Sunday, January 31, 2016

THANK YOU Jim, Dickie and Sandra.

I truly have no idea what I would have done in the month of January if you had not come and given me three weeks of awesome help. If Haiti problems had kept you from coming to HATS I hate to think how I would have survived.  God knew how badly I needed you and he made it happen.

You worked hard and long in the heat. You took care of everything on the 'Dickie and Jim Do List' and also on the 'Sandra Do list'.  You then started on other things not on the lists.

Through it all you were a tremendous support to me. I was encouraged in every way and manner possible.

The laughter was awesome medicine and I received the very large doses I needed.

You are family. You are friends. You are fantastic. Thank God you are also foolish.

It is always a joy to see your suitcases arrive but oh so difficult to see them leaving the compound. We will be waiting for you next year.

Early morning departure from HATS for the great country of Canada once again

Sadly she has to leave as well as those two special men

Loading van outside HATS compound

Go with God to that other world of Canada. You will be back. We will be waiting always

Policeman Daniel going to airport too as security

May you be richly blessed by the Lord as you have blessed me and the others here at HATS.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday, January 28th – 2016


Well it is quiet on the compound today. Dickie, Sandra and Jim have all headed home after a 3 week stint at HATS. They will be missed by Karen and the Kids as well as us. Especially me -  Now ALL the jobs on the to-do-list are mine! Thank you to all three for the tremendous support you show for the orphanage here and from home. We will miss your conversations; jobs accomplished, blogs, office work, time with Ti Luc and the other children, pranks, walks and encouragement.
Safe travels and enjoy the snow shoveling!

Joan had collected a lot of shoes and sandals for the kids for us to bring this trip. Before we left in December she had all the kids’ sizes that were needed. She did a great job getting donations and purchasing but it appears the footwear falls into only 2 categories.
Too big....Or
Too small
How did the kids grow so much in 6 week?
With a little creativity, some shoe swapping and a hunt through the depot, everyone now has footwear for the immediate future. Of course once the word spread that there were new shoes on the go ALL the kids wanted in on the action. Now Joan will do up a list for the next team to bring.

Jofky sporting new runners

Jonathan tries his new sandals

The house mothers were busy today – as soon as the children left for school they took EVERYTHING that was not nailed down out of the 2 dorms. Why? It’s time for the quarterly cockroach spraying. The compound looked like a hurricane had hit, or a camping trip gone bad, or a bungled break and enter. By mid-afternoon everything was back in place and hopefully the little (well some are not so little) varmints are all dead.

Cefila and the carnage from the girls’ home

Tifi, Sonson and Magdela cannot quite figure out what is happening

The carnage from the boys’ home

I didn’t do this Keif – honest!!!

While the house mothers were spraying inside, Eugene was spraying outside against the Zika virus. Some  common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Doesn’t’ sound like fun so hopefully this helps.

Eugene spraying against the Zika virus.

Monday, January 25, 2016


We had a great early morning walk on Saturday with Keith taking us across the street and up the canal on a different route.  We walked for half an hour then crossed a bridge and returned on the opposite side.  It was very interesting.  Had a much slower day than usual but enjoyed it all.  Dickie said he did not earn his keep.

Early morning walk

Local traffic on our walk

out watering her goat

We had a very pleasant surprise late Saturday!  It started to rain and it rained all evening and into the night.  It cooled the air and made damp beds but we all slept well. We have not seen rain in January before.

Sunday we awoke to overcast skies and they stayed that way all day and we even got a sprinkle in the afternoon.  We Canadians love it but the Haitians are cold. The down side is that there is a full moon but we cannot enjoy that because of cloud cover.  Maybe tomorrow night we will get it.

Church attendance was down because of the weather...just like in Yarmouth when we get a snow storm. We had a rousing worship time anyway and a good message brought by Jim and translated by Karen.

Karen translates with 200 words for every 10 from Jim

Spent the afternoon playing games,doing puzzles and coloring with the littler ones and a little hockey and basketball with the bigger ones.

With cool damp weather the fleece hoodies became the required dress for hockey

Karen and Dickie went to Pierre Payan, took Daniel as security and it was smooth sailing.  Despite the election being called off for today there are still pockets of unrest and manifestations in the country.  None between here and Pierre Payan today.

Monday, early morning walk along the canal again and sun is shining brightly and things are back to normal!  Great day ahead!

