Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dear friends of VOH:
Greetings from dusty and windy PAP. It is quite a contrast to the Artibonite Valley from where I just returned after an overnight visit with Wilner. They have had rain practically everyday for the last two weeks...needless to say there is not dust flying around there. Our backyard looks like a garden of Eden as the plants are thriving with all of the rain. It shows off all of Wilner's hard work keeping it going the rest of the year.

We are having a bit of "down time" as we are having a bit of a break between teams....the Enrichment team is due the 17th of July. Mind you this does not mean we are sitting twiddling our thumbs. Bert and our yard man are at the moment cleaning up the work area at the end of the guest rooms......sorting through a myriad of bits and pieces of electrical/plumbing/carpentry materials. Roberta is out checking for our mail at Agape and I am doing office work.

School as you are aware closed on June 30. The Grade 6's and 9's have finished their National Exams and the Rheto (grade 12) students go for their exams on Monday to Wed this coming week. We/they will get their results sometime near the end of August.

The Health Center continues to rise. It is so heartwarming to see that the blocks are now going in and the walls for the various rooms are beginning to appear. Everyone is pleased with the quality of work and thus far it looks rock solid! That was particularly on everyone's minds as we had a tremor that was easily felt last a week ago Friday. I was sitting in the same spot as I was during the earthquake and I have to say my heart was beating a little faster and harder during those few seconds. No damage occurred from the tremor,but some people were hurt as they rushed out of buildings. It was not felt as far away as the school, so there were no incidences there.

Our down note of the week was getting a call from the School Director informing us that the newly installed water pump was not working. Jean and Bert dropped what they were doing and headed to the school to investigate. The saga continues as we now figure out what went wrong and await a well driller to come and clean out the well. The positive side of it is that at least school is out so the need for having camions of water delivered every couple of days is not a worry. However the men at the work site are back to hauling water up by bucket full from the canal to make their cement.

On the political front, the negotiations and manoeuverings for the Prime Ministerial position still go on. Martelly has formed a special commission to meet with the two house leaders and has put forward three other candidates as well as resubmitting that of Daniel Rouzier. Many figure that after all of the back door negotiations are completed that Rouzier will in the long run been named Prime Minister. Time will tell!

As I close this message to you, I will also bid you adieu for a period of time. As many of you are aware I will begin an extended leave of absence from my duties here in Haiti, in order to return to Canada to attend to my mother, who has end stage cancer. As of Monday July 4 Bert and Roberta Anderson will be responsible for the Haiti Operations and they will begin to provide you with the updates from Haiti. I know that you will show them the same support and concern that you have provided me over the past months and that you will join me in prayers for their work as they continue to guide and advance the work here in Haiti.

I leave with both feelings of joy and sadness....happy to be returning to family and friends in Canada, sad at leaving leaving family, friends and my work here in Haiti. The sadness is lightened somewhat knowing that I will continue on a part time basis for the Village of Hope Lazarus Project helping with some administrative work and also assisting with the fund raising effort. Thus I look forward to continued contact with many of you. I will be maintaining my same email address: (note the "l" between the d and b) and would love to hear from you. Thank you SO MUCH for all of the support, care, concern and many prayers that you have extended to me and to my family (especially my mom) over the past months. I have indeed been Blessed!

May God be with each and everyone of you and may he keep you in his loving care each and every day.

A bientot,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hi Folks: I am going to give you this next update with pictures:

Kindergarten 3 boys.....boys wil be boys everywhere.....notice how all heads are going in different directions

Kindergarten 1 class performing for the Recital

The walls at the heath center start to go looks good and sturdy, which pleases us all.

Last week I had the pleasure to attend anniversary celebrations as FFTP-Haiti celebrated its 25th year of operation in Haiti. The day started off with a mass, then speeches and distribution of service awards to staff followed with a buffet. The parking lot usually filled with containers was miraculously cleared and turned into a reception area.

Little "Angels of Hope" led the procession for the Mass

The Monseigneur who let the mass, also serves as a member of the FFTP Board

The team from Bethel LC, Green Bay WI out and about in PAP

The singing at church was extra lively due to the talents of Pastor Amy on the guitar

The week ended with the year end Kindergarten recital enjoyed by the student's parents as well as the team members.

The closing piece danced with much vigor and enthusiasm by the star performers

Even the school Director got into the act, showing off his style!

Everyone looks forward to the slower days of summer and be able to recharge in preparation for the new year. Thank you to everyone for your continued interest and support of the Lazarus Project. It is through your good works that we were able to finalize another successful year at VOH school.

Other news of the day: As I typed this, I felt a little shaking for a brief few seconds and realized it was another little "shaking" we were having. Out at the school they felt nothing, so their was no disruption but on Delmas and some other areas, people scurried outside as fast as they could. You can imagine how many people had their hearts in their throats after that....I was one of them!
The majority vote in the cabinet was to refuse the candidacy of Gerald Rouzier as the Prime Minister and asked Martelly to select another candidate. So back to the drawing Board !

Friday, June 17, 2011

Good and all....hope you are doing well! After a year of planning and emailing back and forth what a pleasure it was to greet Pastor Amy and her group from Green Bay, WI, when they rolled into Hope House this AM. Depsite their early wake up call they were bright eyed and bushy tailed and it didn't take long for them to get down to work. While I type away I hear the electrical saw going as they work to put two picnic tables together, for the school.

Since last writing we have had a visit from the Fonds du Lac team. Despite their limited stay they still managed to pack a lot into the 5 days they were here. They made real headway in getting some garden beds ready for planting which the summer enrichment classes will do. Their team leader Perry, gifted us with posters announcing his Guiness Book of Records feat accomplished last September and he is preparing for another "24 hrs for Haiti" event to take place in Sept of this year.

Other good news is that the new pump and motor arrived and after a couple of days of testing, getting the technicians together etc., the new equipment was installed and once again we have a good water supply at the is indeed like liquid gold!! The project engineer and his staff are also excited to have a more constant source of they will have to make less trips to the canal to haul buckets of water up to the cement mixer. .....ah the little things we take for granted...where is the big cement truck when you need it?!

School is coming to a close for this year. The grade 6 students write their National exams next Tues and Wed, the grade 9 students the week after and the grade 12 /rheto students the first week in July. The remaining classes will finish on June 30. This year, our school, Village of Hope is to be used for a exam center so next Tues it will be closed for our purposes and will instead be full of grade 6 students from various and sundry schools and localities as they gather to write their exams. Clovis and his staff are working diligently to prepare the students for their various exams, National or othewise. Please keep them and the others in your prayers as they sit for these important sets of exams.

The heavy rains seem to have caused a resurgence of cholera and many centers are once again facing a deluge of parents. Wilner was to come and visit this weekend but instead will be visiting several mountain villages providing education and prevention messages and distributing soap, chlorox and other water purification tablets.

Beside this topic, two of the other "hot" topics on the radio talk shows are the ratification of the Prime Ministeral candidate. According to rumor some of his papers were supposedly not in order but the last I heard that seems to have been cleared up and he is now to appear in front of the selection committee to present his plans and announce the cabinet ministers he will work with. The other topic is in regards to the $1.50 tax now being charged to all wire transfers coming into the country, which will be put towards Martelly's plans to provide free education for all. From the little I've heard on the radio, the reaction by those in the US sending the money has been pretty positive. It will be interesting to see how things progress as the months go by.

Now time has come to go and set the table for breakfast and get ready for a new day to come.

Until next time...have a good weekend and Peace be with you!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Greetings one and all:

The month of June is upon us and with it comes the Vacation Bible School team. It is a bit of a misnomer this year as vacation has not started just yet for the VOH kids. Never the less they are enjoying the week with the team which is featuring the story of the Good Samaritan. Day 1 was with Grade 1 &2, Day 2 with Grade 3&4. Today the Grade 5 & 6 classes were scheduled but a phone call from Clovis this AM at 5:45 to let me know school was closed for the has been our "snow" day but instead of the white stuff we have the big fat rain drops falling.

