Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And life goes on in Haiti

But, at a slower pace due to demonstrations - road blocks, rock throwing, shooting, after the election on Sunday. Not a lot of normalcy is being seen - lots of businesses are closed, schools are closed. Luckner is very involved in trying to calm people down and see that they demonstrate in a peaceful manner.

There was lots of corruption in the election throughout Haiti and the people are taking a stand against how it was done. I stand with the Haitian people in this, but for peaceful demonstrations. I am not Haitian, but this is now my country and I am standing with them for things to change in elections. People need to be able to go to the polls and vote for the person of their choice. Most did not go due to fear. Lots who did go were told they had already voted, when they had not. Polling stations in this area had major problems and corruption. Some were open only a couple of hours.

The election was Sunday. Saturday afternoon, in a town close to the mission, a group for one of the candidates was giving out $2000 and a gun to those who would stand with them and vote for the person of their choice.

Almost all candidates are asking for a re-election due to all the corruption on Sunday. I understand, from a report on the internet, the UN has stated that the election went well and it should stand. I have not heard them say this myself, but if they are saying this . . . Why? And for whom?

Here on the administration/orphanage compound we are operating with some normalcy today. Yesterday, due to all the problems outside, I allowed employees to leave early. Some have not turned up for work today.

The school remains closed and will stay that way, most likely, until Monday at least. Election results have been promised by Sunday 5th. What will happen then? Will things start to operate in a somewhat normal manner again or will things get even worse? Prayer is needed. Please pray for Haiti and for those making the decisions.

Cholrea continues to spread and the problems from the election are not helping that situation at all. I am trying to figure out I can get more vaccine from Canada to be able to help more people in the area. Medical help for the thousands who are ill is needed, but so is vaccine to prevent more from succumbing to the dreaded illness. I see that vaccination together with treatment is a very real need to see any kind of improvement.

The construction workers are back on site today and the work continues on the Children's Home - Kay Timbrmart. They are doing preparation to be able to pour the cement roof. There is a lot of extra re-bar and cement going in this house. Some comments have been heard about it being able to support more than one more level, perhaps 2 or 3 should we desire some day.

Ongoing work on Kay Timbrmart
While school is closed the HATS video theatre (as it is lovingly called) at the Children's Home, is open. The kids get a video a day. It keeps them away from the hot sun and somewhat quiet for a short time.

Kay Timoun Video Theatre
My children have nowhere to play outside and when the new Children's Home is finished Luckner and I hope to see that rectified. We plan to move the swing set, that our Texas friends did a great job of transporting and putting up on our school compound, over here for the children. Too, I really want to see them have a teeter totter as well as some sort of climbing apparatus. JJ and Moise tried making a teeter totter with two blocks and a piece of wood, as seen here. Perhaps it is better if you do not know some of the things they have used for climbing.

My kids and their teeter totter - blocks & wood

My two littlest ones like to come to the door and call 'Mama' when they do not see enough of me. It is adorable to see little Jofky 18 months, and Karena 22 months outside my door calling me. Yesterday I went out the back door to take photos of them looking for me.

Jofky, I'm looking for my mama!!
Jofky & Karena singing Hallelujah
With school out I try to see that Ti Luc does a little work each morning - drawing or writing. Leica and Karena came to play and all three did some drawings for Mama.

Karena, Leica & Ti Luc drawing for Mama
The older children are very good at helping with the younger ones as seen here with Karma and Jofky. But, as in any family, some children are going to get in trouble more than others. I have four very mischievous ones - Josie, Ismyis, Dieunel and Judel. They are all very precious but sure do keep us on our toes.

Karma carrying Jofky
No matter what goes on in the country HATS is here to serve the children of Haiti. " It Is All About The Children".

Hebrews 6:10 "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."

Let's continue together to help the precious people of the Artibonite Valley of Haiti.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A time to come and a time to go.

It was with joy we received the latest of HATS many workteams who come to help - volunteering their time and their talents, and paying all expenses themselves. It was with sadness that we drove them back to Port au Prince and saw them go into the airport. Liette, Mariah, Josiah, Ariane, Tevan, Carol, Penny, Jan, Barry and his daughter, Heather, and Roger from Canada. On behalf of my children and employees I say thank you so very, very much for coming, for doing, for accepting, and for making a big difference. And Nichole, our token American on this team, thank you so very much too for all you did.

They were a fantastic team. Their jobs were many and varied plus they were a tremendous help with all the children. Of course for me having my daughter, Liette, leading the team was a huge bonus.

