Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Under the weather, exam results, Monise

Hi All

Here is a partial list of reasons why this blog is overdue:

1) In July the operating system on my laptop was compromised and I was without a computer

2) I flew to Provo in the Turks and Caicos to purchase a new laptop - arrangements and flight coordinating took some time.

3) While travelling I picked up a particularly virulent chest infection which flattened me . Today (Aug. 28) was the first day I have felt slightly human

4) Tropical storm Isaac paid us a visit for several days knocking out electricity, cell phones and internet

Of interest but not on the list is the fact that apparently I shared my hotel room in Provo with at least one mouse which chewed through my backpack to get to  protein bars I had purchased there to bring back to Cap. It was a tenacious mouse - 2 bars were destroyed /or enjoyed (depending on your perspective)

Preparing for Isaac - can you find Auguste  in the tree?

Because of our subscription to the national hurricane center website, updates provided ample time to prepare both locations. In Cap-Haitien, Auguste, Rosema and Lusnot spent an afternoon trimming the huge tree in our front yard. The wires in front of it are (believe it or not) the EDH (Electrique d'Haiti) feed into the house. Although the tree had been trimmed in September, it was again a threat. In the corner of the picture the text book repair program continues with mild interest in the proceedings.
In Sen Rafayel, Edeline and staff scoured the market looking for tinned fish (nothing else available)for the dogs and sachets of drinking water for students. In both locations we did a clean up of the yard (lakou-a) picking up anything that could go flying in a strong wind. We were ready.
As of to-day we have not been able to travel up the mountain due to fallen rocks, mudslides and uprooted trees. Auguste and Myriame are heading up to-morrow, hopefully to deliver supplies, support the staff and pack up the text books which have been repaired since our last visit.

Sherlyne prepares Myriame to take over the Book program.
Sherlyne was BON for Philo so heads to university for nursing.
Myriame is being groomed by Sherlyne to take over coordinating the Book program. It is a huge undertaking as it means travelling to and co-ordinating staff/materials at both centers.  While Isaac was dropping in, some results from the Ministry also arrived. Sherlyne, Edwina, Suzeline  and Lusnot were all bon (passed) for Philo.  Myriame, Phana and Dahendie were bon for Retho.
With returning health comes returning responsibilities, so I spent the day reconstructing sponsor reports now that there are some results to report. That lost operating system had given me much grief. Sherlyne's sponsor replied with an email that she was supporting her through university to study nursing. I'm so happy for Sherlyne but it means replacing her in the book program. Myriame has been working with her this summer and should be ready to take over in the fall when school resumes. Our biggest challenge now is to find enough new backpacks for each student. Cindy reports that she has backpacks in Pennsylvania ready to go but when they will arrive is anyone's guess. In the meantime we search the marketplace and pay the equivalent of $25-30. USD for a new but often not strong  backpack. We had 26 on hand and to-day we found 18. We need 150.
Fresh from his Philo success, Lusnot tutors Venise and Marik (Philo)
Rewrites are usually within 2 weeks of result post.

Dieugrand and Paudeline - working on Physics for Retho

Camiose prepares French Lit. while Jolie
guards the corner
Students writing baccalaureat exams are either Admi(pass)/Ajoune (must rewrite close to passing marks) or Elimine (fail). Here in Cap we have 6 Ajoune, the rest Admi.  No eliminations!! This means every corner is occupied with students preparing to rewrite. Our text book program was relegated to the parking space to-day. We have a better than 90% pass rate.

Christamene, Carline and Mona - relegated to the parking space
We are flexible!
There are still no results for Sen Rafayel. It creates a bit of a panic if rewrites are necessary. Sunday Auguste and I will head back to Sen Rafayel for the week to begin  home visits to the 45 students admitted to our program. It is so difficult to cut 300 plus down to so few.

While every letter is from the heart and usually says a great deal in a few paragraphs, there are those which stay with me. Meet Monise.

Monise - asks for the consolation of a manual trade
Her letter - as always click on image to enlarge

(Translation from Kreyol)

Dear Madam
I greet you and compliment you for the good work you are doing in the area of education because education is the key to life and one becomes an active person in society by education. I don't know the words I can use  to encourage you to keep firm to your good work.
I am writing you because I was admitted to Reto but because of illness I did not finish 3rd trimest. This year its 3 years since I went to school. My papa died in 2000, just maman kept us alive to-gether but she contracted a grave illness and died in 2011 leaving us 10, 5 girls and 5 boys.
Each time I reflect on my life it doesn't make sense  because I'm not doing anything. If I had a manual trade I could take consolation in it.
This year the goal/objective of my life is to go to school to study sewing but I don't have the means. It's for this I am writing you - to ask for help in this situation.
I already thank you for receiving my letter.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Roadblocks etc...

Here's the problem -- roadblocks. Sometimes they are figurative - two weeks ago I opened my computer and read the message PLEASE INSTALL AN OPERATING SYSTEM ON YOUR HARD DISK. ??? Roadblock. After consulting with our web admin, his tech friend Phil, my tech friend Alex, I  arrived at the conclusion I must replace my laptop before I return to Canada mid October. How does an operating system become compromised? I have confidence the tech staff at Staples in Orangeville can resuscitate or at least retrieve lost videos, photos, lists once I'm there.

