Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year in Haiti

Rooster crows and dog barks are sounds the visitor to Haiti will identify with, but for me
it is also the chatter of children’s voices as they go about their day. Back in the US, it is
6 am and I imagine them lining up for their daily dose of tooth paste and I remember
how little ones run towards me with delighted smiles and outstretched arms calling my
name ,ready to give so much affection that it melts your heart.
What did take place this Christmas break?
For starters: the accomplishment of 18 months of work: 1st performance by the children
in the new multipurpose room now completed and then also
 New Year’s salsa dancing lessons from John for the 12 older children.
 Computer literacy specifically for the 6 motivated high-schoolers from Steven,
LUM class of 2016
 Making bead necklaces and bracelets delighted the little ones.
 Colorful plastic gimp key chains and bracelets were a continued huge hit with
 Card drawing competition. Winners: Frantzy (17) and Samuel (14). Proceed
from the sale of mass produced cards will help fund high school costs.
 Zanmi ( creole word for friend) bracelets made by Jude, Angelo, Pouchon, Mano
and Jhonker, originally worn by Haitian men to heal their muscle aches, will be
marketed at LUM by the “Enactus” club. Proceeds will fund vocational programs.
 Retrieved receipts for the installation of cabinets, sinks and counter of the
bakery, funded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
 Consulted with the directors of the post-earthquake elementary school set in
Canaan to offer ideas for development and sustainability.
 Research for chicken coop project.
 Brainstormed and planned over long multiple conversations with Maud for the
care and future of the Foyer NDL and its new complex.
What did I learn?
What stands out once more: how hard it is to do good and not risk what I have started
calling “collateral damage”. How many well-meaning foreigners create more hassle
and work with very little positive results? How many useless donations stream to Haiti
(fur boots and knit hats for this average 90 F country?) How hard it is to put ourselves
aside and really listen to the needs of those we try to help

1st performance in new building
Ever watchful Maud ,Dec. 30, 2012
Card making competition
Jude making Zanmi bracelets
Card making thanks to Michelle McW.

Lovely and Marie-Claude making bead  necklaces

Samuel won the card drawing competition. No prior experience!

Craft making on balcony
Spelling bee Dec. 31,2012

Steven helps Sebastien
Angelo talented craft maker, finishing Zanmi  band

Emma smiles while beading.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Security fencing

Extensive work in securing tins to the existing mesh wire fence is wrapping up.  In Haiti violent frequent storms and winds made it imperative to put in place a sturdy cement frame. After a couple of weeks, three men have the project 90% completed, thereby preventing passersby prying into the site. Hidden from view supplies and people will be safer. 
Thank you Dr Gates, Richard and Janet Spear, we are grateful to have you join the circle of international supporters of the children of the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Unexpected craft discovery

I don't know how to teach craft, I am French teacher but in brainstorming with generous ladies such as Lisa, Michele, Molly and MariaLouisa and the jewelry drive at Loyola U. Md I brought supplies and ideas to the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes.
We have a running competition in designing original cards that is triggering some unsuspected talents. In addition,  "les Petits" , the little ones 3 to7  LOVE to make "bracelets et colliers" , " les Moyens" ( the Middle ones, 8 - 14 or so) love to make colorful gimp bracelets or key chains and now five boys among the Moyens stand out in their dexterity and are making beautiful solidarity-friendship bracelets of a different sort.  The Zanmi band  ( Zanmi means friend in creole)  use car parts easily found in Haiti and currently worn before decoration by men on their wrists to heal their aches.  My hope is that Loyola students will market them so that funds are raised to help pay for the education of the 30 teenagers that live here at the Foyer.
However what is surfacing is a totally unexpected aspect at least for me: I am getting to know the children much better. What is revealed is not only their creativity and resourcefulness but also their perseverance, dexterity, ability to concentrate, their neatness and mindfulness in helping others learn. Some of the end products show aspects of the children that their caregivers are happily surprised to discover and it gives an immense sense of pride to the child himself. It is such an exciting twist to my work here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

RT1 made a difference

When Louis-Jackson, Bellegarde, Andy and Clifford rapidly changed their clothes so that during their lunch break we could go see the house they have been responsible for building, there was obvious excitement and joy in the packed car that took us 15 minutes outside of Croix des Bouquets towards what is now of the resettlement zone for about 50 000 people. The house is grand with multiple rooms, bathrooms , decorated arches and columns.  They kept with a pride in their voices that it was what they learned from Ray that enabled them to now be in charge of this construction. Teaching how to fish! That is RT1's goal.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

When the children sing.

First time in the new multipurpose room: groups of children took turns reciting poetry, singing and dancing in front of proud teachers and devoted friends of the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes. To think there was only a bare field with abandoned tent equipment a year and a half ago! It was such a moving scene that many onlookers had tears in their eyes: all the faith, hard work and efforts from strangers to Haiti but also the Haitians themselves made this moment possible. A happy milestone for sure.