Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tested and Tried

If you have been following the blog you know that lots of work has been done at HATS to help prevent flooding. The raising of the bridge to the compound , removal of huge gate, and subsequent reinstallation of gate was finished yesterday afternoon. (We had only one night with the big barrier/gate lying on the ground. Luckner sent a second armed security to sit there for that night and we all slept well.) That same night we returned from PAP and I parked the truck in the wet school compound as there was no way to get into the main compound. Yesterday a truck load of gravel was dropped in the entrance immediately after the gate was put back up and quickly spread inside the yard by workers.
Then the rain came.

Putting Big Gate to compound back up again

Soon feel safe again

Load of gravel to be spread inside the gate

Luckner and I looked at the sky, then at each othe,r and said "Now we are going to be tested." We had to take a quick run, in the rain, to Pont Sonde with both trucks (his and HATS) to meet a vehicle who had brought our Reliv product for the school and orphanage from Titayan for us. The product was quickly packed into the two trucks, tarped and tied, and we headed back to the compound.

The rain continued and we saw lots of evidence of flooding in Liancourt and Coupon/Borel area on the way home. We knew the HATS compound was truly being tested and we were anxious to see how it stood up after all the work Luckner had overseen. I am very happy to report that as we drove over the new bridge into the compound and then to the Devotion/Meeting room to unload the Reliv boxes we did not do so in water. Thank you, God.

There was water on the compound but it was on the areas not yet worked on. There was water between the gate and the generator room that does not yet have the drainage pipes in or any fill there. There was some water between the Kid's Home and the Devotion/Meeting room too, as that also has not been worked on. We wanted to get our first rain and see what would happen there. And if it could wait we would build the new Kid's Home "Kay Timbrmart" before putting fill in that area of the yard. It was getting dark and raining so I did not get photos of where it was wet. Wet, but not flooded!

As far as I, Karen, am concerned, yesterday we were tried, tested and passed. If all that work had not been done the compound would have been flooded again. Boss Luckner, and our great team of construction workers, have done a great job. They have all worked long and hard in intense heat. I am thankful and proud of them.

On Thursday Luckner, Mariah and I went to the airport to pick up a lady from Ontario, Beate Rufft, who came to help me and will be leaving with Mariah. She will travel as far as Miami with Mariah and see that she gets to her gate for her flights to Dallas and on to Calgary. For this I am very thankful. The arrangements for her coming to help were made shortly after the earthquake and I am glad we did. I feel as if I have known her for years. She was a godsend in her first day here. Her first night here, however, was marked by the constant crowing of roosters. All who have been here know of which I speak.

Beate's arrival at airport

While in PAP we drove Mariah through some of the earthquake damaged areas so she could see for herself. It is still very difficult to see and it was obvious Mariah too was finding it thus. Not a lot of progress that I could see. We took her to see the broken palace and all the crashed government buildings - some of which have been removed.

Mariah & the Palace in PAP

While there we could not resist a photo of an ingenious young man selling pop from his moto.

New method of selling pop

On our way back I arranged for Mariah to see David in Montrouis. He is a fine young man who received an education here through Education Haiti. He is special, to Liette and family as well as to me. He informed me that he was interviewed and retested again recently, and rehired to teach English again in September. David is a good example of sponsoring a student.

Mariah & David

Things Mariah was helping with are now on Beate's shoulders as Mariah has truly become the Little Mama for our cutie pitutie, one-year-old Tayanna. Mariah has her hands full there.

Yesterday, payday, Mariah was ' Madamn Directrice' for awhile. She took my place in paying all employees, even to borrowing my glasses to look the part. (I might add she did this job while Tayanna was napping.)

Mariah paying salaries (Note glasses)

Last night we had our very own 'crowing rooster' just outside my house. I was thinking of Don and Ed. I was remembering sitting on the roof top with the HATS family and other workteam members while Ed did the rooster dance and Don did the crowing which had us all in stitches.

