Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015

Don & Friends

                Oh my! My turn again! My first blog day went very smoothly overall because Lacee and Heather did some photos and captions and Karen added my poem of “The Haitian Smile” from a few years ago. How can I wrap up this week? And I’m not really good at wrap/ “rap”, me being from close to the era of silent movies and silent records/CDs and tapes.

How can I satisfactorily express the emotions for everybody for the week? Let alone a “closing out” for everyone!? Hey, everyone will want to try I suggest… and that can get today'’s blog done. As for me, I won'’t try to be as expressive and explanatory as Keith/Keif, but thanks to him we had a “to do” list ready and waiting from him which was a great help. With one exception we completed the list and went above and beyond- a great group! The exception, Keith, we did not get the termite boards replaced as the week went by because we did not have the supply of boards. However, with Eugene'’s help we went on a serious defensive assault against the pesky little termite nibblers with “Baygon” being our version of heavy artillery.

                The activities from the week have been fairly closely reported and today is a very special day as well, “Mother’'s Day” in Haiti, the last Sunday in May. With the blog’s introductory paragraph above I'’d like to leave lots of room for others to perhaps comment on the Mother'’s day service and the meal that some of our funds helped to provide as well as their experiences over the past week.

Service on Mother's Day

Newfoundland group singing in church

A personal mention: mid afternoon, Jenny, Todd JJ, Moise and I took large garbage bags to the school area where approximately 300 meals of rice, beans and chicken legs were served. Might I add that these meals were not cooked on a gas or electric stove but in large steel bowls over charcoal by a number of senior students. Karen and Luckner also provided great help and organization for this event. After the meal, the empty Styrofoam meal containers were neatly packed into large overflowing garbage containers. Each meals’ chicken leg was a special treat! As a tear starts to form (though I have observed this before) I noticed only four chicken leg bones not eaten or taken home amongst the dozens of empty containers left in the garbage.


Well where do I start?  What an amazing trip.  Not sure how I’m gonna be able to leave here tomorrow.  This has been an experience of a lifetime and I will never forget one minute of it.  The things that I have learned from the children, the team and most importantly Karen, I will cherish forever.  One can truly not understand until you have been here to see it for yourself.  All the children will be forever in my heart and I can'’t wait till next year to see them all again.  This is just the beginning for me, I will be here every year for as long as I can, even if Mamma says “NO,NO,NO”.  To end off our last night, we drove to Luckner'’s for a pop, in the rain.  The only two brave souls were myself and Lacee, glad garbage bags and all!!      -Heather


Wow. How time flies. I can say with confidence that there has not been a day since leaving HATS last year I haven’'t thought about returning. Yet, here I am at the end of my second visit already. I have never felt so much joy than the joy I feel when we first drive through the compound doors and lay eyes on Karen and the beautiful children. I learn more and more each time I come. I have never been so inspired by anyone the way that Karen Huxter inspires me. My experience here in Haiti has been one of happiness, love, laughter and thankfulness. When I leave tomorrow, I will take a piece of Haiti in my heart and cherish it until I return. Thank you to Karen, the children and the best team.   –Lacee

Double Trouble

There are no words that would ever describe my experience at HATS…..I’m so thankful to Karen, to her workers, and to those precious children for everything they have taught me and for everything they have given my heart and my soul.  I have learned that with FAITH, with PRAYER, with HOPE and with LOVE, anything and everything is possible. Karen lives this every single day.  What she teaches her children and her country is absolutely from her heart and is truly amazing. It has been a busy week at HATS, with lots of fun and tears ….I'm going home with memories that will last a lifetime …..I'm going home with a heart filled with love …..and I'm going home knowing that I again will return to Haiti next year. Until then Karen, thanks for everything, thanks for all your hugs and all your prayers….  Thanks for YOU. I love you to pieces…..xo   -Jenny


