Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 29/16. Hello out there in Blogland ! (This blog coming a little late.)

First, it is Mothers’ Day in Haiti, so  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all Moms wherever  you are in the country of Haiti

Our day started off with a BANG !!  It may be Mother’s Day , but we still had some preparations to finish. Decorations were made but still had to be put up in the church.  More loot bags had to be filled to be sure each person who attended church was equally treated.  Pictures had to be taken of the children and Mama in their new clothes as well as with the Team members and Nicki and Mike.

Mama Karen with the children

Going to miss these two wonderful people

Our little princess

Sisters by choice

All this before heading out the door, tambourines and drums in hand, for church at 9:30.   At church we enjoyed uplifting music, a message about Mothers by Mike, a group singing by the HATS children, a solo by a young man, and a group singing by the Springdale Team, and a singing by a young peoples group.  What a wonderful Service.  And did we  say it was hot !

Group singing for us

Sleeping in Lacee's arms

Alycia with sweet Flo

Sunday morning

After church we were served a delicious lunch by a special mom, our own Germaine. Fried chicken, brown mushroom rice with Creole/onion sauce. I really want to bring Germaine home with me!  Today is not only Mother's Day but two special birthdays as well!! Happy Birthday Karen and Todd!! What a fun day it was going to be! Lots of celebrating, fun with the children and cake of course.

On a sad note, Nicki and Mike who have been with HATS for the past three months will be leaving with our team on Tuesday. We are sure a piece of their heart will be left behind. Thank you both for giving so much to HATS during your stay. And what would a farewell be without a few practical jokes??? A frantic call was made to Mike and Nicki asking them to please come quickly because Karen was sick and they were needed. Little did they know that the troops had assembled and were preparing for battle. Mike comes running up the walkway, attempting to button his shirt with Nicki racing behind, only to be plastered with water balloons!!!  Then we really started our battle. Whenever we are here we always have a water fight with the children and this time was no exception!! Our fun was to continue with a sports day but that quickly came to a halt as Mother Nature rained on our parade. It is Mothers Day after all!!! Thunder, lightening and sheets of rain are enjoyed so very much while sitting inside looking out.

Getting ready the fast way

Hit them Jenny

Fun with water

Go Lacee go

Look at the men go

It has been very nice to have a short lazy time to sit and reflect on our week thus far.  We have accomplished most of the things we had come for as well as a few others and some things here still waiting to be done.  Food has been measured out and some has been picked up by students and families. Sponsored students whose sponsors sent gifts along with us to show their love have been distributed to the students in question.  All this done while some of the group was finishing their health assessments and others were spending recess time playing in the school yard with the students, trying to also answer their interesting questions.

School students coming to get a gift from their sponsors in NL brought down by the team

Don with a student who received a gift via the team from her sponsors in Springdale

Evening came with us gathering in the devotion room for a birthday celebration.  The kids were so excited to be having cake and juice for Mama and Todd's birthday!  Soooooo many candles on the cake!!  Dare we say the total was 117 years??    We then surprised the children with a new item of clothing, some of which was made by Springdale sewers as well as the Busy Bees. Thank you so much!!  We wish you could personally see the joy on their faces!!  Mama Karen's joy was especially evident when she opened her gift to find NFLD items as well as a much wanted CD player.  This compound will be rocking tonight with her favourite Christian tunes.  Nicki and Mike were quick to pick up on the fact that she had been missing this pleasure.  The evening wound down with us sitting together for a cup of tea.  Then slipping off to bed with our heads filled with how much can be accomplished in the short length of time we have here.

We anxiously await our return and each year it seems to pass more quickly.

So Karen, are we booked for 2017 yet???

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 28th, 2016

After we were all awakened, some by the noise of roosters in the fields, others by mangos dropping from the trees, and others by snoring, we gathered for an early morning walk (5:45AM). It’s been a busy week and the first group walk of our visit. Even seven of the children came with us. The fields were wet and we appreciated really how dry it had been in previous years. Recent rainfall will no doubt help so many as they grow their crops. The cattle seen feeding in the fields also had plenty to graze on. We watched as men and women started their day by going by foot, by moto, or by donkey. Unfortunately, Karen could only walk part of the way due to her hip pain. Then again, it was doctor’s orders to not go for a walk at all!

Early morning walk

After breakfast, the ‘health promotion clinic’ opened again and a team of us worked so well together. While Karen, Jenny, Alycia, and Todd were helping people, Don was entertaining those waiting. Now that could mean telling a joke, or even standing on his head if he had to, and he nearly had to do just that but opted to lie on the floor instead. The health promotion clinics have inspired us to plan to return on a medical mission in 2017.

