Back in the US!

Greetings to all,

We are back in the States. We should be back in Tennessee late on the 24th. We are looking forward to seeing everyone. I know our post have been spotty this time, but I have been spending more time on Creole lessons, and less on blogging. It is starting to work.

Mèsi anpil,

Bob40

Long Days

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Sunday after church Johnny and I went to Buchan Richard. As we pulled up, people were just leaving church services there. We pulled into the church yard and parked the truck under the shade of two large trees. We got out and walked up to the church, peering in we could see a few people still busy at the front of the church preparing to leave. It was dim, there are no lights in the church, and the only light coming from open doors on both sides and ventilation blocks.

We entered through one of the three sets of tall double front doors. As we approached the alter, we were greeted by several men and offered a seat on one of the simple benches that serve as pews. They knew we were coming.  A moment later Delise came out from the sacristy, with his customary big smile. Delise is a thin tall man, nearly as tall as me. I am 6’1”. When he approached we clasped each other in a big bear hug. “Kouman ou ye?” he asked, and I responded “pa pi mal, e ou em?”  His response was “pa pe mal, mèsi.” Translated, “how are you? “, “not bad, and you?”, “not bad, thank you”. He then led us through another door to an open air shelter on the back of the church that is used as a classroom.

Once we were seated I asked Johnny to translate for me, my Creole does not go far beyond basic greetings and simple phrases. I produced a list of children sponsored for school from last school year. Through Johnny, I explained that we needed to update the list removing the names of those who had not continued or had moved up and replace them with the newly sponsored children. I then asked him to make sure that all of the children on the list be in attendance on this coming Tuesday. Johnny and I will return to take pictures of the children for their sponsors.

When Delise understood what I needed, he called Olga, another one of the teachers, and asked her to come so that we could make sure that she understood what was needed as well. Delise is a very careful man.

While we waited, I wrote down the phone numbers for my telephone and internet jumpdrive on a piece of paper. I handed it to Delise along with 300 gourdes and asked him to put 100 gourdes on each of my sim cards. I have two sim cards for my phone, and one for my jumpdrive. My phone takes two sim cards. The purpose is that there are two competing cell phone companies in Haiti, Digicel and Natcom. I use both. I use Natcom for my international calls. They have a simple international calling plan that cost about 17 cents a minute, but their service is spotty. I use Digicel for the rest of my calls and for my jumpdrive.

My jump drive allows me internet access for about 19 cents a day for 60mb. Because of our remote location, our internet is so slow that 60mb is usually more than enough for both Denise and I to check our emails. The plan I am on also rolls over so that when I get to town I have enough accumulated capacity to upload pictures. Sometimes this back fires because my computer will automatically download updates, exhausting all of my accumulated capacity and then I am charged a premium for running over, using up all of my minutes.  When that happens, I switch sim cards with the one in my phone until I have a chance to buy more.

There is a 10% surcharge, so actually I only received 91 gourdes on each sim card.

When we finished, we said our goodbyes and Johnny and I headed back to Garcin.

That night, while we Denise and I were in our room watching a dvd on our laptop, I thought I heard a siren, but I discounted it as we have never heard a siren here before.

Monday morning

Denise has planned a trip to Gonaives today. Johnny, Sr. Julian and she need to buy medications to stock the new clinic with while we are gone. The clinic has brought in enough money to pay for the medications without further subsidy. I had emailed Fr. Gracia on Saturday to see if he wanted to go too. If he does I will go also. We have been trying to find a time when Fr.Gracia, Denise and I can go see the Bishop. The previous times we scheduled a trips there have been demonstrations taking place that threatened to turn violent.  Fr. Gracia called just before breakfast to tell us he wanted to go.

At breakfast Johnny asked “Did you know a man was dead, did you not here the ambulance?” He added “You know him Bob; he changed money for you at Fonkoze”. I asked “What happened?” He said “He had a moto accident. At the bottom of the first hill leaving here, something happened and his moto crashed.  It did not appear serious, his passenger just jumped off”, He continued, “at first he seemed OK, he did not appear hurt, but then he died.”

