We just completed three successful, but intensive days of agriculture formation. This is the third formation workshop we have hosted.
The three day workshop began on Tuesday when we met with over thirty volunteer community leaders. Our purpose was to decide what information to include in the four sessions that composed the actual formation workshop.
The four sessions were:
Two subjects, Vanilla and insect control in sweet potatoes and piti mi.
Also included two subjects, Double dug bio-intensive gardens and worm composting.
Environment and sanitation
PH testing and building healthy soil
After the subjects were determined, primary leaders were selected for each subject. Then the remaining leaders were divided up so that they could assist.
This gave the less experienced leaders an opportunity to observe and develop their own leadership skills.
The following two days we hosted the same formation workshop in two separate locations. The particpants included not only peasant farmers from the Parish of Riviere Manclle, but also twelve guest from a neighboring parish and several guest of participating leaders.
This workshop impacted over 150 people.
Jan 8th, 2016
Traveling to PAP
Last Friday we left for Port Au Prince to take Cecile to the airport on Saturday. We also needed to see if our missing suitcase had shown up and to do some shopping. The trip to PAP was uneventful. We arrived just after noon and went to the airport cargo to look for our missing bag, it was not there. We were sent over to the airport to get a paper from the missing baggage desk that we were suppose to fax to American Airlines, we don’t know of any fax machines in Haiti. There are very few land lines even to have a fax. When we got to Mathew 25 we filled out the form trying to remember all that was in the bag, although that is not too hard because everything we pack we need. Cecile took the form back to the US to fax for us. I really would rather have the bag than the money for the claim, as I said everything we pack we need. To replace the things here would be very expensive if we could find them. An example would be a small box of off brand pancake mix is almost 7.00 US.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Mathew 25 guest house,. Bob and Cecile and our friend Lamont went to the store to get some things, As they left the store many people started to run toward the store and the guards closed the gates. Two opposing demonstrations were marching toward each other on the street. Although there were guns present no shots were fired and the police and UN troops disbursed the crowds, after a short time the gates were opened and everyone could leave.
There was an election in Haiti for the new president last fall. The opposition is saying it was a faulty election. We have asked different people and no one seems to know what the problem was. There was suppose to be a runoff election in January but because of all the demonstrations it has been put off until April. The President said he would not step down so there was a lot of anger among the opposition.
Saturday morning we did our shopping. We went to a new store that is kind of like a Target. They are pretty expensive and we decided we could live without the things we looked at. Then we went to a builders supply. It is very large but has a very small parking lot. Many of the shoppers were Americans. We found what we were looking for, for the most part and after getting loaded up we went to the grocery store.
In PAP there are now several American type grocery stores selling many of the items we are used to for very a high price. We were shopping for the sisters, Anita and Elwood and the doctor’s house plus our selves. I first spotted beautiful heads of broccoli our diet does not include fresh vegetables so it looked so good, but doing the math it was almost 8.00 Us and I decided it was just to expensive. Maybe another month and it will be just too hard to refuse ( I am a vegetarian). We are also getting fresh tomatoes from my roof top garden so they are helping with our need for fresh vegetables.
We finished shopping and were on our way to a restaurant that serves almost American food, when the traffic stopped and cars started turning around. Fear of a demonstration made us take back roads back to Mathew 25 to access the situation for our return home. Lamonth made phone calls and Bob checked a website that people working here have to let everyone know about what is going on. A town on the national highway Arcahaie was having a big demonstration and the highway was closed. There is a back road we can take and decided we would return on that road. We had given a lady and her daughter a ride to PAP and we were going to pick them up on our way out of town. When we stopped to pick them up police came to the car. We showed them our paper work and the paper we had showed our insurance had expired. We paid for the new insurance but forgot to get the new paper from our friend Domade. The police wanted to keep Bob’s license and give us a ticket. We could not reach Domade on the phone, so Johnny suggested we give the police some money so they wouldn’t give us the ticket. We gave them 20.00 US and Bob got his license back and we were free to go.
When we got to the National highway Johnny asked us to stop so he could be sure where we would need to turn off for this other road. While there he found out the National Highway was now open the demonstration was over. So we proceeded on the National Highway, when we got to Arcahaie there was a burned van in the middle of the road and a man who was dead lying in the road. The sight of the man still haunts me. There were lots of police cruising the road and UN trucks coming toward us. The next town we came to had stacks of tires in the road and many people on the sides of the road. It wasn’t more than fifteen minutes after we passed through that Bob got a message on his phone that a demonstration had broke out in that town. It was the grace of God we passed through without problem.