One of our grade 9 boys at Health Promotion

Our health promotion team worked very hard every day! Missing are Emma, Don, Nikki, Mike, and Karen. We all had specific roles and so far have had nearly 200 visits.

Brushing teeth is very important

This young boy shared that when he gets older he hopes to be a medical doctor. He is a student at Karen’s school. Health careers were promoted wherever possible.

At one of our Health Promotion Days he said he wants to be a doctor 

In preparation for tomorrow’s Mother’s Day celebration, lots of kids gathered to help clean the church yard, others prepared loot bags, and selected what the children would wear using the clothes we brought from Canada.

Preparing loot bags to be given out after church

Our afternoon adventures began with a stop to see Luckner and his family.

Fantastic group at Luckner and Rose Lore's

Our team has met so many interesting people this visit. This afternoon we met Tom Braak, an American from Michigan, who has been in Haiti for 19 years. His passion is teaching the Haitian people about the potential of cultivating various fruit trees and how to grow products that not only feed their families but can be used as a source of income. He owns a nursery just 10 minutes from Karen’s compound.

Tom Braak giving us interesting information re his tree nursery

Karen brought us to the pharmacy. Well, that was quite the adventure! There medications are sold without a prescription. We saw everything from medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc for easy access by anyone. Karen bought prednisone and allergy medicine for one of the students and it costs $13 American. Jenny was just happy to shop even if it was for medication.

The rain started to pour on our way home. Some of us were cozy in the air conditioned truck while others were soaked! Lacee didn’t mind though as she was busy courting any RCMP officer in sight! She did turn a lot heads!

 It’s always nice to come home to the meals at HATS…  It was delicious and we are all so thankful for each day.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Blog – Friday, May 27th

Alycia and Lacee here.

Another busy day is behind us! Last night, we were lucky to fall asleep to a beautiful light show accompanied by the sound of the Haitian rain. We had no trouble falling asleep after an adventurous two hour-long ride in the pan of the truck to St. Marc to shop for some medications.

We started our day with Germaine’s yummy breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit.

After breakfast Todd, Jenny, Don, Karen, and Alycia headed over to the church to continue with health promotion for some of the students and their families. It’s crazy how something as simple as brushing your teeth twice a day is not a common practice here. It is eye-opening that receiving a toothbrush is an important thing to some students and were greatly appreciated!

When one lady got word that a doctor was in the area, she brought along her hospital chart which we thought was quite interesting compared to what you would see in the hospitals back home - sample attached.

While the others were busy at the church, Emma and Lacee continued to unpack all of lovely donations that our team brought to Haiti with us. We received an enormous amount of clothing, medications, toothbrushes & toothpaste from the people of Springdale and surrounding areas, along with skipping ropes & frisbees (thanks IRA!).

 After a busy morning, we were treated to a proper Haitian lunch of fried chicken, rice and beans with Creole sauce and Haitian beet salad.

To work off all of that fried chicken, Moise challenged us to a game of basketball. Moise and Jenny may be drafted by the Raptors next season, but there’s not much hope for the rest of us! We then headed off to Borel to visit friends of Karen, Bim and Tim, who work with the Water Project for Haiti. There we were taken on a tour of the grounds which included the home that Karen rented for 9 years before building the current HATS compound.

We saw some other residences, a metal workshop, and most importantly the water filtration system – so cool! The Water Project for Haiti develops water filters for families in the surrounding area so that they can have clean drinking water and be better protected from water-borne diseases. The filters use sand to naturally separate the purified water from the bacteria and debris. It is incredible how such a simple system can bring to a family what most of us take for granted each day.

On the way home from Bim and Tim’s, we stopped at Luckner’s store for a cold drink and decided to do a bit of “shopping” for goodies to take back to Newfoundland with us. We hit the jackpot when we found Pringles and grape soda!

That’s about it for today; we are excited to see what tomorrow has in store! For now we are off to have a cup of Tetley and story time with Karen before bed.

Jenny has the tea on

Time for tea with Purity Lemon Creams

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hi! Don and Emma here . (Written Thursday - now Friday)

It’s hard to believe it is Thursday already. Time sure flies when you’re having fun……  Thought we might backtrack a little to the day we arrived on the HATS compound. What a joy to be met by such beautiful chocolate faces all wanting to be kissed and hugged!!! Only for as short while though as it was getting late and we had to get our sleeping quarters arranged. Sleeping in our mosquito proof+ed tents in the great outdoors was something we were all looking forward to .