The man had waited on me a few times when I had changed US dollars for Gourdes. He was young, He lived in Gros Morne and he had been visiting his mother in Buchan Richard. I do not know his name.

After breakfast we tried to call Sr. Julian, but she did not answer. We got ready and headed into town. On the way in, we tried to call Sister again, still no answer.  When we got to town we went to the rectory where Fr. Gracia was waiting for us. We spent just a few minutes there and then pulled out of the gate, just as Sr. Julia called. She asked us to wait for her; she was at the last river crossing on her way. It was close to half an hour when she arrived and we were able to leave.

Denise drove the twenty miles to Gonaives. It is a long dusty and bumpy twenty miles. Once you leave the outer limits of the Gros Morne area, the scenery changes from mountains with spotty patches of trees and some green to all rock and dirt. What trees that do grow along the road are not green, they are gray, coated with a thick layer of dust. Our top speed is about 30 kmh, or about 18 mph. Our truck has very stiff suspension and at speed over that it is destructive to our bodies. Other vehicles drive much faster, passing us, billowing clouds of dust that make us very thankful to have air-conditioning.

Just before we reach the city there is a series of nine speed bumps, spaced about thirty feet apart. We have been speculating on their purpose as there are only a few houses set back from the road in this area. Today I notice that the layer of dust the covers everything here is much lighter.

Anybody here can build a speed bump; there is no authority to tell them otherwise.

When we arrive in Gonaives, the road smooths out. It is under construction, but it has been graded. They are putting in curbs and gutters in preparation for paving. The streets are crowded and Denise is doing a fine job of using the horn as she weaves around stopped tap taps, double parked trucks and the ever present motos. Our first stop is Bishops Pean’s  residence.

Johnny and Sr. Julian wait for us as Fr. Gracia leads Denise and I through a hallway and up a narrow set of stairs to the second floor balcony. There he locates the office and asks to see the Bishop but he is not in. I do not know if Fr. Gracia called ahead or not. It would not necessarily make a difference. The Bishop does not use a personal secretary and has been known to double book his schedule.

Instead of meeting with the Bishop, we leave a letter for him from the Provincial of our order, the Salvatorians. It is an official letter of introduction for us to the Bishop. Even though we have met with the Bishop several times, Fr. Gracia had asked us to arrange the formal letter of introduction.

Once we turned over the letter we retraced our steps and found Johnny waiting for us. Sr. Julien is nowhere to be seen. Johnny explains that she had an important meeting to attend to and will join us later. Communication can make life easier.

Our next stop is to buy medicine for the clinic. I ask Denise where, and she tells me it is the other end of the property we are on, but we can’t get there from where we are. Instead we drive out through the front gate and turn right to the first road and turn right again. Then a short ways down we turn down a narrow alleyway. It is barely wide enough for our truck to pass through. A short ways in there is an old tap tap with its front wheels removed, perched on two piles of rocks, cement blocks are a premium.  At the end of the alleyway is another gate. As we approach a man peers out and seeing a newer vehicle opens the gate and motions us in. Denise pulls under a shade tree and while Fr. Gracia waits in the truck, Denise, Johnny, Sadie and I all go in.

After a few minutes, I can tell this is going to take a while and so I take Sadie back outside and find a bench under a shade tree where I can read while we wait. It is about an hour later when Denise emerges with the items they had. Sadly it was only a few of the items needed. She did get directions to another pharmacy. We load up and head out to start our search. Just as we are passing the Bishop’s, my phone rings, it is Sr. Julian. She wants us to wait at the Bishop’s for her. Good timing.  We pull to the side of the road and a few minutes later she emerges.  We start off again.

It is not far, only a few blocks.  This time I wait in the truck with Fr. Gracia while Denise, Sr. Julian and Johnny go in. They return empty handed a few minutes later.  Denise is discouraged and I suggest we call Sr. Jackie to see if she has another suggestion. She does, it is close to back where we just came from, so we turn around and backtrack.

