Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday, January 31st, 2014


It’s payday at HATS – not for me, I’m just doing this for the fun, the food and the fellowship. So it’s also time for another Haitian currency lesson. The Haitian dollar floats with the US dollar and is presently about 8 – 1. So $1.00US buys $8.00Haitian. The salaries of the teachers and other employees are set in Haitian dollars. Problem – There is no such thing as a Haitian dollar. True story! The local currency is Goudes which is five time a Haitian dollar. So a salary of $1100/month Haitian is paid 5500 Goudes. Confused? Me too. And if you had seen the mistakes in today’s payroll you would know that Karen still gets confused too.

This is Haiti; you don’t ask why, you ask how?


Karen is no longer on the warpath – or is she? I noticed all these suitcases outside the depot:

·         Is she leaving and taking all her stuff?

·         Is she leaving with the kids for winter break?

·         Is she sending the kids away?

·         Did she fire someone?

·         Did the cockroaches carry them outside?

·         Is she doing a withdrawal at the bank?

·         They are not for me, I am going home next week but I only have a small carry-on bag of dirty laundry. The airlines lose checked bags!!

Who is leaving?

A geography lesson:

I have spent a lot of time this trip with Moise working on his geography skills. Here is what we have learned: Haiti is south-east of Cuba and west of Puerto Rico. Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. HATS is situated in Deschaplles in the Artibonite Valley, 30Kms. East of St. Marc and 125Kms north of the capital Port au Prince. This Google site show the compound and surrounding area.



Google map

You have seen a lot of pictures of Karen and the kids walking along the canal. Normally the walking route takes us left and north-west of the compound. Yesterday Karen and I had a brisk (Oh my ‘lanta - that little lady can move) walk across the road and south-east along the canal. It is lush and beautiful. What a spectacular part of the country. Like most of the interior of Haiti, it is quiet, clean, scenic and prosperous especially when compared to the over-crowded urban areas like St. Marc and Port au Prince.

Karen setting the brisk pace

The old wooden bridge

Typical homes

Laundry day at the canal


Sweet potato and rice

Artibonite Valley

Another hazy day


Good night

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30,2014


This is my fourth trip to HATS in 2 years. All 15 of the kids that are here now, Joan and I met on our first trip in January 2012. It’s difficult and sad to listen to the circumstances of how the children arrived here, but in driving around the country and seeing the conditions it is a relief to know they are better off here than some of the alternatives.

Karena’s family; brothers, sisters and parents were all killed by the earthquake in 2010 in Port au Prince.

Moise was abandoned at approximately 16 months at the edge of the canal under a bush.  He could not crawl so he did not drown.  (Even though he was not in a basket on the water Karen decided to give him the name Moses.)

When Karen took Ti-Luc, as an abandoned baby, to the doctor she was told “Jette-li!” Throw him away! Today he is a smart, loving and exceptional 8-year old. Karen has officially adopted him and wants to bring him to Canada to get some proper medical attention.

Karena - Moise - Ti-Luc

Those and all the other children’s stories are difficult to fathom but I have never witnessed the process first hand. Yesterday that all changed.

I was killing time by chatting with Karen in the morning about the orphanage and she told me she had 5 requests to take babies in December. I talked to her about not taking on more kids and more responsibility….. And then boom; 3 more requests!

One was a 4 month old whom she turned down because even though the mother had died the 17-year-old father was still alive and had family support. There can be problems later if the kids are not orphans. ( Ex. wanting to take them and make them work as soon as they are old enough to do so.)

That afternoon as we were leaving the compound a mother stopped the truck and asked Karen to take her baby. She knew her child would have a better life at HATS than she could give her. Wow. What desperation!

Then, when we returned from a trip to the bank there was another lady whom Karen had chatted to before Christmas. She had a 17 month old little girl with her. The father is dead and the mother is mentally ill and has other children that she cannot care for. This lady is a friend of the family and is trying to help by placing the child. 

Karen asked me to come with her to help with the assessment of whether or not to accept the child.

Well, what was she thinking?
I was useless.
I turned to Jell-O at the sight of the little sweetheart.
I have 3 daughters
How am I supposed to be objective?
So much for my encouragement to not take on any more kids!!!

But here are many things that Karen and HATS have to consider. The child’s health is one. With 2 special needs children already in the group of 15 it would be a strain to add another. So the next step is a doctor’s medical to check for physical and mental  development, AIDS etc. Then she and Luckner (the assistant HATS director and school principal) will have to verify the story that is being told to make sure it is factual. Legally they need to find out if the child is available to come live at HATS.
Then…….. well stay tuned.

You would need the Wisdom of Solomon to make those kinds of decisions. Although every child already at HATS has a unique story this is their home and their brothers and sisters and Karen is their Mom and there is a need for balance.  Karen decided long ago the orphanage would never have more than 20 kids (she prefers 15-18) and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone to take all requests. These are huge life altering decisions for Karen, for the little girl, for her family and for the 15 kids already at HATS.

