Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mountains and Minutiae

"Dèyè mon gen mon" . Loosely translated, behind every mountain is another mountain. This kreyol expression  succinctly sums up life here.  We have literal mountains such as Morn Granjil which we travel weekly to meet with our staff and students in Sen Rafayel. One is surrounded by mountains and led by mountains.

Look at a map of Haiti - so many mountains there is very little space for people, farms, industry. There are figurative mountains - take 2010 for example. Major earthquake in January followed by  tropical storms, cholera outbreak, fraudulent elections, civil unrest  all of which impacted upon and in some instances forced closures of  schools , banks and businesses.  Seems there is always a 'mountain' .

In tandem with the challenge of mountains, we carry on with the minutiae of daily life . Perhap because of the inevitability of another mountain, we celebrate the small daily successes.

Weby-Schneider and Auguste review budget

This week we sent Weby-Schneider off to University in Port-au-Prince. He will be studying Sciences Diplomatiques (Diplomatic Sciences) at the Universite Americaine des Sciences Modernes d'Haiti.
We had sent him to the capitol in the summer to inskri (register) and he had secured a bursary. Then no news until last week. He had contracted  typhoid (tifoyid) in October and is just now on his feet again. This leaving will be hard for his mother. His dad died in the summer of 2009 and he is the oldest child.

I have to admit I really like the idea of a Haitian diplomat coming from the ranks of the poor. His place is still available at the school but the bursary is gone. There are relatives with whom he can stay, which helped us make the decision to send him.

Rose-Guerlande has been in almost daily, researching schools of dentistry. She is an orphan with 3 siblings, the only one to attend school. She stays with an aunt. Knowing the probability of being accepted at the state university in Port-au-Prince, we have begun collecting her papers for a passport, checked with the embassy of the Dominican Republic re: status of students, given the persistence of 'kolera' and this week enrolled her in an intensive Spanish program which will help with the language requirements (once we secure a sponsor or group).  She completed Philo in July. The final 4 years of high school she was awarded a bursary based on academic success. She wants to study dentistry because she knows the reality '"All students have problems with teeth. There are no dentists to help them. I want to."

Rose-Guerlande researches dental schools.

Our days are not all school related . Edwige came in every other day to have wounds on her hand dressed. Her sister, Sherlyne, was gravely ill (undiagnosed by clinic doctor) and when fever and hallucinations were peaking she bit Edwige. At least with kolera we are able to get a definitive diagnosis and we know the treatment.

Dressing wounds on Edwige's hand

On a lighter note, we received sets of  dominoes for Christmas from Pennsylvania. One we earmarked for the centre. What a joy to watch these young people relax, if only for a short time. When I asked Fabien why he was standing, he informed me that he was waiting for permission from his fellow players. So much to learn.
Alex, Weby-Schneider, Fabien, Esmann

 Carmene at work Friday

This week our focus was on placements for post secondary students, as secondary schools remained closed in anticipation of protests over an election result which never came.With an unanticipated week of holidays, everyone came almost daily for a meal, a gallon of potable water, read the paper, company ... Schools will remain closed this week to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake which devastated the country Jan. 12th.  Here in Cap-Haitien,  religious programs are scheduled followed  by a solemn march around the city. The political announcement is scheduled for Thursday.
 Our house is spotless thanks to Carmene, and our water chateau is full thanks to Jack coming in on his day off to-day.

To-morrow we get to start again. What a gift - a new week.

Beni -w

FYI Next blog post Wed. January 12/2011

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