Bus to airport - time to leave
My grandchildren, Mariah, Josiah, Ariane, Tevan, and Heather, a friend of Mariah and Josiah, helped with many of the jobs , but were absolutely wonderful with the children. My kids are still missing them a great deal.

Ariane & Heather helping with Jofky & Karena
Mariah & Josiah with the children
They did an exemplary job of painting both prescolaire classrooms inside and out at the school, and the inside of the Children's Home. Some of them had not painted before but the completed work looks as it it were done by professionals. Roger and Barry worked through the 'Honey Do' list and made life a lot better for myself and my kids.

One job completed that was, and is, a tremendous asset for me was the photos and letters of all the sponsored students in our school being done. Students came from the school to this compound by grade - PS1, PS2, PS3 up to grade 9 where Liette took their photos, and she and Mariah helped the students get the letters written. Thank you, God!!! Liette handled that huge task beautifully and delegated the scanning of letters and resizing of photos to willing helpers on her team.

Grade 8 class with Liette to do letters to sponsors
Another tremendous job and blessing was vaccinating 70 people against the dreaded disease Cholera that is sweeping Haiti. They raised a lot of money in Canada to purchase the vaccine, brought it down, and day after day proceeded to vaccinate people as they arrived. They were able to vaccinate Luckner, myself, my children, all employees of HATS, including all teachers (our full-time elementary and part-time secondary) and the construction workers who have been here most of the time since the damage to the mission from the earthquake, as well as the two policemen who are on-call to go back and forth to PAP with us. My heart aches to be able to vaccinate a lot more people but we used all the medicine that was brought down.

Our two police who travel with us being vaccinated by Carol
The number of people ill and dying of the dreaded Cholera continues to rise by the hour. Yesterday I had a visit from a Haitian family from a nearby town. They had just come from the funeral of their children's teacher who had died with Cholera. Too, the uncle of the father had died from Cholera a few hours before they came here. Cholera has hit our school students, and their families, the surrounding community, and is now all throughout Haiti. I want to be able to help a lot more people but can't. Dear God, send more help, send more vaccine, and show us what to do here.

The construction of our additional Children's Home 'Kay Timbrmart' continues and is looking good. Before next weekend we hope to get the cement roof poured. In the photo of the house construction you will see workers digging a ditch across the yard for the plumbing of the septic tank. New septic going in and the present one needing repairs.

Kay Timbrmart & digging for new septic line
Ever dependable Luckner, along with his sidekick Coubano, came to the site this week, when almost dark, to repair a break in the septic line from the the Administration/Director's and Volunteer Accommodations Building. For this I was, and am, extremely thankful.

Luckner & Coubano fixing broken septic line
The children here at the orphanage have all been vaccinated. They are all doing well and are continually learning about the importance of washing their hands with chlorox and water regularly on both compounds - the orphanage and at the school . Wish I could vaccinate more children but am unable. What I can do, however, is pray. And pray I will. Haiti needs help. Lots of help. The right kind of help and quickly. Please join me in prayer for the precious people of Haiti.

Remember "It is all about the children."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last day in Haiti

The last day in Haiti always brings mixed feelings. Sadness to leave the children and the beautiful country of Haiti. Excitement to see family and friends. Fear of the cold weather in Alberta!

Beautiful Haitian countryside
Today we had the opportunity to paint the front porch of the children's home, to do a myriad of much needed odd jobs, to scan many of the sponsor letters and to finish letters and photos for a few remaining children. Some letters and photos were even sent out today!

If you are waiting for your sponsor child letter and photo, we appreciate your patience. It takes alot of time for me to translate all 180 letters and then the system here is very slow to get them all scanned and resized so they are ready to email. Between painting, helping with a myriad of things for Karen, photographing kids, and doing board business, I have had little time to translate so I am only half done. I promise to get them out to you as soon as possible. We are going to try and save even more of the hard-earned money you donate to HATS by sending out the photos and letters by email. We would encourage you to print out both at home so you can see the smiling face of your sponsor child from the front of your fridge.

We are leaving in less than 6 hours and I still have some administrative things to get done, so I must go so I will get into bed before I have to get up again at 3:30 am to be on the road.

Full moon in Haiti
We'll miss you Karen, Luckner, Antoinette, Magalie, Vladimy, Mirlande, JJ, Moyiz, Tifi, Ti Luc, Leica, Karma, Ismyis, Josie, Judel, Dieunel, Karena, and Jofky.

Raising the Haitian flag
Au revoir, Haiti cheri!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day of Rest

Today, we decided to enjoy a Sunday of seeing some of Haiti's beauty. At 6 am today, most of our group, along with JJ, Moyiz, and Mirlande climbed a mountain behind Deschapelles. The weather was cool and the view from the top beautiful.

