Friday, June 17, 2016

Some of you know...

...Ti Luc and I are in Canada and Ti Luc has medical appointments.  We are in Calgary but will visit Dana in Kelowna soon and we will also attend the famous Harambee camp held yearly in the Okanagan for families with adopted children. This will be the first time for Ti Luc.  I expect he will have a blast and won't be our last time attending.

On Tuesday evening of this week a fantastic concert was performed in my Newfoundland home town of Springdale. This was organized and run by our very special Newfoundland volunteer team members and the beautiful and extremely talented Paula Strowbridge as a fundraiser for the HATS-Haiti Mission.

The concert a huge success on all accounts. The band Chicago Tribute was deemed fantastic by all who attended. The group were touring Newfoundland and the awesome Paula lady, who knew at least one of the band members, was able to get them to do an extra concert in NL at Springdale, where proceeds would be used to help children/students in Haiti through HATS.

Such talent, such energy, such a success. I know this well because I was there.  I was there in person - as a surprise - to all volunteer organizers, family members and friends. A huge thank you goes to Dr Todd Young for making it possible for me to attend and for the success in keeping our plan for me to be at the fundraiser a surprise.  A job well done indeed Todd - we pulled it off.

A big thank you to Paula and all the volunteer team members who work hard for HATS in Haiti and in Newfoundland to make the evening the huge success that it was. Thank you to the band who agreed to add an additional night to their already scheduled tour. I am extremely thankful that I was a part of it.  Thank you to all corporate sponsors and to all who attended.

Together we will continue to make a difference in the lives of the precious children in our area of the Artibonite Valley in Haiti.

HATS-Haiti is -
A L L  A B O U T  TH E  C H I L D R E N


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Goodbye for now

June 1, 2016

By Mike and Nicki

What a beautiful country this is!

After years of thinking about it and months of planning for it, it seems strange that our time in Haiti is over. We have been asked by a few if it was like we expected. I'm not sure what we expected, but our minds could not have fathomed what we have experienced, and we can hardly believe that our 3 month stay has come to an end. Mike mentioned at our last staff devotion time how beautiful the country is here and how friendly the people have been to us. HATS really became home away from home for us. Karen accepted us like one of her own kids and took care of us when we wanted to travel to the beach and to LaGonave. She even called and made our reservations for us, and gave us some emergency money just like a mom would do! Luckner came over our last morning to say goodbye for now. We highly respect Luckner's heart for HATS, the school, the community and Karen. He truly is a huge asset to the ministry.

Thank you Karen for allowing us to come and share in your kids lives.

The kids really love Mike

Nicki gets a big hug

What fun it was to get to know some of the school children!

Thank you to the staff at HATS for welcoming us, forgiving us when we couldn't effectively speak creole and for accepting us as a part of the HATS family.

Mike and Germaine

Thank you to our Haitian neighbours who greeted us with smiles each morning as we passed them on our walks.

Some of the local people we met on our walks

We never got tired of looking at this beautiful scene each day!

There are many things about this beautiful place that we will miss. We walked along the canal and through the community each morning and will really miss those beautiful mornings alongside the local people. We knew we would enjoy getting to know and spending time with the kids but we had no idea how difficult it would be to leave them. They sneak in and steal your heart without you even knowing it. We have left a piece of our hearts in Haiti and can't wait for the day when we can return.

It's all about the children!

cute kids!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thank you so very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you Nicki and Mike for joining us at the mission HATS-Haiti for three months.  You came, you gave of yourselves in many ways, you accepted all of us, you accepted the Haitian people, accepted the culture of Haiti and the fact that this country is not North America and one should not try to make it so.  You gave of yourself, you worked diligently and you learned as you worked. You kept an open mind and always showed an heart that was filled with the love of the Lord.  You loved on the children but held them to the standards we have for them so they can hopefully grow up in integrity and honesty.

Bye little princess Magdala

We worked, we laughed, we prayed, we taught at the main compound, at the school  and at church, and very importantly we supported each other.

You are missed.  Four times on Tuesday, after you had left, I found myself saying the following "mention it to Mike",  "Nicki will help with that",  "Mike can fix that for us", and even "Have you seen Nicki?"   Yikes, I sure had come to depend on you guys

Bye sweet Dickieson

A big thank you for accepting me, just as I am, faults, quirks and all, and allowing me to see I could depend on you both.

It was very difficult to see you on the bus and heading back to your other country and other family.  I am happy for them but sad for us.  I am already awaiting your return.  The children are awaiting your return.  Luckner is awaiting your return.  You are missed by us all.

Magdala holding onto Mike as long as possible

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Another big thank you to the Springdale, Newfoundland team - Emma, Todd, Don, Jenny, Alycia and Lacee.

Springdale group ready to board the bus to head to their other home

It is always a huge pleasure to have you guys come and always difficult to see you leave.  You are all 'my family' - family from Newfoundland that we depend on coming regularly.

Bye gang
All are leaving - even N and M

Each time you come to serve you do different types of jobs, whatever is needed upon arrival  - this time was no exception. The Health Awareness help and teaching to our school students was invaluable and so very necessary.  So many small health problems become big ones without knowledge and information.  Kudos to all of you for jumping in and helping with this and also to our school director, Luckner, for seeing the need and asking if it could be done.