When we visited Mariah's biological family early in the week, he said he would come see her on Friday. He did so, complete with gifts. He brought Mariah a rooster and a hen - live I might add - and a large bag with bananas, plantain, limes, militon. He is a nice man. He has a reputation of gentleness which is evident. It is awesome to see him with Mariah and see the pride on his face. Martha will come to work today, kill, prepare, and cook the birds along with the other things Mariah's dad brought her. Sleep should come easier tonight with the rooster in the pot instead of under the window.

Mariah & biological father (His gifts to her)

When I blog again hopefully I will have photos of our new signs going up outside the compound. One on each of the compounds - Main compound and school compound.

Beate will blog today or tomorrow and a few times while here. This will free me up to do some of the million other things that is awaiting my attention. When she arrived she was warmly welcomed and all the children are happy she is here.

For those who might be interested in knowing - I will be going to eastern Canada for 3 1/2 weeks on Aug 27th, I will be in Yarmouth area first, at Sandra and Dickie's - 742-5234, and then on Sept 7th in Newfoundland, at Don & Lila's - 673-3491. I will be talking/sharing about Haiti and HATS but also getting some needed time visiting family and friends. I am looking forward to touching base with friends - old and new.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Work continuing on the Mud Mission

Yesterday lots of work was done. When the time arrived for workers to finish and go home to their families, instead they stayed on and worked another 7 hours. Some arrived at 7:00 a.m. and helped unload the cement truck. Worked all day. Then worked again from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. The bridge entrance to the mission's main compound was rebuilt last night. The level was raised so the water would no longer run into the compound. By 11:30 last night everyone was covered with mud and cement and extremely overtired. This morning the final touches were put on the new bridge. Today they started to work on removing the huge gate. That will continue again tomorrow.

Lots left to do and getting dark

 Pouring of cement on bridge to compound late at night

11pm. All covered in cement. Luckner checking it out

Mariah saw all the work that needed to be done last night and wanted to help. She found a wheelbarrow that could not stand up by itself but could be pushed around. She worked hard for more two hours wheeling lots of rocks, sand, and gravel from one area of the compound to the big gate area where the cement work was going on. She was a tremendous help. She out ran the young men who were doing similar work. At 11:30 p.m. when work was almost finished she sat on the cement in front of depot and leaned against a wall. She was instantly asleep. She did not stir when I took the photo. Thought for awhile I might have to try to carry her to my house. Now that would have been an interesting sight.

Mariah helping with construction work at night

Almost midnight. Mariah sat down and asleep immediately

We've raised the bridge level this much

Thanks to Liette for her suggestion of a name for our new little one. We are calling her Tayanna and I think we call her after Mariah as her second name. Mariah is a great Ti Mama for her. Mariah is also a blessing to Ti Luc who adores her too.

Ti Mama Mariah, Ti Luc & Tayanna

Ti Luc loves to have Tayanna around but does not like it when she is in Poppa's arms. He, however, does not mind his mama or Mariah holding the baby as he likes to call her.

Poppa Luckner with Tayanna & Ti Luc

Today we had a visit from John Chew and his three boys. They brought clothes to bless our children and left others with which we will bless children in our area. John, Annie, and their boys, Samuel, Josue and Emile are in the process of moving back to Haiti from the US. Samuel and Josue used to be playmates of Mariah after she was adopted, by my Liette, but still living in Haiti. Nice for them to be able to connect again after thirteen years.

Samuel, Josue & Emile Chew & Mariah with our kids

Mariah with Samuel, Josue & Emile Chew

Tomorrow Luckner, Mariah, and I, along with our trusty police escort, Daniel, are off to PAP airport to meet a lady, Beate, from Ontario. Hopefully next blog you can hear from her.

Registration for our school is happening this week. In other years it was held in the school compound but under a tree that offered shade. It has to be held inside this year due to all the water on the compound. Before school opens we will be needing some truck loads of gravel spread in the yard.

I have not forgotten my promise to do a blog about my girls. You will have photos and a little info on them soon.

Our family is growing slowly and I like it that way. We are a family. I want to keep the number of children to a maximum of 16-18 so we can remain 'a family'. We will continue, too, to help children who are able to live with extended family outside the HATS compound.