Haiti hike
We went to church upon our return and had an opportunity to enjoy Magalie and Antoinette leading us in singing and giving the message.

After church we were off on a trip to Ti Riviere. We stopped at Canot where the Artibonite River is diverted into the myriad canal system that irrigates the entire Artibonite valley. The kids were particularly fascinated by the dead horse in the river. It's in such a place that it would be almost imposible to get out - the water is very fast there by one of the irrigation diversions and someone swimming would be pulled under by the current. Without a winch or some other heavy equipment, he'll most likely be there for a while.

Horse in river

We enjoyed seeing the fort at Ti Riviere, the 365 door Palace built by Roi Christophe, and the beautiful Catholic church. Some of our team members took advantage of the hot sun to do a little sunbathing in the back of the truck. They've been too busy to suntan all week and want to go home with some colour.

Catholic church
Penny, Jan, Josiah and Heather sunbathing in the truck
The rest of the afternoon was spent playing with the children, dancing, napping, and visiting. We are all running a little bit out of steam, but were game to create a new list of things to accomplish tomorrow.

Tonight I want to introduce the last of our team members.

Roger is a fibre optic telecommunications manager from Calgary who loves to ride his bike almost every day. He has been busing working on one job after another on this, his second trip to Haiti. He has painted, drilled holes, put up curtains, dug holes, fixed numerous things and always with an appearance to of peace and contentment. We have all enjoyed having Roger here with us on this trip and getting to know him a bit better.

Roger in church beside Nichole and Leica

Mariah, 17 years old and a grade 12 student, was born in Haiti and has been back many times. She has enjoyed many roles here too - she has helped out alot with the kids, especially Karena Mariah. She has taught English at the school to the high school students as well as teaching dance to some grade 9 girls as well as the small children here at the children's home. Mariah is a great translator and has lots of helpful information to share about Haiti.

Heather is 14 years old and in grade 9. At home, she likes art and wants to be a missionary when she grows up. Heather has been happy to chip in wherever she has been asked to help out - always with a smile and a cheerful attitude. She also has done some painting, but has mostly been helping with the children, doing crafts and games, changing diapers, and especially helping Tifi who needs extra assistance.

Heather painting

Josiah, 15 and in grade 9, is our resident clown. He has run errands and done some odd jobs, but mostly he's taken very seriously his job of bringing fun and levity to the group. The kids love him, especially when he leads soccer matches, swings them in circles or does silly antics to keep them entertained. The last two nights, Barry has paid Josiah $10 for every 45 minutes that he could be silent, after driving us all crazy with his constant, loud, high energy banter last night!

Penny and Josiah painting

Tevan, 8 years old, has done really well learning Creole this trip. He is a good friend to JJ and Moyiz who love playing with him and he spends hours playing with Ti Luc - crazy games of hide and seek, pushing the trucks around, making Ti Luc laugh out loud with the puppets etc. He tried his hand at painting and has run errands for me and for his grandmother, Karen.

Tevan painting
Tomorrow is our last day and we'll be sad to leave, as much as we miss families and friends back home. We feel like the work we've done is just a drop in the bucket of the need here, but we are proud of the bit that we've been able to do to allow this mission to continue to reach out to needy children and families.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fantastic Work Team

This fantastic work team is hardworking and positive. They'll do anything - paint, carry, move suitcases, scan letters, resize photos, take care of kids, do plumbing, dig holes, move poles, etc etc. But it seems they just won't blog! So here I am again (Liette) to do the blog for tonight because I know there are families and friends anxiously awaiting news of our adventures.

Today, being Saturday, was a bit more relaxed in terms of heavy labour. Well, maybe not for Jan who painted and carried all the donated items in suitcases from one depot to another. Nor for Roger nor Barry who worked through their TO DO list which miraculously gets longer every day, not shorter. It's like the loaves and the fishes. This morning we discovered that the cold water tap didn't work in the shower upstairs, the main floor bathroom doorknob is always locked (not great when the wind blows the door closed) and the new tap is broken at the school.

Our day started at 4 am when the rice mill started up next door. What a racket! Carol says that she is pretty sure sleeping in hell is a lot like trying to sleep in Haiti - noise, heat, and smells. You're exhausted but you just can't sleep. First thing this morning we took a tap-tap to Verrettes market to experience a true Haitian market. Everyone enjoyed the experience and Josiah even got new dress shoes.

