Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rendez-vous in Haiti in August

“Boy-what can I say?  What an incredible week that was.  It may sound odd, but I am back in NY feeling like something is missing.  I can't get the kids out of my head.  I am already setting up a Kayak (airfare website) alert praying that there is cheap airfare in the coming months, so that I can return..."  Cecilia Dowd, LUM class of 2003

Cecilia and Keith Orpheus from News 12 Long Island spent a week filming and interviewing the children and Maud at the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes. I can’t wait to see the documentary they are putting together. Having professional tell this story is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and support.

Thank you both.

In addition to helping with significant financial contributions the three volunteers present during that same week, continued projects of craft development to stimulate creativity, taught English to a select group, played football, and painted murals designed by LUM students from Janet Maher's class. They also gave unconditional love to all that sought it.:)
Meg Young & Marie-Andree putting final touch
Tracy Sanna admires work by Samuel while holding Wawa
Meg & Tracy teaching English

Thomas Robinson teaches Morvens
Angelo & Samuel's paintings were displayed
during inauguration party

Adeline enjoys
making bracelets

Thomas helping little ones with

LUM student design is now
on the wall of new classroom

Latest painting by Samuel

25 beds still need mattresses

Responsible Rosena is in charge of printer

All set for power point

Thanks to generous donations by many friends fifteen mattresses were purchased ( 25 mattresses are still needed so that each child can have his own bed), Technical Services at LUM donated projector, DVD, and instant printer which not only give a lot of pleasure to kids seeing their picture in print but will be a source of revenue as neighborhood children register to come to school at the new Foyer site. 
The soccer balls donated by LUM Recreation department were a big hit.  More Zanmi bracelets were produced and it was fun to see the red hens happy in their coop.
During a grand celebration, Bishop Delmas came to say Mass and inaugurate the dorms.
Boys making Zanmi bracelets
Mattresses, pillows, sheets...wow!

Little ones napping
Bishop Delmas inaugurates
the dorms

Red hens happy on their perch
Sorting through donations that can be a problem.
Not all are useful and there is no storage space
New soccer balls are a big hit.
Getting ready for movie night
Popular plastic gimp bracelets are traded
by the older children
Meg's initiative: a world map.

Alice, Clara & Meg got lots of help to
finish this project before departure

Watch the little gentleman in action!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What a laptop can do

When Jean-Willy invited me to visit and see his new baby and their new home, I wasn’t sure what I would find, how long I would be gone or when I would return. He came at the given time in a borrowed car; driving ever cautiously as it was obviously a rare opportunity. After being served a coconut and admiring their beautiful seven month old, I was prompted to check what he had accomplished with the laptop he had gotten from me over a year and a half ago. The laptop he brought out didn’t have a speck of dust or finger print on it. It had obviously been revered. He has taught himself computer literacy and created a website for a steel frame construction company. Just recently he was able to get a job because of this website and also recently with a few friends, he has created a non-profit organization to find sponsors for children in need.

The document they created to form the non-profit explains how providing an education to the young will curb violence, child prostitution and delinquency.  It is then that it hit me: the laptop has been a tool for empowerment, it has helped him discover new options and he is using it to do good. He explained that RT1 had been a key influence, that Ray had “made a man out of him”, and that the laptop helped him realize his goals.  I left our meeting thinking, this is what this is all about and how I like to empower those in need in Haiti. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A short service immersion trip is a step forward.

When volunteers come to stay and contribute to the life of the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes, their accomplishments are usually visible: a shelf is built, a storage room tidied, a craft produced, cake decorating learned, a computer lab set up. Less tangible but more important benefits happen within each person involved.

Volunteers many times discover a harsh reality – the challenging daily lives and limited futures of children in Haiti – but their hearts melt at the spontaneous curiosity, outreach, and affection the children are so quick to shower upon them. Volunteers often leave full of emotion, feeling they have contributed little but lived intensely with all their senses during those few days.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”; we have to keep this in mind when planning a short service immersion trip. Goals have to be realistic, expectations of project progress defined within the context of local reality, and gains measured within the scope of long term involvement, which is a defining goal of Rendez-vous Haiti.

 More importantly, for the children on site, their encounter with a total stranger brings another dimension of care, a few more skills acquired, a door opened to a brighter future as the children discover yet another ability they have within which might lead to a new prospect, a brighter tomorrow. Drawing, painting, computer savvy, cooking, baking, handiwork – these are steps in their development, growth (and isn’t that what youth is about?). One step at a time.