Friday, March 29, 2013

Unexpected challenge.

Before heading out to Haiti this past Spring break, I wrote about the probable challenges the chicken coop project would encounter. Sure enough, there were a few, but I didn’t expect the one that is really blocking progress in establishing the business.

While there, Marco, Maud’s trusted colleague and driver took me to the best places to purchase chickens. We opted for the store with the largest inventory of chicken related material, ordered and paid for the 50 chicks and 25 hens. The chicks did materialize and are doing well under the watchful care of Edouardson, one of the older boys of the Foyer. The hens? Well, that is another story: apparently they are harder to come by, the shop keeper didn’t tell us that and they are still not available, won’t be for another six weeks!!!!!
So it isn’t enough to have plans, to build the coop, to even have the funds (thanks to my generous friends and the Loyola community)….hens that lay eggs, the source of potential income, are hard to get!

They are growing wings

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring break in Haiti.

Essay writing competition in  the  evening. 30  participants

Spring break in Haiti.The chicken coop is built and Edouardson, 17 years old orphan, living at the Foyer, clever with hands on project, has built a make shift incubator for the 50 chicks ( 3 days old) arriving tomorrow.  The 25 laying hens will go directly in the large coop, and Maud has promised me pictures as soon as she can.

I am back in the US, a little disappointed not to have seen the chickens settled in their new coop, but getting ready to go back to class on Monday. I can’t wait!  I have with me 30 essays written by the teen-agers of the Foyer about their lives. The penman ship and care they took to write those will reveal the pride they had in being able to share something with friends in the Loyola community and it is in French!! A great exercise for my students J

Four boys excel at making Zanmi bands, those solidarity bracelets that Rendez-vous:Haiti club and Enactus will market and sell at Loyola to support educational projects at the Village Notre Dame de Lourdes. I brought back a limited supply, and we will test their success. The card making competition bears fruits and a few boys show real talent; Samuel, Angelo, but also Fedner, Jude and Gary. Raphaella designed unique looking flowers.  Those cards will be available at tables outside the cafeteria and the stadium at Loyola University Maryland on set dates.

Other good news: Food for the Poor is breaking ground and started building the dorms! Target finish date; end of April! It seems amazingly short, but they have a team of 50 workers and …the money!

Next?  Looking to finish the construction of the vocational center. Vocational training, I am convinced is the way to give many young people a future, higher education is not for everyone and doesn’t necessarily lead to jobs in the Haitian economy.  We have the foundation and are looking for $ 50, 000 to finish. That is 10 donors at $ 5,000 each, am I doing the math right?  It seems doable, doesn’t it? If you, who are reading this, have any lead, please contact: J mesi

Evening of gimp bracelet making
Djouna plays at being little Mom to Odeline
Adina ( 16 on March 18) wanted a picture with Madame Catherine 
Fedner ( 12) practices drawing.

Mano ( 14) loves to make gimp bracelets and sell them to his friends, also good at making Zanmi bands.

No hand wahing , no meal, it works!

Marie- Andre applying herself to write for the essay contest.

Jude and Andelo making Zanmi bands.
Magadala, polio victim might  get an operation to walk better.
Wondlet always happy, older brother of 3 sisters,
lost their mom last december. He is doing well now.

Let's spell L O Y O L A  ....  ok one more letter!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Waiting for the birds

The coop is built and the birds ordered. There is no shop that one can go to and just pick up 75 live chickens...oops!  
The 1 to 3 days old chicks will need an incubator style cage when they arrive Friday or Saturday, sort of like a brick oven,  for a few days until they get strong enough to be let loose in the large cage. 
After discussing the project further, Maud and I decided it would be best to start with both egg production and meat production  to give time for everyone involved to learn about raising chickens and to start marketing for future sales location to see what would be most profitable.  100 lbs of feed costs US $32.50 and will be used in a week by the 50 chicks that  will be ready to be sold on the market in 6 weeks.
We have also ordered 25 “prêtes à pondre” hens of the Israelite type because though they are more costly to purchase ( US $ 12.50) they will not only produce a high quality brown egg per day but will retain their resale value as meat hens, selling for $ 8.50 each, once they stop producing in 18 months.  
Day 1 chicken coop foundation

Day 3

Icee hand sawing rafters

Day 5 Ready for the last touches

Andy, Bellegarde, Icee , RT1 trained, gave up their Sunday to  have construction go faster.  Today  is  Wednesday and the coop is done!
I HAD NO IDEA about the complexity of chicken farming!!!!and I can only guess the remaining challenges. 
It will be interesting to follow the evolution of this project.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday at FNDL

Cool today the 80s and overcast ( it even rained for 10 mn last night) dogs have settled down... crows still noisy.. street vendors calling out their ware...children's spoons busily scraping their breakfast bowls..Jo giving quiet directions to one and all..dogs back at it...their barks can cover all other noises...
Today's get the guys to finish the coop........they need to install the wire mesh and as of last night I don't think they had a clear idea of how to do it...and no material for it.
Last night was the essay writing competition. More than 25 highschoolers were surrounding the 2 long tables in the only lit space of the Foyer, some on the floor using their knees for support. Maud was mercilessly asking for immaculate penmenship and neatness. It has been so interesting to read what the children have written about their lives at the Foyer. Most seem to be content, well adjusted and grateful, one has disturbingly revealed he feels trapped and can't wait to leave. I believe it is the young boy who already ran away for a few weeks but then decided it was still easier to live within the rules of a Home than in the street.
So far I have rewarded the production of Zanmi bands, card drawings and we have paid the older boys when they were being trained and participated in aspects of the construction. It occurred to me that academic pursuits should also be rewarded, some of the children want to become doctors or engineers and Maud is pushing them to excell in school. Not easy..many of them are really behind for their age. Before living here , they had no formal regular education and they struggle to catch up. French is their second language but essential to their highschool education and for college.
It is 7 am and I have already enjoyed excellent coffee, and tasty toast with "mamba piquant", a spicy homemade peanut ready for this new day.,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday in Haiti

To impatient me, progress is slow.. but if I stop and consider , it is a large coop and I also realize that hand sawing takes probably about three times longer to accomplish what an electric saw could do. No electricity today at the construction site: not that we are not connected to the city circuits ( from two zones) it is simply not available. Why? It is Sunday? No idea, no reason, it just is. The generator? It doesn't work any more, (got to wait for the technician to come fix it, some time.. soon...).. the other one was stolen , so hand sawing it is.  Icee and Bellegarde are the two men that sacrificed their Sunday plans to help make it happen. "Just because it is you and Madame Maud" .
This being said; the frame is up, rafters are being laid out and tomorrow hopefully the roof will be up. Maud and I are talking marketing strategies. Since the vaccinated laying hens chicks are not available, she will start producing chickens for meat: 6 weeks to maximum growth. One the older boys ( 20 year old Edwardson is being introduced to the business and will be trained to manage it, he will get help from the watchman to insure safety and care.
Tomorrow we hunt for chickens.

Faith continued!

 A very short time ago, I had told Maud " go ahead, start building the coop, people will come through.. we will raise the money"  and she did... not telling me so I would have a special surprise when I got here!  And what a surprise it was!  It is going to be big and airy and shaded. 
Straight from the airport we went to the hardware store to buy the 2x4s and the tins.. men spent a good 40 minutes calmly loading all this on her pickup truck and all of a sudden ,the whole cargo slid off and crashed to the ground...Plan B. We hired a Tap Tap to carry the load over the dirt bumpy road to the construction site.
It is actually happening.....the coop is going up.
Oh, we did find out the agriculture ministry is out of vaccinated chicks!  so plan B ????