Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Canal Walk


The canal walk is a highlight for the kids, the volunteers and the work teams here at HATS. For all of us it is a rare chance to get off the compound where we work or go to school, live and attend church. It is an opportunity to see Haiti in all its beauty – and not the news clips we see on North American TV of poverty, squalor and political demonstrations. This Artibonite Valley is very beautiful with rich agricultural land providing food and employment for the locals.

The canal and Artibonite Valley

100 meters and Moise is tired already

Bananas enroute to market

Saturday Morning I left promptly at 6:00 with the older kids. Well; it was actually 6:20 but we are on Haitian time and had to wait for Moise and Vladimy to find their shoes… Leika, Djemima, JJ, and Dieunel were all ready on time. We headed north along the canal, crossed the bridge and came back on the other side.

Everyday is laundry day along the canal

The walkers club

Across the bridge and back on the other side

When the kids walk with Karen they practice their English, walking with me I practiced Creole with them.  Obviously 5 Kms is not nearly along enough lesson time with my limited linguistic skills but they had a lot of laughs at my expense.

Homeward bound

Lush fields of peas

Beauties and the beast

Tomorrow we’ll do a shorter walk with the younger children.

It's all about the kids........

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday, February 5th – 2016


For any one that has kids or has looked after kids you know there is that one time every day that I used to call the arsenic hours when my kids were little.  As the saying goes, “he’s jumping up and down on me last nerve!”

So at 4 o’clock today the little ones came running up to the door. Can we do this? Not today. Can we that? Not right now. Can we ride our bikes? Yes!

Keith’s bicycle repair shop

I know that the picture does not look like children riding bikes, but this is how each riding time starts. Keith has one or more bikes that need: a chain reattached, a handle bar tightened, a seat adjusted or a tire pumped. With 17 bikes to keep running there is always something that needs fixing. Today Sandra waited patiently for her bike to be fixed. With a big “Thank you Keith” she was on her way.

While she was waiting for her bike Sandra had a little spin on Anne’s bike. She so wants to be like her big sister and I don’t think it will be long before she will be riding without those training wheels. Jofkey decided to take out the scooter and discovered how to do a wheelie!

Sandra trying her wings

You will also notice in the background that Jonathan and Markenson are having a race, Jonathan on foot and Markenson on his bike. It was so much fun to hear them laughing together.

Jonathan and Markenson

As it grew closer to supper time, one by one the bikes and helmets were put away. Thanks to Dickie and Jim, everyone has a place for their very own helmet.

Parked bikes

Sonson had a nice long swing all by himself while his brothers and sisters were biking. He was having a great time….I heard him singing for the first time. So cute.

The swing all to himself

The kids were surprised and pleased when Keith and I got bikes out and joined them riding around the compound.

Joan and Keith can ride too!!!!

It Is All About The Kids!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday, February 03rd – 2016


Every school day the kids head next door to school at 7:30 AM. The preschoolers, staff and volunteers then gather for devotions. After devotions and a short time of socializing, everyone disperses to start their day. There is no list of jobs to do (except for me!!) and all the staff knows what needs to be done. A place like HATS is very well run and there are days like today when the whole operation seems to run on momentum.

The cook cooks……


The gardener gardens…..


The laundry ladies do the laundry…..

Leonard and Madame Saintardieu

The guard guards…..


The barber barbers…..

Moise getting a trim

The directors direct…..

I’m not sure where Karen and Joan have disappeared to…. Maybe working from home, or gone for a pedicure or in a meeting. Another good example of HATS running well on momentum.

The preschoolers play

Sonson found a cool piece of concrete to play on

The house mothers clean


And the blogger blogs!!!!!

I just needed a nice mango shake and a quiet place to think about today’s blog!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

THANK YOU Jim, Dickie and Sandra.

I truly have no idea what I would have done in the month of January if you had not come and given me three weeks of awesome help. If Haiti problems had kept you from coming to HATS I hate to think how I would have survived.  God knew how badly I needed you and he made it happen.

You worked hard and long in the heat. You took care of everything on the 'Dickie and Jim Do List' and also on the 'Sandra Do list'.  You then started on other things not on the lists.

Through it all you were a tremendous support to me. I was encouraged in every way and manner possible.

The laughter was awesome medicine and I received the very large doses I needed.

You are family. You are friends. You are fantastic. Thank God you are also foolish.

It is always a joy to see your suitcases arrive but oh so difficult to see them leaving the compound. We will be waiting for you next year.

Early morning departure from HATS for the great country of Canada once again

Sadly she has to leave as well as those two special men

Loading van outside HATS compound

Go with God to that other world of Canada. You will be back. We will be waiting always

Policeman Daniel going to airport too as security

May you be richly blessed by the Lord as you have blessed me and the others here at HATS.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday, January 28th – 2016


Well it is quiet on the compound today. Dickie, Sandra and Jim have all headed home after a 3 week stint at HATS. They will be missed by Karen and the Kids as well as us. Especially me -  Now ALL the jobs on the to-do-list are mine! Thank you to all three for the tremendous support you show for the orphanage here and from home. We will miss your conversations; jobs accomplished, blogs, office work, time with Ti Luc and the other children, pranks, walks and encouragement.
Safe travels and enjoy the snow shoveling!

Joan had collected a lot of shoes and sandals for the kids for us to bring this trip. Before we left in December she had all the kids’ sizes that were needed. She did a great job getting donations and purchasing but it appears the footwear falls into only 2 categories.
Too big....Or
Too small
How did the kids grow so much in 6 week?
With a little creativity, some shoe swapping and a hunt through the depot, everyone now has footwear for the immediate future. Of course once the word spread that there were new shoes on the go ALL the kids wanted in on the action. Now Joan will do up a list for the next team to bring.

Jofky sporting new runners

Jonathan tries his new sandals

The house mothers were busy today – as soon as the children left for school they took EVERYTHING that was not nailed down out of the 2 dorms. Why? It’s time for the quarterly cockroach spraying. The compound looked like a hurricane had hit, or a camping trip gone bad, or a bungled break and enter. By mid-afternoon everything was back in place and hopefully the little (well some are not so little) varmints are all dead.

Cefila and the carnage from the girls’ home

Tifi, Sonson and Magdela cannot quite figure out what is happening

The carnage from the boys’ home

I didn’t do this Keif – honest!!!

While the house mothers were spraying inside, Eugene was spraying outside against the Zika virus. Some  common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Doesn’t’ sound like fun so hopefully this helps.

Eugene spraying against the Zika virus.

Monday, January 25, 2016


We had a great early morning walk on Saturday with Keith taking us across the street and up the canal on a different route.  We walked for half an hour then crossed a bridge and returned on the opposite side.  It was very interesting.  Had a much slower day than usual but enjoyed it all.  Dickie said he did not earn his keep.

Early morning walk

Local traffic on our walk

out watering her goat

We had a very pleasant surprise late Saturday!  It started to rain and it rained all evening and into the night.  It cooled the air and made damp beds but we all slept well. We have not seen rain in January before.

Sunday we awoke to overcast skies and they stayed that way all day and we even got a sprinkle in the afternoon.  We Canadians love it but the Haitians are cold. The down side is that there is a full moon but we cannot enjoy that because of cloud cover.  Maybe tomorrow night we will get it.

Church attendance was down because of the weather...just like in Yarmouth when we get a snow storm. We had a rousing worship time anyway and a good message brought by Jim and translated by Karen.

Karen translates with 200 words for every 10 from Jim

Spent the afternoon playing games,doing puzzles and coloring with the littler ones and a little hockey and basketball with the bigger ones.

With cool damp weather the fleece hoodies became the required dress for hockey

Karen and Dickie went to Pierre Payan, took Daniel as security and it was smooth sailing.  Despite the election being called off for today there are still pockets of unrest and manifestations in the country.  None between here and Pierre Payan today.

Monday, early morning walk along the canal again and sun is shining brightly and things are back to normal!  Great day ahead!

Sunny skies are back|

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday, January 22 – 2016


Wow, here we are back in Haiti at the HATS (Hands across the Sea) orphanage and school again. Joan and I had an uneventful flight (just the way I like them) from Montreal to Port au Prince on Tuesday. Thanks to The Air Canada Foundation and Kid’s Horizons we had all the excess baggage fees waived for this trip. SOOOOO, instead of two hockey bags we brought eight!! Each weight the maximum 23 kgs and were loaded with tools, school supplies, soccer and sports equipment, diapers, clothes, snacks, school bags and gifts for the kids and the operation. Thank you friends and family for your donations.

We had a noisy and warm welcome from the kids and they were genuinely pleased to have us back here. We quickly slipped into our Haiti rhythm, waking up at 5:30, a walk along the canal for an hour, breakfast, devotions and check the job list.........

Every morning the Ladies Executive Council meet to decide the day’s activities.

Executive council members Karen, Joan and Sandra.

The jobs are posted on the office door and you can see I am getting off a little easy to start this tour.
But, I already have completed 2/3s of my mandate.

That will soon change as Dickie, Sandra and Jim head home on Tuesday and there will only be one job list – MINE!!

The Do Lists

Then everyone goes about their business doing whatever it is they do.

Dickie at the repair table this time with a chair

Jim at the IT desk

Keith with the computer class, making sure the students are typing with multiple fingers not just 2 like their teacher.

I took pictures of the new boys, framed them and hung them to complete Karen’s kids’ wall.



The three wise men met to ponder the mystery of no hot water at Madame Joan’s cottage and in no time flat it was fixed. What a team!!

Tomorrow we start over and see what the day brings.

Good times.