Wednesday, January 19, 2011

School Strike, Frostbike, Another Mountain

While the macrocosm of the country continues to bubble and steam like a volcano threatening to erupt, the microcosm of Lakay Fondasyon chugs along, the little engine that could. School supplies are non existent - we have scoured the marketplace and stores weekly since early December.With schools opening (supposedly) this week, we increased the hunt.

Marie-Vonette unpacks notebooks
We can't find scientific calculators, back packs, pens, pencil cases,  notebooks.  We are out of and cannot replenish protein powder, multi vitamins and Allimax. We did find hygiene products in quantity.

Prior to the quake, notebooks were assembled in Port-au-Prince.  We found the last 4 packages of 96 page notebooks in Cap-Haitien at $ 12.US per pack.
We have more than 100 students in secondary - each one needs 8 notebooks, can get along with 5.  The 48 we found won't go far and upon inspection, the advertised 96 pages proved an exaggeration - each had 80 pages. Yes, we actually sit and count (kontwole) the number of pages in a notebook Then Satuday  (his day off) Auguste phoned from the market - he had found a marchand with kaye Miami (notebooks which came from the states) for $1.50 USD per notebook ($15. US per pkg.). She only had 23 packages but it gets everyone started.

Paudeline in school uniform.
Or so I thought.  Tuesday Paudeline arrived bright and early  for one of her little visits. The quality of  sewing on school uniforms is to be admired - - all hand made in very cramped, poorly lit spaces. She brought news that her school Lycee Boukman was on strike again (gen grev) as the teachers' have not been paid by the state for many months.

Unfortunately this is a regular occurance.

Which brings us to the announcement of new industry coming to Cap-Haitien. The answer to our problems is not more sweat shops which  keep the poor trapped in the entrenched vicious poverty cycle - a recently passed, fought over minimum wage  increase to $3. USD  PER DAY which does not feed a family, nor pay for schooling or put a roof over anyone's head. The industry needed would provide a just living wage in safe, sanitary conditions. This country is filled with talented, motivated, passionate individuals, languishing. I was hoping for universal health care, access to education and safe housing. Perhaps a  support program for post-secondary education. Seems quite doable given the largesse targeted for the country. Mr. Clinton, please come to visit us.

Of the 4 we sent to L'hôpital Justinien last week with eye infections, Mona and Mackdalene  need corrective lenses.  While we provide the money for eye exams, hospital consults and tap-taps for travel, these young people still must get up and arrive at the hospital before 4:30 am as the limited daily number of places (usually 15)  go quickly. We keep all cards on file here. There are  so many with eye problems we have a separate folder for the Opthalmology Department.  Students must come in for a referral form, consult fees and the original card. This expedites the process of finding their dossier at the hospital.   If no previous dossier, the process takes more time. Then they sit until the doctor arrives, usually 10 or 11 am. Thanks to you, the Starthrowers who support us, they will have glasses next week.

We're paying trimeste fees at each school in Cap  this week, setting up home visits (both here and in the Dominican Republic) In addition we're gathering supplies, revising lists and contracts  and filling salary envelopes as well as school envelopes with 2nd and 3rd trimeste fees. as we travel up  Morn Granjil to-morrow to meet with staff and students in Sen Rafayel. So I'm keeping it brief today.

Andreas on his mount, dressed for the occasion.
In closing I want to introduce you to a Starthrower who lives in Toronto, Canada. His name is Andreas Kloppenborg, a 4th year student in International Relations at the University of Toronto.

On Saturday, January 29th he will ride his bike from Kingston to Toronto (hence Frostbike) in frigid Ontario temperatures to raise awareness and funds for Starthrowers' secondary school program. Please visit his website and support this fundraiser. Tell one more person.

I'm in awe of the generosity and creativity exhibited by Starthrowers. I don't have the creative gene.  Andreas, you are one of my heroes.

As a final thought, if you have seen news reports, you know of the drama surrounding the return  this week of former dictator Jean Claude Duvalier, which continues to unfold. Where it will end and what impact it will have is anyone's guess. Auguste arrived for work Monday very subdued. I asked if he was ill. He replied "It's worse than that. It's another earthquake - Duvalier's here"  (Se pi mal ke sa-a. Yon lot trembleman te-a. Jean Claude te rive.).  Last week I quoted a Haitian proverb -  Deye mon gen mon. It's yet another mountain.

Plis pi ta (more later)
Beni-w (blessings)

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails