Saturday, January 30, 2010

Zabriko - Part 1

This was the focus of the entire trip. The money raised in the past year went to provide clean water to the "area" of Zabriko. I say "area" because kids walk for miles to attend school there, and the people walk for miles to get clean water. The huts are very spread out. There is a small, central area with a couple dozen huts, but most are a distance.

Before I begin, let me show you the only icky bug I saw during my whole stay at the MPP compound. I stepped on another one the night before, but this guy was huge! Note the comparison to the door hinge...........
For those who haven't seen one before - it's a cockroach.............
And speaking of bugs, they weren't the hug, icky kind, but they were not at all pleasant. I'm speaking of my very rude awakening the morning we went to Zabriko. Because it was so warm at night, I had been sleeping with just a sheet covering me. I got up, shook out my shoes (of course!) and moved something at the end of my bed. It's 5:30 AM - early start - so I am using a flashlight to find my stuff. When I moved the "something", the whole end of the bed came alive! Tiny fire ants - EVERYWHERE!!! I screamed. I threw the "something" to the floor that I thought they had congregated in/on. Don't even remember now what it was. I looked back at the bed, thinking I had moved the problem to the floor - but NO! They were in my daypack! GROSS! I threw that to the floor. Pulled out the insides - a bag containing my snacks! Of course. The ONLY food that I had brought from home! No candy, though. Some individually packaged bags of Veggie Sticks and a zip lok bag of peanuts. That's what they liked. I had some packaged peanut bars and some gum, but they weren't interested in those things. I dumped the backpack out and shook it out - outside - as well as I could, then repacked it for today's trip. Swept the bag of nuts and Veggie Sticks outside with all the ants that would go along.
Mark had arrived to pick us up, but he wouldn't be able to go with us to Zabriko because his baby daughter, Keila, was sick and he and his wife, Jenny, were going to take her to the hospital. He had rented a truck for his trip so we could use his truck for the rough road. The truck he rented, however, had 2 flat tires, so they were being fixed. We had some breakfast, then went with Mark to Hinche to meet Fines, the driver, and drop off Mark. We dropped a couple of Papay residents for market. Even so early, town is very busy.
We picked up Pauleon, then Reynauld - our interpreter - at their homes in town. Reynauld is almost finished getting his law degree at a local university and works as a teacher at a school - but doesn't get paid.... This is Reynauld coming out of his home.Then, off toward Zabriko, which is SW of Hinche. Yes - this is the road - through the river, up the other side
down a dirt road and across the river again..........
Then south on a dirt road, passing many small settlements. This is now several miles from town. People are on their way to market, to school, to get water, to trade with neighbors.......
After several miles of road that was totally impassible the last time Susan was there because it was the "wet" season, we finally headed up the trail. Remember, the people in the area may walk this trail daily or at least several times a week.
One of the huts along the way, just down a narrow trail off the main trail.This guy is at least a mile from the nearest water, yet he is planting sweet potatoes on this rocky hillside. He will carry the buckets of water.
This is how they trap all the water possible for the crops, by building a little dam with rocks on the downhill side of the planting. After about 2 1/2 miles of trail - up and down, over hills, across streams, all in what was now getting to be the heat of the day, we finally started down the hill into Zabriko - school (left) and market (right). I expected to get photos of the market on the way out, but we stayed too long............ This is Pauleon, the MPP water engineer, and a local man on the left.Our little church in Central Oregon contributed to the Drink Water For Life campaign and we figured it was about enough to purchase this special pipe to bring the water across the river to the 3rd tap. Pauleon proudly watches as his project is completed. More about this later.
This is tap #2 - by one of the 2 schools in the community. Before we hiked up to the spring, we sat under the granary at Faustin's home. He is the MPP representative for the community. This woman is preparing congo beans - for our lunch later. We were served some of the good, traditional Haitian bread and some sweet coffee.
This chicken was tied to the ladder to the granary. Would be later decapitated and cleaned for lunch. Talk about fresh!! They are loading goods to take down to the truck so we can take them in to town when we go out.
But the load kept falling off. They laughed and started over. Finally got it to stay and the load was at the truck when we hiked out later.This is Faustin. Nicest guy and a great smile!!
Following our snack, we headed up to see the spring and the reservoir. I said "up" didn't I? It was all up - about 1/2 - 3/4 miles. On the way, saw these people going to their huts which are spread out. There are also various crops planted on any flat or almost flat areas. Finally - the reservoir - 4400 gallons of good, clean water.
I'll take a break for now - more to come.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

St. Joseph Home for Boys and Port au Prince, Haiti

Little did I know when I left Haiti less than 4 weeks ago that this place that I had come to love so much
would become thisIn 1985, Michael Geilenfeld, a former Brother with Mother Teresa's order, with $1000 in his pocket, established a home for 5 orphans in Port au Prince. Less than a quarter century later, it had grown tremendously. The St Joseph's Home for Boys family now included Trinity House and Wings of Hope as well as an arts center, an outreach school in conjunction with Trinity House and the Resurrection Dance Theater. Michael's dream came crashing down on January 12th when the earthquake hit Haiti.
A graduate of the the St Joe's program and now it's director, Bill Nathan was in the chapel on the 6th floor, preparing for evening chapel when the quake began. He was able to jump to the rooftop of a nearby building, but sustained serious injuries. The boys were mostly outdoors and all escaped without serious injuries. Bill was flown to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale yesterday which I understand was documented on television, though I have yet to see it.