Fortunately the rest of the trip went smoothly. We didn’t get home until 8:30 pm but all was well and we were safe. Yesterday morning we go news the president did step down and things feel calmer now. Hopefully things will stay calm until the next election and we will be back in the States by then. This week is Carnival so people are partying and not worried about the election. I pray for the family of the man we saw laying in the road, and for all the people injured and killed for their political beliefs.
Thank you for your prayers and your interest,
February 4, 2016
Our days have been very full with a variety of activities. With the help of Cecile (a nurse practitioner that traveled with us and donated a month of her time) we have distributed several Days for Girls kits to young ladies at two of our schools. These kits are reusable pads for the girls’ monthly menstruation. The girls presently use cloth and because of the undependability of leakage often miss school during their cycle. A group of women in Michigan are busy producing many of these kits for us. Along with training the girls how to use the kits we are explaining why they have periods, it has been amazing to us that the teachers don’t know the reason women have cycles. I am glad we can offer this education.
We have made several trips up the mountain to Kalabat helping to teach Fr. Gracia some better accounting skills to help him in managing the parish better and more efficiently. Cecile is French by birth so her translations have been priceless in this process. It is sad she needs to return to the US this weekend.
Then of course the medical emergencies: yesterday as we were about to leave Kalabot Johnny asked us to take a two year old boy to the hospital. He had fallen and broke his arm. We brought him to the hospital in Gros Morne, but they still don’t have their x-ray machine repaired so we needed to take him to Gonaives an hour away on a very bad road. We didn’t arrive in Gonaive until 6:30 and I said to Cecile that the x-ray tech will probably not be there. She said oh no it’s a regional hospital they have to have a technician on duty at all times. I went to park the truck and as I joined the group Cecile said you won’t believe this they don’t have a technician, but they do have a orthopedic doctor on duty. So we stayed to see the doctor eating in shifts food we had purchased on the road.
The examination room we went into in this beautiful new hospital was filthy; there was blood on the floor, sharps container with no lid overflowing with dirty needles, a urine bag full of urine thrown in the corner. Beautiful shelving but the shelves were empty. It is so sad that so much money was invested in this facility, but no one stuck around to train people how to run the facility correctly. We see this time and time again, money being spent but not the follow through to see the project to a sustainable end.
The doctor gave us a prescription for cotton, casting material, and a ace bandage. We went to the pharmacy who gave us a bill and then to the cashier to pay for all but the ace bandage they did not have. We had to have Johnny go down the road to buy the ace bandage. The doctor put a cast on the arm, although he did not have an x–ray, and told us the baby needed to return in the morning for an x-ray. The young cousin of the child who was babysitting for him at the time of the accident and came with us stayed with relatives in Gonaive so she could take the boy for x-ray in the morning. Johnny, Cecile and I started our journey home.
We found out the next day that the baby’s arm is indeed broken and had not been set correctly. Last Friday when we were planning to go to PAP, so Cecile could fly back to the US on Saturday, we thought we would take the baby and his mother to the hospital in St.Marc, so the bone can be set correctly. But the Mother decided she was going to take the baby to a natural healer instead.
I have been looking for grants to apply for so Bob and I can continue our work here in Haiti. For the past three years we have received a salary so we can live in Haiti to cover our living expenses. I have spent hours upon hours reviewing perspective foundations to summit a grant to, but one after another specify they do not give grant funds for operating expenses and will not support religious work. I understand the reluctance to support the salaries of the workers; there have been much publicized abuses of the system. Unfortunately the people that truly are on the ground doing the work are not in the news.
My observations here in Haiti are that programs run from other countries without representation here are a waste of money. The beautiful hospital being a prime example; the Haitian people have not owned anything so they have no concept of maintenance. Without education on the dangers of spreading dieses through body fluids they do not take the proper precautions. The staff has not had the opportunities for proper training for the necessary skills to operate such a facility to the level I am sure was intended.
There are many examples I could site, there have been books written on the subject. I truly believe it takes living amongst the people sharing in the hardships, helping with their day to day problems, attending the funerals, that they then truly trust you and accept the leadership you are offering. If our work here is truly coming to an end, as for us living here, I don’t think the Center will ever reach sustainability. The people just don’t have the education and skills necessary to take things to the potential they could. So I will continue to seek funding for us to finish what we have begun. Please pray for us that God will direct these efforts to the right ears.
Thank you for your prayers and your interest,