This time Johnny waits in the truck with Fr. Gracia and I. The women are gone what seems a very long time, but when they return they have the bulk of the items needed.  Denise explains that this pharmacy is a wholesaler, but they were out of several items. When they came to one of those items on the list, they sent someone out to retrieve it from another store. When she paid the bill, she said that women taking the money took a very long time to stack and count the money and recount the money, using her calculator extensively to help her count it. It is important to remember that when you do business in Haiti that Haiti has its own time zone, Haitian time, and you need three things, patience, patience, and more patience.

By now we are all getting hungry. On previous trips to Gonaives, Denise has seen a modern restaurant with signs that advertises pizza. Sounds like a wonderful treat to me. I am not complaining, but a change from beans and rice will be welcome.

The restaurant is very modern; it is clean with stylish stainless steel chairs and tables. It is nicely decorated.

When we order, Fr. Gracia, Sr. Julian and Johnny all order chicken with beans and rice. Denise and I order vegetarian pizza. It is offered on the menu. Then we go find a table.

We wait for a while and then the waitress brings us four glasses and a pitcher of water. We wait a little longer and she returns with the fifth glass only to find that we need more water.  After a little while longer she returns and asks us what goes on a vegetarian pizza. Fr. Gracia explains that you put vegetables on it, like tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.

In about thirty minutes the plates of chicken, beans and rice came. At first the others wait for our pizza to arrive, but we encourage them to go ahead and eat. Another forty minutes pass and then our pizza comes; with tomatoes and pepperoni.  Pizza is a good idea, but I don’t know if Haiti is ready for pizza yet.  Another time, at another restaurant, there were signs for pizza, but when we tried to order it; we were told that we needed to call ahead. Hmmm…….

We have one more stop to make, the supermarket. Gonaives is a city of around 300,000. The only supermarket we know of is small, less than 1,000 square feet. It has limited supplies, no fresh meat; there is a cooler with ham and American cheese. There is no produce department. If we knew how to negotiate the market stalls we probably could find the same things there.

The street where the supermarket is located is not paved and when we park in front we are parked in mud. There is a set of four wooden steps, of sorts, leading to a raised sidewalk outside of the front door. The top step is made from a broken board that wobbles. The spacing is too high and Denise needs help climbing the steps. We joke that OSHA would love this place. Out front, Johnny introduces me to a man changing US dollars for Haitian Gourdes. He is his uncle. He will end up riding back to Gros Morne with us, standing in the back of the truck with Johnny, holding on to the bars that protect the back window.

When we finish our shopping and prepare to leave, we are forced to wait. A truck has double parked in front of us, not giving us enough room to pull out. We cannot back up because several motos have pulled up and parked right behind us. As we are waiting the driver of the double parked truck open his door as a tap tap is approaching, the tap tap hits his the door, slows for a moment and then continues on without stopping. The driver of the struck car gets out and inspects his door; it is sprung and will not close. He gets in his truck, holds the door shut and drives away.  Denise carefully pulls back in to the traffic and we head home.

 

 

Shipping Container

We will be returning to the States the end of this month to start packing for the shipping container.

Thank all of you for your continuing support and interest,

The people of Riviere Mancelle and of course, Bob and Denise.

Our annual shipping container is a collaborative program with other churches that have twin churches in Haiti, working through the Parish Twinning Program. It is the easiest way to ship into Haiti.

 

We deliver our items to a central warehouse in Lebanon TN, and then share container space. All of the cost involved is broken down into a cubic foot price of $7.

We will be accepting donations until the 8th of April. If you need to deliver something past that date, please contact us.

The Parish Twinning Program has been shipping humanitarian goods to Haiti since1994.  Millions of dollars in medicines, medical supplies and equipment, generators, solar panels, food, school supplies and much more have been donated by U.S. parishes to their twin parishes in Haiti. The shipment has originated since 2002 out of Nashville, Tennessee.  National Coordinator Pat Rehovsky from St. Ignatius Church in Antioch, Tennessee has volunteered untold hours in overseeing the organization and shipping of the containers.  Some 75 churches, organizations and other groups participate in each shipment, while approximately the same number of parishes and projects in Haiti are the recipients of the goods.