We are here for the children. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN.

Blessings. Karen

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Greetings from "Mud Mission"

Greetings from what is jokingly know these days as the "Mud Mission" But as you will see that is quickly changing. We are doing everything possible to change the name of the mission back to HATS.

Our family is growing. Here is our newest addition yesterday - a cute one-year-old girl. I have not yet decided on a name for her. The story we have been given is that her parents died in PAP in the earthquake and she was recently brought to Verrettes and dropped off.

Mama and her newest one

My gorgeous granddaughter quickly became a mother when the little one arrived. Not bad. Someone 17 1/2 coming to Haiti to help and in a very short period becoming a mother. I figured my new little one most likely was not used to my colour skin and would adjust more quickly if Mariah held her. Mariah held her lovingly and gave her something to drink and eat and she quickly attached to her. Now she wants Mariah all the time. Mariah went to the kid's homelast night and walked and sang her to sleep. It is sweet to see the two of them together. I love it!! Now I know what Mariah will be doing a lot of the time she is here. Today she followed Mariah around like any baby (human or animal) follows its mother. Yesterday she called me Mama. Today no one is Mama besides Mariah.

Mariah and her first child

Two ladies brought her to the house and we sat in the gallery. Ti Luc was fascinated. He wanted to be close to "bebe". When it was time for them to leave I asked Mariah to take the little one into the house and out of sight. Ti Luc and Leica went in too. When the ladies left Ti Luc scurried into the kitchen and said to Martha (in Creole of course) "Martha, I have something good to tell you. They left without the baby." Then he danced with joy. Martha was absolutely thrilled about the beautiful phrasing that Ti Luc used when talking with her and with the joy on his face about the baby staying with us. When she needed a nap Mariah put her in Ti Luc's bed. He was quite pleased about it.

Ti Luc who's that sleeping in my bed

Lots of work going on these days to raise the level of the compound due to the flooding problem which gave us the name Mud Mission. Luckner has work going on inside and outside. When it is finished I will no longer have great concern when heavy rain comes. No guarantee we will not get a little water sometimes but we will not flood as in the past. We have decided to raise the level of the bridge unto the compound as well. This means we will also need to raise the entrance gate. He is putting in draining pipes so when the rain comes the water inside the compound will run outside.

Work proceeding on compound

Another truck load of gravel

Luckner at work on drainage for compound

The work continues

This kind of work needs cement - lots of it. Early this morning a delivery arrived.

Cement delivery this morning

Sunday we had a lovely afternoon with a visit from Heather and family, a friend of hers and her family, and a gentleman (pastor I think) from the US who are presently at the Borel mission. Some Bible stories were told with visual helps which greatly touched my kids and the two house mothers. As of September Heather and her children will be living in Borel. That will be good for myself and my children. We can occasionally get both families together. Yesterday, Monday, we had another great visit from the Borel mission. This time from Theresa and her children and a couple from the US. "Better than Christmas" was what I overheard one of my kids say to another one after they had discovered all that was in their gift sacks that the couple presented from their church. Hopefully January will also see Theresa and her family living in Borel.

Heather & kids, friends & kids with us

Kids with gifts from a couple representing their church in US

Despite all the work on the mission site this morning I took Mariah to see her biological father, his wife, her two half brothers and a half sister. She had a very nice visit with them. They, of course, were thrilled to see her. I am glad we went today. Her father is obviously so happy and proud of who Mariah is - how she has turned out. And so am I.

Mariah with biological father and family

Again, thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support of what we are trying to do in this area of Haiti.

Jesus said " Let the little children come to me." We are trying to help Haiti by "Changing Lives, One Child at a Time."

God bless you all. Karen and family

Monday, July 26, 2010

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hello from Haiti

Hot, sticky, wet, and complete chaos in airport... yup, hmmm I'm back in Haiti. The Baggage claim area was packed with lots of people trying to get their bags and me being short with a short red headed grandma didn't help our situation to find the bags. Others ended up helping us and we were eventually on our way. Pushing our overloaded carts a very long way through mud, water and pot holes we finally reached the truck. Soaked we climbed in. Before arriving at the compound we received word that the compound and road was flooded. The compound and the school next door was flooded and as me and my grandma Karen waded into the "POOL" it reached our waists.

I'm having a very great time however in spite of all the mud and rain. The market on Wednesday was crowded but very interesting and fun. Having a great time with the kids and Ti Luckner. Ti Luckner is improving a lot and memorizing tons of school work. I am working with him and he is very smart. Trying to help my grandma with lots of things. Just hoping the weather will maybe clear up by next week so we can get some soccer action going on!

Home from market

Finished school work, let's rest

 Playing chase with Ti Luc & Leica

Bye for now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hello from the oven.

Not only hot oven but wet as well. Hot and humid it is!! With rain and flooding too.

I am sorry I am somewhat behind on my blogging but I have been very busy doing, doing, coming, going, and doing. Oh yes, did I mention 'doing'?

Well here I am to try and catch up a little with lots of photos.

When my beautiful, grown up, Haitian/Canadian granddaughter, Mariah, returned to Haiti on Sunday she was welcomed with lots of rain and flooding. Welcome back to Haiti Mariah!!

It was raining and the suitcases were wet before we could get them tarped and tied down. On the drive from PAP to Deschapelles someone phoned Luckner to say that the canal, outside our compound, was rising to a dangerous level and the ditch (aka small canal) was full as well and the rain was continuing. Another call followed quickly to say the canal and ditch had overflowed and the water was quickly rushing into the compound. Luckner called someone to send four men to the compound quickly to assist the security agent on duty in getting the huge gate open and to stay and give protection. Along our route home a radio announcer was saying some homes had been lost as water rushed down the mountains taking small homes in its path. As we passed through Liancourt (not too far from Deschapelles) we saw lots of flooding. Houses half under water. Water running out of side roads like fast flowing rivers. Yards that looked like small lakes. Rice fields that resembled big lakes.People lined the streets as they did not know where to go. Mariah was amazed by it all. A call to our compound said the gate had been opened by the five men and the water had started receding slowly.

Liancourt flooded

When we arrived at the bridge, where we turn unto the canal road to go into the mission, we saw problems!! There was water everywhere. It is a good thing it had started to recede. Yikes!! We wondered where exactly the edge of the road was and where the canal started. Luckner got us safely to the gate and when we entered the compound we saw a flooded compound. Much worse than the last time. Luckner kept up a good pace with the truck and pushed the water ahead of us as we plowed through it to my house. Mariah and I went to see the school compound which was badly flooded too. The kitchen was well under water. Thank God school is out for the summer.

Road to compound and canal

Plowing through floodwater on compound

Mariah in school yard after water had gone down some

Luckner and the four men stayed on site with us for hours due to the gate being wide open in the dark. Eventually the men went home, but Luckner left one man to sit at the gate as security with the regular agent. I received a call at 2:00 a.m to say the water had finally receded enough for them to close the big gate.Good. After than I actually relaxed and went to sleep.

This whole area received a lot of flooding. Homes in the Deschapelles area were lost or under water and belongings lost or ruined. Many mountain homes were lost. The water rushed down the mountains and overflowed rivers, canals, etc. If people in this area received damage to this extent what about the displaced people living in the tent cities ?? Dear God help them!!

Mariah got the royal HATS welcome despite the flood waters. The kids were thrilled to have her back. Ti Luc remembered her of course and had been waiting a long time for her to arrive so he was more than happy. They spent some time together that evening.

Mariah's first night

The next morning Mariah started doing therapy exercises with Ti Luc after which she spent valuable time with all the kids playing and reading to them. This morning she worked with Ti Luc on his alphabet. I've already decided I should keep her here. Luckner, Martha, and Antoinette are also very pleased she is with us.

Ti Luc therapy time with Mariah

First morning with Mariah

Yesterday I took Mariah to St. Marc with me. She is too beautiful and she was being oogled by men from approx 18 yrs - old guys. On the way home I told her she can't leave the compound anymore unless she is covered head to toe. Last night we dressed her in a sheet and I told her that is her wardrobe until she leaves Haiti. She can change the colour occasionally only.

Mariah's wardrobe for while she is in Haiti

Did I mention I am glad she is here? Did I need to?? Or did you get the idea that we are all glad that she is here with us?

Oh yes, restoration work onsite due to the earthquake is continuing. More on that another time.

Yesterday morning we assessed the flood damage from inside and outside the compound. Now we have started on raising the compound level and are going to make a change on the entrance to and from the compound to decrease the flooding danger. We will work on the school compound before September.

Morning after flood. Luckner figuring out what to do first

Main compound after water had receded some

Please remember to pray for all those living in tents throughout Haiti. One tent city was almost demolished recently by wind and rain. Where are these people living now?? They need our prayers and our support. All of Haiti needs a lot of support. Please pray for those who must make the big decisions as to how, what , when and where things will be done to help the 1 1/2 million displaced persons here. They don't have any of the things we take for granted. God have mercy upon them.

Blessings to you all.

Karen & gang

Friday, July 16, 2010

Update on Conditions in Haiti

Update on Haiti

Haiti continues pretty much as it has been the last few months.  Here is some info that I have received from my friend who lives and works in PAP.

The camps are even fuller than before as people are either returning to PAP or choosing the camps over their homes because of some perceived benefits they might receive. 

Tent camps
…  There are presently 1.6 million displaced persons scattered in 1,342 camp sites in the earthquake affected areas of Ha├»ti.  In Port-au-Prince, there are about 1,000 of the sites.  Fifty-four of the 1,342 sites have more than 1,000 households and these account for 29% of the displaced people.   The commune (like a county) of Delmas, which is very close to the heart of downtown Port au Prince, has the highest concentration of displaced persons.  There are 200 camps, 11 of which accommodate more than 1,000 families; and there is a total of 315,500 homeless persons (19% of all displaced persons) in the camps. 

Water and hygiene facilities…  The WASH teams have been working overtime to help meet these needs; and despite less than required levels of water and hygiene facilities in the camps, no waterborne infections have been reported--truly God’s grace and a testimony to how carefully the Haitian people work at managing these scarce resources.  But the teams believe that they should be able to add enough latrines to provide 1 for every 100 persons by October, a very decent figure.  Nonetheless, the teams caution that although the WASH surveillance may be able to be suspended in a few months in the rural areas, it will need to continue for another year or two within PAP because of the scarcity of resources.

Insecurity and personal safety….  One of the most unpleasant part of the camps has been the insecurity.  A couple weeks ago the National Police teamed up with the UN troops (called MINUSTAH here) in an early morning raid on one of the large camps in the commune of Delmas.  About 30 persons believed to be thieves were apprehended, some were escaped prisoners from the national penitentiary whose walls were damaged in the earthquake. 
 Another part of the insecurity relates to teens and young women who are being forced into sexual relationships.  With many family members either dead or dispersed, these young people are particularly vulnerable.  Security has increased in the camps, but it is still a concern.

Pregnancy and STIs…  Along with the concern about personal safety is a  very sharp rise in the number of pregnancies.  This has not yet been measured, but we have all noticed the large number of young women walking about in the earlier stages of pregnancy.  Of course, if one is vulnerable to pregnancy, there is also a significant risk for sexually transmitted infection, like HIV.  In fact, health providers in some of the camps have noted a higher than national average prevalence among the camp dwellers--though it is uncertain whether this is a cluster effect (a higher number of infected persons who just happen to be living in the same camp) or a real increase in prevalence.

Temporary homes
…  Some of the tents and tarps have been damaged by the large and frequent rains we’ve been having and will need replaced.  As I mentioned in the last update, people are starting to add more permanent fixtures to their very temporary shelters, like tin doors, wood framing, and the like.  Roughly about 2,500 temporary homes (more like a regular home and built to last at least 3 years) have been constructed; but these are mostly in the more rural areas.

