Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We're Still here

It has probably been the worst summer I can remember in the 18 years I have been here - deaths, the mutilation of one of our pups with a machete, having to let a staff member go over the incident resulting in death threats against my staff, soaring temperatures, insufficient items for purchase, being targeted for an extortion attempt by the family selling the house to us and on and on.

So I could use a good laugh. We could all probably use a good laugh from time to time.  Here's the joke. We have been without electricity for 9 weeks, with temperatures somewhere between 36 and 43 c. TODAY thanks to the generosity of Jasmine Foundation 4 new solar panels (giving us 8), 4 new batteries (giving us 16), space age regulator and a super charging inverter were installed. What a treat - the possibilities - COLD WATER, ICE CUBES, FOOD NOT SPOILING, being able to leave the fridge plugged in. The joke - not a minute of sunshine all day due to the offshore presence of Hurricane Joaquin, so batteries not charging.  And according to the weather channel, there will be no sun until next Tuesday. Now where did I put my sense of humor? It must be with my glasses. I can't find them either.

Sunday we traveled up Granjil mountain to Sen Rafayel. We owed 22 home visits to new admissions between Cap and Sen Rafayel . We managed to pack in 13. The first 5 visits were posted on Facebook. This is a continuation. The rest will be first on the agenda when I return. The staff problem we had to deal with was very distressing and took more time than expected but the kids are always patient. Monday morning (after a thrilling view of the eclipse from my second floor gallery) we waited while the next group of 'visitees' ate breakfast. 
Breakfast - egg, kasav with peanut butter or
cream cheese, a banana and potable water

I can't say enough about the passion these young people put into their school work. While others ate, Estepha worked in the library, saying he would eat later. We left him in peace and headed out for the next group of visits.

The library is always in use - the morning sunlight is great
and there is no competition for space.

We thought we were off but the truck apparently did not have a good night and needed coaxing. 

Thank you volunteers. Everyone likes to be involved.

First visit to Jackenson who has been sitting out for 2 years. His dad died 8 years ago and he had been doing odd jobs for very little money to put himself through school but the work dried up. Thanks to Kim, the staff of Euphoria and everyone who has purchased her world famous Haiti Dirt Cookies, he has the opportunity to complete the last 2 years of high school. What we didn't know was the distance from the parked truck to the tikay he shares with his manman and younger sibling - a 4 to 5 kilometer walk. 

Following Jackenson 

 Talking with Manman. She owns the house and

One room for everything

The room was wallpapered with dozens of posters for the upcoming elections (Oct). I jokingly asked if the candidate was a relative. No. Somebody came around giving them out and he took them all. There is no latrine but a makeshift tent provides cooking space.

The kitchen was being used so we didn't intrude.

Jackenson points out the location of their water
supply - a  spring on the mountain top. 
On to visit Laurence, who has also been sitting out for 2 years. Her mother was ill so we sent potable water, Allimax, Vit. C and B complex. Laurence and her siblings sleep on the floor beside manman's bed.

Laurence opens the door for us.

Manman was not able to get up.

No kitchen but a latrine perched on stilts and rocks.
It needs to be emptied.
Like most families in the village (bouk la) they have been using the village water supply which is provided by the state free of charge. However while we were there, the pipes delivering the water were enclosed in a tin and cement block hut with razor wire wound round it. It is no longer free, being held for ransom like many things in the country. Adding to misery which is already too much to bear.

Moving on to our next visit, we are now in the village. 12 yr old Daiska was orphaned 2 years ago when she was about to start high school. She was taken in by her mother's sister who does commerce in the marketplace but doesn't make enough to pay for school.

Following 12 yr old orphaned Daiska
Auguste talks with 'matant' while Daiska and ti kouzin look on.

A place to bathe but no privacy
The 'bouret' (wheelbarrow) used for komes
(commerce) has a place of honor in the only room.
Privacy is non existent if one is poor. Personal space means nothing. Onward we go, to our last visit of the morning. Then we can try and find potable bottled water for the center.

Evenel has also been sitting out due to death of his parents.The house he shares with relatives is new, built by his uncle. What a positive note. Built for multiple families, it is functional and clean.

We talk construction

The only table in the house covered with textbooks
a kerosene lamp and a battery operated boom
box that lacks batteries.

There is a latrine and shower stall but no kitchen. If one has a latrine, no one  has the luxury  toilet paper.

Morning visits over, we drove around to every place in the village where potable water could be purchased but no luck. So back to the center, Lakay Jasmine and a little time to catch up with some kids I haven't seen for a few months. They had dropped in for lunch and were heading back to school.

Ralph, Sterlin and Dieuner model the new Lycee uniforms for
Secondaire 4 (Philo) the final year of high school.
It was 40 degrees and they were wearing undershirts, long sleeved shirts and ties which they are not allowed to take off, nor can sleeves be rolled up. There is no electricity therefore no air conditioning in the school and no drinking fountains. So 8 hours of classes in the sweltering heat with no re-hydration.

Marc-Arios, Isaac and John-Steevenson had dropped in. Each was at least a foot taller.

Wilnise, Tamara and Ema also arrived for lunch as did the new admissions who had afternoon visits coming up. It was  gratifying to see the way in which new admissions fit in, being welcomed by 'seniors'  who have been around a few years.

In addition to the new admissions, there are still 260 young people who wrote letters and did not receive an interview. I knew funds were limited and false hope is worse than no hope. So we do what we can for those we can accommodate.

A very heartfelt thank-you to sponsors and Jasmine foundation for coming to the rescue during the uniform crisis. Now we work on getting text books and back packs.

Patience as one of my first students here told me many years ago when I became impatient over something not worth high blood pressure. Patience.

Thank you for your patience. This blog is long overdue but no electricity and no internet have conspired to keep me offline. It has been amazing to sit here for 5 or 6 hours and have the electricity to persist. The internet connection has been lost 5 times but our solar batteries are doing the job.

I can't wait to get a solar panel/inverter system in Sen Rafayel. Yes I can so wait. I have patience.



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