Current shipments of four to seven 40’ containers are sent generally in the spring.  Hundreds of parishes, communities and projects in Haiti have benefited from the dedicated work of Pat Rehovsky and his volunteers.

 

This year along with our general needs list we are seeking used laptop computers for a new computer lab we are starting in Kalabat.  We also have targeted  needs for shoes, over the counter medications, (no out of date please),  camping style chairs, folding tables and chairs, used gazebo frames, paper pad and easel (for presentations) ,  and plastic or metal bowls and spoons, (for school lunch program).

 

The following list is suggested needs. There are many needs, so if you have something that would be of use, please contact us to see if it is appropriate. Donations do not need to be new, clean, used & good condition items are OK.

General Needs:

  • Powdered Milk (nothing out of date please)
  • Baby formula (nothing out of date please)
  • Garden Tools, shovels, rakes, hoes, pick axes
  • Balls
  • Hand tools
  • Odds and ends Hardware
  • Religious Items
  • Generators
  • Solar lights
  • Solar chargers
  • Solar panels
  • Treadle Sewing Machines
  • Shoes
  • Children’s clothing
  • Over the counter medication (nothing out of date please)
  • Five gallon buckets w/lids
  • School supplies

Needs for Libraries:

  • Globes
  • School books in French
  • Recreational books in French for youth and adults
  • Encyclopedias in French
  • Microscopes
  • Telescopes
  • Laptop Computers
  • Digital Cameras
  • Maps in French

Giving gifts to our children in Haiti is a difficult process. Small parcels are expensive and uncertain to ship. As a practical solution, we have the Shoebox Program.

To send a box, fill a sturdy shoebox with appropriate gifts. Please secure with rubber band. Inside of the box please include cash or check made out to the Haiti Project for $6.00 to pay for shipping. All money above the $6.00 will go to help pay for the shipping of other supplies on the shipping container. Please return shoe boxes by April 8th.

Suggestions for filling a shoe box:

  • Flip Flops
  • Slinky
  • Sippy and regular cups
  • metal bowls for lunch, spoon
  • Jump rope
  • Jacks
  • Deflated soccer balls
  • Transistor radio
  • Batteries with solar powered battery charger
  • French bibles
  • Religious items
  • Decks of cards
  • Mc Donald toys
  • Solar powered calculator
  • Small cars
  • Wind-up alarm clock
  • Watch
  • Yo-yo
  • Balls
  • Dolls
  • Stuffed animals
  • School Supplies
  • Stamps and inkpad sets
  • Coloring books
  • Writing pads
  • Paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • soap
  • Comb
  • Washcloth
  • Hard candy
  • Lollipops
  • Mints and Gum
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlights (with extra batteries)
  • Ball caps
  • Socks
  • T-shirts
  • Toy jewelry
  • Hair clips
  • Small picture books
  • Sewing kits
  • Pencils
  • Puzzles
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Toy Trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Dominoes
  • Checkers
  • Pocket games

Please do not send the following items:

  • Money
  • Your address
  • War-related items: toy guns, knives etc.
  • Prescription medications
  • Any foods or medications that is perishable or outdated.
  • Please be careful of small parts that would cause choking in small children

All shampoo or liquids should be well sealed with additional tape and placed inside of a Ziploc bag.

Please package any breakable items very carefully

 

 

Coming and Goings

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2/27/15

Yesterday we traveled up to Kalabat. First we met with Frankie, a volunteer at the Sisters house who has agreed to help me write for a grant to further develop our Agricultural Center.  I am hoping to find a grant that will allow us to work for the next few years without having to worry about how we will continue the following year.  Frankie is very bright and her degree is in community development, she is giving me the confidence to pursue a larger grant. The meeting was just discussing preliminary steps. We will meet again next week.