Sleeping quarters

Since we are the two old fogies on this team we thought it would be a good idea to enlist the help of a computer expert to help us with this blog. Thanks very much Ti Luc, you are the best!!!

It was so good to finally meet Nicki and Mike, formerly from Yarmouth, now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who have been Karen’s helping hands for the last three months. Such beautiful people with their hearts in the right place.

An interesting event occurred on our journey to the mission. We had to overnight in Montreal and what to our wondering eyes did appear at the hotel but a sign that stated “ RCMP Haiti Mission”. All Alert!!!!!

Well, the girls anyway. Imagine,a group of fine gentlemen from the beautiful country of Canada heading to Haiti as well!! Dare we attempt to find them?  It’s ok Debbie, your Lacee is safe with us. If she gets out of hand we will call the RCMP…..   These guys are on a year long engagement in the country to assist the Haitian police with further training. Way to go!!

Our day started with a wonderful breakfast, which included fresh fruit, toasted buns and boiled eggs. I have waited a full year for a delicious mango and you can bet I wasn’t disappointed!! Yummy!

After breakfast we held our morning devotions .  As always devotions are the best way to start the day with beautiful singing and prayer from these lovely Haitian voices.

Judel has a friend in morning devotions

Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s off to work we go!!!Another Health Awareness Morning was held where we distributed toothbrushes and vitamins to the school children and spoke with them about health and hygiene.

Mother (teacher) and daughter attending one of our health care days

We then took a quick trip to Luckner’s place (Luckner is the HATS assistant director and school principal and 'all around go to guy for problems and advice') for a cold drink and conversation about upcoming events for the week. Oh the joy of riding in the pan of Karen’s tap tap.

After a nice lunch Emma, Jenny, Nicki, and Todd headed out to the devotion room to start bagging food for families.

Measure the food ladies

Karena helping with measuring food for the community

Food measured and cleaning up

As this was happening, Don, Karen, Alycia and Lacee headed into St. Marc for some much needed supplies that weren’t to be found in our area.  They took HATS chief security with them so a new security was put on duty.

New security on duty Thursday

Playing with the children is always a wonderful treat so after our work was finished we had fun time. This included finding hammer and nails, some disposed of wood and a tarp with which we made a tee pee. The kids were thrilled!! They even attempted to make their own!!
Yes Dickie, I did put your hammer back in the same place!!

Fun times in the teepee

Lost in thought in the teepee

The troops arrived safely home and stored away their treasures. Time for supper and to discuss the day’s events and what tomorrow might bring.

There is thunder rumbling in the distance and we hope for much needed rain. The crops really need it. Ti Luc draws our attention to a beautiful rainbow and we gather outside to admire the arc d’ciel . As we write this blog the thunder is getting louder and the rain has started to pour. Maybe we may be able to pull a sheet over us as we sleep tonight!! Oh easterly wind, I dare not take your name in vain again. Not this week anyway.

Evenings bring storytime with Karen which we all enjoy. Time to reflect and learn the many details concerning the HATS mission and children, their stories and their futures. All that and a cup of Red Rose tea. Put the pot on Jenny!!

Good night and God Bless! Now go home!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 25th, 2016

Yesterday we all arrived safely at HATS Haiti, well almost!!! We were delighted to see Karen’s welcoming smile at the airport, and it appeared that the chaos we experienced a year ago upon arrival had changed. Well, that was before the team was being led by Daniel to the vehicle and oops no Todd or Karen. The team was separated after Daniel’s vehicle had been moved. After sometime Todd and Karen appeared oblivious to the stress the rest of the team experienced.

Upon arrival we enjoyed playing with the kids, meeting the new children, and set up camp on the roof which is always fun.

We were surprised by how early darkness came compared to previous years. However, it gave us an opportunity to meet Mike and Nikki, who have been here almost 3 months and are beautiful additions to the HATS family. Karen told us a story or two before bedtime which has always been the teams favourite evening event. We ended our night with a group prayer and fell asleep very quickly.

Today, the team concentrated on two main areas; unpacking the mounds of donations including gifts for sponsored children. At the school, the team was busy providing various ‘health promotion activates’. Everyone received a toothbrush, multivitamins, and essential teaching. A teacher and first time mother, dropped by with her newborn and Jenny taught her the essentials of caring for her baby. Jenny suggested if she had any problems, she would be willing to take the baby back to Canada! Ha

We were reminded that it is rainy season in Haiti when the torrential rains started late afternoon. Nikki was so happy to feel cool for the first time in 3 months as she stood soaked outside.

We will all sleep well tonight … Todd & Jenny