A Different side of Haiti

October 25, 2017

A different side of Haiti

Bob and I are spending this week helping out at Mathew 25.Mathew 25 is the Parish Twinning Program’s guest house. It is located in an upper middle class neighborhood in Port Au Prince. They have a Haitian staff and usually American that hosts for a year. The American they had this year needed to cut her stay short so presently they are looking for someone to fill this position. Because of our close ties and support we receive from PTPA Bob and I came to help out with a busy week for the staff. There has been a large group and several other guests here this week.

The devoted teams and individuals we have met are inspiring, we have been able to share ideas and get new insights into our work. As always when serving the Lord, we are receiving more than we have been giving. For some of the guests this is their first visit to Haiti, hearing their impressions brings a new light to our understanding of Haiti. Bob and I have realized we need to be more proactive with encouraging people to visit Haiti. So here is an open invitation to all of you to come and see firsthand what your donations are accomplishing.

The woman who runs Mathew 25 is named Phaimie , she is a lovely middle aged Haitian woman with endless energy. Venders selling fresh fruits and vegetables come to the front gate each morning; I find it a lovely site to watch her choose fresh food for the evening meal. With about thirty guests staying here this week we are glad to be able to help her with all the questions and needs of the guests

The contrast of the people living in this neighborhood is vast. People here are educated; they have cars, electricity, internet, and running water. The children go to school; they all seem to have nice clothes and shoes. We have not been told all week that someone is hungry or asked for money. Having an education makes such a difference in people’s lives; thank you to all of you that are helping the children in our area have an opportunity to receive an education. We truly believe this is making a tremendous difference to the future for the communities in Riviere Mancelle.

We are also taking advantage of being in Port au Prince to purchase art for our Christmas sales when we get home. We found a wonderful store that sold to us wholesale. We found many new items we have not carried before, and some things we have but at a better price. We look forward to sharing these items with you when we return.

After shopping we visited a historic, Hotel Oloffson, this was the setting for the popular novel The Comedians, and had lunch. This was like an hour of vacation, which we really enjoyed. While here in Port au Prince we also got our truck maintenance taken care of.

The people from our village have called to check on us several times. They are always concerned for our safety. I miss them and certainly prefer our life in the country, although having internet access is very nice. We have been able to call our family and friends on face book messenger which helps with the home sickness part of our work here.

Thank you for your prayers and your interest,

Denise s.d.s.

Thank you ! Thank you!

October 16th, 2017

Thank you , Thank you !

The response to our need for shoes has been over whelming. Next year we should have shoes for all of our school children. What a wonderful gift. The generosity of all of you brings tears to my eyes. I am sure you will all be blessed for your kindness.

Last week was a very busy week. We traveled to Atrell an area half way to Kalabot. The road was very bad because of all the rain we have had, and a lot of the road is driving through the river. I thank the Lay Salvatorians regularly for the gift of our truck our ministry would not function without it. We helped build a school in this area several years ago. The winds we experienced from hurricane Irma has pulled up part of the roof. The school needs 50 sheet of tin (they are much smaller here) some tar, nails, and a few boards to repair their roof. We told the director of the school we would be willing to give them the materials, and pay for the “boss man” but they would need to get the parents of the school involved to help in the repairs. The people of the Parishes of St. Thomas and St. Andrews sent roof paint for three of the schools with tin roofs this year. This is one of the schools so the paint will protect the roof from further damage.

Bob and I hosted another agricultural workshop this past weekend. Alex Olivier and agronomist who works with the vanilla came and taught about the importance of vanilla to helping farmers improve their incomes. Because he now knows a little English and my Creole is better we were able to communicate much better. His project in LImbe produced a good crop last year. He told me that my plants are old enough now and should produce next year. When we return in January he will come back to teach me how to stress the plants to encourage them to bloom. They should begin to bloom in late March early April, he will return to show me how to pollinate the flowers. This will mean I will have to return to Haiti in April. We will then have our first beans in June (another trip). The beans will need to be dried, then there is a fermenting process that will require research for me to understand. The drying and fermenting process takes nine months to complete.