In the meantime,there are blogs to write, year end sponsor reports to rewrite (because I did not back up - my fault) and send, new school year lists to create  and so on. Currently I am working on Auguste's  small, very slow,  not to mention old notebook computer. The screen is smaller than a telephone screen (yes I exaggerate) and the keyboard was not built with my arthritic fingers in mind. Thus the more than usual number of typos. Note to self - Auguste needs a new computer.

Sometimes roadblocks in Haiti are literal - Tuesday morning Sherlyne, Auguste and I headed to Sen Rafayel. The end of our street however was blocked - the katye committee had been cleaning up the interior and dumped everything at the end of the road. Better there than in front of  our gate, yes. The smell of rotting garbage (fueled by 100 degree plus temps) made leaving town a very good plan.

Sometimes you roll up the windows and plough through a roadblock.
(Our corner Tuesday morning.)

After  3 hours of shock and awe on the mountain track to Sen Rafayel, we arrived - to be greeted by yet another variation of the Haitian roadblock - a construction project which used our entry road as it's personal space.  Every trip in and out for the 3 day stay was a testament to Auguste's driving skills.

The truck at the corner could not be moved as it was anpan.
There was a clearance of about 2 inches.
This is the only way in/out.

Sherlyne  (Philo student - program coordinator)  was along to impliment the book repair program in Sen Rafayel. Gone are the days of trucking everything to Cap-Haitien. What a blessing! While I interviewed, hired, Sherlyne  set up the physical space.  Edeline kept the office  running with its usual efficiency.   Auguste and I moved on to  a series of  pre-set meetings requested by  the directors of 3 of the 4 schools we feed. The directors were very interested in the programs we run and by the end of the visit  strong partnerships had been forged.

Angeline, Widelaine, Dahendie, Consienne, Wilnise, Sherlyne, Solange
Book Renew program - day one.
 Also on the agenda - a final meeting with 30 intake students whom we had interviewed in June. After the initial interview at which we had checked papers, money was distributed for official school photos. Now they returned to sign our contract, choose their school and deliver photos for registration. Once the office closed at 6 pm, Auguste and I began the  work of preparing lists and envelopes for the schools. Our new Retho students (9) begin classes Monday Aug. 6th. so time was of the essence.

9:24 pm and we are still a long way from finished for the day,
 thanks to solar lighting and a computer with fully charged  battery.
Next week we meet with returning students. In Cap-Haitien, Lusnot was at Lycee Boukman registering returning students today but Sen Rafayel has a different rhythm.
The director of College Le Phare, Auguste, Sherlyne
Visits to each of the schools was on our To Do list so we fit them in as next week will be about returning students.  A  final visit was on our agenda - to check construction on the new house for Consienne and her family. In April I posted a home visit video. When her sponsor saw the condition of her home, he asked if we could tear it down and rebuild. Consienne's mom is blind and sat in the dank shack waiting for it to fall on her. After checking the deed, arranging for a survey and renting a temporary place for them , we had the existing structure torn down and a new  house begun.

The new house will be ready to move in by the end of August. It will be safe and dry, with lots of windows. At the centre, the clinic is taking shape and I have finally found a new block maker for the second floor. As Consienne's house winds down,  push is on to complete our second floor with the best blocks man can make.

Driving down the mountain in torrrential rain yesterday, we received a phone call telling us results for 9eme were in. Everyone gets very nervous when Nationals are about to be announced. Edeline our coordinator called a while ago to tell us that of the 13 candidates we sent to write 9eme in Sen Rafayel -- everyone was bon. Staff and students  (me included) did the dance of joy and sent congratulations to each successful candidate. Our students continue to outdo national statistics every year - a testament to the dedication of our staff and the support of our sponsors.

This dance of joy was in honor of Sherlyne who had written her l ast Philo exam
Rosema, Myriame, Sherlyne, Mona, Edwige, Carline
Shared moments like that are beyond price - and there are many. Now we wait for Cap-Haitien results for 9eme, then Retho then Philo.

Monday Sarafina and Jean-Ricot are writing finals again -they were ajournee Both will be here on  the  weekend with staff and student tutors. , so we have every stage in the academic year taking place within a few days - inskripsyon, exams, results, waiting.

I have a blog started on Consienne and the housing project but many of the pics are locked inside the laptop now missing its OS. Will complete that blog  when I have  a proper size laptop - hopefully with the currently unreachable pics./videos -- either after I travel to Provo to purchase one or the universe delivers one.  I left out the best part of the week - chasing mice in the kitchen in the middle of the night with dogs Tigger and Granjil and security staff Kesner. It was an adventure which ended at 3:40 am. Seven minutes later, then again at 4 am the church bells rang calling the choir to rehearsal (repetisyon). Sometimes I just laugh at the absurdity of my life. 

It doesn't get much better. If I was really clever I would somehow bring this back to the theme with which I started - roadblocks. But I'm not so I won't.

Be well


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