Devotions at school the morning group left giving huge thank yous for all their help

You come to help and that you certainly do - help our children, our students, but very importantly help me too.  We laugh, we cry, we pray, and we look to the future of HATS together as a team.


You are indeed on the calendar for May 2017 and we are already looking forward to having you back.

Losing my 'right hand man, Mike' and my 'left hand woman, Nicki' at the same time that you left was very difficult but I was thankful they were traveling with such a great bunch of fun Newfoundlanders.

Two special men

This beautiful lady has an interesting idea of travel attire. Is this what Haiti has done for her

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I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who supported Nicki and Mike for their three months with us and who supported the Springdale team to return and who gave  help once more.  Thank you so very much to all who donated clothes, shoes, various needed items, laptops, toys - frisbies and skipping ropes-  for the students and children here, money to pay to bring extra suitcases, and, and, and. . . . .

Working with the blessed gifts of laptops

May God bless all of you who came and gave of yourself and all of you behind the scenes who supported and gave to make it all possible.  You have blessed us and we are asking God to bless all of you.

Papa Luckner, saying goodbye to N & M and team and loving on our little Dickieson

It takes all of us working together to make this mission the place of help it is in this area of the Artibonite Valley.  All of you behind the scenes are extremely important to the work being done here and we thank you.  Without you the children would not receive the help they do.  THANK YOU!!

I T    I S     A L L     A B O U T     T H E     C H I L D R E N


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 29/16. Hello out there in Blogland ! (This blog coming a little late.)

First, it is Mothers’ Day in Haiti, so  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all Moms wherever  you are in the country of Haiti

Our day started off with a BANG !!  It may be Mother’s Day , but we still had some preparations to finish. Decorations were made but still had to be put up in the church.  More loot bags had to be filled to be sure each person who attended church was equally treated.  Pictures had to be taken of the children and Mama in their new clothes as well as with the Team members and Nicki and Mike.

Mama Karen with the children

Going to miss these two wonderful people

Our little princess

Sisters by choice

All this before heading out the door, tambourines and drums in hand, for church at 9:30.   At church we enjoyed uplifting music, a message about Mothers by Mike, a group singing by the HATS children, a solo by a young man, and a group singing by the Springdale Team, and a singing by a young peoples group.  What a wonderful Service.  And did we  say it was hot !

Group singing for us

Sleeping in Lacee's arms

Alycia with sweet Flo

Sunday morning

After church we were served a delicious lunch by a special mom, our own Germaine. Fried chicken, brown mushroom rice with Creole/onion sauce. I really want to bring Germaine home with me!  Today is not only Mother's Day but two special birthdays as well!! Happy Birthday Karen and Todd!! What a fun day it was going to be! Lots of celebrating, fun with the children and cake of course.

On a sad note, Nicki and Mike who have been with HATS for the past three months will be leaving with our team on Tuesday. We are sure a piece of their heart will be left behind. Thank you both for giving so much to HATS during your stay. And what would a farewell be without a few practical jokes??? A frantic call was made to Mike and Nicki asking them to please come quickly because Karen was sick and they were needed. Little did they know that the troops had assembled and were preparing for battle. Mike comes running up the walkway, attempting to button his shirt with Nicki racing behind, only to be plastered with water balloons!!!  Then we really started our battle. Whenever we are here we always have a water fight with the children and this time was no exception!! Our fun was to continue with a sports day but that quickly came to a halt as Mother Nature rained on our parade. It is Mothers Day after all!!! Thunder, lightening and sheets of rain are enjoyed so very much while sitting inside looking out.

Getting ready the fast way

Hit them Jenny

Fun with water

Go Lacee go

Look at the men go

It has been very nice to have a short lazy time to sit and reflect on our week thus far.  We have accomplished most of the things we had come for as well as a few others and some things here still waiting to be done.  Food has been measured out and some has been picked up by students and families. Sponsored students whose sponsors sent gifts along with us to show their love have been distributed to the students in question.  All this done while some of the group was finishing their health assessments and others were spending recess time playing in the school yard with the students, trying to also answer their interesting questions.

School students coming to get a gift from their sponsors in NL brought down by the team

Don with a student who received a gift via the team from her sponsors in Springdale

Evening came with us gathering in the devotion room for a birthday celebration.  The kids were so excited to be having cake and juice for Mama and Todd's birthday!  Soooooo many candles on the cake!!  Dare we say the total was 117 years??    We then surprised the children with a new item of clothing, some of which was made by Springdale sewers as well as the Busy Bees. Thank you so much!!  We wish you could personally see the joy on their faces!!  Mama Karen's joy was especially evident when she opened her gift to find NFLD items as well as a much wanted CD player.  This compound will be rocking tonight with her favourite Christian tunes.  Nicki and Mike were quick to pick up on the fact that she had been missing this pleasure.  The evening wound down with us sitting together for a cup of tea.  Then slipping off to bed with our heads filled with how much can be accomplished in the short length of time we have here.

