Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tigger's Corner, Back to School

Today I received the last anti-Rabies shot in the series of five. For the first four I traveled to Santi Publik in downtown Cap-Haitien. They were free of charge and administered by an employee of the ministry. For many reasons, among them:
                             1) my passport was up for renewal,
                             2) one of the pups (Senkyeme) destroyed my glasses,
                             3) another of the now 6 month old puppies (Sablo)  ate my orthotics,                  
                            4) a crown fell off one of my teeth and
                           5) I desperately needed the services of a chiropractor,  I changed travel plans and came to Canada 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Rabies shots are NOT free in Canada - cost $263. per injection. As a senior  on a limited income, it is a good thing I received the first four in Haiti.
Lethal combination - eyeglasses and a teething puppy.
We will never know what killed Tigger, but because he bit me, the injections were strongly advised. His symptoms were more in line with poison than Rabies but no vets and no facilities for tests created a frustrating, heart-breaking situation.
Tigger in January - just over 1 year old

Dieugrand created a little memorial garden
in the corner Tigger loved. He carried the plants
and decorative stones from Cap-Haitien.

The first day of school for secondary students finally arrived after a month long delay. Because of the change of school opening date, I was not in Haiti for opening day. Some of our students  began October 2nd while the rest started Monday Oct. 7th. No group picture this year - too many new schools and faces, as well as staggered entry dates.  All of our nursing students are still waiting for final results.  Our senior nursing students continue clinical / hospital work while waiting. No holidays for them. 

Camiose,  Edwina and Sherlyne shelve some of the 
newly covered textbooks in the Cap-Haitien office

After shelving, we prepare  book lists for each student
Every school uses different texts.
Although our Book Renew program refurbished almost 2000 textbooks (and created summer jobs for 20 students), there are still many textbooks  to purchase. We found out the day school began that teachers had been found and there was going to be a Philo class offered in the village. Consequently all Philo  (7th and final year of high school) students began without supplies and uniforms. Backpacks are another challenge - expensive and difficult to find, so some of last year's crop will have to wait a month or so before receiving their new backpack. Fortunately Myriame and Camiose had a month to work before travelling to Port-au-Prince to secure legalized copies of all transcripts and other supporting papers necessary for university application. It took them 2 weeks in the capital, and they wrote entrance exams this past Monday the 14th. Results are due the 21st but as always that is subject to change.

Backpacks and textbooks everywhere.
The visitor's bedroom had no room for a visitor.

Contents of each backpack are given a final check before being packed
 in suitcases for the trek up Granjil Mountain.
Unfortunately, Inea (both parents deceased - responsible for a younger sister) did not get to start school with the rest of her class. She is back in hospital in Milot for a 4th surgery on her Thyroid - the scar continues to swell  and split, opening up holes and weeping. It is both itchy and painful at the same time. A series of very expensive injections just caused more pain.  She is at the top of our list for a sponsor. As she has special needs, this is a case where multiple sponsors would be beneficial to help cover her medical, housing and school expenses.

Inea - back in hospital for 4th Thyroid operation in 
less than a year but she always summons a smile.
Students pick up their backpacks and sit down with staff to again go down the checklist in case we have missed anything they need. Some items we have not yet found and continue to check the marketplace weekly throughout the year. Photocopying is legal in Haiti - in fact many of the textbooks for which we pay full price are photocopies. 

As we were heading out on home visits in Sen Rafayel, we dropped off several new admissions who were leaving after picking up their supplies. Our new truck is great - no more wondering if it will get us there and back. 

Students love a ride and would rather travel outside in back
than sit inside. New backpacks are proudly worn.
We dropped off new admission Fabiolla J. and visited her one room
home at the same time. Backpacks are hung up to keep the rats and other 
unwanted wildlife out.


With only new admission Junior left in the truck, I naively figured we would be back to the center by 4pm when coordinator Edeline is finished for the day. After 15 years, there are still so many surprises. Junior was admitted when Ilna was sponsored (thank you Beth ).  General funds were freed and he was in. His home is about 19 miles outside of the village. We stopped the truck at least a half dozen times to get out and check to see if we could proceed. This little Nissan knows what 4 wheel drive means. 
Auguste checking one of half a dozen mud pits which
forced us to stop and check for the path of
least resistance.

After going where no vehicle has gone before, we were forced to park the truck and walk the last 2 miles. Again mud, mud and more mud. Junior's mom showed us her ruined garden - too much rain had destroyed all plants. There will be no crop this year.
Junior leads the way

Junior's mom is about 30 years younger than me and completely worn out.

We are waiting for the bicycle dealer in Cap-Haitien to secure bikes for our new Borrow a Bike Program,  but for young people like Junior, a bicycle will not help. He must leave home at 9 am to arrive for classes at 1 pm. This includes crossing the river on foot. When school finishes at 5 pm, he heads home, arriving about 9 pm - no street lights, no roads.  Student housing in the village for those who are worn down by their daily travels is on my new list.  They would stay in the village Monday to Friday and return home Friday evening. 

Junior with his siblings

This journey I'm on  has become filled with responsibilities I never wanted, frustrations I could never have envisioned and demands for which there are more often than not no resources.

But the gifts I receive daily are unsurpassed in their beauty-- the quiet moments of understanding when I get it - when I know that it doesn't matter if there are frustrations and no resources. Being here is enough.


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