Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bakery project continued

The future bakery now has plumbing and cabinets thanks to a grant from the Atlantic-Midwest Province School Sisters of Notre Dame; it is ready to receive the utensils and tools already used by a group of the older children at the Foyer NDL to make cakes. In late February a shipment of bakery equipment from Canada gathered by energetic and generous Mario Landreville will arrive thanks to the help of Collaboration Santé Internationale and Food for the Poor.  We can expect to see more of the wonderful confections the girls are already working on.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Jesuit community of Loyola University Maryland comes to the rescue!

Thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of the Jesuit community of Loyola University Maryland, ten men will continue working on the construction of the elementary school and get paid for a month!

It is the care of total strangers that helps make the project go forward, so that at least these children from Foyer NDL in Santo, Haiti will have a chance to attend school.  WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Construction continues.

Work continues!  A small crew trained by Ray 's Relief Team One program is now in charge of the construction of the elementary school attached to the Village Notre Dame de Lourdes.  Men who learned leadership and construction skills are now applying their knowledge and with the support of Association Terre des Montagnes, they are building three classrooms. They even have their first apprentice!  Quite an accomplishment!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July in Haiti

July in Haiti
Early morning, and Strung is crying, standing by himself in the courtyard, big loud sobs fill the air. Guerdeline, 16, walks by, extends her hand and says something I can’t hear from my balcony and he pushes her away disconsolately.  Then Junior walks up to him: he is slightly taller than 3 year old Strung and he too tries to say something but this time Strung answers and Junior puts his arm around his shoulders and both little boys walk away, apparently having found a solution to this mini-drama.

The Foyer is a family with 96 children of all ages who cry, run, do chores, play domino endlessly, chat continuously, tease each other mercilessly and laugh….. a lot and often. It is a normal household!  Yet, the only shower for the forty some boys is broken again so it is back to hauling the large tomato sauce can out of the well for mini showers behind a short hideaway.
The teenagers are mesmerized by Facebook which makes you wonder about what is posted and how it is interpreted.  What image do they have of the “friends” that came for a short time and they now see on Facebook?

Most of my goals for this trip were met: I retrieved the receipts for the installation of windows and doors on the large building so I can show accountability to Terre des Montagnes, the French non-profit that funded this. Thanks to Julie Turner and her group we had the visit of a US dentist and nurse: only 2 teeth had to be pulled out! Several friends offered donations and Will Kennedy ( LUM class of 2011)and  I brought to the Foyer craft supplies, undies ( 100 pairs) , laptops, a camera. The children made colorful gimp and friendship bracelets with Will Kennedy’s help .Many kept what they made; they are not ready to share with others, they need to hoard this new treasure , but a few did give them out and I brought several back with me.
Elphania also learned how to use old clothing to braid into placemats and pull rugs: it will be a challenge for her to pursue this original idea on her own. I have faith: ideas start small but they grow and I hope future volunteers or I will be able to give her the support she needs and she will pass on what she learned to others.
Will also videotaped the children's choir for Professor Lillie's fall digital editing class. I also brought a volley ball and a net. Thanks to the Children in Need club, the Foyer now has a new frig (one that doesn’t use a stone wedged underneath to close the door!)

Part of this trip was to help finish inside the bakery.  The cement counter was almost finished when I left and soon I hope, cabinets will be installed and running water connected. Funding for this came from the Sisters School of Notre Dame. A side benefit of my stay was to taste the daily confections produced by the group of teenagers running the pastry program. They sold out of their delicious first production of puff pastry "pâté" and received an order for more that very same day.

Time in Haiti is both slow and full.  The pace of life slows down but sounds, light, sight and heat fill the days so that when I leave the country, no matter how long I might have spent there, it feels at least twice as long but most of all, it captures your heart and stays with you.
Boys hauling in the new fridge

Magdala facing George the dentist

Bracelet making

A new cake every day!

Cosmetology class under a tent

Will and boys working on keychains                                                                                                            

Remember Ricarlens? See what he built this time! Amazing talent.

Kervens and Emma love that camera!

Volleyball anyone?

Today is rhum cake! 
Dieudonne making a bead bracelet
Helping eachother making bracelets
Elfania making rag rug

Papaya tree donated by Ramon and Ana, doing well!
Who thought of sending fur boots to Haiti?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Short July update!

8 days till departure:
RT1 welcomes Will Kennedy, Loyola U. Maryland, class of 2011, July volunteer to help continue basic computer skills instruction, teach basic accounting... video tape choir ..

Construction of the main building almost completed; kitchen and some painting still needed. 

Canadian team: Mario , Gilles , France and Collaboration Sante Internationale are putting a container together with supplies for the bakery; it should get to Haiti at the end of the month.

Thank you to the Atlantic -Midwest Province School Sisters of Notre Dame for their donation to finish the bakery and get it started.

I am still assembling donations ( thank you Cindy Parcover and Girl Scout leader Elizabeth Lee)
Crafts activities planned thanks to Children in Need club of Loyola University Maryland.
Thank you Joan Romaine for the supplies also thank you for fruit trees donation from Ramon and Ana in Modern Languages, and Michele Mc Williams of Loyola. Also from Loyola,  great and generous support from the IT department, Campus Ministry and the office of Fr Timothy Brown for Mission Integration. Many  many thanks .
My paypal can be reached with this link: my webpage is getting worked on) for those of you who are inclined to contribute to the July activities: bakery /cake decoratin, computer lab instruction, volley ball team forming, building painting, planting fruit trees, and making craft items.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

History of the construction: an act of faith, an international collaboration!

It is an admirable international collaboration that makes the construction of the future Village Notre Dame de Lourdes possible... friends of the 96 children of Maud Laurent are in Canada, France, Germany, the US and of course also in Haiti.
While Anne-Marie Bryson from Canada was working hard to find out how to start the construction, the Sisters Missionaries of Christ King in Haiti were introducing Ray and Catherine to Maud and 3 days later work began.  It is thanks to the faith of the Filles de Jesus of Montreal,  Anjou Haiti in France but also in particular a young German Marcel Koetter, working for Hoffnungszeichen, who witnessed the reconstruction efforts done by Ray as he was training young unemployed Haitians struggling to find a future during post-earthquake Haiti , that construction was able to begin. Ray Arana, general contractor in the USA had left his family business in the care of his 27 year old twin sons to come help in Haiti as early as February 2010 and among other things, rebuilt the condemned Jesuit Novitiate and neighboring convent of the Sisters Missionaries of Christ the King.  He was also interested in teaching these young men construction skills and taught them basic English during 6 am classes.  Before leaving the US for roughly a year and a half (he had thought he was leaving for three weeks), Ray founded a non-profit called Relief Team One with the mission of teaching skills while helping reconstruction.  When I met him in June 2010, he told me: “by myself I can accomplish something but if we are several we can do so much more" and so we teamed up on various projects of which the construction of the Village is the most important.
When Mario Landreville ( Mario's story is on the French Canadian blog) made his first donation of a cement mixer, construction moved faster, but work is still all hand done by the team of young people whose talents are being revealed as the progression of the construction continues.  Last summer at the busiest, 48 men were employed at the site, including some of the young men from the Foyer who were learning about construction.  The energy, tenacity, kindness and good mood of everyone warmed the heart.  
Among the friends in Haiti that have helped so much, there is Patrick Joly, a trusted friend of Maud's without whom all the material purchases wouldn't have taken place: tireless driver, quick to laugh and always on the look out to help others, he has the constancy and honesty essential to his responsibilities.
March 15, 2011
Site of future construction, March 2011

Ray installs water pump
Leaving work after a long day
Semi-finished generator room,  May 2011

Catherine reviewing English assignments
Proud crew in front of first steel post 
Catherine in her office, June 2011
Setting floor of main building October 2011

Teaching measurements,  March 2011

Witny and Patrice working on cement
Bakery being built

Ray teaching plumbing
Construction in English class, 6 am
Gannon University student volunteer

Jean-Baptiste & Fenel finishing the roof
Translating water filter instructions
Side view of main building with new windows May 2012

Windows on  thanks to Terre des Montagnes
Marcel & Kervin, Spring 2011
Marcel, Ray and Mario, spring 2011
Truly an international collaboration, with Gilles Hudicourt in Canada, who activated the online presence of the Foyer, initiating monthly donations and with the generosity in deeds or funding of the Quebecois mentioned on the blog of the Foyer ( among whom the Filles de Jesus of Montreal and the Fondation le Pont) and of course the tireless Mario Landreville ( who among other things had the electricity installed and repaired the plumbing at the Foyer and recently donated a large generator). He is also currently actively fundraising to send a whole container full of bakery equipment to Haiti which is almost ready to go. It is the most important grant coming from the Germans of Hoffnungzeichen that really enabled the construction to grow and after that  also the support from the French of Grandir en Haiti, Anjou Haiti, and lately Terre des Montagnes ( they have just pledged additional support for the dormitory construction: many thanks). In the US, help comes from Food for the Poor, For One Another Foundation, Holy Trinity Church, School Sisters of Notre Dame, International Samaritan with Gannon University and Loyola University Maryland (gave a computer lab) that allowed me a personal leave to volunteer in Haiti for six months.  There are also all those individuals who support in multiple ways from afar or near Relief Team One's effort for  Maud and her children with monetary contributions or volunteer work.

All this wouldn't be possible without the leadership of Maud Laurent, her energy, intelligence, kindness, big heart, perseverance and her abilities to manage all,  as she tirelessly watches over the well being of the 96 children and the accompanying staff of the Foyer NDL.

What now?  We can't stop: if a lot has been accomplished (read the blogs of the Foyer NDL and of Relief Team One and see the pictures) a lot remains to be done to establish a sustainable infrastructure with a new dormitory in the Village NDL.
Bellegarde just finished installing shower heads, march 2012
Volunteer touching up professional centre

Bathroom block
Waiting for doors and windows, main building
Catherine Savell