We were not really prepared for a "day off" for the team and thus I have felt a bit like a mom trying to keep "the kids" amused when they have an unexpected day off of school. They are an adventursome crew and didn't let a little rain stop them from going out and about. So draped in various types of rain gear they headed downtown to visit an Artisan shop and then to the grocery store for Haitian goodies". They also got to see the various sites along the way. Unfortunately the Artisan shop was closed but they enjoyed the outing. According to some accounts, it seems the "crazy blancs" traveling in the back of an open truck on a rainy day, provided some amusement for our our Haitian friends.

Now they are doing a few other odd chores...bagging rice, counting toothbrushes, while away the couple of hours remaining before dinner time.

The kids at the school are preparing for their exams and the teachers working hard at review with them to ensure they do well...especially those writing their National exams. Clovis has been kept busy completing all of the necessary details to get them registered. The Grade 6 write June 22, Grade 9 the 28th or so and the Philo kids at the beginning of July. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare for these important exams.

We are still awaiting the arrival of the new pump and motor for the well. In the meantime we have the big water truck making deliveries of water to the school. It is not convenient that is for sure, but I am so grateful that we have this alternative...many others would not be so fortunate....we are Blessed!

So until next time from a rainy and overcast Haiti, I wish a good evening..


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good Morning ..and a fine one it is! The plants and shrubs are glistening in the morning sunshine from last night's rainfall...what a beautiful site to greet us as we gathered at the picnic table for breakfast this AM.

Yesterday afternoon our Internet problem was fixed..what a great relief it is, despite the pain it caused to the pocketbook. It is amazing how fast one quickly acclimatizes to the instant news and messaging and "feels" the inconvenience when it is not available. I kept reminding myself that in my early days in Haiti, I was thrilled to have mail delivery once a week!!

On another positive note, Jean and crew were finally able to fish the motor out of the well. The fellows deserve a medal as far as I am concerned, for their ingenuity in rigging up the "fishing pole" and their persistance it resolving the problem. The down side is that we have discovered the problem and it means we have to order a new pump and motor in order to get the well up and running again. So it looks like we will be having a few more tanks of water delivered to the school in the meantime. least we have that option so we feel fortunate for that.

Jean has been returning to Hope House late each day as a result of the work he has been doing. One evening he joined us for a few minutes after dinner and graced us by playing the guitar and singing several songs in French and Creole and then a few Christian songs in English. It was a special moment for the team members.

Today is flag day, a National Day in Haiti as we salute their flag, which was first made in Archaie, a town about an hour north of Port au Prince. This will be one of the new President's first official engagements as he attends mass at the St Pierre Catholic Church in Archaie and then joins the Mayor in saying a few words to the public afterwards. If tradition holds they will also enjoy watching a number of youth groups performing their precision marching and chanting. Yesterday was hot dog day at school in recongnition of the special holiday. The visiting team members who were at the school painting the rafters in the chapel, enjoyed seeing the kids march out of the school waving their flags and singing with much gusto and enthusiasm.

Saturday past, was the inauguration of President Martelly. I was able to watch a bit of the ceremony on TV in between my various chores and activities. Two great stands had been built on the grounds in front of the ruined palace for the Presidential contigent and all of the honoured guests and special invitees. It was quite a site and it hit home once again the amount of work that still needs to be done and the many challenges the new President is facing. Many people on the street interviews seem to indicate that in general they are pretty hopeful that Martelly will be able to bring about positive change for them. Please continue to pray that it will be thus.

and that my friends is it for this time around. Wishing you all a great day. .....Debbie

Catching you up to date with a few photos.......

The Joyful Spirit team enjoying Jean's evening serenade

The "Rock n Block" team leader, or in his words (definately not mine) "The Blockhead".....getting a little road repair accomplished

Flag Day celebrations getting underway at the school.

