….. and I thought I was going to be in Haiti starting on the 3rd!
One of the many things I am learning on this journey of mine is that nothing ever goes quite as planned! Cholera epidemic and political violence don’t help.
There is actually a benefit about not being in Haiti right now: I can do more work from my safe house that has lost power only once and only for 24 hours in the past month. The tradeoff: a few hours of electricity in the evening if one is lucky with a very very slow connection to emails. Last time I was in Haiti I timed how long it takes to open a regular email so I can read it: 20 minutes, then you write a quick answer and keep your fingers crossed that it goes, before the internet or power get interrupted!
So for now, I spend even more time behind my computer this semester but …. I have put down my red pen. Instead I am putting together programs in Haiti and I volunteer my time and efforts for a non-profit that was created in response to last year’s earthquake. Relief Team One’s mission is “Across Borders Solidarity in Construction, Reconstruction, Job Skills Training and English Language Instruction to create sustainable positive change”. What an agenda!
My “boss” Ray Arana has been down in Haiti since last march and has trained 40 Haitians in carpentry, cement repair work and sanitation installations. He taught them English as they worked side by side and learned building technology. Once the cholera broke out, he taught them how to take care of themselves and their family. Needless to say, they think he is a semi-God!
We are working on putting an Emergency Clinic program in an area where people don’t have access to medical care. We have pledges for the construction or reconstruction of a facility and support for staff salaries, medication, lab analyses and administrative costs but no support to start the operation per say. Actively into Plan B or is it F? We are looking to help a clinic that is already established.
Other projects I am involved in? Of course the Centre Jean Bosco: the school for “restaveks”, those children “in domesticity” that Father Jean and Sister Helene try to give an education to. So far my grant proposals have brought in over $ 13,500 to build the benches, tables, shelves that the new center needs. Another grant I facilitated might bring in plumbing before the end of the year, so there will be running water in the school. Imagine going to school in a place where you can’t even wash your hands! Look for the Centre Saint Jean Bosco on Facebook!
Restavek children last June in borrowed class space
Below: the new center, a gift from
Caritas.That open tank is the water supply!New classroom: Pix by Nicola McQuiston'10
|Add captionLast September, the children still on vacation come together once a week, they get a lesson and a free meal. Sister Helene Mercier and Director of studies, M. Maynard organize that program|
My goal (with generous support from the Loyola University Maryland community) is to set up a workshop so the children can learn craft skills and develop alternative modes of self-reliance. The school asks the children to contribute in $ or labor towards the cost of their education: that is the way to make them vested in their own education. The resources I will take with me next week will help set up the workshop, it will be a start and…..who knows? I’ll keep you updated!
Other project in the wings: a pilot agriculture project to support the work of the Sisters of Christ the King (goat and chicken micro-farm) and of course the Catholic Business University in Jérémie… that story will be for another day. This blog is long enough as it is!