Oh sugarsnaps!!! Gert and Liz here. We thought that our blogging days were finished until Don Huxter decided that it would be nice if everyone added a little piece of emotional blackmail to this evening's blog. Truth be told. He just didn'’t want to do this alone!! To say we have not been touched by anything and everything here at HATS would be an understatement.  From the love of the children, the amazing food prepared by Germaine and Roselene, the blistering heat as we painted and dare I say, the sighting of a furry tarantula only added to the experience. For me, Gert, my fourth trip here leaves me learning much more about Karen Huxter and her love and devotion to a country she has called home for the last twenty years. I leave anxiously awaiting the time when I return to my Hatian family next year. Enough said!! I love you and am a better person because of you.

As for Liz, her first time has been a roller coaster of emotions. The faces of the children, the operation of the school, and the sharing of devotions are only the tip of the iceburg -  (which at this time she wishes she was sliding on). Will this be her only trip? We think not. Thanks Karen for being who you are and helping to make this world a better place. We love you up to the moon and back again around the world times ten!!! Are ya screeching yet maid?   -Emma and Shirley


“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” Karen has spent 20 plus years dedicating herself to helping the people of Haiti in so many ways while respecting their culture including language, way of life, and traditions. Karen is happy. The Huxter family have modeled ‘giving’ through their support of Karen. Don'’s love for his sister, her mission, the children, staff, etc is evident as his role as ambassador for HATS is filled with passion. Don, and I’'m sure his siblings, spouses, etc. are happy because they do what they can to help Karen.   This year we missed Jerry and Alycia and hope they join us next year. Our new team worked so well together as we did the best we could to help Karen and the children. We have laughed so hard this week and as a team we are very happy.  We have watched the eagerness of the children to help one another whether it was the older boys helping Ti Luc get ready for bed or Josie helping Magdala eat her snack. The smiles on the children's’ faces show that they are very happy. Tonight as my 2nd visit to HATS comes to an end, I recognize the pivotal role HATS has had in my personal journey to wellness and happiness. Doing the most for others is rewarding for everyone, builds character, and helps many attain wellness. As I leave tomorrow, I'’ll no doubt have a tear in my eye, but I am very happy to have had this experience.  Thank you to Karen, the children, and our team for including me.  Todd

Happiness

Day 7,

Lacee and Jenny.

What an eventful day it has been! The morning started with an early walk along the canal with Mama Karen. She walks every Saturday morning with the older children. We walked in a new direction today that our team had not walked before. We met many friendly faces along the way. We then returned to the house for one of our teams’ favorite breakfasts, Karen’s delicious baked oatmeal along with fresh fruit. Emma was also filled with joy over “the best cup of tea she has ever had”, she even sent a message home to talk about how good it was!


After breakfast the energy was kicked up a notch. The last bits of painting on the church were completed; it was also swept and cleaned for the Sunday service with help from JJ. Emma baked a cake for later festivities. Lacee and Heather even taught Germaine some new cake decorating tips. Then as Karen, Don, Emma, Heather and Shirley prepared to go to market, Verdine showed up to braid my hair.

Jenny started decorating for what would be a huge birthday celebration and I made some signs and blew up some balloons in the four hours I sat getting the tiniest of braids in my hair.

Braiding of Lacee's hair

When Verdine finished, Emma and Heather also got some beautiful braids. Meanwhile, Don, Todd and Shirley were hard at work making a tire swing for the children to enjoy.

Tire swing

Shirley also decided that if everyone was getting their hair done she would provide piercings. As she “pierced” my nose Heather, Todd and some of the boys went biking.

Nose piercing

Jenny also filled up tons of water balloons with the children; she even gave one to Eugene who then soaked Moise, JJ and Leica. As it was soon time for the party Mama Karen and Emma worked on some special presents and finishing touches were made to the cake.