This is a project we have been working on for several years. Currently we have thirty- six plants growing at the center. Farmers that attended a workshop a couple of years ago bought plants and some are growing, each person that attended this workshop got two free plants. We will plant another twenty plants at the center this week.

Our goal is that the income from this project will be able to sustain our projects here when we are too old to continue our work here. The young people we are helping to get sponsors for their education will have the skills to run the center, market the products, continue educating the farmers, and administrate the funds to help the community. This is a big dream I can start to see coming together. My heart is singing with joy!

The workshop also included a session on vermi-compost (compost made by worms). We have had great success at the center with this and are producing a lot of compost. This compost has many more rewards than using commercial fertilizer. Our good friend Elwood came and taught the local farmers about how to create and then use the compost. The soil here in Haiti is very poor, this is a way to feed their plants and improve their soil.

I want to share a little more about life here. Last Thursday in preparing for our guests arriving Friday (Elwood, Anita, Alex, and Wilda) I put together a pineapple upside down cake and put in the solar oven. It seems that within minute of putting the cake in the oven the sky clouded up. The ladies and I washed a ton of laundry, and hung it up to dry. I realized my cake was not going to bake so I started a fire in the rocket stove and used the oven Robert Fairchild built to go on top of it. Because I had a fire going I decided to go ahead and prepare the spaghetti sauce for Saturday night. This took all day I finished at three o’clock in time to take the laundry down.

I thought about how hard it is for the woman here. I then realized, they would not bake a cake they wouldn’t have the flour, eggs and sugar to spare. Not to mention they don’t have ovens solar or otherwise. I wash clothes in wash tubs, with a hand crank wringer in the roof using a hose for the water, I did not have to carry the laundry down to the river or carry water to my yard to do the wash. I have clothes lines and clothes pins, I do not have to lay the clothes on rocks or over bushes. My life here is much easier than theirs and I should not complain.

Thank you for all your prayers and your interest,

Denise s.d.s.

Over Whelmed!

October 3 2017

Over Whelmed!

Bob mentioned our young friend who came to visit this weekend. He is a very fine young man, a high school student with very good grades. He has leadership skills and hopes to continue his education into college. He attends church each week and plays the drum for the service. His father has left their family and the mother has very little money. He has told us he doesn’t have money so he can’t eat all day, then when he goes home often he can’t find food. I know most the children here don’t get to eat every day, but when it is a good friend it really brings it home.

He has three siblings, a sister in a vocational school and two younger ones at home. The two younger children are eligible to go to school but can’t attend because like many other children here they don’t have shoes. It is so frustrating! I want to buy the children food, shoes, fix people’s houses ect… ect… But the problems are too great; there are far too many people in this situation. If you help one there are thousands more in line for help.

We try to find solutions but they seem to always have another problem attached. So the kid gets to go to a good secondary school but has no food, how can we expect him to keep his grades up without anything to eat? If we give one kid money so they can eat every day, then what about all the other kids with nothing to eat? If we buy shoes for two children so they can attend school, what about all the other kids?

We do feed children every night what is left on our table; I know our cooks feed some elderly people in the community from our groceries. But how do we reach something sustainable? Some of the road blocks are cultural, not only here in Haiti but universal. We have men leave their families in the US but we have welfare, and job training, and jobs. Opportunities for families to eat, children can go to school, mothers can find jobs.

Bob and I ask if you could please collect shoes (any size) for our next shipping container that will leave in March. We know it is just a Band-Aid but without education there is no hope for change. Your donations to the school lunch program are a big help, the children and staff are thrilled on the days they get a meal. Creating jobs would help but this is also difficult, we continue to strive for more possibilities for the people here. We continue to educate the farmers so they can produce better crops to improve the families’ income. There are also our programs with the women’s groups providing education and training to create art we can bring back to sell. We can see improvements; we can see some of the families are raising themselves up. Jesus did say we would always have the poor among us, I guess it is just hard to live among the poor.

Thank you for your interest, thank you so much for your prayers,

Denise sds