We left the Sisters house on motos because the road to Kalabat is too rough for our truck. The moto ride up the mountain is difficult but there is no easy way to get to Kalabat. On the ride up Fr. Gracia saw us and stopped our motos. He was attending a meeting in Atrell and invited me to attend also. The meeting was very interesting. I could understand much of what was being said, it was a group that had organized themselves within their community. They had broken up into groups and were deciding how to better their community. Top on everyone’s list was to plant trees, they also talked a lot about cutting the weeds not leaving soil bare, and each house putting in a toilet. This group is also organizing to fix the road.

I found all of this so inspiring. They were not asking for any help only information, and not necessarily from me. I learned at the meeting that an organization that works here named Caritas is an organization that’s main office is in the Vatican. Caritas has many projects and programs helping in most areas, including health, agriculture, water, social development, and probably a lot I don’t know about. I was very happy to hear this news.

When the meeting was over Fr. Gracia, Sr. Victoria and I walked the rest of the way to Kalabat. There were nine more river crossings on our way, but mostly it was a pleasant walk. Shortly after returning to the rectory Bob and I enjoyed a very nice dinner with Fr. Gracia and Julia his cousin. Then Bob and I went to our room and watched a movie on our computer until the generator was shut down.

This morning we went to the school and started taking the pictures of the sponsored children. This is a big project as the schools are pretty far apart. There are two schools that you can only walk to, and it is not an easy walk. Bob and I will take the pictures on our side of the mountain and plan to meet with Fr. Gracia next week to continue getting the rest of the pictures at the other schools.

The children are so cute, the pre- schoolers surrounded me and all wanted to hold my hand. Soon I had several children holding my hands then they tried to see up my shirt and to lick me. I guess they wanted to know if I was white all over and what I tasted like.

At the rectory some crazy person keeps cutting the water line, the water line gets repaired and then it is cut again. So the result of this is no running water. It was a challenge, and another time I was reminded of just how spoiled I am. There is a fifty gallon barrel outside of the bathroom; from there you fill five gallon buckets to bathe, or to flush the toilet. Unfortunately I woke up sick at three in the morning on Saturday.  I had to fill this bucket to flush many times. I started to feel sorry for myself, and then thought of the other people here that don’t even have a toilet. But I have to admit when it continued into the day I did ask Bob to help me with filling the bucket. The water to bathe was very cold, like to take your breath away (although I am a wimp). I felt fortunate to return home and use our shower can for a warm shower. When I return home to the US and get a nice long hot shower I will feel like a queen.

We returned to Garcin on Sunday afternoon. It was a very nice visit but it is always nice to be home. This week has been a busy one .Monday morning I drove to the school in Atrell with Bob. We drove through the river many times. Fr. Gracia was very surprised to see that I had driven. I really love off the road driving, but there was a whole new set of obstacles to contend with. Large rocks, where to cross the river, where to come up on the other side, people, goats, donkeys loaded down, and children. The good thing is you are driving very slowly so you have lots of time to choose your route, or avoid an obstacle.

At the school in Atrell , I recognized the director right away. I haven’t seen him in a few years. A Baptists group came to this area several years ago and built a school very close to ours.  They offered free tuition, books  and uniforms. Many of the parents moved their children to this new school and our school closed.  After a few years the Baptist school could see this was not good and started to charge for their school.  This was about the same time that Fr. Gracia came and he reopened  our school . The school director introduced Bob and I as the people who built the school. The school was really built because of the support from the faithful benefactors to the Haiti Project. We took the children’s pictures and then I spoke to the children. Fr. Gracia also spoke to the children. Then we left with Fr. Gracia and went to pick Sr. Pat up.

St. Pat has a school in Fon ibo, a village just outside of Gros Morne. This school recently got a grant to put in a computer lab. Fr. Gracia was impressed with the computer lab and can see how this would benefit the school in Kalabat. Fr. Bart, a Haitian Priest living and working in Florida that we visited on our way to Haiti just had satellite internet installed at Kalabat. This is service is for the community, he desires to see the people of Kalabat come in to the 21st century.  We will look into submitting a grant to this organization to see if we can also receive help. Of course we then went to get an egg sandwich, and then went to Sr. Pats to work on some problems in the parish and the grant.