We anxiously await our return and each year it seems to pass more quickly.

So Karen, are we booked for 2017 yet???

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 28th, 2016

After we were all awakened, some by the noise of roosters in the fields, others by mangos dropping from the trees, and others by snoring, we gathered for an early morning walk (5:45AM). It’s been a busy week and the first group walk of our visit. Even seven of the children came with us. The fields were wet and we appreciated really how dry it had been in previous years. Recent rainfall will no doubt help so many as they grow their crops. The cattle seen feeding in the fields also had plenty to graze on. We watched as men and women started their day by going by foot, by moto, or by donkey. Unfortunately, Karen could only walk part of the way due to her hip pain. Then again, it was doctor’s orders to not go for a walk at all!

Early morning walk

After breakfast, the ‘health promotion clinic’ opened again and a team of us worked so well together. While Karen, Jenny, Alycia, and Todd were helping people, Don was entertaining those waiting. Now that could mean telling a joke, or even standing on his head if he had to, and he nearly had to do just that but opted to lie on the floor instead. The health promotion clinics have inspired us to plan to return on a medical mission in 2017.

One of our grade 9 boys at Health Promotion

Our health promotion team worked very hard every day! Missing are Emma, Don, Nikki, Mike, and Karen. We all had specific roles and so far have had nearly 200 visits.

Brushing teeth is very important

This young boy shared that when he gets older he hopes to be a medical doctor. He is a student at Karen’s school. Health careers were promoted wherever possible.

At one of our Health Promotion Days he said he wants to be a doctor 

In preparation for tomorrow’s Mother’s Day celebration, lots of kids gathered to help clean the church yard, others prepared loot bags, and selected what the children would wear using the clothes we brought from Canada.

Preparing loot bags to be given out after church

Our afternoon adventures began with a stop to see Luckner and his family.

Fantastic group at Luckner and Rose Lore's

Our team has met so many interesting people this visit. This afternoon we met Tom Braak, an American from Michigan, who has been in Haiti for 19 years. His passion is teaching the Haitian people about the potential of cultivating various fruit trees and how to grow products that not only feed their families but can be used as a source of income. He owns a nursery just 10 minutes from Karen’s compound.

Tom Braak giving us interesting information re his tree nursery

Karen brought us to the pharmacy. Well, that was quite the adventure! There medications are sold without a prescription. We saw everything from medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc for easy access by anyone. Karen bought prednisone and allergy medicine for one of the students and it costs $13 American. Jenny was just happy to shop even if it was for medication.

The rain started to pour on our way home. Some of us were cozy in the air conditioned truck while others were soaked! Lacee didn’t mind though as she was busy courting any RCMP officer in sight! She did turn a lot heads!

 It’s always nice to come home to the meals at HATS…  It was delicious and we are all so thankful for each day.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Blog – Friday, May 27th

Alycia and Lacee here.

Another busy day is behind us! Last night, we were lucky to fall asleep to a beautiful light show accompanied by the sound of the Haitian rain. We had no trouble falling asleep after an adventurous two hour-long ride in the pan of the truck to St. Marc to shop for some medications.

We started our day with Germaine’s yummy breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit.

After breakfast Todd, Jenny, Don, Karen, and Alycia headed over to the church to continue with health promotion for some of the students and their families. It’s crazy how something as simple as brushing your teeth twice a day is not a common practice here. It is eye-opening that receiving a toothbrush is an important thing to some students and were greatly appreciated!

When one lady got word that a doctor was in the area, she brought along her hospital chart which we thought was quite interesting compared to what you would see in the hospitals back home - sample attached.

While the others were busy at the church, Emma and Lacee continued to unpack all of lovely donations that our team brought to Haiti with us. We received an enormous amount of clothing, medications, toothbrushes & toothpaste from the people of Springdale and surrounding areas, along with skipping ropes & frisbees (thanks IRA!).

 After a busy morning, we were treated to a proper Haitian lunch of fried chicken, rice and beans with Creole sauce and Haitian beet salad.

To work off all of that fried chicken, Moise challenged us to a game of basketball. Moise and Jenny may be drafted by the Raptors next season, but there’s not much hope for the rest of us! We then headed off to Borel to visit friends of Karen, Bim and Tim, who work with the Water Project for Haiti. There we were taken on a tour of the grounds which included the home that Karen rented for 9 years before building the current HATS compound.

We saw some other residences, a metal workshop, and most importantly the water filtration system – so cool! The Water Project for Haiti develops water filters for families in the surrounding area so that they can have clean drinking water and be better protected from water-borne diseases. The filters use sand to naturally separate the purified water from the bacteria and debris. It is incredible how such a simple system can bring to a family what most of us take for granted each day.

On the way home from Bim and Tim’s, we stopped at Luckner’s store for a cold drink and decided to do a bit of “shopping” for goodies to take back to Newfoundland with us. We hit the jackpot when we found Pringles and grape soda!

That’s about it for today; we are excited to see what tomorrow has in store! For now we are off to have a cup of Tetley and story time with Karen before bed.

Jenny has the tea on

Time for tea with Purity Lemon Creams