Birthday cake

Myself and Jenny did not go to the market this year so here is a little about the market experience from Heather:

“So before I came to Haiti for our visit, all I heard from the team was ‘YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE MARKET’. Well now Shirley and I know why!!! Put it this way, for me once was enough. It was so hard to process how other people live. My heart was breaking the whole time. I’ve taken so much for granted in my life and hope that from this experience can learn to be thankful for what I have and never get upset or ‘want’ what I don’t need. You truly cannot imagine it until you see it with your own eyes. The picture shared below is of the Haitian ‘Parking Lot’, from this picture you may get a sense of why my heart was breaking.”   –So well put Heather, a life changing experience for sure!

Parking lot at market

When all were ready we started off the “Fun Day”. Toes were painted, bracelets and necklaces were made, everyone dressed up in their fancy dresses and slick mustaches. There was so much excitement and the party had barely even begun! Today we celebrated Tifi, Dieunel, Jofky, Mama Karen and Todd’s birthdays; one gigantic party! Each of the three birthday children opened a special present then we sang multiple versions of “Happy Birthday”. After the singing everyone was ready for cake and juice, YUM!

Princess Magdala at the party

Birthday girl TiFi with Emma

We should probably also mention that as all the fun was being had, the teams’ belongings, the school, and outside of the compound gate were all being flooded with water. Haiti hasn’t had much rain recently but today they sure got it. The wind was blowing water in through the windows and the thunder clapped while lightning lit up the sky. We walked out through the gates of the compound and stopped in our tracks. There was no distinguishing where the walkway ended and the ditch started. This sight was quite familiar to many of us as Springdale just recently got extreme amounts of water. The difference between flooding in Springdale and Haiti is that there are so few resources here in Haiti, not to mention the fact that many of the homes here in Haiti turn to mud when it rains so heavily. ..Mama Karen and Emma nearly had to swim over to the school to get a good look. As they peered in over the wall they were shocked to see the effects of the water. As they say, “when it rains, it pours”, and so it did. Food was being prepared to feed several hundred people after tomorrow’s Mother’s day service and the people cooking literally got stranded in the Haitian kitchen. Luckner to the rescue! He came quick then him and Mama Karen, the power duo, worked together to salvage the food and essentially save the day.

Little flooding outside and inside . . .

Emma going to school with Karen to check . ..

Taken from security tower

As we sit here and end the blog we are so so thankful for being in the presence of such beautiful people, both inside and out. We are glad that there were no issues too serious from the heavy rain and that we are all safe, sound and somewhat dry.

PS. Our tarantula friend “came out of his shell” during the rain and we got a good look at him.

Tarantula

Lacee and Jenny.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Heather and Todd's second blog

May 29th, 2015

May 29th is a day in history when many eventful things happened but today Karen and Todd are both in Haiti celebrating their birthdays with a wonderful team of people from Springdale but most importantly a group of children who have touched so many hearts. For us this is an historic day!

Karen & Todd!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

The day started with a list of ‘fix its’ and they were no easy task, well not for us amateurs. First we almost had to call Lenora and Dr. Buchanan.  Germaine had broken her glasses and we had to repair them. We think even Lenora would  be impressed.

Repairing glasses

There were door knobs to be replaced and the words ‘look at Job Halfyard der luh’ echoed by Don could be heard.  Meanwhile, Karen was busy sending off her confirmation for her first missionary conference to be held in Gros Morne in August and planning her community talk in Springdale in mid August.

Replacing Door Knobs

Community people are picking up their ‘food for families’ including a 90 year old lady. Heather, Jenny, and Lacee were busy preparing for the 2nd annual Fun Day. We finished the painting at the church and then had our picture taken by the new generator. This was the result of last year’s fundraising efforts by our team. Now Karen and her mission have a reliable power source.