We can only pray that Karen and Luckner will be guided by God to make the right decisions.

That’s all I got.
Good night

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How on earth...

....can I follow Keith's blog of Monday "Nar bit ah blog today bye"?    I had the best laugh ever yesterday morning when I read it.  I laughed throughout the morning at the school but did not know how to explain to others what I was laughing at.  I reread it at noon and laughed again.  I am still laughing today.   "Laughter is good - like needed medicine".  I feel very well medicated right now.  I have also been greatly enjoying the comments people put on the blog.  I have gone back and reread those a few times as well. 

Keith is a 'comical nut'.  He is 'nuttier than a fruitcake' as we would  say in Newfoundland when we were growing up.   I have to admit that my siblings and I all fell from the 'nut' tree too.  Not only my siblings though - Sandra married a 'nut'.  Being together means a lot of laughter-  which means a lot of medicine for us.   One example of the 'nut' that Keith is can be see below..

When I wanted to take the four day break with friends, Maxi and Laurie in Florida, Keith was quite willing to cover for me here on the mission.  He nicely informed me that it would be 'a piece of cake or some thing like that' as he was going to take all the kids to the beach resort 'Club Indigo' for a week, returning to the mission on Saturday - even though he knew I would be returning on Thursday. 

See the emails and responses from Keith while away with this photo from him.

On 2014-01-21, at 5:56 AM, Keith wrote:

Glad you are having a good time.
The Gang

Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2014 10:08:45 -0600
To: Keith

Good Morning Keith,

I have been enjoying myself in Panama City Beach with Laurie and Maxi, relaxing and walking on the beach, eating, laughing, chatting, etc. which is exactly what I needed.  I see that, while I am doing this,  you, true to your word, are taking care of my kids and also enjoying yourself - at the Indigo beach resort.  At least that is what I first thought. 

Upon closer inspection of the photo, however, I saw that I need to return home immediately. Obviously you have already lost two of my precious ones - maybe in the ocean??  I was greatly appreciating your help for awhile but no longer feel that way.  I see that I am needed there asap so you cannot lose any more of the children.  My return ticket is being changed at this time by Maxi and she wants you to know that she is not a happy camper about this.  She and 'One of We - Laurie,' do not want me to leave early.  I, however, am heading home!


On 2014-01-21, at 1:16 PM, Keith wrote:

Relax, everything is under control.
When the photo was taken the "missing 2" were taking their turn at the bar -distributing warcrys and tracts and sharing the Word -  evangelization in Haiti!!

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 08:29:31 -0600

To: Keith

Good Morning Keith,

Okay then,  I will see you on Saturday when you and the children return from Club Indigo.  I trust by then everyone there will have heard the gospel.  Since this good work is going ahead, by Ti Fi and Jonathan,  I will force myself to stay and return on my original ticket.

Mama Karen being on the war path Monday was well rewarded yesterday, Tuesday.  I am now trying to figure out if I need to be on the war path every day or if just every few days will do.  On Monday, I, the school administrator and director of the mission that runs the school, was approached by several teachers advising me that recently my children were greatly negligent in doing their homework and knowing their lessons.  Oh boy! Was this mama a little embarrassed and a tad upset with her monkey doodle kids?  You got it!!   Yesterday, after my war path stint of Monday, all my children knew all their lessons, and all of them had done all their homework and had done it extremely well.  The compound was extremely quiet at an early hour Monday night, as shortly after homework was done the children were sent to bed by the housemothers.   Yesterday was affirmation day.  They heard Bravo, thank you, and received lots of hugs.  Safe to say the kids will 'toe the line' for a couple of days at least now.  Hopefully until the weekend anyway.

The war path against EDH was done by "THE MAN" of HATS and beautifully handled on Monday.  When Luckner was leaving to handle it he told me he might end up in jail that day.  He wanted me to be prepared.  He was going in fighting and was coming out with proper results no matter what!  He did and he got results!!

The war path against the lawyer for me to receive Ti Luc's passport in his proper name continues.  I will continue to wage war there until I get the passport so I can get a visa for my boy.

The war path against the cockroaches will need to be tread constantly I am afraid.  They want both of these missionary houses and I declare they will not get them.  I have been here a very long time and I still  "do not do cockroaches".  Safe to say I never will.  I will always be on that war path.

Yesterday a trip to Sogebank in St. Marc was necessary.   Seeing as how Vladimy is not in school right now Mama Karen decided this would be a good time to take him with us.  Needless to say Vladimy was thrilled to come and very interested in how banking was done.  He has always been in school during trips to the bank. 

Vladimy in St. Marc with Mama Karen & Keith -taking the photo

Our little mango eating welcome back from St. Marc committee

Mango season has started at HATS.  Monday was the first day the children all sat around happily filling their tummies with mangoes from our yard.  Positive side - Kids love the mangoes and less food will be required as more and more mangoes become ripe.  Negative side -  A lot more time needed in the bathroom and more accidents for the little ones who don't make it to the bathroom in time, due to eating mangoes.  Fun and games!!

