Monday, November 28, 2011

Thank you Liette and Yvette

They came. They worked. They played. They accomplished. They left.

The student's letters and photos in the sponsoring program were completed. Student's letters were written, translated, scanned, and sent out via email to the many sponsors. Wow. A huge undertaking that was handled beautifully. I was, and still am, impressed. I informed Liette and Yvette that I had one important thing to say about the whole thing - ' they both need to come back again next year and do likewise '. What a team! I will be hoping and praying they can return together, as a team, again.

Students writing letters to sponsors
Prescolaire 3 walking to join Liette for photos & letters
Yvette with Jonathan
Jessie helped Liette and Yvette with the work on the school sponsoring program and when not needed there she organized the storage unit in my office. Another job well done.

Karen's Main Office
While here they also blessed my kids with a lot of attention and fun times. It was difficult for all of us to have to say bye and see them leave. There is always a time to happily say "welcome and thanks for coming" and always a time to sadly say "bye and please return."

Fun times with the kids
snack time on our walk
Now we are looking forward to having Dana-Lynn, Jared, Ronel, and Alexa arrive on December 16th. Their project will be to help with painting at the school. We have the new office/library needing to be painted, as well as the improved/finished secondary section - grades 7, 8, and 9. The small office for the person who is assistant to Luckner, as supervisor of the secondary section, should also be ready to paint soon.

On December 11th Jessie and Seth will be leaving to spend a month with their families. Mariah, too, will be leaving in December, probably on 16th, to spend time with her family. She will return in January to stay until school is out in June. The children are going to miss having these three around but Dana and children being here will fill the gap for ten days. Ti Luc will especially miss Mariah. They do have a lot of fun together and Mariah is a tremendous help for me with that special boy. Ti Luc can now do most things the other children do, but not all. Yesterday morning he told me he wanted to feed himself like the others do. He put a lot of effort into trying to get the spoon to his mouth. Not yet successful but proud of himself. So am I.

Mariah and Ti Luc having fun together
I want to feed myself Mama
The Trade School is busy with English, computer, and plumbing classes running. I continue to help Luckner with the English class. When Liette was here she did a fantastic job of teaching the students English in my place. It was good for the students and good for me.

Students in English class at Trade School
On the way home, after taking Liette and Yvette to the airport, we passed a huge long truck loaded with bags of cement. The truck was driving much too fast for the road conditions and on the top of the load of cement two men were standing, acting foolish, dancing, and showing off. I took a photo that I call 'death wish'.

Death wish.  Look Ma, no hands.
HATS has a Christmas goat program again this year. If you wish to give someone special a gift, by blessing someone in need in Haiti with a goat, we can take care of it for you. A photo will come to you, hopefully before Christmas, but we cannot promise that. Information on this Christmas project will be available on our website soon.

Thanks again to all of you for being a part of what we do here, for helping us bless people in this area, and for making a difference in the lives of the students by seeing them get an education.

Karen and kids (minus 2)
Love and God bless all of you.
Karen and family

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The last day is always the hardest.

We have had a wonderful time and as much as we miss our kids home in Canada, we are sad to leave Haiti. Goodbyes are never fun especially when it's people you love.

Today we had a beautiful sunrise walk along the canal, organized some donated items and school supplies, and finished a few more sponsor letters and photos. After work, we visited the hospital so Yvette would have a chance to see it and Jacques bought and prepared some sugar cane for us.

Canal sunrise
Sugar cane
Martha made my favourite meal: diri djon djon with chicken and salad. Delicious!

Martha's amazing meals
Late this afternoon, we had a ton of fun with a great water fight with all of the kids. They LOVED it! We followed that with a last walk along the canal. Part-way home we stopped for a little snack that the kids enjoyed, happily sharing three drinks between them.

Ti Luc getting wet
Last canal walk
Josie sharing with Dieunel
Of course we had a final soccer game and then lots of goodbyes and hugs. We'll miss Karen, Mariah, all of the kids and the staff at Hands Across the Sea. We'll be back!

Liette (for Yvette, Karen and the HATS gang)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yesterday and today..

..started off with a gorgeous walk by the canal. The sun was rising, the rice was sparkling with dew and there was a mist on the mountains. It was just the right temperature for a brisk walk. We had a couple of good natured marriage proposals along the way which is always fun!