Lady and her helper leaving the orphanage with food

Girls preparing for fun day

Picture of Team Springdale with new generator

After painting in the 40C heat and finishing our ‘to do list’, Karen treated us to a truck ride to the meat market where we bought chicken for Sundays community meal.  We then went to Luckner’s store. The men were busy doing manual construction. We enjoyed each others company as we sipped a nice cold drink and socialized. Heather, Jenny, and Lacee made us all laugh. We did a ‘normal’ picture then Jenny and Lacee wanted to do a ‘Heather picture’. Will Haiti ever be the same again??!!

Men working at Luckner’s store

Girls ‘normal’

Girls ‘Heather’s normal’

We then went for a ride around the hospital property and the rain began to pour and pour.  Again we laughed soooo much.

Soaking wet in the back of the truck

When we arrived back to the orphanage, Dr. Todd, Nurse Jenny, and assistant Heather helped Karen as we held little Anne. She has an abscess to her leg which needed draining and a dressing.

Anne after her abscess was cared for

We ended our evening all gathered at the boys house for a planned sing along and rap with a song authored by Jonathon this week when he said, ”Mama said No No No”  … It was a blast and included all the children, our Team, and Mama Karen.

video


Heather & Todd




Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hey Everyone, It is Emma and Shirley again.

Actually, Emma and Shirley were DEZOD (misbehaving) and have been sent home. They were quickly replaced by Gert and Liz. The HATS director, Karen Huxter, also guilty of DEZOD has been replaced by Blanche. All is at Peace (for now).

Our Morning began Bright and Early. Gert went to wake up Ti Luc. He looked so comfy she decided to Lay down beside Him. Not for long though. Mama Blanche peeked in and they were told to get their lazy bones out of bed. Always time for a photo op though.

In bed with Ti Luc

As Germaine, our awesome cook, was preparing breakfast, Gert took her turn feeding Ti Luc his breakfast. She thought she would be feeding him but it seemed he had other plans. As she attempted to feed him, he said, “No, I will feed you! “ As many of you know, this remarkable boy has minimal use of his hands but his feet are an amazing tool of independence.  Feeding himself or anyone else we had never seen. Gert was told to place the spoon on the floor as she held the bowl of food. Ti Luc picked up the spoon with his foot and dipped it in the yummy banana peanut butter and nutella breakfast. She lowered her head to assist.  “Sit up straight , he said”. Since she always does what she’s  told and much to her delight he lifted the spoon to her lips and fed her. Wow!  How can you say excited!

Emma being fed by Ti Luc

That was only the beginning of our excitement! After the team had finished a delicious breakfast of pineapple , banana, mango and Haitian porridge, Madam DG said she had an announcement to make. We all straightened up, ready for the talk. Ti Luc was summoned and madam questioned him about his behavior since the team from Springdale arrived. Did he think he had been a good boy? Of course he said yes! She then showed him a map of Canada and asked what it was.  He quickly responded "Canada".  She then showed him his recently acquired passport and Canadian visitors visa. His eyes became like saucers. After hearing Mama promise this for many years it had finally become reality!! He will finally be going on a trip to Canada in June to visit his family in Calgary and Kelowna and to Newfoundland and NS in August to visit family and friends there. Happy dance time!! Congratulations Ti Luc!!

Ti Luc with passport

How much more excitement can a day hold? After sharing devotions with the students we continued our painting at the new church. Church benches were also included.

Heather painting

Did we say it was hot? Hot enough to make a pig screech!!! We finish painting in the blistering heat and take a short break for a cool drink. Lacee, Liz (aka Shirley) and Heather head over to the school to meet their new sponsor children as Jenny and Todd repair some broken drums for the Sunday worship service. Gert and Flash head to the office for a short pow wow. We stop for a nutritious lunch before meeting with our sponsor children. This is a very emotional time for all of us who have sponsor children. They are invited over to the compound to meet their sponsors and presented with a gift. Gifts from sponsors in the Springdale, NL area have been brought with us and are distributed to their students as well.  To see the love and joy on their faces as they open their gifts would make even the hardest of hearts melt.  These are the lucky ones. They have been sponsored by folks like you and me who are interested in making a difference in a childs life. An education, a hot meal , a nutritional drink every day and school uniforms. They ask for little else. Since our arrival on May 23rd our team has acquired 12 or more sponsors for children to the HATS school program. Hats off to this awesome team!!!