Sunny skies are back|

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday, January 22 – 2016


Wow, here we are back in Haiti at the HATS (Hands across the Sea) orphanage and school again. Joan and I had an uneventful flight (just the way I like them) from Montreal to Port au Prince on Tuesday. Thanks to The Air Canada Foundation and Kid’s Horizons we had all the excess baggage fees waived for this trip. SOOOOO, instead of two hockey bags we brought eight!! Each weight the maximum 23 kgs and were loaded with tools, school supplies, soccer and sports equipment, diapers, clothes, snacks, school bags and gifts for the kids and the operation. Thank you friends and family for your donations.

We had a noisy and warm welcome from the kids and they were genuinely pleased to have us back here. We quickly slipped into our Haiti rhythm, waking up at 5:30, a walk along the canal for an hour, breakfast, devotions and check the job list.........

Every morning the Ladies Executive Council meet to decide the day’s activities.

Executive council members Karen, Joan and Sandra.

The jobs are posted on the office door and you can see I am getting off a little easy to start this tour.
But, I already have completed 2/3s of my mandate.

That will soon change as Dickie, Sandra and Jim head home on Tuesday and there will only be one job list – MINE!!

The Do Lists

Then everyone goes about their business doing whatever it is they do.

Dickie at the repair table this time with a chair

Jim at the IT desk

Keith with the computer class, making sure the students are typing with multiple fingers not just 2 like their teacher.

I took pictures of the new boys, framed them and hung them to complete Karen’s kids’ wall.



The three wise men met to ponder the mystery of no hot water at Madame Joan’s cottage and in no time flat it was fixed. What a team!!

Tomorrow we start over and see what the day brings.

Good times.

Dickie's Blog for January 21, 2016

I have decided to do a different Blog. I wanted to present some facts so that people might better understand Haiti. Today with the Haitian Gourde worth less compared to the US$, everyday goods are much more expensive and people are much less able to provide for their families.

Native Haitians were called Taino,"the good people". They named their land "Ayiti" meaning "Land of Mountains" which evolved into Haiti.

More than 10% of Haitian children die before age five.

80% live in poverty, 54% in abject poverty.

53% can neither read or write.

Gourds were so important to the Haitian people they named their currency "gourdes".

20% live in the Capital Port-Au-Prince.

Only 10% who complete elementary school go on to high school.

Most Haitians are descendants of slaves shipped to the Caribbean.

In Haiti there is one hospital bed for every 10,000 people. There are only 8 doctors and 10 Nurses for every 100,000 people.

Life expectancy is 50 years for men and 53 for women.

Infant mortality is 74 deaths per 1,000 births

Only 40% of children attend school.

1% of Haiti's population owns more than 50% of the nation's wealth.

Estimated to be 430,000 orphans in Haiti.

The average capita income in Haiti is $480.00.  In Canada it is $48,520.00.

Haiti's national sport is soccer. If provided adequate funding Haiti could be competitive at the World Cup.

Haiti is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Population density in Haiti is 747 people per square mile, in Canada it is 9 per square mile.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Both Jim and Dickie are back to good health...

...well good health for 2 seniors anyway!  Jim still has a cough and Dickie an infected hand!

We discovered there was a problem with the TV stand at the Children's Home when reorganizing the videos and DVDs. Dickie and Jim took everything out and relocated it (it was heavy) to the work station behind the admin house and did the necessary repairs.  JJ and Moise carried it back after school and everything is back in place once again.

mouse chewed TV stand

The water pipes in the girls shower have been fixed and the walls have been put back just needs to get painted again!  Nicki, a good job for you??

showers in girl's home being repaired

Showers fixed in Girl's Home.  Wall ready for paint

Wall from showers in the living room at Girl's Home.  Painting needed Nicki.

We have had 2 cool nights in a row, thank you Lord!

We started teaching the 6 older ones about money and how to count in gouds and Haitian dollars.  The money itself is all in gouds so can be a bit confusing.  Some stores have the prices in gouds and some in Haitian dollars so they need to know both well.  Karen operates in dollars only so that is how she taught me and I get confused sometimes in gouds.

learning to count money

We set up 2 stores/stalls upstairs and Karen operated the Creole speaking one and I did the English one.  They must only speak and count in English with me and at first they wanted to shop only in Creole so I had to get some interesting things to sell so they would come to me.  It has worked well and they are learning a lot.  I give them an amount of money and they must count it in dollars and tell me how much they have...everyone gets a different amount so they can't say what another has said.  Some are quick and sharp and others have a bit more work to do, but they are progressing quite well.  It is a lot of fun for them (except when I want to know how much they have in Haitian dollars) and for us.  We will do the store again today and then will just work with money and counting it and changing it etc.