Mango time again

Keith gets a lot of work done around here.  Actually he does not know when to stop.  He was sitting just outside the compound and painting the main gate.  The gate was opened for me to drive out so he sat there and continued to paint.  As I said "nuttier than a fruitcake".

Keith was painting the gate. It opened for me drive out so he just sat there and kept on painting

An early morning walk with five of my kids recently was very enjoyable.   It is always a good time for mama and kids to chat about lots of things and a good time for them to ask questions.   I do love these times with the children.

Early morning scene of a young boy in our school

Looking at huge frogs at the end of the canal

Get your butt up there Moise. I can't hold you any longer.

Our Sat morning walk

I have been here almost 19 years - for children.  The children in my immediate care;  The children in our school IMKH; The children throughout the Artibonite Valley and beyond.  Children are in need of our help.


Blessings.   Karen

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday, January 27th, 2014


There is a Newfie expression – “Nar bit ah weader today ‘bye”.

A loose translation being: “Not a bit of weather today my friend” which means there is nothing to report weather wise; no wind, no precipitation and no clouds.

That was the kind of day it was here at HATS; a beautiful sunny and low humidity day.

It was also a slow news reporting day so -
“Nar bit ah blog today ‘bye”!!

The kids went to school.

The cook cooked.

The guard guarded.

The dorm mothers cleaned.

I painted.

The teachers taught.

The laundry lady did the laundry.

The exception of course was Karen. No surprise there.
The surprise was she was on the war path.
(Not sure if the war path was related to her late night meeting last night.)

Anyway she was showing displeasure with and not limited to the following:

·         EDH – The local electricity company.

·         Kids who didn’t do homework.

·         Kids who did but didn’t do enough.

·         Kids who did last week’s homework again to look like they knew their homework well.
(That’s a classic I wish I had used!!)

·         Teachers who assigned the homework.

·         Kids who lost books.

·         Kids who tore books.

·         Kids who didn’t bring their homework books home.

·         Direct TV.

·         The lawyer handling Ti-Luc’s passport and birth certificate file.

·         ETC.

You get the idea. I decided it was a good day to get off the compound, so I took the ladder and started painting the main gate – from the outside.

Keith hiding

Keith painting

Later in the afternoon after things had returned to normal, JJ and Vladimy climbed upon the roof and started knocking down mangoes to Moise and Leica waiting below.

Harvesting Keith’s breakfast

PS. - I think Karen was also annoyed with the cockroaches because she sent someone to spray my place against them.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday, January 26th, 2014


It’s Sunday; so after church and a short road trip to Luckner’s store its party night! Vladimy was away over Christmas so to welcome him home we had a HATS party to celebrate. There were balloons, drinks, cake, treats, candy, glow sticks and games. Of course there were gifts too. Vladimy received his Christmas gifts and some welcome home gifts too. An early evening rain shower sent us inside but did not dampen the partiers’ spirits.

The pictures tell the story:

The party

Happy times


Vladimy - Guest of Honour

Happy faces

More happy faces


JJ and Dieumel

looking at photos

Group hug

Christmas gifts

Welcome home gifts

Mom and son

Dorm Mom Yolene and kids

Dorm Mom Naomie and kids

Party continues inside


Rainy sky

Karen and her family

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday, January 25th, 2014


Last night the 4 older kids (JJ, Moise, Djemima and Leica) and I spent some time lying on the roof and star-gazing.  Without the light pollution of the cities one can see literally millions of stars. We had a great view of Jupiter and the moon, as well as constellations Orion, Hydra and Eridanus. We also saw 2 satellites streak across the sky. Amazing!

I believe it is a universal and international fact that little girls love to giggle and little boys love to make bodily noises!

Jupiter and the moon

It’s Saturday again. This Saturday is different from last week because Karen is back – so there was more homework done and more jobs accomplished around the compound. I kept busy cupboard painting, scraping the front entrance steel door and finished painting the guest bathroom at the HATS Hilton. It looks good with the new Wal-Mart shower curtains and is ready for the next work team on February 10th.

Karen was back in the office catching up on e-mails, reports and Facebook. She also spent time straightening out staff workers and cooking in her kitchen.

Karen and security guard Richard

Karen baking for a party

Karen with office assistants JJ and Ti-Luc

The kids did their chores, homework and then played.

JJ helping Ti-Luc with his homework

Moise can’t believe he has to read the whole chapter, not just the summary.

Hey girls, does this train stop in Pointe Claire? I don’t have an airline ticket to go home.

These guys are NOT in jail, just playing inside.

Josie and Judel practicing for an upcoming Haitian Idol episode

Of course it is great to have Vladimy back at HATS. He looks good and was happy to spend some time today with his brothers and sisters and catch up on the news in their lives.


On hair cut day the barber come to HATS and all the boys get sheared. Jofky sounded like he was having surgery without anesthetic he screamed so loud. Karen negotiated a group rate for all the boys including me but I declined…. maybe next time.

Waiting for a cut.

The barber and his customers.