Sponsor child

Now it’s on to our Feeding the Families Preparation. Money has been donated to supply rice, beans, cornmeal and oil to families in the area. Twelve Haitian cups - gode it is called here - (overflowing) of rice, six cups each of beans and cornmeal and a jug of cooking oil will help feed a family of four for a week.  In the next few days we will accept the families into the compound to receive their food package. Wait!!! Some are already arriving to pick up food!

food for families

Did we say it was HOT???  We take a short break (LOL) to play with the children. As we watch the housemothers do most all laundry by hand (whitest whites we have ever seen) iron every item of clothing, grind every bean and help care for the children we realize how fortunate and dare I say spoiled we are in our own lives.  This experience makes one appreciate the little things. A smile, a hug and a thank you are so genuine here. We know there are those who “expect” but many more know that what is done for them would not be possible without us “Blancs” (whites) as we are called. In this country if you don’t work then you don’t eat. It’s very visible. We know charity begins at home but we are very blessed to be able to share some of our wealth with others. Liz says we have to close now because we ran out of paper.

Good night and God Bless!  You should see the relief on the face of my blogging partner Liz as she realizes we don’t  have to blog anymore!!! Not that she did much anyway!!!! Guess I had better run!!! HEEEEELP!







Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Don

I’m the leftover teammate, but only left for one day.  How fortunate I am!!  I shudder to think what I could have missed if I hadn’t found my passport that I had guarded extremely carefully, until about ½ hour before departure at 1:30 am, Saturday.  With the moving of MANY items in a relatively small space, the passport found itself easy to hide away except for a very tiny corner that was noticed after many looks around in the same suspected, most likely area.  However the “find” didn’t happen until the return trip from Deer Lake to Springdale long after the other six had left Deer Lake.  Earlier, with 10 of the 14 “Stuffed  Full”  suitcases already in our van, time was at a premium , and we had to get these to Deer Lake Airport for the remainder of the Team.  In short, the other six had to go and take all those most valuable items to Haiti.  As for me, after rearranged flights later that day and the next I was also able to go and miss only one day – I feel so lucky to be here with them on location in Haiti.

Last night, we were involved in the Haiti hockey finals. There were too many Montreal Canadians fans attending for Heather, “Carey Priceless” was even in the net. It also seems to be the beginning of the baseball season, Todd has good form and we suspect it will improve as the season progresses.

“Carey Priceless in ‘net’ (wooden benches).”

 “Todd in good form.”

There are many important tasks to do while we are in Haiti, most of this morning involved opening and arranging all the wonderful supplies that have been donated by many people and groups from twelve or more communities throughout Newfoundland. It was very important that we bring as many suitcases along with us, filled with supplies because once you get to Haiti there is no postal service or delivery system. It isn’t possible for anyone to mail or send items to HATS. The majority of items will be put to great use within the communities but several things were sent for a fun day here at HATS with the children. Just to make sure the fun day items were up to par we proceeded with a fashion show and a wedding. As I am writing the blog Jenny and Todd are also helping Karen with her payroll, counting and sorting Haitian money.

“Quite a spread of donations”

“The wonderful individuals and groups who donated items”

“Leader Emma and Shirley sorting dresses”

“Still unpacking tons of great donations”

“The wedding, modeling some dress up clothes”

“Todd and Jenny doing payroll”

A big thank you to Heather and Lacee for their help with the technical work involving pictures and captions.

6:20 AM.  Past the usual Blog deadline.  But I’ve been given some extra time because we just finished a busy days work including sorting out the materials of 14 suitcases. We worked right into darkness, using flashlights to organize all the donated supplies.  Some will be used directly in the Orphanage and the rest into the neighboring area.  To finish this blog more quickly on my part, I think I’ll include a poem or some rhymes I did a couple of years ago.  It may be appropriate in that the families, friends who may be reading these blogs can get some more idea of this unique country’s special history.  Except for the first and last two verses, the others are based on a book “Haiti - The Aftershocks of History “  by Laurent Dubois, 2012, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC.   Although this book has many persons and locations names, they are basically avoided here for a general history overview.


The   Haitian  Smile


Oh, Haiti! Ayiti! Land of beauty

What an honour for the opportunity,

To see your land with its different  shapes,

From your highest mountains to sea scapes.



As the sun brings warmth to your plants and soil,

It brings that wonderful warmth to that Haitian smile.

That smile has persisted throughout much adversity,

And it deserves to outlast eternity.



Haiti was once the wealthiest land in the western hemisphere,

But those benefits went to France through repression and fear.

Brutal slavery created enormous fortunes back then,

But that was for France, not those in ‘slavery’ land.



Those slaves being nine-tenths of the colony’s population

Endured a 12 - year revolt that produced a new “nation”.

Haiti became the first black nation – but its independence wasn’t a ‘hit’

With other “slave” using countries; who blockaded, and invaded Haiti , as they saw fit.



Though Haiti won its independence over 200 years ago,

Other countries, especially France, dealt it many a devastating blow.

Haiti wasn’t given its official status, couldn’t fulfil its destiny,

Internationally taken advantage of by many another country.



Haiti finally had to agree to unfair terms to France,

Which for over 120 years kept poverty entrenched.

Its forests and fields were ravaged for Europe’s economic gain,

A historic wrongful debt that deepened the Nation's pain.



 

Another external interference that produced a festering lesion,

Was the twenty years of U.S. invasion and occupation.

In 1934 when the U.S. Marines finally left,

Haiti had been ravaged again with this type of foreign conquest.



After the U.S. troops pulled out, it wasn’t freedom then.

The U.S. manipulated Haitian laws and Presidents favorable to them.

They often handled Haitians with the lowest forms of racism,

And other countries’ mockery of Haiti was an often theme.



Civil unrest often occurred as rural Haiti tried

To own its own country and to show its pride

In the ambitions of its founders who died for independence,

And not to be smothered in terror by foreign interference.



Perhaps some Haitian leaders were influenced by such foreign rule,

And thought their stay in office could be lengthened by being cruel.

For example two dictatorships that covered many years,

Took control of rural Haiti again by repression, terror, and fears.



There was a decade when large numbers of Haitians left

To escape from their own dictators who ruled with an iron fist.

They tried to make a living where ever outward they did fan;

Their bodies worked mechanically, their hearts still in their native land.



Yes, over 200 years ago, Haiti changed the course of history,

Overcoming slavery, being a beacon for humanity!

And the International Community should have honored their decision

And given Haitians the chance to confirm their vision.



Yes, within a brutal plantation system in every community,

They dreamed and died earning the right for freedom, equality and autonomy.

The devastations from internal conflict and external intervention

Haven’t stopped the ability to resist and survive in each new generation.



 

Yes, Haitians have survived:  slavery, international bullying and invasions,

External mockery, racism, and rural dispossessions;

Massacres, genocide, and insurrection;  poverty, and cruelties beyond description.

Floods, mudslides, and hurricanes;  2010 Earthquake, cholera... How deep the Nations pains ?!



Yes, the Haitian smile can remind many bigger, richer countries,

Of their overexaggerating many lesser difficulties.

A smile that indicates a deep inner strength,

A symbolic gold medal of a nation's endurance.



Yes, a resilient Nation, though having been fully victimized,

Nothing has conquered that smile or the twinkle of the Haitian eyes!

Haiti, we hope your ancestral aspirations successfully continue.

Haiti (Ayiti), we honour and salute you.

                                   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .