. They were told to take the kids to a certain school. Their understanding was that their school fees would be paid for by the government. Upon arrival, they were told by the school how much they had to pay before kids would be allowed to attend. Frustration and disappointment abound.

I can't imagine their difficulty and anxiety, dealing with losing everything, packed together in a house not theirs, dealing with 'bureau' officials, and getting around, let alone in the mud.

So those Haitians who migrated North are not finding it possible to access government support. These 2 families are fortunate they have family (Carmene) here but what a mess and what a terrible load for Carmene to carry.

Rain adds to miseries Cap-Haitien

There was torrential rain all Sunday night, and on Monday, everyone was late arriving for work as their houses were flooded.

The rain continued off and on all week, so we had no chance to put clothing and already compromised mattresses outside to dry in the sun.

Even the vet cancelled our appointment as his place is flooded, too. With no sun for several days, I have been running on a small reserve of solar power and also charging staff telephones.

It's very cool and damp at night here. I know 65F-70F (18C-21C) is not 'cool', but when you're used to 120F (48C), it's cold when you sleep outside, or if inside, on earth or cement. And when it's not raining during the day, it's very hot. After several nights without hydro, the return of sunshine is welcome, and translates to solar power.

We had been trying for several days to go into Cap-Haitien to do the laundry. All it takes is a couple of rainy days and nights, and we have a mountain of slightly mouldering laundry desperately in need of professional help. Joceline went twice but Lave la (wash here) was closed.

Jackson (driver) said he'd pass by if he is in town and let us know the situation before wasting more time and gas driving to town and back. But this weekend, after it's rained off and on all week, and the laudromat appears closed for good, we've been washing a few pieces every day and hanging them to dry on the gallery after the kids leave. It's dispiriting as every day brings new laundry.

Plumbing continues to be a challenge. I woke today (Saturday) to a small flood in the half bath, and had to call Jack as the plumber was wrong about the Mastick stopping the leak. Thank goodness for sun and solar power today. I can put a lamp in the hallway outside the bathroom so he can see to figure out the problem.

The plumber will try to get materials and try to repair the leak today, but the water must stay turned off until Monday.  It's not like at home, where plumbers head for the hardware store to get materials. In Haiti, they find what they can, where they can, and improvise. I am certain that he was hoping the little putty job would work for that very reason. It's what he has on hand.

Vermin and Spider
We discovered that we have a rat in the Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs. It has gotten in to the newly arrived bags of dog and cat food. We took everything out of the cupboard using flashlight power and scoured it.

And the other night, I noticed that the kitchen wall clock stopped at 5:45, so I took it down to change the battery. (Oh, I have been away from Haiti for too long. Take NOTHING for granted and treat everything like a ticking bomb!) When I took down the clock, the back of the clock started to move. I literally threw it across the room, and a fil arenyen (poisonous spider size of a grapefruit) skittered away into the cabinet where we keep glasses and cups. I shut the cupboard door tightly, and the next morning Jack dispatched it.

Security Dog Update
I started the sick pup on Allimax, as nothing to lose everything to gain. And due to the office flood, the vet is still not available to treat her.

Ti sab
sniffed my tuna lunch the other day and was able to get that down. So to get her to take Allimax, I inserted the capsules in the fish, and down they went.

When we cleaned out the under-stair cupboard earlier this week, we found some tins of tuna, the last tins remaining from a larger gift 3 years ago. This seems a good time to use them.Thank goodness not everything was regularly cleaned out in my absence. Now we can also make tuna sandwiches for a change for lunches. She seems to be improving on the Allimax.

With post-trauma shocked Gaby (night security) finally deciding that he might be better off in the country, and that he would try to get to Sen Rafayel to stay for a while, to help his spirit heal. l now have Fresnel on night security, and I have the dogs.

I received an update from Jane in Georgia re: nursing school Leogane. Some informative post quake pictures on that site.

And to add to the list of Things We Need are protein bars, sleeping mats and light blankets.

Please keep sending prayers, positive vibes, good karma -- whatever works for you. We need them. The headlines have faded, the misery has not. Thank you each and every one so much.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Haiti National Day Mourning, Quake Damage Update, Post Trauma Shock Happening Now

Hospitals, Clinics, Banks, Shops, Water Plant Closed Til Monday
Hello Everyone,

Everything is closed in Haiti today to honor the one month since trembleman de te (earthquake). Only churches are open. Hospital Justinien is closed, as are all hospitals and all clinics, so no clinics or hospital consults are available. Also closed / not operating are camionets, taxis, businesses, banks, the few schools attempting to operate.

Jack was unable to purchase water today as the plant is closed.

Joceline had waited until today to take her son to the hospital as she had no one to watch the other kids until today. Her marenn (like a godmother) arrived to look after the kids as planned and off they went at 5 a.m., walking to the hospital because no taptaps (buses) were working, only to arrive then be told to go home.

Carmene just told me that she has heard from her brother in Port-au-Prince. His children are so sick with diarrhea and mosquito bites that he is now in a state of total despair. They are still sleeping on the street in front of the ruins of their house.

He also said that tents had arrived in Port-au-Prince but the gwo neg yo ('the big guys', the top 1%, the wealthy) who receive them are keeping them and selling each of them for $300-$400 Haitian (about $55- $60 US, but the exchange rate can change suddenly).

Whether or not we can verify this news is almost beside the point: It is the talk going around Port-au-Prince, and then across Haiti, and they believe it to be true.

See also Jennifer Wells Toronto Star (

This National Day of Mourning is a day of simmering frustration.  We will make do til Monday.

While I understand the need to acknowledge the passage of time and provide a time of reflection and rest, a full day of closures just aggravates an already difficult situation. The poor who depend on a few gourdes (guds) in the market are deprived of that.

Bear in mind these are MY sentiments and thoughts.

Quake Damage Update
We sustained more structural damage than first realized so we've hired students not yet in class to help with major repairs, removing damaged roofs, repairing outbuildings.

The plumber came back yesterday, this time to fix a leaking toilet. At least the taps are functioning, except that we have no water.

Jack is searching for gas for the Delco, but everything is closed. He will have a friend to help him find some. Thank goodness for friends.

The plumber just returned again today. When I asked why he had just covered up the leak rather that replace the pipe, he said it wasn't just the pipe.

The earthquake te deplase (moved) everything and we would have to dig up the whole floor to replace everything and do it properly. That would mean re-tiling the floor as well. We have poured more than enough money into someone else's house, so we'll live with a leaky toilet for as long as possible.

The Delco is a generator which pumps water from the well up to the cistern on the  roof. The electrician came last week and after digging up the ground and breaking up cement, he replaced the wiring. The existing wiring was destroyed in the earthquake. Fortunately the generator sustained only minor damage which we repaired. The cistern has been patched and we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Our student kombit (work crew) consists of two males, Jean-Ricot, Dieugrand and one female, Christamene.

Christamene always works with the crew instead of on book repair in the summer. The wood in our parking space was so damaged that a large piece broke and hit Jack on its way down.

Jack has cuts on forehead, right leg and left arm. Thank goodness I've just had 15 months of 'how to care for a wound' by some of the best medical personnel in Canada.

The parking space had to be repaired as the kids study there. We have a large piece of cilotex attached to the end wall we use as a chalk board. Everything gets used here in Haiti.

Carmene took the damaged pieces home in a taxi to put together the damaged space at her place for some of her many family. We have arranged to send our work group to her place next Tuesday to help with repairs and creating some space.

Post Trauma Shock Haitians Evident NOW!
Gaby, one of the student nurses, came in to work Monday at 6.

He was very excited, as he had heard on the radio that there were provisions being made for post secondary students in the Port-au-Prince area to continue studies in US or Canada.

So we talked for a long while. Gaby asked for more work as he is not going to Sen Rafayel again.

When he came down the mountain on Monday, the road was once again gone.

The camionet broke down. He found a motor scooter at Dondon which took him over to Grande Riviere du Nord, and from there he was able to catch a bus to Cap-Haitien after several hours' wait.

This poor country and these poor kids. On Thursday Gaby arrived at 5:45 for his job as night security with a completely different frame of mind. We talked for 45 minutes, another record for him. He told me that now he thinks he should stop working here as he is not normal in the head. I asked him to explain if he could.

He replied that he hasn't slept since the earthquake Jan.12, and 'Mwen fe mal nan lespri a" (I'm sick in my spirit).

What an apt description of grief and post traumatic stress. I know he's eating at least one meal a day because he eats a good breakfast when morning chores are finished.

Experts say they expect PTSD to set in in about 6 months' time. It's here now. When I see a group of teens sitting on the gallery, arms wrapped around themselves, staring nowhere, not conversing, I can see it's here.

Getting them talking as a group is like pulling teeth. I have more success one on one. If that's what it takes, then one on one it is.

Like others, Gaby thought perhaps staying in Sen Rafayel with cousins and his brother would help. However he tried that last week and he ended up coming here.

We talked about life changing experiences. The Gaby of Jan. 11 is gone, changed by the experience of Jan 12. He nodded, smiled and said that was the big problem. He doesn't feel like himself.

Like the others, he sits up at night and cries. He feels the earth move, he hears the buildings begin to crash, he hears the cries of people injured and dying, he sees the devastation outside the school and sees the wounded coming to the school by the hundreds.

He felt so ill equipped when doing emergency first aid in Leogane, after the nursing school collapsed. Bruni said the same thing: "All we could do was put bandages on those with the smallest wounds."

Hence the hunger to get back to school and learn more, to be better equipped next time something disastrous happens.

Thank goodness for my life skills and thank goodness for speaking the language. And for the simple act of being present. I have been on the receiving end of that gift of presence in my life. I'm filled with gratitude to be able to pass it on.

Well-Intentioned but Misguided Donors

Jack started to talk about what's happening at Labadee (about 8 km west of Cap-Haitien, and close to where Royal Caribbean cruise ships dock. Royal Caribbean is very well intentioned, donating thousands of pounds of supplies to Hatii. However none of it is being distributed. All donations are ending up for sale in the market, and making a few rich.

Similarly, there are media reports about Dominican Republic resorts collecting donations of goods and cash from guests, saying that the resorts will then arrange to send them to Haiti. It's anyone's guess what will happen to them, or how they will get to Hatii, and to whom.

This is where small NGOs like Starthrower could enter the bigger picture. We have access to those in need and to the local officials trying (unsuccessfully) to deal with the swelling crowds from the south.

Related: Toronto Star ( and response (



Saturday, February 6, 2010

Aftershocks, Sen Rafayel, Cap-Haitien News, Haiti Shipping, Things We Need, Tools

Hello Everyone,

It's been an exhausting and emotional first week back in Haiti as we begin to deal with the Haiti earthquake aftermath. As well, there are ongoing medical, dental and housing needs of staff and students, and even our small dog.

I've made a list of some essential items that are desperately needed here in Cap-Haitien as soon as possible, as well as tools needed by our apprentice carpenter (and our own staff).

Here's a google map  to show the location of some of the towns and villages I talk about. Click on it to enlarge, then click the back button to return to this post. From Cap-Haitien to Sen Rafayel (St Raphail on the map) is about 30 km (18 miles).

Rain and Aftershocks
It's rained the past three nights, but today (Saturday) it's all bright sunshine. Bless everyone who's sleeping outside for fear of another quake, and trauma from all the aftershocks.

Wednesday night I woke just after midnight (early Thursday morning) for no apparent reason, only to learn later that there had been a Mag  4.6 quake west of Port-au-Prince.

Students, Staff Post Trauma Shock, Stress

Alland and Wisly (student nurses at Leogane) stayed here at the center all day on Friday as usual and towards closing time, they asked if we could help them go en deyo (to the countryside. Here, en doyo means 'to Sen Rafayel').

When we asked why they wanted to leave Cap-Haitien, they gave the same reasons given by Bruni and Martha and many others: They cannot sleep, cannot stay inside, they feel the earth move, and hear the screams, still.

We send them of course, but I have a feeling they'll be back soon as the horror has subsided.The change of place may help them for a while. I hope it does.

was back again from Port-au-Prince yesterday, and I noticed some 'survivor guilt' creeping into his conversation: "Why were those in the morning  classes spared, and those in the afternoon classes killed? The professors had so much to give," he said. It should have been him instead.

This, I think, is just the beginning of a long road back. We have decided as a group that Haiti will never be the same. Haiti is a different country now. Some very deep observations from some very amazing young people.

Sen Rafayel Student News

Claudy and Fabiola arrived from Sen Rafayel as did Djohn. Djohn had stopped his apprenticeship with the carpenter when I became ill in September 2008. Of course, now he wants to resume and complete his training.

Claudy had a list of problems from Sen Rafayel. Guilene (who was pulled from the rubble after being buried for 6 days and has infected wounds) had been in hospital in Pignon after her return from Port-au-Prince and is now at Dr. Anne's clinic in Sen Rafayel, and owes money for both.

Danius Joseph arrived with papers for a new University in Cap-Haitien, where he had started classes in October -- a  4-year program in Sciences Administrative. He had paid inskripsyon (which lets you begin) and nothing more.

needs her tonsils out and wants to go to Sacre Coeur in Milot. This would be my first choice for her surgery as well.

Benousse has several teeth that need immediate attention. The closest dentist is at Bienfaisance Hospital in Pignon.

Another dozen young people arrived at our center here, looking for food and rest. Two of them have colds, and one has malaria.  I have to say I was relieved when 5 o'clock closing time arrived.

The kids are telling me that they are avoiding Cap-Haitien's downtown core (this includes the market and hospital) as there are so many amputees around the hospital and strangers. The fear of violence is beginning to seep into conversations.

Starthrower Staff

Auguste (director of education) is on forced holiday for a week. I hope it is long enough for him to regroup. He was completely wiped by 5 p.m. He has lost so much weight, not like him at all.

(director of operations) will go on leave the week after. Although we have houses to repair, I have to think of the well being of the staff. They are burned out.

It was too much for them to take over in my absence, and the trauma of the past few weeks has only added to their burden. No one complained but the result is quite evident. Everyone in Haiti needs healing.

Things We Need

Now it's Saturday, and night security has departed and the weekend shift is here. Rosenie and I are working on the dispensary cupboard today. We've started a list of items the kids have asked for that we don't have on hand.

Once the cupboard is organized and clean, we'll head into town and scour the pharmacies. It seems like there must be a million of them!  Each pharmacy is a space about 4x4. Sometimes there are several in a row, each carrying different items.

Saturday, we were able to buy sanitary napkins and the last package of garbage bags in the city. Money allows us to purchase in Haiti some of these items on the list, and for the rest, we make do.

  • Hand sanitizer. We are totally out now and cannot find it anywhere here.
  • Feminine hygiene products (found some in Cap-Haitien today)
  • Allimax ( in Canada, Allisure in USA ) a natural supplement that almost single-handedly healed my surgical wounds and the cold I came down with just before flying back to Haiti. It is the most important item in my treatment arsenal, and could be used for so many illnesses here instead of knocking their systems down with antibiotics.
  • More Advil and Tylenol (regular and cold & sinus)
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste (regular and for sensitive teeth)
  • Bar soap, face cloths, hand towels
  • Large size garbage bags, candles, radios and flashlights -- solar or hand-powered
  • Desperately need back packs
  • protein bars
  • sleeping mats
  • light blankets

Carpenter Supplies Apprentice, Lakay Fondasyon
Djohn our carpenter in his last year of apprenticeship needs:screwdriver set, goggles, masks, work gloves, putty knife, electric drill, sanding block, crosscut saw, claw hammer, combination square, Electricians tape and duct tape.

We also could use everything Djohn is in need of as our tools are falling or have fallen apart from constant use. Work gloves are very important as we begin to repair roofs.

Shipping Supplies to Haiti

How to get the things we need to Haiti is another question, as the docks at Port-au-Prince being used for humanitarian purposes and the port at Cap-Haitien is barely functioning.

Anyone interested in shipping some of the things we need could ask Maybelline (AT) (the owner of CASXpress if they are getting anything in to Haiti. Perhaps they are using Cap-Haitien again.  If they are still shipping, ask her how long the turnaround time is.  I imagine their warehouse in Port-au-Prince was destroyed as the Dock area was hit hard.

Florida, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Dominican Republic
If you are coming somewhere close to Haiti, perhaps look for a shipping route from one of these destinations.

Hydro, Food, Sick Puppy
On Friday I rose at 5 a.m. despite the urging of the rooster at 4 a.m. In the darkened kitchen (no electricity, of course), I stepped in a puddle the size of Lake Ontario (almost - some exaggeration).  The flashlight showed that the fridge door had opened during the night and everything inside was wet and on its way to culturing exotic microbes. With no hydro, we put blocks of ice in the fridge, using is as a large cooler.

Thankfully night security was up and sweeping so I called for reserves. As Gaby removed items from the fridge, I prepared food dishes for the insistent cat and dog. The dogs are an excellent alarm system, and our remaining cat, Lucy, does a good job of mousing, etc to help keep the house clean.

Our smallest dog Ti Sab (Little Sandy), was missing from the pack and I went looking. She was very ill when I arrived here last weekend, and we had been anxiously looking for a vet or someone with vet training all week.

With so many other things needing attention (120 young people, a house with earthquake damage, an exhausted staff), I had resorted to an 'Ask a Vet 'website. It was my first and last foray on the internet for vet support. The one free question would be answered only after I provided a credit card number which would only be used if I was satisfied with the answer. When I declined, there followed a barrage of emails.

Ti sab, who had been shaking so badly we had to hold her food and water bowls for her, could not stand up. I tried to phone Jack but there was no cell phone signal. I made her as comfortable as possible and proceeded with the fridge clean up. This generated a sink full of dishes to wash of course.

Finally I got a phone signal. Jack contacted Jud who gave him directions to a man he knew who had vet training -- no address, no phone number, just directions. Because the location was in the interior of a katye (zone), Jack set off with the dog in a box to find a motor scooter. The vet (Tony) says to bring the pup back on Sunday by 6 .am.

And so my first week back in Haiti is finished and I'm still standing. We face a daunting time as we rebuild and regroup. Good news though. I am now bandage-free, with my last wound now healed.

Housing in Haiti
For those of you who have contacted us for help looking for housing in Haiti for friends and relatives displaced by the earthquake, please understand how difficult it is to find housing of any kind at this or any time. So many people are coming north to Cap-Haiiten that resources are stretched to the limit and beyond. If we hear of any available housing, we will let you know.

For more on post trauma shock in Haiti, see the Toronto Star Saturday article Haiti's Wounded Psyche and Sunday Horrors of Haiti take their toll .

Thank You!!
Thank you all who've sent financial help our way. We know we won't be able rebuild the country or even our little part of it, but we will keep on working to help as many as we can, as much as we can. We DO  make a difference  to so many lives. Thank you all!

On a personal note, I rediscovered Anne Trenning's lush CD All One World last night. It's been so long since I was at home here, I had forgotten its existence. Fortunately I also found 2 batteries for the little CD player. The CD was a gift from a visitor about 4 years ago . What a gift! Celtic stylings on piano: Food for the spirit. After yesterday (Friday), it was a welcome respite.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Haiti News: Post Traumatic Shock, Damage Assessment, Repair, Hydro, Haitian Choirs

Hello  Everyone,

As well as everything else to deal with following the earthquake in Haiti, we are now dealing with staff and students' post-traumatic shock, and beginning to do damage assessment and repair.

I have never doubted that what we are doing here is important and is right. These last 2 days have affirmed everything we at Starthrower Foundation have been building up for the last 12 years.

I'm also sending some pictures that Auguste (director of education) took at the center. Here's the news from Tuesday at Lakay Fondasyon:

Student Nurse Brunie with Sharon, Christmas Box USA

Post Traumatic Shock After the Earthquake (trambleman de te)

Plenitude is back safely! He and Alland and Wisly are here so I had a chance to talk to Alland and Wisly about their experiences in Leogane at the school of nursing, and Plenitude's in Port-au-Prince.

Plenitude says he escaped because his classes are in the morning.  Sadly, the afternoon students and professors were killed when the building collapsed. It is so good to see him.

Wisly and Alland, both usually quiet, talked non stop. Starthrower's center is their earthquake debriefing place. Both Alland and Wisly, like Gaby (previous update) can't wait to return to classes. The trambleman de te (earthquake in Kreyol) and its devastation strengthened their commitment to the nursing program and profession.

Brunie (4th nursing student and the only female) just left our center. She came all the way from Sen Rafayel to talk with me. Each of the nursing students now realizes how important it is to debrief: Post traumatic shock is all too real.

Bruni told me that she phoned a cousin in Sen Rafayel from the Leogane nursing school. He has a motor scooter. He came all the way to Leogane for her. They were stopped on the way back by a man with a machete who stole her cousin's jeans and shoes BUT not the bike.

Just as the male student nurses did, Brunie talks of not being able to sleep, of seeing the buildings in Leogane crumble, of hearing cries for help, and seeing bodies And like the guys, she can't wait to get back to school.

As for the students and staff in Cap-Haitien, their experience was not as graphic as the students who were closer to the epicenter.

When the earthquake struck, Auguste was sitting in the office at our center, and he felt everything move. He looked out the window and saw the trees and telephone poles bending like he had never witnessed before. He knew instantly something bad was happening. He needed to talk, too.

And Carmene, our cook, whose son was killed, also needed to talk. And everyone knows someone in Port-au-Prince who is unaccounted for or dead or maimed for life.

Food, Damage Repair
Today we've managed to buy Haitian rolls and are making cream cheese sandwiches, with banana (fig), water and tea. This morning (Tuesday), there are about a dozen kids on the gallery at the present moment.

Kenston is sleeping on a hammock and the radio is mercifully providing background. It was blaring but they turned it down with no coaching from me. One student is studying on the roof, 2 more are playing chess.

Auguste is confirming damage to students' houses and on Friday, we hope to start home visits to check damage, estimate materials needed to repair, and then hunt the city for them.

Hydro Power and Haitian Choirs
Mirak d'ayiti -- gen kourant!!  The hydro just came on! For how long is anyone's guess. Last night it was on for 10 minutes.

I had  just lit the candles when on it came. I waited the requisite 5 minutes as it's often fleeting. I had just extinguished the candles when off it went.

As I sat in the dusk, one of the many house choirs on the street started its practice. The music was so beautiful and haunting, then they went into one of the amazing upbeat hymns involving very intricate counterpoint hand clapping and finger snapping.

I listened in awe. I have the best life in the world; if not the most unpredictable.


In addition to regular staff (Auguste, Jack, Carmene, Rosenie, Joceline), we have Gaby, Fresnel, Dieugrand and Rosema working security in rotation.

Last night (Monday), I was  glad of another presence in the center as the dogs went wild about midnight. Someone was trying to enter our compound over the parking spot. Between the dogs, Gaby, and me, they were frightened off.  We heard a single gunshot shortly after but no voices.

Planes were arriving overnight also. Most unusual.

Luggage, Supplies

Sister Rosemary (see this post) just called from the Cap-Haitien airport to let me know that the lost / missing suitcases are still not there, and so she will try again tomorrow.

She said that folks who came to Cap-Haitien from the south need to register at the gymnasium if they want help. Carmene already knew that, and said her sisters are too afraid of the crowds and potential for violence.

Marjorie phoned from Canada and got through, so the lines are currently clear. I couldn't get a line out on Sunday to tell my sister I had arrived in one piece until Monday.

Another knock at the portay (gate). A vehicle entering so will close for now.

Tuesday NIght
The hydro just came back on. Thank goodness!  I was trying to tuck the moustike (mosquito net) around my bed by candle light and flashlight and it fell out of the ceiling.

I called Gaby (security) and he went to find the ti nechel -la (small ladder).

After trying a hundred keys, we opened the depot and secured the ladder. As we walked back to the house the hydro came on, allowing Gaby to hammer the net up while I held the ladder. Hope it stays put for the night.

Thanks, everyone, for your support and encouragement. I'll be in touch as soon as I have more news.


PS Here are some pictures taken by Auguste. [click to enlarge, then click Back button to return to this page]

Gaby and Sharon - Lakay Fondasyon Cap-Haitien Haiti

Alland, Wisly, Sharon - Trauma Debriefing Haiti

Lakay Fondasyon Cap-Haitien - Repairing the Generator

Monday, February 1, 2010

Haiti Flights, Schools, Students, Earthquake Damage, Security, Supplies Cap-Haitien News

Hello Everyone,

I arrived in Cap-Haiten at 6 p.m. yesterday (Sunday) after long day in the Ft Lauderdale (FLL) airport and then a longer than usual flight.  Here's what's happening today at Starthrower's center and updates on schools, students, earthquake damage, security and supplies.

Flight to Haiti: Florida FLL via Bahamas to Cap
At FLL, we learned that our plane needed an engine replaced and that there was a medical team ahead of us that had been waiting since Friday.

Then another medical team showed up, complete with meds and machines, also for our flight so chaos ensued. The airline [Florida Coastal Air -- website] chartered 2 planes and both flights eventually made it to Cap-Haitien after a stop for gas in Exuma, Bahamas. (Googlemap FLL->Exuma->Cap-Haitien map)

We arrived but our luggage did not, and as of noon, it's still not here. There I was, with no meds, no nightgown, no vitamins. And the medical team was unable to continue on to Port-au-Prince this morning as they had to return to the Cap-Haitien airport around noon, in hopes that  their lost luggage had found its way to Cap-Haitien.

Lakay Fondasyon Welcome

When I finally got to the Fondasyon, the staff were all waiting to meet me, despite my after-dark arrival. Jack had purchased some ice and drinks (Gatorade, Sprite, Coke), so we had a celebratory drink and then they left me to my own devices. Mirak d'ayiti we had electricity for 2 hours last night. My welcome home present!

Nurses Leogane, Classes Resuming 4th year only
Gaby, one of the student nurses at Leogane, came to our center this morning to study. Gaby had some very graphic tales of the earthquake and aftermath in Leogane about setting up the clinic and tending to the wounded (see this post, link to CNN).

The first year student nurses had completed first aid training complete with certificate, and so they looked after those not so badly injured in the earthquake.

I have never seen a young person so changed as Gaby. The once shy, quiet young man has an energy and a sparkle I could not have imagined. He thinks medicine is the most important career on the planet and cannot wait to resume training. He will have to wait as only those in 4th year nursing will resume studies.

Haiti Schools Closed

All schools are still closed. Deles and Vincent are here in Cap-Haitien; their school, the university in Limbe, is scheduled to open next week but that's all we've heard.

Starthrower Center, Mme Carmene

Kids have been arriving since we opened the center this morning. Carmene (our housekeeper, cook) came to work today. We sat and talked about her son Frandzy's death and the chaos in the rest of her family. (Details)

Carmene now has 10 extra people staying at her house, as her sisters and their children lost everything. Both sisters lost their husbands to undiagnosed illnesses in September and October, respectively. A house filled with grief, and she is the only one with a job.

I told you (this post) that Guilene, our blind student, had made her way from Port-au-Prince to Sen Rafayel.

What I did not know was that she had been buried in the rubble of her school for 6 days .

She ate sand to stay alive. She has infected cuts on her face and her right foot. When she was pulled out of the rubble, all she wanted to do was get to Sen Rafayel.

She finally ended up on one of the buses being used to transport the survivors out of Port-au-Prince. She rode the bus as far as it went then somehow hitchhiked the rest of the way.

Earthquake Damage Center, Water System
Auguste, Jack and I have checked the house and although we have several new cracks, they do not seem to be structural.  Our water system has been 'pooched', however. The Bos Plombri (plumber) just left with the bad news: a list of items that need replacing for the toilet and sink. He said parts are scarce and prices seem to change by the hour. We have to make the repairs so we'll pay.

Security Measures at the Center

With so many displaced persons from Port-au-Prince making  their way to Cap-Haitien, I have added security around the clock. Fresnel worked last night and today Auguste and I have put a schedule together. It accommodates school time once classes resume, as classes are either morning or afternoon, not full days.

Feeding, Study Programs
Today we're serving bread and butter, boiled eggs and bananas along with potable water. So far, we've gone through a carton of eggs (30).
We had difficulty finding water to purchase this morning. Jack traveled miles with the wheelbarrow as our usual suppliers had none.

We have set up tables and chairs on the roof and some students are studying up there now. No school still, but they're studying! About 15 students are here now, though they come and go.

 Shipped Supplies

Mlle Kayla's box has not arrived here yet because the key to the warehouse was in Port-au-Prince. It is scheduled to arrive in Cap-Haitien today and Auguste will check tomorrow.

Carmene is singing hymns and Rosenie and Auguste are handing out Christmas boxes that came from Pennsylvania. Not all the boxes have arrived but it doesn't make sense to have them sitting here. We are explaining to those who are waiting that more boxes should arrive soon.

The marengwen (mosquitoes) are having their way with me as my insect spray is in my suitcase somewhere between here and Ft Lauderdale. It's warm (about 90F - 32C) with a slight breeze.

And as I write this, it's not even noon yet!

But thank goodness for solar power and wireless internet!

Pi ta


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