While Mariah was working hard and sulking because she couldn’t come with us, we took a Taptap and went to the market. It was all I had hoped it would be although I didn’t find anything to buy. I was looking for something really Haitian and I have decided I should buy a broom. I don’t know how they sweep with them but somehow it works for them. Liette got asked if Yvette was her daughter! She’s really hoping it’s just because Yvette is so small and not because Liette looks so old. (Note from Liette - for those of you who don’t know, Yvette is OLDER than me!)

Verrettes Market
When school was out I had the two kids that I sponsor over to meet them and give them an early Christmas gift. The look on their faces when Liette explained to them who I was and where I had come from was priceless. It was so good to give them hugs.

Yvette with her sponsor kids
Yesterday afternoon we had the opportunity to distribute a beautiful individualized blanket to each of the children in the home. The blankets are beautiful, with each child’s name as well as many Creole words and verses on them. The children were very happy to receive them. The older children in particular loved seeing the photo of the children who helped send the blankets and enjoyed having their letter translated for them. Ti Luc was so excited about his blanket that he insisted on sleeping under it, even early this evening when it's not yet cold. A very big thank you to Lynn for your hard work and inspiration!

Moise and JJ
Dieunel with his blanket
Sandra with her blanket
Mirlande with her blanket
Ti Luc sleeping under his blanket
We are making good progress on sending the photos and letters to the sponsors. There are a couple of sponsors who have changed their email addresses and your letter/photo keeps bouncing back. If you have not yet received your photo/letter, please send us an email with your updated contact information.

Liette, Karen and Mariah left me to go and teach English and I had a great time of playing with some of the kids. I was pushing Joffkey on the swings and he actually said my name about 10 times with a smile on his face. He usually doesn’t give me any indication that he likes me in the least. I also played badminton with JJ, Moise and Vldimy until the girls came back from English class. Liette’s godsons came for a visit and we had some 3 on 3 soccer. The field was a tiny bit small and there were a few slide tackles but it was good sweaty fun.

Blickenson, Mariah and Liette
Vladimy, Yvette & Malachi
Liette and I have 1 full day left and we are starting to feel sad about having to leave but we will make the most of our time left. So far, it’s been a wonderful time and we will definitely be sad to leave Haiti.

Yvette (for Karen, Liette and the rest of the HATS gang)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh the fun

Oh the fun that was had today trying to write the letters with the Preschool One class! The children in Preschool One are 3 and 4 years old. Defnitely cute, but impossible to get a straight answer out of. The single biggest challenge came from getting their names sorted out. Sounds like it might be an easy task, right? You simply ask them their name and they tell you, right? Wrong!

Writing sponsor letters

Mariah asking preschooler's name
In Haiti most young children have a name that their family calls them, say Tilo. All their lives they've learned that their name is Tilo. Little do they know that their legal name (the name on their class list for example) is Lorestema Jeannette Philistin. So we ask them their name and they say "Tilo". There is NO Tilo on any list anywhere at HATS. So we go through the list again asking them each name one by one. Each time you ask them, "Is your name ---?" They say "Oui". For each of the 15 names on the list! In the photo below, you can see Mariah trying to figure out the name of one particularly cute little boy. After he said "oui" to each name on the list, she started asking him, "Is your name crocodile? Is your name Liette? etc" and of course he answered in the affirmative every time. I was laughing so hard that I could barely catch my breath. After that gong show, the grade 6 and 7's were a piece of cake!

Yvette hugging Dieunel, Ismyis and Judel
Once school was out, we were back to scanning and downloading photos. The internet is amazingly slow here, so please be patient if you're waiting for your sponsor letter and photo.

This afternoon included a trip to Pont Sonde to pay the electric bill. Seems like an awful lot of money for a couple of hours of power per day if we're lucky!!

I had a chance to teach English to a great group of young people at Luckner's trade school. Energetic and eager to learn we enjoyed our time together.

Magalie and Sandra
The day was rounded out by a lovely walk along the canal and then a soccer game where Vladimy beat Yvette and I playing together against him! And he had bare feet. But he only beat us by one point, so our self image is still somewhat intact.

Canal walk at sunset
Mariah with Sandra and Karena
Karena and Sandra both sleeping
This evening we are busy scanning, scanning, scanning. Tomorrow we have the fun of letters and photos with the other two preschool classes.

Dieumima and Isymis
Yvette has her more normal hairstyle today, but unfortunately her feet are swollen and she's not enjoying having "fat feet"!

Thanks for reading!

Liette for Karen, Yvette and the rest of the HATS gang

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Today started with church. The congregation consists of mostly children and they do a lot of singing, clapping and keeping rhythm with tambourines. Even though the kids were singing songs I was familiar with, I couldn't think of the english words because the singing was so beautifully loud. I didn't do so badly with the clapping. For those who are thinking of coming in the future, Karen will put you on the spot and make you sing. I told Karen I would throw up if she made me sing and she told me she would bring me a bucket. She has no time for nonsense! We ended up sing "Jesus loves the little children" with the kids joining in. Apparently that wasn't good enough so we brought Mariah up and the 3 of us sang "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart". The message of the morning was to love one another. Oh, and I never threw up but I felt my lip quivering a little....

Mariah's birth dad Jean Pierre joined us at church and then came back to Karen's for a visit. He brought a bunch of fruit and vegetables as a gift, as he often does.

I got my hair done again. I think they have pulled half of it out. And of course it looks beautiful as always.

Later in the afternoon Liette, Mariah, Vladimy and I went to visit Liette's friend Rigaud and his family. We took a mototaxi half the way there. I didn't know you could fit three people on a motorbike comfortably. I was in the middle so I have no idea if the back person is comfortable. Our driver had the craziest braided hair that stuck straight up like spikes. We sat outside Rigaud's home and chatted. We were treated to fresh coconut. We watch a guy walk up the palm tree, throw a dozen coconuts down and then slide down the tree like it was a fire pole. Very cool.

When we walked back we took all the kids to the field beside the church for a little game of soccer. It was amazing to see dozens of neighbor kids come out of the woodwork just because a soccer ball was there. Later Vladimy took on Liette and I and of course us girls won. But not by much.

In the evening we went through some items that had been donated. It's a lot like opening presents that aren't for you personally. We had fun picking out outfits that each of the kids will get for Christmas this year.

Finally, there is a photo of Sandra and a photo of Jonathan that we have to add because they're so incredibly adorable.

Until next time....adios!

Yvette, for Karen, Liette and the whole HATS gang

Saturday, November 19, 2011

HATS Family

Today we'd like to take a moment to introduce each of the kids to those of you reading the blog who don't know them. And to thank everyone who donated a Christmas present for the kids. The presents are all safely tucked away until Christmas day when they'll bring joy to the kids.

We'll go from oldest to youngest.

This is Vladimy (16). A sensitive, helpful boy, he loves soccer and listening to the radio.

TiFi (11). She loves people and is learning more words every day. TiFi is mentally challenged.

This is Mirlande (10). She is inquisitive, intelligent and bossy.

This is JJ (10). JJ is energetic, loves to learn and loves sports.

This is Moise (9). Sweet-natured and helpful, he loves to play with Ti Luc.

This is Dieumima (9). Intelligent and kind, she loves to walk along the river.

This is Leica (7). Affectionate and fun-loving, she loves to laugh.

This is Ti Luc (6). Smart and determined, he loves to interact and play jokes on people.

This is Karma (6). She loves people and has the biggest smile you've ever seen.

This is Josie (6). Laid-back and cute, she likes to braid visitors' hair.

This is Ismyis (5). Energetic and super affectionate, she loves to swing in the kids' playground.

This is Dieumel (5). Sweet-tempered and athletic, he can be found climbing the monkey bars.

This is Judel (4). Impossible to ignore, Judel will hold your hand and steal your heart.

This is Karena (3). Smart as a whip and with an amazing smile, Karena loves to play house and tell the other young kids what to do.

This is Jofky (2). Karena's best friend, Jofky can be moody, but is sweet nonetheless.

This is Anne (1 1/2). Anne is quiet and sweet, watching the other kids run all around her.

This is Sandra (6 months). Calm and happy, Sandra has the best baby smile and laugh ever!

This is Jonathan (6 weeks). This tiny guy loves to be snuggled and held.

That's it for today! More tomorrow from Liette, Yvette and the HATS gang.