Rather than continue my blog posting in chronological order, I have decided to jump ahead and show you some of my impressions of Port au Prince. We were able to spend 3 days in one of the guest rooms at St Joe's. Below, Michael got up early on our last morning there to prepare our breakfast and see us off. We had to leave for the airport at 6:15 AM.
This was the sitting area outside our room. The stairs led to a stage area for the dance theater, then up to the chapel, then up to the rooftop garden sitting areas with a fantastic view of the city.
Many of the guest rooms had been furnished by former guests. They were all beautiful and unique. Though there was no running water and sporadic electricity, St Joe's was rated as THE best place to stay in Haiti by several travel guides.
From the St Joe's Facebook page dated December 26th:

With the 25th anniversary of St. Joseph's coming up in January, we are remodeling and updating the home. There are lots of new colors on the walls, new furniture, new rooms and lots of surprises.

Now it looks like this:
This is where we ate most of our meals:

Art was displayed throughout the building, much of it done by the boys in the arts program. We were fortunate to attend one of their church services on the Sunday morning that we were there. The boys did the whole service. Bill Nathan is in the center, playing the drum.

There was also chapel most mornings and evenings.Views of the city from the rooftop garden

The clouds building foretold the rain we had that afternoon and evening. They collected the rainwater to use for washing and flushing
Sunday afternoon, the Resurrection Dance Theater performed for us as well as some of the kids from Wings - a home for mentally and physically challenged children who had been orphaned or abandoned.
The dance skit below portrayed the life on the streets of Didi, one of the boys.
These are all of the boys who performed for us that day, joined by Steve - in the blue shirt - one of the residents of Wings.
Steve is joined by Pierre, another Wings kid, in the dance finale
joined by ALL the guests! What a wonderful celebration!
On Monday, we went up to Wings, which is about an hour drive from St Joe's, farther up in the hills. I am not sure which portions of Wings were damaged in the quake. The photo below is looking toward the guest rooms and day areas.
This is where the previous photo was taken from
Some of the kids at Wings.
The kids at Wings were giving out treats to the children of the neighborhood the day we were there. From a Facebook post:

The highlight of today was not decorating the tree at Wings, although that was great and I'll post photos later. The highlight of the day was the Wings kids setting up a table at the front of the house and giving cookies they made and toys to the kids of the neighborhood. It was wonderful! Bravo to KC and the Wings education staff for teaching the Wings kids that the gift is in the giving.

This little Wings guy was enjoying his sucker!
My heart is heavy as I think of them trying to make some sense out of what has happened. With St Joe's uninhabitable, the boys have moved to the only stable portion of the Wings facility which means there are around 65 living in a very small space. They are very lucky that they are all together, of course.

What follows is a brief tour of Port au Prince. We were able to accompany some other guests at St Joe's on a shopping trip, of sorts, to an artists coop and to the metalworking district. I was only able to take photos of the city from the window of the van, usually while we were moving. One really can't say, "stop a minute so I can take a picture"!!

Market area street scene..........
This is what we would think of as a homeless camp. Some tarps strung up from trees provides shelter from the hot sun. Most cooking is done outdoors using charcoal or wood fires. Very common sight in the city. These people most likely were unhurt in the quake.Retail establishments
More market area. It seemed as though market was every day, somewhere, although there may have been specific areas set up on certain days for larger markets.
As you can see, people spend a lot of time outside. It was lucky that the quake happened just before 5:00, it was still light out and most people were not in their homes.
We visited the metal working area where there are more than 60 artisans selling their creations. They took old oil drums, removed the ends and flatened them out. They then cut them into shapes and hammered designs into them. This man supports his family with his trade.This boy is hammering a design into a piece.
Some of the homes we saw on the hillside on our way to the Wings facility, which is located near Fermathe.
Laundry day - is every day! Imagine doing your laundry this way! Cold water, scrubbing hard, line drying. Yet, everyone I saw was clean.
More homes - these are more upper middle class. Few homes like these. The really upper class homes were enclosed by walls topped with razorwire. My understanding of the rich in Port au Prince - is not very good. I didn't meet any, don't know of any, just heard of them.
Nuff said.
That's it for today. If anyone has questions, I would be happy to address them from what I know. I will be returning when I can - right now, non essential, non medical, and non trained in disaster relief people are not needed - or allowed. Understandable! When allowed, I will be there to help, I hope.

NOTE- the "after" photos are from St Joseph's facebook or the site. If you wish to donate to the rebuilding of the home and Michael's successful program, the Hearts With Haiti site has a secure donation area.

BREAKING NEWS: From the St Joe's facebook post:

GREAT NEWS!!! A structural engineer from CA showed up at SJ today. The art center where they are now living is perfectly fine and totally solid! The three floors of SJ we are going in and out of are structurally sound enough for us to do that safely. PRAISE GOD!!!