Sunday, April 13, 2014

Up the mountain: work, play all in a day

Two weeks ago, I arrived back in Cap-Haitien to a raucous welcome- 5 dogs and 1 cat doing joyful, delirious dances, each vying for attention. Were they excited because the plane was on time AND my suitcase had arrived as well? Or  perhaps they were trying to tell me we had a new boarder. It was about 10 minutes into the reunion when the new resident mouse poked out from under the fridge. We were probably making too much noise. All energy turned into evicting him and then we got down to business. Auguste updated information while we unpacked supplies.

Our Cap-Haitien center had been without water for 2 weeks. The thinking was the generator wasn't doing it's job. If only ... It took 4 days to find a competent technician and to get him to make a house call. Good news - the generator is working. Bad news - THE WELL IS DRY. I've mentioned the lack of rain, the low water table on the river and the water being shut off in Sen Rafayel. Climate change is here. This presents major challenges. 

We have been without electricity since before Christmas. It does appear during the night sometimes but I just acknowledge its presence and stay in the relative safety of my mosquito net.The good news is the electric company has not forgotten about us. We received a bill for last month from EDH - $256.USD. If we don't pay, the counter will be cut off leaving us with no potential. 

Our inverter, which picks up some of the slack, had developed leaky batteries, although they were only 2 years old. Danius came down from Sen Rafayel, went shopping with Auguste, showed him the difference between new and recycled batteries, helped  purchase 8 and installed them. They give us about 6 hours of electricity a day, dedicated to the fridge and freezer. We will add another 4 at month end.

Two of our pups, Ti Jo and Sablo had developed a skin rash so we worked in 2 emergency trips to the only person with veterinary training in the North of the country. 

Last Monday morning, Jocelyne and I were working in the kitchen getting ready to cook for Sen Rafayel when the propane stove exploded into flames. We were startled but unhurt and managed to contain and turn off. It took the rest of the day to find a technician, replace worn parts and finish what we had started at 8 am. 

From time to time I do ask myself if I'm having fun yet.. Everything cooked, truck packed and gassed up, we head up Granjil mountain. So much had gone wrong in such a short space of time, everytime we passed a spot on the mountain where our old truck had broken down, Auguste would say "Mesi M. Benjamin, mesi Mme Diane" (donors Jasmine Foundation).  Our new truck continues to provide safe travel and although purchased in July we still do not take it for granted. 

Upon arrival at Lakay Jasmine, we had not yet unpacked the truck when coordinator Edeline rushed Auguste into the depot to look at the bouret (wheelbarrow).  Although newer than the truck, it came with no warranty or service plan,  so we had to find someone to repair it as it is the only mode of transportation if we are not there with the truck.

Edeline points out the problem with the bouret
to Auguste.

Meanwhile assistant coordinator Adelaine and I unloaded the bananas, kasav (flat bread), cheese,  peanut butter  and boiled eggs we had delivered and set out to cut the slabs. She had a hungry group waiting to eat in between morning and afternoon exams.
Adelaine prepares kasav.

Lunch between exams for those in uniforms.
Those out of uniform are finished exams.
As soon as Adelaine finished her preparations, nursing grad Gaby moved into the Chanm Devwa (homework room) with his study group (revizyon) for Retho. Chemistry. Not only do we use every bit of space we also use it every minute. Scheduling is very important as everyone wants extra prep for exams.

Gaby is a natural teacher
Everyone has the opportunity to ask
(Consienne - sponsor Daniel)

Chemistry student  Wilnise (sponsor Patricia)

Gaby is prepping for his State National licensing exams for Nursing which he will write in June. In between trips to the university in Leogane for course work, he has been staying with his parents in Sen Rafayel. Good for us - he is available.  Each day he arrives well prepared, dressed for success in long sleeved shirt, dress pants and shoes. 100 degree plus temperatures do not get in the way.

We stress the importance of balance for our students and breaks for recreation are built into our study groups. Each group has a different idea of what it means to 'take a break'. 
Although our  lakou (courtyard) is small we can still play
ball. The am group likes movement. (Consienne, Angeline, Wilnise)

The pm study group prefers a game of cards and dominoes.

I am most happy when everyone forgets the camera is there and goes about the business of living. In the pm group, Angelene seems to be struggling with this Chemistry equation. Love the facial expression.
Angelene (sponsor Marilyn) wants to be a nurse.
Knows Chemistry is a requirement.

Gaby with Marie -Tonnie - one on one quality time

These are the smallest groups we have. The rest have between 8 and 12. Without exception, however, each students says that they never feel left out or outnumbered.

Our director works too many hours but knows when to zone out. With every room serving multiple purposes, he takes to the truck for a well deserved nap.

Auguste uses the truck for a nap.
Adelaine takes a minute to straighten the 

The am groups are fortunate because they start classes at 1 pm so arrive for breakfast at 7:45 followed by group from 8-10. or 11. They are always fresh. The afternoon groups arrive for revision from 3-6 pm after sitting in class from 7-2. Although the upcoming week will be Easter break, everyone has asked if groups can continue because there is no homework pressure. We are accommodating. 

Each morning at 7 and each afternoon at 3 one student and one staff member head out for a walk with our security dogs, Ti ke and Granjil. They look so healthy compared to the dogs in the katye ( neighborhood). We have been feeding the female dog you see here as she has a litter stashed somewhere. We do the same in Cap. with our neighboring dogs. The idea of a doctor for animals is completely foreign to most Haitians. We are desperate for veterinarians to visit. Please spread the word.
Granjil (lt) and Tike  wait for their walk. They practically
put on their own leashes.
We give TiMama food and water every day. She is
beginning to fill out.
Next morning it begins again, different faces, same passion to learn. It's such a gift to be able to give these young people breakfast to start their day. They never leave without saying thank you.

We already have a new list of supplies needed, so its down the mountain early. In addition to no electricity and a dry well, my computer has been out of commission since I arrived. It will not connect  the 3g internet drive. Thank goodness for the student computer. 

We have no television here nor do I have tv in Canada. I did catch a clip from the show NCIS on You Tube which caught my attention because of the background music. It was a song by the group The Alternate Routes, called Nothing More. It spoke to me so l'm leaving you with this simple lyric.

To be humble, to be kind
It is the giving of the peace in your mind
To a stranger to a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.

Chorus: We are love, we are one
We are how we treat each other when the day is done
We are peace, we are war
We are how we treat each other nothing more.

To be bold to be brave
It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved.
And the darkness can come quick
The dangers in the anger and the hanging on to it.

Tell me what it is you see
A world that's full of endless possibilities?
Heroes don't look like they used to
They look like you do


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