..then a shopping they will go

Keif and Joan arrived back yesterday to cheers, hugs and more hugs!  The children love them and are glad they are you suppose Karen is a bit glad too?????

Keif being caught up on HATS stuff after being away for awhile

We were sitting in the galley last night and Dickie said "Sandra quick" I got up to go see what he wanted but before I got there he was on the floor in a pile of broken plastic.  He felt the chair give way but before I got there he was down. He hit his head hard on the cement wall.  We had to take a photo before we helped him up!  Sound familiar to anyone?

I'm too heavy for my chair, too heavy for my chair

Germaine was about to leave for market early this morning. She had laid her large makout in the kitchen while she was getting ready.  When she returned she was unable to lift it off the floor. She removed the cloth that she had on top of it to discover it had a very heavy cement block inside.  Now who, and I ask again who, would do such a thing to Germaine?

Who would put this block in Germaine's makout and cover it with the red bag.  Who.

Joan is back as teacher for Ti Luc this morning so he is hard at it again. He will feel school with me was a breeze.

The 'real' teacher has returned.  Hallelujah!!!

Class continues with math on the blackboard.

Dickie and Jim are electricians this morning, haven't seen Keif since devotions so maybe he is lying down on the job again.

Electrical repairs

and more plumbing repairs

3 new tubes and tires for Ti Lucs trike

Keif lying down on the job.

Keif arose again.  He was unpacking a ton of good stuff that HATS needed, Dickie had requested, and he had shopped for in Montreal.  Karen says she will have to head to Canada real soon to fund raise so Dickie can repay Keif for all these needed items.

Keif was busy purchasing supplies for HATS

That's it for today, hopefully someone else will do the next blog, you must be tired of me by now....Sandra

Monday, January 18, 2016

Saturday, Sunday and Monday......

Saturday was a quiet day around here, only security and house mommies on site.  We all made our own breakfast..I had cornflakes and ti figs, Dickie had rolls with peanut butter and mango jam, Jim had toast and eggs, Ti Luc had his favorite, a plate full of ti figs with peanut butter and nutella and Karen had toast and mango juice. I made bread, it wasn't a prize batch, BUT Karen was delighted with it and that is all that matters.

We did depot arranging; some stuff going in and other stuff coming out.  There is always a need for new/bigger shoes, sandals, runners, socks, underwear, pants and dresses etc when you have 18 children!

Some of us had a good day and some not so good.  Jim came down with the flu but worked through and was working on a shutoff valve for the girls home and broke a pipe there. Later he was working on the tap outside the devotion room and he broke a pipe off there too!  Dickie was trying to stay away from him BUT didn't quite succeed, he ended up helping Jim fix the pipes.

repairing water line into girls home

repairing water line behind devotion room

Sunday we were all up and preparing for church.  Jim and Dickie were under the weather and had to stay home.  Jim was going to give the message with Karen translating so she had to quickly come up with a short devotion herself.  Church started early...not usual, as most things start late in Haiti!  We had a great service with our own Leica and Djemima leading worship.

aspiring worship leaders

The afternoon saw us giving out new clothes that were brought down, having cookies and juice and watching a new video that Molly, Lexi, Cliffy and Ellie sent to them.  An early night for us all!  It is great to have a relaxing day, even if it takes sickness to make it.

Monday arrives early with the normal hustle and bustle of a work day.  Breakfast, devotions, office work, payrolls ,excel prep work for 2016, lists for gifts for sponsored students, walls being knocked out in the girls home because of leaking pipes, clean up of the depot down small feat!  Dickie declares it is his last time ever to do this!!!! Wait until next year!

Dickie organizing plumbing parts for the last time...again

Ti Luc loves to wash clothes with the ladies in the laundry room so I took his school work there to him this morning so he could do what he wanted and also what I wanted at the same time.  He is good at multi tasking, something I am not!

Ti Luc helps with laundry

Germaine came to work today to hear that Jim had been sick all weekend and she set out to make him a tea of the hibiscus flower with lemons from the tree in the yard. She said it might not taste good BUT it would make him feel better.  He drank it and said it wasn't bad and he now feels better.  I wear the hibiscus flower in my hair and Jim drinks it...guess it is more than just a pretty flower!

