As promised, here's an update on the earthquake in Haiti aftermath regarding students, schools, hydro, water and food supplies in Cap-Haitien, as well as a brief note about donations in kind, travel to Haiti and more Thank yous!
Starthrower Students in Haiti and Dominican
Schools are still closed in Cap-Haitien.
Guilene, a blind student at school in Port-au-Prince who received a Brailler and manual typewriter thanks to Pennsylvania donors Don H. and wife, Sharon, along with the Lions Club, and Cindy W., who supplied a portable cassette player for her, is all right, as far as we know.
Auguste received only one phone call from her, saying that she was okay, but she could not find anyone to take her to a bus station or help her find transport north to Cap-Haitien. Her belongings were destroyed, and she has only the clothes on her back.
Our nursing students (see previous update) arrived in Cap-Haitien on Monday, but I have no details about how they got there from Leogane. They came right to the center to let Auguste know they were back in Cap-Haitien.
Bruni, one of the nursing students in Leogane, likely will be trying to get home to Sen Rafayel. She has relatives in Cap-Haitien who took her in before, when she was going to summer school.
Auguste (our director of education) has only had one communique with Sen Rafayel via text message. The students are okay, but there is still no transit up and down mountain. That means Bruni won't get home unless she walks the 28 kms (18 miles).
Alland and Wisly (nursing students, Leogane) are in Cap-Haitien, but may not have a place to stay. Auguste will take care of them, however, as now he is able to get money from the bank.
Gaby (nursing student, Leogane) would go home to his ti kay next door to Carmene's, where his brother Lusnot is.
Peterson, who was injured in the earthquake and unable to travel, and Plenitude are still unable to get home from Port-au-Prince. They are not together and have no way of connecting.
Dominican Republic Pre-Med Students
Marlen and Elorge, both in 2nd year pre med in university in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, are among the few sponsored students currently attending school.
Agriculture Students Limbe
Deles (a sponsored student) and Vincent, in 3rd year Agriculture (Agronomie) at university in Limbe, are attending classes. January is a month of 'cours intensif' for them.
Rosenie (2nd year Kindergarten Teacher training) and Joceline (our laundress and Mme Carmene's support staff) are washing bedding and curtains, and mopping and disinfecting the house in Cap-Haitien to get it ready for my arrival.
Carmene, who usually handles the cleaning and cooking for us, is too heart broken at the death of her son (details this post) to work. One of my first visits will be to Carmene to pay my condolences. I will be fending for myself in the kitchen for the first while.
School Closure Alternatives
If schools are still closed when I arrive in Haiti about January 31, we will implement study programs or phys ed programs (both popular with the kids) or any other activities that they suggest, as well as work programs for anyone wanting to earn some money.
Hydro, Banks, Water, Gas, Damage Repairs
As of yesterday (Thursday, January 21), there is still no hydro anywhere and no gas. We are still able to purchase potable water and locally made bread, as a few of the banks are open as of today.
Auguste borrowed a few gourdes from one of the Sisters of St. Joseph who knows us well. The kids are still coming in for rest, bathroom facilities and food.
Jackson, who drives for us, will probably do what he did before the earthquake to get gas. He knows exactly how much gas is needed to drive to the Dominican Republic, so he fills up there. Jackson will pick me up at the Cap-Haitien airport and take me to the center.
We will repair our water system first, then fill the cracks that need it. Currently we are unable to do any repairs to the students' houses as we can't get to them to do estimates because of the gas shortage. Our students are scattered about the Cap-Haitien area, and at quite a distance from us.
We will also form students in work groups to help repair their houses. Others students can work in the garden, trim the trees, cut the grass etc. Joceline, and Rosenie can keep the house running while I will take turns in the office and the kitchen making sandwiches etc.
We want to establish some kind of normal routine as soon as possible to help deal with the earthquake aftermath.
How To Help Inquiries ~ Donations in Kind, Volunteer
And all we can tell them is thanks, but no thanks. Here's why:
First of all, we work in Cap-Haitien, in the north of Haiti, not the south, where rescue and recovery efforts are centered. For reference, Cap-Haitien is about 130 km (81 miles) north of Port-au-Prince. The road is rough in spots and typically takes 8-12 hours to drive from one city to the other.
If you have been following the updates from Haiti in the media, you will be aware that even large aid agencies and governments are unable to deliver and distribute supplies efficiently or at all, due to quake damage in Haiti.
Even CNN (and George W. Bush, in a statement to the media), asked that donors simply send money, as money is the easiest thing to ship to Haiti. This agrees with Starthrower's long held position and donations in kind. It may seem felf-serving, but it is really the most practical and cost-effective route.
Haiti already has tradespeople, and access to goods and services, What they don't have is money to pay for them. And if a carpenter, for example, travels to Haiti to volunteer to rebuild, he takes a job from a Haitian and spends money to travel there that could have been better spent to help support a Haitian.
At the best of times, visitors to Haiti use resources better allocated to the residents, and in time of disaster, these scarce resources are even scarcer. Also, at the best of times, shipping to Haiti is a challenge. Following the earthquake, it's even more so, with damage to ports and disaster relief ongoing. Currently we do not know (no one does) when shipping and more reliable air travel will resume in Haiti.
In Charities, Smaller is Better
As well, I am pleased to hear media reports advocating donations to smaller charities and NGOs (non-government organizations) such as Starthrower Foundation because, they say, that these smaller aid groups are already on the ground in Haiti, know the culture and know what is needed and who needs it.
As well, these reports explain, most of the funds donated to smaller NGOs go directly to the intended recipients, with a tiny amount going towards administration costs.
Large fundraisers dominate major media, but it's hard to track their accountability and disbursements.
Thank You, Donors!
Thank you to everyone who has sent a donation. Once I am in Haiti, and am able to visit students' homes to assess damage, etc I will have a better idea of the money needed for dealing with the extra expenses due to the earthquake. We always need funds to support our students, and for food and tuition, and medical care. I am taking with me anti-malaria meds and Cipro, as I don't know what is available in Haiti.
Thanks to Orangeville Ontario Canada business people for supporting Starthrower Foundation:
Thank you, Sigrid at From the Kitchen to the Table for taking our need to the BIA (Orangeville Business Assn).
Thanks also to owners Janie, Sue and Deb at Mochaberry Coffee, who have set up a donation jar.
Thanks also to Dianne, owner of Acheson's, who is doing a fundraising blitz this week.
Thank you to Kathleen. owner, and staff at Henning's Salon who are also collecting donations via jar on the counter.
It means so much to have the support of my local community, and from Starthrowers around the world.
If you are unable to make a cash donation, you can still contribute to the work in Haiti by telling your friends, families and social network sites, and sending them the link to this page and to our web site.
On a personal note:
As of today I have been discharged from home care by the wonderful nurses of St. Elizabeth health care. My wound is manageable, and the restrictions placed by the surgeon will be followed to a T.
So for those who have written concerned about me travelling and living back in Haiti, know that I go with the blessing of my medical support team.
Thank you, Lesley, Jenna, Pam, Elyse, Peter and Dr. Pham.
Thanks also CCAC case workers Barb and Cheryl.
Thanks to Red Cross manager Carrie and PSWs Joanne (both of them), Elizabeth, Kim, and Nancy.
My life has been so blessed by your presence and expertise over the past 15 months.
As more updates come in, or we get other news from Haiti, I'll post it and let you know. I leave for Haiti in just over a week, but will be in touch before I go.
PS Here are two links to articles about the crisis in Haiti that you may like to read:
Ted Fellows The Broader Crisis in Haiti and the Wall Street Journal Leogan.
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