Our jobs today included painting the main floor bathroom in the main house, cleaning brushes and rollers, scanning sponsor student letters in preparation to send to sponsors, updating email address lists for sponsors, fixing plumbing, moving clotheslines, moving boxes and suitcases, and of course taking care of kids.

Today I'd like to introduce two more members of our team.

Carol, from Calgary, is an active member of many volunteer groups in Calgary. Since coming to Haiti, Carol has spent time with many of the children, but has taken extra care with Tifi who loves the attention. Today, Carol helped Tifi walk along the canal with the group, holding her hand the whole time so she wouldn't fall. Carol surprised herself on this trip by doing an excellent job of painting and by resizing photos on the computer - two tasks she didn't think she knew how to do!

Jan, Carol and kids on the canal
Carol resizing student photos
Nichole is our token American. She joined us in Port-au-Prince on our first day after spending a week in Carrefour with another mission. She loves to laugh and is Ti Luc's special friend. He just adores her, even naming his giant puppet after her. Nichole has two young children in Haiti who she's missing alot, making up for their absence with tons of hugs and kisses from the children here. She enjoys asking us what our strange Canadian words mean and insisting we all say "eh". Nichole has been tirelessly painting for most of her time here, taking a break from painting today to work with Penny on scanning student letters and updating email lists.

Nichole painting
I'm also including some photos of the new and improved children's home! It looks fantastic inside - bright and clean.

Newly painted girls' room

Newly painted kitchen
Finally, we finished our day today with a birthday celebration for JJ and Moyiz. They were thrilled to be the centre of attention, to have birthday cake, singing, prayers and a backpack each full of great stuff. They are growing up to be great young boys who are full of spunk and affection.

JJ and Moyiz at their birthday party
Judel thrilled to have chocolate cake
That's it for now. Everyone else is gone to bed and most of us are going hiking at 6 am so I must get some sleep.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Painting Done - hooray!

The painting of the children's home is done today - hooray!!!  The team let out out a yell of joy when the second coat was completed.  They painted ceiling and walls in the kitchen, dining, playroom, and bedrooms.   The children's home looks fabulous and photos will follow tomorrow - it was too dark to take good photos this evening.

Today I'd like to take a chance to introduce a few of the team members and share some of their thoughts.

Jan runs her own house cleaning business in Calgary.   Since coming to Haiti, she has discovered that she is an amazing painter!  She always has a smile on her face, even when she felt too exhausted to walk to the kitchen to get her dinner.  In reflecting on her time in Haiti, she says she thinks that this experience is an amazing one in which she's discovered strength she didn't know she had.  She believes that more people should have the chance to work on a team here and to be as well taken care of as the team has been since they arrived - good food, positive people and opportunity to serve the people of Haiti.

Jan painting

Penny has been untiring, always willing to jump in and lend a hand with whatever needs to be done.  She has been working part-time in a retail outlet in Calgary for the past few years, but says she'll be looking for a "real job" when she returns home.  Her deep thought for tonight is "I never want to see another paint brush again!".   In all seriousness, she has said she has a new appreciation for all of her blessings in Canada, realizing how very much she and her family have.  She will be sad to leave Haiti and to leave the staff and children that she's made a connection with.

Penny painting kids' home

Ariane, an 11 year old gymnast and grade 7 student, has been an amazing help since coming to Haiti - painting, taking care of children, helping with student photos, and entering information into the computer.   She loves all of the children, even Jofky who took a bite out of her shoulder when he was mad about something!

Ariane typing

Barry, a renaissance fix-it man is a man of few words and lots of action.  Back home, is a quality manager which means he travels alot making sure everything is top-quality!  Since coming to Haiti, he has painted, built doors, fixed plumbing, installed clotheslines, adjusted computers etc, etc, etc.  Barry likes to WORK and is often the last one to come in to have his meal.   Most mornings, Barry has a ti-boss (little boss) named Judel helping him out as he does jobs around the campus.  Judel was all smiles today as he followed Barry around helping.  Barry sees that there is suffering in Haiti, as there is in many countries in the world, and jumps in to do what he can to make things better.

