Saturday, December 13, 2014

An ordinary week ...

Chicken Little had every right to squawk when it seemed the sky was falling. Sunday morning was without incident until the concrete which was holding up our eaves trough gave way and came crashing down a few  feet from where I was doing laundry. In a country where small quakes are the norm,  I squawked. Call me chicken little.
Concrete and thin wire at each end held the eaves
trough in place. I vacated my laundry buckets very quickly.

Fortunately our 'kontremet' (foreman)  student  in training, Rosema, was working a half day so we cleaned off  the remaining concrete and removed the dangling troughs.
Before I go any further, some context. I began writing this blog at 3 am then the electricity went out. The mosquitos (all potential Malaria/Dengue/Chikungunya etc carriers) were unmerciful so I retreated until electricity returned at 5 am. My friend Daniel says writing is a creative process which requires time and a quiet space. At 5 am  roosters are crowing, homeless dogs are barking, rain is beating a steady rhythm, voodoo drums are throbbing , Lucy our cat is shamelessly begging for early breakfast, the Catholic order of brothers who operate the Azile (poor house) 2 doors down are slaughtering pigs and the makeshift garage in front of our place is operational and the mechanic is working on the starter in a tap tap for a driver who needs to make money today. The music of Haiti.Monday 8am our work week begins. Lakay Jasmine in Sen Rafayel operates 7 days a week.

Lakay Fondasyon in Cap-Haitien closes for the weekend as there is a lot of work that cannot be done with students here.

Monday 8am  Coordinator Lusnot
 prepares for students
Joceline cooks for students and dogs

Auguste stamps new  textbooks which are replacing  those damaged in
recent floods.
Dieugrand repairs a mosquito net in Joceline's room, then
covers text books
By the end of the day in Cap Haitien we had fed, tutored, counseled about 3 dozen students, many dogs and cats, prepared and packaged at least 200 text books, delivered them to the station, found a driver going to Sen Rafayel willing to take our text books, geometry sets, calculators etc... Fortunately Dieugrand knew one of the drivers who delivered our package (for a price) right to our door so Edeline began distributing that afternoon. Everyone is writing exams, every hour counts.

Next morning off to Sen Rafayel. We were hoping to travel without incident but that didn't happen.

Again we are sandwiched in stationary traffic.
These taptap passengers decided to try to pass the proses barricade on foot.
The taptap ahead of us was carrying ice to sell on the mountainside.
Sitting for  hours in the sun did not help business.
The number and intensity of anti-government protests have increased in the country. Our security coordinator Dieugrand has been trapped every time as have we. The further up the mountain, the more deadly the protest as police cannot intervene when protesters are perched on a mountain top, throwing bottle and boulders and firing guns. Boulders are the deadliest. Again we waited for PNH, the National Police Force.

After several hours as hostages, we were on our way but not for long. Bananas purchased in Dondon, we were 30 minutes from Lakay Jasmine when we got a flat tire. So near and yet so far. Being 'anpan' (broken down) on the mountainside is an opportunity to see a microcosm of Haiti pass by.

Kids attending schools in the village of Dondon walk miles
Upon arrival we are not out of the truck yet and student Angelene appears at the window. She woke in the  morning with a 'bouton' on the side of her face and it had grown into a crater about an inch across. Unpacking waits, Angelene is in distress and has to write an exam. Clutching Allimax and calendula gel, she heads off. Monese is sitting, patiently waiting for us. She has found a teacher who will arrange one of the sewing machines donated and shipped by Jasmine Foundation, so we unload supplies and load up and deliver the machine.

Loading sewing machine for Monese. Kids and dogs!! The puppies are almost 8 weeks.

Everyone is in study mode, from our dog walkers at 6am to the last to leave at 5 pm. We changed our hours as it is just too dark and too far for the kids to walk home. I have seen these great passenger carts/motorcycles around which hold about 10 people. On the wish list. 
 Angeline studies for Chemistry , text book packages
prepared by Edeline ready for distribution.
By 4 pm its too dark to study so solar lights the way for Cassimilia.
Jasmine eats as she studies - her only food that day.
6 am Dog walkers Junior and Isaac study for French before work.
For most of the 3 days we were on site, Edeline and others showed their winter finery. Although day time temps were between 85 and 90 (31 C), everyone was cold. Night temperatures dropped to a comfortable 50-55 (11 C) but not comfortable if you're Haitian and sleeping on a concrete floor.

Dressed in wool toque and winter jacket, Edeline boils 60 eggs at a time.
Lilia came dressed to study.

With all supplies on board (for a while) and the staff with everything on hand, Auguste and I changed our duds and started to give the center a base coat of paint for Christmas.

Not quite finished but looking 'belle'

At noon all 13 of our Nouvo Secondaire 3 (Reto in the Traditional stream) students at Lycee Charlemagne Perault came en masse for lunch. Post exam adrenaline was running very high. Those studying for afternoon exams cloistered themselves in the library and homework room. The layout of Lakay Jasmine is proving very user friendly, accommodating many needs simultaneously.

Post-exam adrenaline and chatter and appetites!! I couldn't get everyone
in the picture.
I couldn't resist snapping  this 3 year old outside our gate, reading/singing a page she found out of a magazine. Always one to encourage life-long learning, I scrambled to find some primary easy read books and passed them on to her mother.

Our neighbor loves to read and sing so we're
looking for more picture books for her and
others in the neighborhood.

Heading down the mountain provided more surprises-- ruts so deep the undercarriage of our truck was damaged -- twice-- and we were moving at a crawl. We made it back just a little late for the staff but they waited for us without complaint. Next day we had home visits scheduled. That's another blog - perhaps Sunday.
To update: with our support, student Paudeline did make a Rape complaint to the National Police and had a thorough exam at Justinien Hospital. Results will be ready in January. Possibilities of Aids, STD, pregnancy etc all weigh on her mind.
Myriame and Fatia's baby brother Daniel, born in November, died last Saturday Dec. 6. He outlived his mother by 3 weeks.


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