Tuesday we had our third clinic, although we had about ten less people it was still a good clinic. We finished early and Sr. Julian decided to walk over the mountain to return home. She had money for a moto but decided to save the money and walk. My understanding is this is not a far walk but a very difficult one. Our friend Bermand went with her to help her find her way.

I hope the clinic continues doing well after I leave. It has been told to me that the success of the clinic is because I am involved. I am hoping that the people can see that I have respect for Sr. Julian and they should also. Time will tell.

We are beginning to get ready to leave. We only have a couple of weeks left. We will start packing the shipping container when we get home. We are looking for tables and chairs still, we need lap top computers (for Kalabat, now they have internet and only two people have a computers. Lap tops take less energy so until they get more energy they can only support lap tops), shoes of any size or type, over the counter medications, then of course the same things we have collected in past years.

Thank you so much for your interest and your prayers,

Denise

 

 

 

 

Sustainability

The deeper we are immersed in Haitian culture the more we see the unintended and destructive consequences of well intentioned NGO and missionary “hand out” programs. Even things given at great sacrifice, if they are received without cost, are perceived as having little value. Worse yet, the act of giving is corrupted by a spirit of entitlement.

Once entrenched in a relationship, this spirit of entitlement undermines all efforts to self sustainability.

This problem is not unique to Haiti. This problem is universal and predictable. It crosses all age, cultural, race and political barriers. It has no regard for poverty or wealth.

When we recognize the dynamics of this problem we realize that the act of giving takes on new responsibilities. When we give, we must be careful not to take on the receivers responsibilities; doing so robs them of their dignity and promotes the spirit of entitlement.

Every person has worth and value. Each has gifts and talents. Each has something to share and it is destructive to deny a person’s dignity by taking away their self esteem by assuming their responsibility with a superior and paternal attitude.

We have heard that it is in giving that we receive, it is the same for those we give to. In order to receive, they have the responsibility of giving also. If a gift is offered and it is grasped rather than received, it loses its true value.

So the how shall we proceed? The answer is not to ignore the original problem, poverty. And I am not saying that we ignore those in society who need and deserve help with life’s basic necessities. Instead it requires us to approach the problem with a new understanding, outlook, and attitude.

We must realize we are not responsible for the poor. It is not our job to provide for them. It is our job to be faithful stewards of the resources that God has entrusted us with. Our job is to help people that we are called to serve realize that they are people just like ourselves, with needs, dreams, hopes and above all gifts of their own.  It requires helping people recognize what gifts and resources they do have and to not focus on what they lack.

Sometime that means feeding the hungry and giving shelter to the homeless. But sometimes our job is to say no. Sometimes emergency relief is required, but once the “fire” has been put out, “handouts” become counterproductive.

With our children, while they were infants we only fed them until they could feed themselves. As they grew, we disciplined them until they had self discipline. Our main concern while raising our children was that they learned to take care of themselves. Likewise the same goal with working with the poor; it’s about relationships; it’s about helping individuals until they can help themselves and others.

Effectively creating positive and sustainable changes begins with building real and personal relationships with people, relationships where each person has responsibilities, each in accordance to what he or she has been given. For growth to occur, everyone must give their best. It is important and indeed necessary for us to share our resources with those in need. But is equally important that those in need share the gifts they have been given.

Without recognizing the dynamics of this problem, our best efforts are sabotaged from a gift of life and opportunity to promoting a dignity robbing attitude of entitlement.

True love requires, tough love, it requires saying “no”. Not indiscriminately, nor out of laziness on our part. But thoughtfully considering ways to engage those we serve with opportunities rather than handouts. This in itself does not immediately meet the definition of “sustainability”, but rather it plants the seeds that must be tended until they bear fruit. We need to consider how the opportunities that we provide will develop within the person skills, abilities, and an attitude of self reliance.

But there is a delicate balance between entitlement and empowerment, there is no magic formula.

