Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting, Looking for a home, Remarkable people

After a litany of extraordinary obstacles, Jack delivered a box of supplies from Pennsylvania yesterday. Thank you, Mme Cindy. Inside, in addition to much needed hygiene products, was a book by Nuala O'Faolain titled Are You Somebody? (Holt and Co.,1996). The introduction resonated with me, evoking Haiti's children. "I was...a nobody, who came of an unrecorded line of nobodies...I took it for granted that like most of the billions of people  who are born and die on this planet I was just an accident. There was no reason for me...Yet my life burned inside me...I'm not anybody in terms of the world, but then who decides what a somebody is? How is a somebody made?...most people, like me, feel remarkable..." (pg.4,5)

Last night during a lengthy telephone conversation, a friend spoke of our young people seeking post-secondary support. "Can they do it?" she asked. I replied that anyone who can successfully write State National exams in Haiti can succeed in a post-secondary institution. Like Nuala O'Faolain, our young people have life burning inside them. They know they can become agronomists, dentists, masons,  medical technologists, electrical engineers, mechanics, nurses, doctors. Arriving at the threshold of post-secondary studies, I can say from close observation they are remarkable.

Edeline J. - waiting
Edeline is waiting for a sponsor or group of sponsors (see Starthrowers in Action) to study Medical Technology, a 3 year program in Cap-Haitien. She completed Philo last summer.  She is an orphan with no siblings. Currently, she is staying with a cousin in Sen Rafayel but has an aunt who will literally give her floor space in Cap-Haitien to attend school.

"Who decides what a somebody is? How is a somebody made?" They are made by life experiences, Edeline was beginning her teens when she started primary school. Patient and determined describe her.


Nicoly G. - waiting
Nicoly has a different life story. He has 4 brothers and 4 sisters. His father is dead, and his mother has been ill (pap viv ansante) since his death. There is an older brother who disappeared 8 years ago.

In his letter, Nicoly writes 'I want to learn agriculture, because before my dad died, he explained the advantage  a person  has who can work with the earth. He can make Haiti beautiful and green. Without trees, we don't have quality of life, if we don't work with the earth, we don't have enough food.  I want to be useful in society like the agronomists of old who planted trees. Thanks to them we still have a country even after many hurricanes." The agriculture program at the university in Limbe is 5 years. The university fees include a dormitory and a cafeteria which functions Monday to Friday. He cannot imagine having a bed and a hot meal 5 days a week. He has been waiting since last year.

Rose-Guerlande B. -waiting
Like Edeline, Rose-Guerlande is an orphan. She stays with an aunt in Cap-Haitien. While awaiting support (soutyen) to study dentistry, she is taking intensive Spanish to help her with the equivalency tests in the Dominican Republic. She was awarded a bursary for the final 4 years of high school, based on academic performance. This was a first - unprecendented for someone from the ranks of the poor to be recognized and rewarded.  Like the others, she is bright, patient and determined. She has suffered dental woes all her life and with your support, will change that for others in her corner of the world. If successful writing entrance exams at PUCMM  (Pontoficia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, Santiago) she will room with pre-med students Elorge and Marlene. The dental program is five years plus Spanish equivalency.

Peterson J. - waiting
 Last but not least, I have the privilege of presenting Peterson. After losing school, classmates, friends in the Jan. 12 earthquake, Peterson wants to attend Medical School. Although in a medical program, he changed his major after witnessing the horror and being injured himself. He is one of a handful of Starfish to have both parents alive. They live in Sen Rafayel with his brother and 2 sisters. His mother never attended school, dad has 2 years of primary education. Peterson is currently in Port-au-Prince where he has just secured all necessary papers to register and write entrance exams at UNDH (Universite Notre-Dame d'Haiti). Like Rose-Guerlande, he is also studying Spanish and would welcome the opportunity to study medicine in Cuba. However efforts to secure information from Sante Publik have met with no success. He's not connected. If you are, please let us know.


I remember when I thought it would be miraculous if we had one student complete secondary school. In addition to our 9 sponsored  post-secondary students and these 4, we  have another 8 waiting. There will be 16 more writing Philo(last year of high school) in July. Every year we have a higher success rate than the national average. We're doing something right.

No matter where my feet take me in this country, whether tromping through a field to look at land for building or scaling a rickety, hand-made ladder in San Rafayel to examine the roof on a potential new office space, I am surrounded by remarkable people. 
Landowner Aleus points out the
various plants on his land in Labadee
Gran looks on while Danius and Jack hold the ladder.
A new office in Sen Rafayel??
They say it takes a village to raise a child. What does it take for that child to become a doctor, a dentist, a medical technologist, an agronomist?

One person to say yes. One person to say 'I can and will make a difference.' One person to phone someone they know and say 'I have a great idea. Let's get a group together and each give $10. a month ( or $20. or $100. or $5.) for 3 years and give Haiti a medical technologist and Edeline a career for life..' Or give Haiti a doctor, a dentist, an agronomist. Let's give Haiti and these remarkable young people 'possibilite'.

How is a somebody made? It just happens when others believe in him or her. I've seen it time and again when young people understand that sponsors are people who care about their lives and their future. It is profound.

It just takes committed people who know that alone it's a big job. Working to-gether we can make it happen. After all, we are remarkable.


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