Thursday, June 25, 2015

New home, new faces

Not being a writer, I don't have the discipline to get up and write x number of hours a day. I prefer procrastination. Even Facebook, which is forgiving with regard to length and content, is onerous. And there is so much content - there are not enough hours in the day to take in all the words of wisdom and follow all the links. Occasionally however a post will jump out, hold up a stop sign, flash a red light and demand that I spend some time in mindful contemplation. So it was this morning with Monica's repost from True Activist,  as seen below. Having worked in Haiti for the last 17 years, I am not only familiar with but a strong supporter of the work and writings of Dr. Paul Farmer.  Monica came to stay with us a few years ago and still has a heart for Haiti.

While this post is for everyone, it will have special meaning for those who have visited us over the years. Ashley, Shannon, Adrienne, Tanya, David, Kathleen, Mark, Pat, Amy, Laura, Alex, Marisa and on and on came before we had a home in Sen Rafayel and traveled up and down Granjil Mountain in an unsafe, dirty, overloaded bus, bearing the travel with patience, while fending off the chickens and goats that longed to be outside and free. Daniel came to visit while we were in a rented mud hut. Nico, Robin, Alice, Yvonne, Marjorie, Marilyn, Kathy  and Monica.... lived through various stages of building Lakay Jasmine and had the pleasure of riding in our first vehicle, a decrepit Mitsubishi truck with the heart of a lion. Everyone stayed in our rental home in Cap-Haitien, sharing space with staff and students who invade the place daily. Thanks to our most recent visitor Kim who toured the pink house (kay woz) and gave it 2 thumbs up before we began the negotiating process.

Thanks to Jasmine Foundation the Mitsubishi is now enjoying retirement at the home of mechanic Max in Sen Rafayel, replaced by a spiffy Nissan pickup.  And after 17 years, Starthrower has a home of it's own as of Tuesday. We have been looking for 3 years for land or house that would meet our growing needs. Before I left Haiti we met with the notary and owner of the property we had chosen. After making a healthy deposit to the owner, and many weeks of  legal surprises both good and bad, Auguste closed the deal Tuesday and had the keys in his hand by late afternoon.

I wanted to give you a mini tour but Blogger is not cooperating today.  That's another story. Welcome to Lakay Jasmine Okap ( or  Lakay Fondasyon as she is our flagship).  Yes it is pink - woz in Kreyol. There has been a great deal of discussion among friends, family, staff as to the colour. Keep it and freshen up or change? Without doubt it will be changed. But everything will happen in its own time. We will move from our rental which has given us a roof and security for 11 years to a new chapter. 

Resettlement will take place in July - Auguste is already changing locks and meeting with kontremets to level the lot and pave 3/4 of it with interlocking blocks. The other quarter will be garden. Two floors means the complete first floor for programs, staff and drop in center and the second floor for visitors, me and the dogs. As we have been in a furnished rental, it needs the basics - tables, chairs, appliances, beds, dressers...

This trip was very brief because of the work waiting. In Sen Rafayel, a small notice inside the center indicating that we would accept letters of request for admission for those who had been unable to attend school for at least a year resulted in 203 letters arriving in the first 3 weeks of May. We moved the cutoff date up due to the volume of letters and the knowledge that we just don't have the funds. Did I mention that I really dislike waiting lists?  In Cap-Haitien we did not post the information because of the upcoming move and still word spread down the mountain. We  received hundreds of requests and accepted 99  from those who qualified . We stopped counting at both locations after receiving more than 500 requests from those in school this year.

Meet a few of those waiting for admission: 
















If any of these faces speak to you, please contact me through our website for more information. If you would like to sponsor a student, or would like to form a group to sponsor a student and none of these speak to you, I have another 281 requests from this year. There are also approximately 125 left from last year. I used to say Welcome to my world -- making major  decisions which will affect these young people for the rest of their lives is monumental --  who gets a chance and who doesn't. I have revised that - now it's  Welcome to my work -  work that stays with me wherever and whenever I am. I consciously made the change because it's our world -  yours, mine  and theirs. Paul Farmer said it succinctly 

"The idea that some lives matter
less is the root of all that is wrong
with this world."

So lets think and work ecologically to pull up those roots - one at a time if necessary. Demonstrate by our actions that every life matters. We can do that by saying yes to everyone who qualifies for support and by continuing to grow.  All we need is money.

Thanks to returning sponsor Kathy for taking on Youseline,  new sponsors Ingrid for sponsoring Eveline,   Frank and Daniela for picking up Macline and Nikki for sponsoring Marckenson.

Thanks to Cindy Storey for her Shake your Soul fundraiser - a joyful night of movement and dance and I suspect the start of something bigger. Thanks to Kim Webb, owner of Euphoria for her 'Dirt Cookie' fundraiser which is sponsoring Jackenson for the final 2 years of high school. 
Youseline - sponsored
Eveline - sponsored
Macline - sponsored
Marckenson - sponsored

Jackenson - sponsored
Sponsors come in all ages and sizes, employed, retired, self employed, student.... Fundraising comes from ideas - an idea as creative as a night of Shake your Soul or a gourmet cookie called a 'Dirt Cookie', evoking the reality for many Haitiens of eating mud baked in the sun to ward off hunger. Any idea that raises awareness and educates is a good idea. If it also raises funds, it a bonus.

No life matter less than another. Everyone counts. Everyone deserves 'possibilite'.

Planning a trip? Think a new destination - Ayiti Cherie. Looking for a cause that is just and will change the world? Take on a Starthrower student.


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