As members of the human family, we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters. We choose to be either givers or takers. We need to acknowledge that there is ultimately one race, human. Each of us is an important part, and our actions affect the whole. Sickness in one part affects the whole. If a bone is broken and ignored, the broken bone heals deformed and that affects the whole body. Likewise when we have a broken bone and we get medical attention but during the healing process we ignore the physical therapy, we never fully recover at the best, and at the worst lose use of the injured member. This relates to our work to work here because we need to feed the hungry, but unless we help them to develop an income, they will always be hungry. This is the reason we have changed our website domain name from “feedhaiti.org” to “partnerinhaiti.org”.

We have begun taking these positive steps towards sustainability,

Medical:

We have established a weekly medical clinic in Garcin. Before the clinic opened its doors, we explained to the community that this clinic took over a year to set up and that it belongs to the community. This means that the community has to support it. If the community does not support it, they will lose it.

On the first day of clinic we saw fifty-five people. Enough money was brought in to cover the cost of the medications we had to buy, pay Sr. Julian a stipend and cover her expenses.  One of the patience had TB, a very important discovery.

Because of donations of over the counter medications, we are able to give a discounted rate of about three American dollars, it includes the visit and the medications. Pregnant women are seen for the equivalent of an American dollar, we are hoping the women of this area can receive prenatal care and education.

While this is not fully self sustainable, it is a viable partnership; a very important first step.

School building:

We have been concerned about the state of disrepair of the main school at Kalabat. The roof leaks, the ceilings have partially caved in. Some of the shutters are broken and hanging from there hinges. The concrete steps have crumbled.

The building is less than 50 years old, but it has not been maintained. The community has asked us for help in building a new school. But that would require raising between $150,000 and $200,000 US.  We have had several meetings with the Haitian American community in Delray Beach, Florida.  Jean Elozian and his wife Merrisia have actively been working to raise funds for this project. To date they have raised over $1,000 US. However the objection of the community is that the people here in Kalabat have not maintained the school and that they had and so the building has fallen into serious disrepair. This is a legitimate concern.

The school was originally built and given to the people with no investment of their own. They have not felt ownership or responsibility. Now they feel entitled to a new school. Viewing this from the perspective of “hard love”, we are not willing to support a new, school. We are however willing to partner with the parents, school community and parish to do repairs. We have suggested that we will dollar match funds contributed by the community to buy materials for repairs.

The people here think of themselves as poor, that they have no resources. We are challenging them on this attitude. We have suggested that each student bring five gourds to school, about 10.6¢, if all 300 students participate, this will be enough to buy four bags of cement. We will match that with four more bags. With this cement and along with sand and gravel that can be collected from the river, repairs can begin on the crumbled and unsafe front steps. We have explained that as this process continues, we can take photos and show them to the benefactors of the Haiti Project and this will encourage the benefactors to contribute more.

We realize that this will take time, but when the repairs are complete, we believe that the community will have a nice school and they will take pride in their accomplishment. We believe that they will then maintain not only their school, but also more fully appreciate the other resources that they have.

Agricultural Association:

APWOKAPRIM, which stands for Association for the Commercialization and Production of Agriculture in the Parish of Riviere Mancelle, we help establish in March of 2013. The association has taken ownership and we no longer serve in primary leadership roles, but serve as advisors and facilitator.

In the fall of 2014 we organized and sponsored or cosponsored four workshops. One on worm composting, one on bio-intensive gardening, composting and bio-char, one on growing vanilla and one on increasing coffee production.

At the most recent meeting the association established a formal structure. This they accomplished with very little advice from us. With membership of over 500 people scattered over such remote and rugged terrain, formal structure will allow them to effectively communicate and develop their network. The meeting was led my Guy Marie, the agronomist whose salary we subsidize. He recently attended a week-long leadership training seminar and put his new-found skill to work chairing the meeting.

As we are moving forward we are continuing to search for opportunities build on these foundational steps.  As an example I was recently introduced to a local man who successfully raises goats. He has over 100 goats. After greeting him, I had Johnny, my Haitian friend who was translating for me, ask the man if he would be willing to come and lead a workshop for APWOKARPRM on raising goats. The man was thrilled and said yes.

Building relationships, building Haiti, step by step.

Bob

 

APWOKAPRIM Meeting

APWOKAPRIM Meeting, sub group