February 5th, 2018
What we have been up to
The Parish we serve in Riviere Mancelle has split into two parishes. Two of our five schools, our apartment and The Fr. Jim Agricultural Center are in the new parish; this creates some confusion. The Twinned parishes have agreed to continue their support of the two schools in the new parish for this year
The Haiti Project is mostly located in the new parish (we live above one of the schools, and our Center surrounds the other school), so without abandoning our home it would be very difficult to with withdraw our support from these two schools. This new parish has no outside support and the schools would be forced to close.
Last Monday Fr. Dashmey, the Priest for the new parish, came to discuss how to progress forward. He is very supportive of our work and wants us to stay in our apartment and continue working with the people in the two areas where our schools are located. As of now that is what we plan to do. Fr. Dashmey is very personable and has some English; these two factors are making working with him enjoyable. Bob and I are staying open to where God will lead us.
Tuesday morning we left for Cape Haitian to help our friend Lamouth with his new guest house, and to develop a business plan to present to his benefactor. Lamouth is a very well educated Haitian; he has lived in the US for a period of time, so he speaks very well. He has just finished a law degree here in Haiti. He moved to a village outside of Cape Haitian less than a year ago, it was interesting to Bob and I that the local Haitians in the village treat him as a blan (foreigner). This has been hard for Lamounth to accept
Bob and I are praying for Lamounth as he works through the difficulties he has been presented with. He has been working to build a guest house. It is difficult to manage a building project here in Haiti when you are viewed as an outsider. He does have the advantage of cultural understanding and the language. The guest house is very nice and we wish him success in his endeavors.
He has begun developing the agricultural aspect of his project, starting tree seedlings and utilizing different growing practices, these practices are foreign to his neighbors. Lamothe has been instrumental in developing the farmer’s workshops that we hold.
We traveled home on Thursday, it is about a 75 kilometer drive ( 47 miles); the roads where so bad it took five hours. Our neighbors where happy to see us return and sent dinner over so I didn’t have to cook. The next morning was the big feast at the church in town.
Here in Haiti the feast day for the Saint the church is named after is a big celebration or feast. The mass was over three hours long; it was said in French, Haitian Creole and Latin. It truly was a beautiful celebration. There was food served afterwards but the line was long that after 30 minutes in line, and not making progress, Bob and I decided to just go and get our favorite egg sandwiches.
When we finished eating we had a two hour meeting with Fr. Gracia. We think the water project will now be resumed and Fr. Gracia will oversee the work. Fr. Gracia expressed some insecurity with the parish splitting. Bob and I reassured him that we would be glad to consider any projects he presented to us to collaborate on.
While we have been traveling and attending meetings and feasts we have also been writing information for the Salvatorian news letter and providing information to one of our Salvatorian Sisters in California. Writing is time consuming and our lack of internet access means going to town to send these correspondences and pictures. The booster for our internet we received last fall helps but it is easiest for us to write on our laptops and the booster does not provide a strong enough signal to have wifi to send information from our laptops.
There have been several people coming to the apartment for medical help. One of our teachers needed to go to the hospital, a grandmother that now has a new born after the mother died in child birth. She is very poor and cannot afford formula for the baby; this will be a year of dependency on our support. Donations of formula are so very helpful, formula is very expensive here. I have also cleaned up some cuts on children at the school.
A young pregnant girl came that had been bitten by a dog four days before. She had an infected hole on her leg. She came in the evening; so I cleaned the wound and told her to return the next morning. Looking at her in the day light I could tell by all the red in her hair that she is poorly nourished. Without intervention she will not have breast milk to feed her baby. I sent her to the hospital because most dogs do not get vaccinated here in Haiti. Rabies is a real threat. The hospital gave her antibiotics and worming meds. They must have not thought rabies was an issue.
She is returning each day for me to clean the wound and today I gave her a peanut butter sandwich and some iron pills. I asked around the village and found out this girl lives with her mother and does not know who her father is, they are very poor and do not have much food or any way to get food.
There is a woman in pur village that prepares food each day and sells a plate of beans and rice for 50 goudes, this is about 75cents American. I talked to her about paying for the girl’s meals; giving her baby a chance at a good start, and the young mother having milk to feed her baby. I am seeking ways to develop a mentoring program for these young girls that find themselves pregnant. I am still not clear on how to do this. I just have to keep trying.
My friend Anita lives relatively close to the hospital Maxo (the young paralyzed man we helped last fall). She went to the hospital on other business and went to visit Maxo. She sent me pictures and you could not tell it was the same person. He has put on weight and looks so much healthier. The rehab program has him making bracelets; all together he is doing a 100 percent better. This news makes all the times I feel discouraged go away, if we can only help one person it is all worth it.
My last closing note is also very good news. Last August I brought to Haiti some flowering orchids that I received as a donation. I had removed them from their pots and sanitized the plants, there were seven of them I tied one on a tree at the sisters house and the rest at the center. When I left last November they had attached to the trees, except one of them had died. Now four of them are blooming! It is so exciting to see these beautiful flowers in their native habitat.
Thank you so much for your interest and your prayers,