…  The Shelter Cluster estimates that all in all there is about 19 million m3 of debris to remove.   —1 m3 is basically the size of a pallet, so that much debris would fill 19,000 very large warehouses.   All in all, about 125,000 temporary homes are expected to be constructed by this time next year, the huge majority in the metropolitan PAP area.

Food  …Although food rations are no longer being distributed, there is good news on the horizon!  The spring harvest looks like it will be rather productive, which will both increase the availability of food staples as well as decrease the price.  This is very heartening because prices continue to be well above pre-earthquake level— roughly 25 - 35 % more, depending on where you live.

Jobs…  Another brighter star on the horizon.  The food for work programs are not only helping to clear the rubble, clean out canals to avoid lowland flooding and repair rural roads, these people (over 100,000) are receiving a reasonable wage with which to help support their families.  The need for this kind of work will be there for quite some time in the future— along with labour for reconstruction; and these should help to re-establish some families.
  But the financial losses have been great here.  One thing that helps Haitian people to get by on such limited income is that they do not need to pay great sums for living quarters.  But modest sized homes that used to cost perhaps $2,500 per year to rent are now going for $500/month--that is more than the average middle class Haitian person earns in a month!  Housing relief, and not just the temporary shelters, must be made a major priority in order to be able to stabilize the country.

Some subjects of prayer:
  1. For everyone’s personal safety, especially for the young and the vulnerable
  2. That food and housing will indeed begin to be affordable and at levels to meet everyone’s need
  3. That reconstruction can proceed well:
    1. Settling of the land ownership issues
    2. No longer be hindered by such high prices.  Some materials are up about 50% over pre-earthquake prices, even though there is no shortage
  4. That the rains and floods will not do any more damage
Thank you for your continued interest in what is going on in Haiti and in helping the plight of these desperately needy people.

Blessings.  Karen

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The heat and the rain intensify.

We are wondering if this year we might get a short (week or two) break from the rain, as happens sometimes in July.  We hope so, but weather predictions are otherwise.  Actually the prediction is for a very wet year with lots of hurricanes.  Hopefully this is not accurate as  Haiti cannot handle more problems.

The projects that have been ongoing since the earthquake are almost 100% finished.  The Kid's Home needs the kitchen sink finished and water hooked up only.  The steps and cement work outside the front of their house has been finished.  The repairs to the cement wall enclosure of the compound has been completed.  The removal of the cement roof at the top of the main house has been done and the cutting and removal of the rebar is almost finished.  The outer walls on the second level of this house will be started soon.  Things that had been in storage in various areas of the compound has been moved into the new storage rooms under the water tower building.  Oh happy day!

Kitchen sink going in Kid's Home
Front of Kid's Home being finished
Moving things into new storage rooms under water tower

The construction of the Boy's Home is the next big project. We will soon be starting to dig so the foundation for this can get underway.

Our kids are all doing well.  They are all very happy about the end of school for awhile.  No one, however, is happier about that than I am. One less demand and stress for a short time.  Ti Luc goes flat out all day long walking and playing .  When the fatigue hits it hits.  I was trying to feed him and get him into his pyjamas one evening at 6:00 p.m.  I stepped out the back door to turn on water pump and returned two minutes later to find him in a deep sleep.  He went to bed as was and did not awake until 7:00 a.m.   I could not resist the photo.

Ti Luc asleep before supper finished & pyjamas
The school students and parents returned to our school on Friday so students could receive their report cards for the year.  In light of the earthquake and the following months, when neither students or teachers could properly focus on schooling, all of Haiti has been expecting a drop in the number of students who pass.  Our school did fairly well considering.  I am enclosing a couple of photos of students (both are in the sponsoring program) receiving a gift for placing first in their grades.

Report day at HATS school
Effrainse with gift for placing 1st in grade 2
Shiloi 1st in grade 3
All the work that HATS has done and is doing is   "ALL  ABOUT  THE  CHILDREN."