P.O. Box 2563
Staunton, VA 24402-2563
June 2010 Volume 4 No. 3
This month’s pictures show Wilky Estinvil setting up a water collection and irrigation system for the school garden and Fr. Roosevelt with Madame Therese Duranvil who was born in 1888 and is 122 years old!!
TRIP REPORT FROM DR. LINDA
I traveled to Haiti on May 29th to spend a week with Fr. Roosevelt in Pointe-au-Raquette. I didn’t spend much time in Port-au-Prince, but changes there since the earthquake were very evident— some very bad, some encouraging. The tent cities are everywhere. There was an initial effort to encourage people who had travelled to the countryside following the earthquake to remain there so the congestion in Port-a-Prince would be lessened, but, unfortunately, a rumor started that President Preval would rebuild homes for the people who had lost them in the earthquake, and many homeless people returned to Port-au-Prince. The rains have started there now, and the tents are not adequate protection from the elements. The government is very concerned about flooding in the tent cities. If this is a bad hurricane season, the fear is that they will simply be swept away.
The airport has been rebuilt and modernized. The main roads in most areas are clear, but there is still a significant amount of debris. In many areas, there are still bodies buried under the rubble. Some of the schools in Port-au-Prince have reopened, but many classes are being held outside because the buildings are gone. University students from Port-au-Prince will resume classes next month at a location north of the city. Food and gasoline prices remain high.
I flew from Port-au-Prince to La Gonave on a small plane. My initial impression upon arrival in Anse-Galets was how quiet it was everywhere. The people were very subdued. They went about their business, but the streets were less crowded and the people less animated than usual. I hoped it was because it was Saturday, but it was the same in Pointe-a-Raquette all week. There has been some improvement in the road from Anse-Galets to Pointe-a-Raquette in a few areas. CONCERN, an Irish NGO (non-governmental organization), has hired some of the people to even out the road and to dig a drainage ditch on either side to keep the road free of standing water. The improvements are significant. The trip to Pointe-a-Raquette, a 16 mile ride, took under 2 hours –a speed record.
In Pointe-a-Raquette, Fr. Roosevelt is trying very hard to bring things back to pre-earthquake daily life. He continues to keep emergency food available for those in need, but also has been assisting people to work on various projects to help the community. Father was given a cement block maker after the earthquake, and now has two men who make blocks which are given or sold at a very nominal cost to people who need to make repairs on their houses or cisterns. He also has established an egg business. The eggs are sold and the money put into an escrow account which will be used to provide hens for families in Pointe-a-Raquette. Right now, there are only laying hens in the chicken coop, but the plan is to purchase breeding hens also.
Our Lady of Pointe-a-Raquette Catholic School took in many new students after the earthquake. We now have 196 children in school. Fifteen children made their First Holy Communion on May 9th, and 23 children graduated from kindergarten last Sunday, June 13th. The 2 open-air classrooms which were added at the start of the 2009-10 school year are a huge success, and we will add another 2 classrooms for the 2010-11 school year. Wilky Estinvil, our master gardener has organized a gardening curriculum for the children and is instructing the 3rd and 4th graders as well as their teachers. The children will be responsible for caring for the school garden.
Wilky installed a water collection system for the rectory and a water collection and irrigation system for the school and school garden. We had been trying for some time to introduce the concept of gutters as a way to collect rain water during the rainy season, but we made little progress. When people saw Wilky’s system, they realized how beneficial it could be for their houses. We are looking at ways to provide some materials to the people so they can install gutters to collect rainwater.
It has not yet started raining in Pointe-a-Raquette, although it is raining on other parts of LaGonave. The community gardeners are preparing their soil and planting seeds, but have not yet had much produce because of the late start of the rains. I was delighted to see that the soil brought down from the mountains last year for the raised gardens looks great and was not affected by the now eight months without significant rain. Cabbage, peppers, leeks, bok choy, beets, and other vegetables are being planted now. The gardens have been a great success, and we have plans for other sustainable projects.
While on LaGonave, I visited a school in Matenwa in the mountains. The Matenwa Learning Center is a Montessori school started by Chris Low, an American from Boston, and supported by Beyond Borders. The school has been in existence for 15 years and provides most of the food for its lunch program through extensive gardens and a tilapia farm on the school grounds. A tilapia farm would be possible in Pointe-a-Raquette. We are looking into how best to start one.
Bob’s Clinic continues to be busy. While I was in Pointe-a-Raquette, there was a severe heat wave, and many people were suffering from heat exhaustion and seeking relief from Dr. Medgine. We also saw many children suffering from a respiratory illness which affected mostly the kindergarten classes and kept the children out of school for several days. There was an outbreak of typhoid fever in Terre Seche in the mountains from cistern water. Thankfully, the well there was not affected, but we had the people clean the well’s cistern, as well as their own cisterns, with bleach. This was another opportunity to teach about solar disinfection of water, and I enlisted the aid of a natural healer, who is not a witch doctor, to work with her community in Terre Seche
I saw a child with epilepsy who had had a seizure and fell into the cooking fire 2 weeks earlier. She was severely burned, but was treated quickly by Dr. Medgine and is recovering. Without the presence of Bob’s Clinic, the outcome would most likely have been very different.
This is just a brief overview of what is happening on La Gonave now. I will be speaking in Assisi Hall next Sunday, June 27th at 10am about my trip. Please plan to attend. There is so much more I have to tell you about how your support is making an enormous difference in the lives of the people of La Gonave.
For those who would like to be more involved in the Haiti Outreach Mission at St. Francis, you are invited to a meeting of the Haiti Outreach Ministry Committee on Monday, June 21st at 7pm in Assisi Hall. Please contact me at email@example.com or 540-885-7763 if you would like more information.
Mesi anpil. Thank you so much for your continuing support. Fr. Roosevelt sends his thanks and wants you to know that the people of St. Louis pray for us at St. Francis every day.
Men anpil chay pa lou. Many hands make the load lighter. Bondye beni ou. God bless you.