Friday, February 3, 2012

From Cap-Haitien to Santiago and in between

Hi All

I hope January was gentle for you. February arrived with good and bad news. Nursing student Brunie was mugged Tuesday night @7pm while waiting for a taptap after class. She is very shaken and lost her new laptop,case, textbooks, money, projects.

Brunie in school uniform.
Dan notified her  'Starthrowers in Action' sponsors yesterday. We'll replace what we can.

Continuing in that vein, Mexene (Sen Rafayel, school in Cap) was in yesterday for the first time since his mother died 2 weeks ago. She was 16 years younger than me. He has been suffering from dental pain for several months - we are presently without a good dentist for referrals. Rose-Guerlande's career path will provide some relief but 5 years is a long wait. We are preparing space at our new center (Lakay Jasmine) in Sen Rafayel for a medical/dental clinic so please contact me if you have a small team which can visit. In the meantime, many like Mexene, suffer.

Mexene - dental pain and the pain of losing his mother
If you've been following our blog, you are familiar with Inea's story.  Last weekend we began moving her, after 3 days of cleaning and painting (still not finished). She may be young and has suffered  much but she has learned lessons along the way which will serve her well in life. With her Thyroidectomy scheduled for some day next week (apparently they will let us know on Saturday) and her rental tikay (home) marked for demolition at any time, we charged her with the task of looking for a new place. We've been looking as well but we put in about 10 hours a day 7 days a week between Sen Rafayel and Cap-Haitien. Doesn't leave a great deal of time. She found two rooms on the main floor (step DOWN into) of a house much closer to her school than the current location, saving time and money for taxi-moto.  She negotiated with the owner and the price was acceptable although still high. All housing prices are inflated. Now the sisters have 2 rooms plus shared latrine outback and a small smoky room adjacent for cooking. Filthy yes but we found Lysol in one of the stores so better after the cleaning. There is no water for bathing or drinking but it can be purchased on the street.

Inea and Auguste check out new rental space-2 rooms! - before cleaning and painting
Moving Day - stopped in our tracks  (Inea)
The first wrinkle in moving Inea and Dina to the new location appeared when the owner kept putting us off with regard to turning over keys. Long story short no keys. So -secondary job during the move - find a place (or places) open on Sunday which sell locks and find a Boss available for working at short notice. Having found a carpenter available we loaded up the truck and headed for the new place - or so we thought. Couldn't help but think of The Beverly Hillbillies when I looked at the truck. Dieugrand sat on top as we were full inside as well.

Blocking the only road out-up to the axle in mud
Our 'we can take everything in one trip' turned into an adventure as the only road out was blocked. Pedestrian or 2 wheel was the only traffic getting in or out of the katye (neighborhood). The driver of this truck had tried to execute a turn and become mired. He was nowhere to be found.

To our right-only a footpath

To our left., the business of gathering water continued.
Note the homemade wheelbarrow - necessity IS the mother of invention.
After conferring with several folks standing on the sidelines, Auguste and I walked the narrow, winding  footpath through and around the blockage and decided that with him driving and the rest of us walking we could make it. I think we were all holding a collective breath as he negotiated the narrow spaces between houses and kept the truck out of the mire. The settling in continues.

Two weeks ago  we travelled to Santiago to check on our 4 university students. Crossing the frontier at Ouanaminthe/Dajabon is always an emotional experience, looking at the tranquil waters of the Massacre River, being reminded of the horrors perpetrated there. What a history between the two countries.

The Massacre River at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
- tranquil to-day
In Santiago, everyone was studying - Rose-Guerlande enjoying being part of the university now instead of the Language Institute. She was accepted into Spanish 2 at the university with 15 credits. As always, we are so proud of the accomplishments of our young people. While Auguste and Elorge searched for parts for our car (no luck) Jhennie and I had a quiet breakfast to-gether on the Saturday. She was limping with a severely infected toe so I sent her home and went shopping for Epsom Salts and Hydrogen peroxide to help it along. Unfortunately I had given away all of my Allimax supply the day before.

The return bus trip home was uneventful until we reached Haitian customs at Terrier Rouge. The young man who had installed our windows in Sen Rafayel was on the same bus and we chatted briefly. At customs, he was hauled off the bus along with the supplies he had purchased for window framing and arrested -- because he owed taxes we were told. We left him at the customs post. Next day in town we stopped by the store and he was fine although many dollars poorer.

Which brings us to Sen Rafayel and Lakay Jasmine (Jasmine House)

Security lights, a water cooler, signage -we're open for business
Tuesday we delivered the first load of tile and Thinset. Sunday we'll take up another load. Boss Jean has already begun to prepare the floors. We've also scheduled home visits to two of our students, Marline and Herline, who were sponsored this week. Yay! Guerlande, our coordinator, phoned awhile ago to tell us that one of our students was badly burned yesterday when a pot of boiling water (which sits on the charcoal all day) tipped over on her barefeet. We'll visit Mariline as well time permitting and take whatever we have in our small dispensary for burns.

Leaving Sen Rafayel is unsettling. The question always hangs over us - will the truck make it home? We had
t-shirts made for the staff as a New Year's present (zetren) and as a result we have a uniform - jeans and t-shirt with Starthrower Logo are a big hit.

Another instalment in the never ending saga of our truck's adventures on the mountainside
(becoming a legend I suspect)
Even stranded we can be recognized (Myriame, Lusnot, Auguste)

Descending the mountain, we came upon a group of young men kicking around what turned out to be a puppy,  like a soccer ball. It was crying and yapping - probably 5 or 6 weeks old. I always speak out when I see animal cruelty, even though it often falls on deaf ears.  As a result one of the pups was thrown in the truck with me. Because he came from Granjil mountain, he is aptly named Granjil - may he be as strong and tranquil as the 'mon' for which he is named.  It was my sister's birthday that day so he was her present in absentia. Rosema one of our student/staff  has been looking for a puppy so he received my sister's 'kado'. An appropriate gift as his mother gave us our dogs Jolie and TiSab 4 years ago as a gift for sending her son to school.

Smallest Starfish Granjil takes over the table
and the cat's dishes. Rosema looks on
Although we continue to function without interruption,  our rented centre here in Cap is experiencing major new cracks with each earthquake which shakes us - 2 last week 5.1 and 4.5 magnitude. Interior and exterior walls are compromised, in the house, security center, depot and privacy wall. Even small tremors send people into the streets. It is a fragile time.

Recent quake damage to exterior wall (Sherlyne)
We  always keep eyes and ears open for rental space/ or land for building. With the latest damage we have actively begun to find a solution which will benefit everyone.

Ala pwochen (til next time)
Kenbe pa lage  (hang in)

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