Kids came after school for their gifts and we were able to give gifts and take photos and send some happy kids on their way home. Thank you to all who sent gifts and food for their sponsored children, you will never know what that food meant to them!

Sponsor gifts are presented

Jim and Dickie are off to do more chores, and Karen just left to get some photos of the girl's home with walls knocked out. Luckner is there working on the plumbing problem still in his dress clothes from his hours at the school this morning.  I am sitting here sweating and my hands are slipping off the keys. Ti Luc came for me to scratch his ear and asked me what was wrong, why was there water all over my face?  Yeah exactly why says Karen - I am not wet?

It is not easy repairing leaky pipes in concrete walls

Sandra sitting...dripping


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sandra again

Thursday afternoon......
We had a delightful afternoon giving out food to some sponsored children and their families.  They truly are grateful and tell you so.  I am amazed always as they get the load on their heads and walk away.  Dickie helped one student get it in her backpack and it was a load!  She smiled sweetly and proceeded out almost tipping backwards as she walked. It cooled down at night for which we are truly thankful.

A group leaving with much needed food

High school student leaves with her family's food

Well, we have had a great morning!  I was thrilled with all I saw and experienced this morning.  I never go to Saint Marc when the truck goes, usually I am left behind to "mind the compound"! I have never really wanted to go...this morning I was told "we are all going to Saint Marc" AND I never argue with the boss, Karen, so off I went. I loved it all.  Dickie drove (with his drivers license home upstairs in the drawer) with Karen being his right hand guide; Jim recording it all with his Go Pro, me being the rose between 2 thorns, Jim and Ronald, our security!  We had not gone far when we were stopped by police and he asked for Dickie's license.  Karen did some fancy talking and dancing around and asked if we could continue, he reluctantly agreed and said in English "you forget??? when you return you get it and put in pocket"!

At the market in St.Marc

New fridge loaded awaiting new wheelbarrow

Traffic was unusually light, even in Pont Sonde! Saint Marc was not very busy...everything is relative...VERY, VERY busy to us but not as busy as usual for Saint Marc!  Population is between 180,000-200,000 and the streets are full of people, motos, vehicles, wheelbarrows and people selling wares on side of street and walking around with their wares on their heads. There was a big street closed as a market and people had set up shop for miles. I doubt there is anything ever made that you can't get at market!  I was thrilled to walk up and down looking at all the wares and admiring all the people who work so hard in the sun and heat to eke out a living. It is hard, hard work to pack that all up and get to market and hope to make a little money to feed the family and at the end of day to do it all again!   I admire their work ethic.

Pont Sonde

I did business at market, Shop Ma, Pharmacy, Nat Com, grocery store S & D, Digicel and went to Sogebank, a real experience and story in itself!  I was delighted to find S & D and Sogebank  were air conditioned, I could have stayed there longer.

While Karen and I were in the Digicel office Dickie and Jim saw a huge pig 'going to market' but in a wheelbarrow. He was a huge pig..well over two hundred pounds...trussed up in the wheelbarrow.  As he walked past the truck the pig got partially loose of the ropes and the wheelbarrow was wobbling all over the place and the man couldn't hold it.  He stopped in the street and had to tie him up again, fighting the pig all the time.  Dickie and Jim said they have never seen anything as funny before.

to market, to market to buy a fat hog...

home again, home again joggity jog

We came home loaded, food between our feet and on laps so it wouldn't melt in the sun, some more in the back of the truck with a new wheelbarrow and a fridge tied on. We were loaded by our standards BUT by Haitian standards we could have accommodated many people and more wares! We all arrived home without incident and everything is put away.

Today was payday so as soon as we got back and had lunch (Germaine had my favorite food again) I was on tap to pay the employees.

They learn the computer young here too

Jim and Dickie supervised getting the fridge upstairs and in its new home and I put the groceries away as Karen was dealing with everyone waiting for her since she had been gone all morning.

Visiting Luckners store

This is all "old hat" to Dickie and Jim as they have done this many, many times and sometimes even without Karen!

The afternoon was spent doing chores and then a trip to Luckner's store for more supplies and a cold pop! I made a treat for Karen..her favorite chocolate treat "round and round chocolate balls" last night and we had very cold mango juice before bed.  I could live off the mango juice!

Jonothan always brings flowers to Sandra

Dickie and Jim blessed with flowers too (although Dickie suggested I could forget posting this pic.)

It did not cool off last night and we were all as hot when we awoke this morning as we were when we went to bed. Hopefully tonight we will get a breeze if not cool air!