Saturday, January 1, 2011

Independence Day, Ancestors Day - Part 1 & 2

At the moment there is electricity and an Internet signal. While preparing food for the dogs and cat at 6am, I was able to access  the  Scorpions  in concert  on YouTube-- 'Moment of Glory' and 'Winds of Change' with the Berlin Philharmonic. Listening to Klaus Meine  - an auspicious start to the new year - it doesn't get much better.

Sounds of Independence Day celebrations, which began Thursday, have not lost any energy. Unfortunately the new punctuation  for any activity in our area (katye) is gunfire (tire ak bal). Instead of a night time phenomenon, it has become an around the clock occurrence. Twice this week staff stayed late, because of the proximity and frequency mid-afternoon.  Monday morning on their way to work,  Joceline and Rosema passed the body of a young man one street above us in front of EDH (Electrique d'Haiti). Police were on the scene. Apparently he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anger continues to simmer around broken promises of  definitive election results. Now scheduled for Jan. 5th, the potential for violence could keep schools from reopening. We're told schools will open perhaps Monday the 3rd.

As well we are seeing an escalation in drug/ alcohol use in the general population. On several  recent occasions we have been approached while in the truck by someone obviously high on something demanding money. Staff have been stopped  in the street. They also tell of street kids now into sniffing thinner (tine). If ever there was a time to not only stay the course but increase efforts it is now. Hand delivered letters with stories of tragedy, hope and potential continue to arrive daily from students seeking 'soutyen'.

On the good news front, after a two week drought, gasoline arrived in the country. Our generator which pumps water from well to house is gas driven, so it was an exceptionally critical period for us.

Lines for gasoline were long and frustration was evident.  Patience was thin.
Boxes arrived from Pensylvania with gift items for everyone, as did funds for Christmas food distribution. Our gratitude to Penns Valley Community Church, Rashad J., Paula W. and Cindy W.  Carmene and I unpacked, sorted, removed tags, then  divided into male/female then Cap-Haitien/Sen Rafayel. We wrapped  while Joceline and Jack prepared individual food sacks. Auguste kept the office going.

Many of our young people were able to get 'home' for the break. Everyone came to eat as well as  pick up food sacks, potable water, hygiene products  and gifts. Some came to research on the computers.  
Others came to read the paper, kick the soccer ball, talk, stretch out on the hammock, some for funds for medical referrals or  to replace school shoes worn down by  rocks and mud. . Although we were closed Dec. 24 thru 27, twenty-eight students showed up. Apparently the 'CLOSED FOR HOLIDAYS' notice was inadvertently not posted. Many showed up in their very best clothing. When I gently told Paudeline we were closed she said very brightly 'I know - I came to visit!'  (M konnen - m'ap vizite) In she teetered on  precariously high cork-platform shoes, someones cast-offs from another country and another time. It was the first time I had seen her since the deaths of her grandmother and father from 'kolera'.

Wisly, Gaby and Alland checking Kolera stats

Edwina reads Le Nouvelliste

Sherlyne and sister Edwige's shoes


( Sunday Jan 2 )

The good intentions to write a two-part blog yesterday were washed away by heavy rains, which interfered with the Internet signal, also delaying ( but not cancelling ) remaining programs for Independence Day.

Rain does not dampen enthusiasm here, and celebrations resumed within approximately 15 minutes of the rain moving out - about 5:45 am by my clock.  However, it was no longer Independence Day being celebrated, but Ancestors Day (called Heroes Day by some).  It is 6 pm and the programs continue. Joceline and Rosema worked a half day today, and assured me that all 'fets' (celebrations) would be finished by Jan. 6th and the 'norm' will resume. I would be hard pressed to describe the 'normal' to which she referred.

To-day, radio carried some school opening information for this week. One or two of the private schools will reopen Tuesday the 4th. In anticipation of potential disruption by protests in response to electoral announcements on Jan. 5th, most schools are delaying second trimeste until Monday Jan. 10th.

Good news as we received confirmation this week that our  students in Sen Rafayel who lost their placements due to 2 village schools closing (see earlier posts re: College Vincent Oge and Roi Henri Christophe) have been accepted at  Lycee Charlemagne Perault and Centre Classique le Phare. Djohn and Illiomene travelled  down the mountain Thursday for funds for both school fees and new uniforms for the kids. Village tailors and seamstresses work very quickly - they're used to a flurry of activity followed by long periods of no work.

We were unable to travel up the mountain this week as our truck (machin) was out of commission (anpan).  Illiomene has recovered from her recent bout of cholera (kolera).  She brought along a bill from the clinic which treated her early in December, clearing up a question. Her initial diagnosis in early Dec. was cholera, however she was treated at the clinic for typhoid (tifoyid). The cholera did not recur but set in after.

She is looking for a place to stay in order to finish her school year. We'll pick up the rent - it's just finding a place. She will probably still be sleeping on the floor with several others but it will get her through exams for Philo (last year of high school). If she is successful writing state nationals, she hopes to enter nursing in Leogane.

Djohn, Illiomene and Auguste prepare gifts
Once business was out of the way (salaries, new school fees, clinic payments, request letters...), we set to labelling and packing gifts. The timing of the gifts for Sen Rafayel means that they received New Year's gifts (etrenn or zetren yo) instead of Christmas (kado nwel).  Jack packed food sacks for the trip at the same time.

Staff will purchase cooking oil ( lwil) and charcoal (chabon) in Sen Rafayel . We try to put funds into each community. Our truck was ready to travel to the bus station  by the time they left, thanks to our mechanic Danius, who had also come down from Sen Rafayel to do repairs.

Monday our university and nursing students all head back after a stop here for funds and a meal.  Tuesday I'll head to the banks (with reading material to pass the time) and we'll resume the hunt for notebooks (kaye), pens (bik yo), and hygiene products. We've been scouring the city the entire month of December- everything is scarce. What we do find has often doubled in price.

Perhaps this week...

Thank you for the 'soutyen' in 2010.  Knowing that so many have taken the well-being of these young people into their lives lightens my load considerably. In partnership we will continue to  make a difference, one at a time.

Wishing you a  year filled with blessings
Bon ane 2011

Here are more pictures from this week:

Sharon, Auguste and the four nursing students: Seated Gaby and Brunie.  Standing Allan and Wisly

Dialine says mesi (thank you) for the kado (gift)

Fresnel comes for potable water

Rose-Guirlande researches schools of Dentistry

1 comment:

Karen @ Pledging for Change said...

my thoughts are with you all for the forthcoming year as always.. :-)


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