Barry and Judel

That's it for tonight - more deep thoughts tomorrow.....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another day of paint, paint and more paint

Another day of paint, paint and more paint.  The crew here wants to WORK.  They start early in the day and don’t finish until 4 pm or so when they can’t do anymore.  Today, the outside of the school was completed and it looks fantastic.  What great work the group has done so far! 
Team hard at work painting
Today was a Haitian holiday so there was no school which meant lots of little people running around all day.  They were thrilled to play with playdo this morning and then have a chance to watch a brand new Stuart Little (La petite souris) this afternoon. 
JJ happy with his playdo lizard

At the end of the day, we had a chance to take the kids out for a little walk along the canal which is a highlight.  Notice the pink boots – they are the most popular footwear item at the children’s home.  The kids LOVE them and argue over whose turn it is to wear them.  Next time I come to Haiti, I’m bringing rain boots for everyone.  Who would have guessed!
Dieunel, JJ and Karma walking the canal 
On our canal walk, the sky was beautiful and the countryside looked so incredibly peaceful, it’s hard to believe all of the turmoil and hardship Haiti is going through right now.  One obvious sign that people have heard the message about cholera and aren’t taking any chances is that the canal is deserted.  A few months ago, you would see boys swimming, men bathing and women washing clothes in the canal.  Now, there is no one. 
Peaceful canal

Mariah’s biological father came today with his family and we had a very nice visit together.  The kids are super cute and were very happy to come and visit and play with the toys at the house.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to send them home with some new clothes and shoes to bless them with.  As always, they bring what they can to bless us – this time it was a big bag of bananas and a live chicken.
Mariah's biological dad and family
We also had a visit from Liette’s good friend David, who is an amazing young man who teaches English at four schools in Verrettes.  He was thrilled to receive the English books and school supplies that we were able to bring for him.  More old friends of Liette, John Chew, Annie Frederique and their three boys came by to visit.  Mariah was good friends with their son JosuĂ© when they were 2 years old and lived side-by-side in Deschappelles.   They have recently moved back to Haiti to do reconstruction and community development after spending 10 years in the United States.

We have been told that the blog needs more reflection and personal insight.  I (Liette) tried to convince someone (anyone) to do the blog today with insight and profound thoughts, but after a shower and a good dinner, everyone just wanted to head to bed, so it’s me again tonight.  I’ll do my best to convince someone else to update the blog tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another beautiful, sunny day in Deschapelles

Today was another beautiful, sunny day in Deschapelles. The weather was warm - especially for the hardworking team members who are happy to be far from the snow in Calgary! Devotions with the staff was inspiring, although the english versions of the songs were significantly less exciting and peppy. The Creole versions of the songs were a lot more fun!

Today was painting, painting and more painting. The ceilings in the children's home were finished in most rooms and two coats of paint were put on the walls of the main eating/living room. It is a beautiful light pink colour and looks great. Jan lived up to her name as Spider Lady again today, managing to coax a squealing Josiah to touch a nice big spider in the kids's home.

Jan painting kids home
Barry and Roger
Jos, Jan and spider
Jos with spider

Today was also a day to get sponsor letters and photos done for all of the sponsor kids at the HATS school. It was a bit of a gong show when 25 grade one students showed up without a teacher to help them! Trying to keep them sitting still and help each of them fill in their sponsor letter was more than I, Liette, could handle. After that crew, I insisted that the teachers come along with the class to help out. Mariah was a big help in the school keeping watch over the children who are not in the sponsorship program, giving impromptu english classes to the kids.

We had a chance to take a quick trip up to the main town of Deschapelles to see the hospital and surrounding area. We plan another trip up tomorrow to see if the visitors can find some treasures to purchase and take home.

Penny in truck
This evening, we were a tired group. Karen goes all day, every day and so were were all happy to see her napping on the couch with Jan tonight at 8:30 pm. We hope to get her into bed soon for a good night's sleep.

Finally Karen takes a break

Hello this is Nichole and Penny

The first thing this morning we went to the school to sanitize the students and Teachers as they entered the school to help protect against cholera. After this we had devotions with the students.

Hand washing students with chlorox

The group came back and Barry helped Martha make a pancake breakfast. It was delicious! Yes and we all make sure Karen takes the time to eat.

Barry & Martha cooking breakfast

The teachers came in small groups to the compound to have their vaccine. Yummy!!!


Teachers taking the vaccine
The real work now started with painting. We painted the ceilings in the childrens home and the 2nd coat got applied in the preschool room at the school today.  During the painting, Jan was the Spider Lady, saving Josiah from the scary spiders that hide in all corners of the ceiling. 

Jan and Penny painting

Hunny do's (this is Nichole's American spelling contribution to the blog!) are also being completed for Karen before the team leaves. Roger and Barry have been working very hard. 

Barry and Roger

Through out the day everyone took some time to spend with the children. We all had a wonderful day and enjoy being here very much, eh!  (Nichole thinks we should add this because the Canadians say eh all the time).

Heather and Mariah at the school with the kids

Arianne and Tevan playing with the kids

Carol and Jofky