Health Center retaining Bert puts it "a real work of art"..and much greater endeavor than we imagined.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Good morning:
It is a refreshing morning after another night of rain. It has been falling regularly in the evening the last three nights. At the same time we are also discovering more work for the current and future teams as we have felt rain drops falling on our heads....inside instead of outside. Poor Bert and Roberta even had to get out of their comfy bed last night to get out of the way of the drips and I know where not to stand in the kitchen if I want to stay dry. There is always something to attend to. Water seems to be our issue this month. We are still dealing with the problem of the well pump at the school. Yesterday the technicians came to pull the pump so we could look to see what the problem and horror of horrors as they were pulling it out one of the couplings came loose and sepated the pump and down it fell into the well. This definately was not good news! .....and we thought we had problems with our leaky roofs. Today they will try and fish out the pump with some sort of device that Jean and the technicians will be concocting.

The construction side of the Joyful Spirit team have been hard at it constructing the small incinerator and putting the roof over the latrines at the back of the school. They now really know the meaning of "hot" having been laboring away under the Haitian sun. It doesn't take them long to get through the 5 gallons of water we send out and the last two days we have doubled that and more to make sure they don't "dry" out in the course of their day.

The other half of the group has been attending to things at Little Children of Jesus. The kids are enjoying their company.

Construction carries on with the health center. Wouldn't you know it though,, they are at a point where they need a lot of water to be preparing the concrete to pour the footings. Definately not a timely moment for the well pump to go on the fritz. Such are the vagaries of life though and our engineer is used to dealing with such challenges. So he is going to start digging the foundation for the latrines and will use that excavation as a reservoir for water and he will have a tanker or two delivered to hold the water so they can attend to the other part of the project. the saying goes.."if their is a will, there is a way!"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hi folks.....It's May 5 today as I type away at this note. We awoke to clear and fresh skies, after a night of rain...good for the farmers and keeping the dust at bay but still a challenge for those living under less than ideal conditions.
We have had a quiet couple of weeks, as you have probably gathered from the dirth of updates on the blog. It's just been taking care of daily business. The construction at the health center continues..more holes are dug and one of the retaining walls is even on its way up. We are quite pleased with the progress and are on schedule according to our engineer....even better!
It just stands to reason that since everything was going along so smoothly that something was bound to come along to upset the apple cart..and so it is thus. The last several days we have been dealing with a water problem at the school since the pump in the well gave up the ghost. Bert and Jean have earned their keep tracking down well drillers who can pull the pump, purchasing a new pump, organizing a delivery of water to the school and purchasing a new holding tank for said water. All I have had to do is hand over the money......well we did have several pow-wows together over the situation so I wasn't completely out of the picture. At any rate I was thankful that the two gents took on the problem which left me free to do banking, budget and university student disbursement duties. Clovis as well has had his hand in helping to sort out the situation...especially keeping and eye on the reserve of water. So keep us in your prayers with the hope that everything can be changed over on the weekend as planned.
Now we are gearing up for the May/June teams, one of which arrives this Saturday. They arrive just in time to greet the new President Martelly as the inauguration takes place on Saturday. I haven't heard too many of the details but I know there is a big ceremony planned. It will be interesting to follow his course of action over the months to come.
The last time I wrote I had trouble uploading pictures to the report but today I am having more luck so here are several to get you up to date.
1. The blushing bride is one of our grade 4 teachers. She was beautiful...just as all brides are.
2. Two of our "Wedding March" team as they braved the watery streets on our way back from the wedding.
3. Our kindergarten teachers presenting the eggs they decorated with the kids for their Easter baskets
4. Progress on the work site...chipping away at the hard rock. Just imagine doing it under the hot noontime sun!
In Haiti, Mother's Day is celebrated the last Sunday in May, but back home it is this Sunday coming up. So as I say goodbye for this time around, I leave you with this little Jewish proverb.
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.- Jewish proverb
Wishing you a Sunday filled with the loving warmth of motherhood, happy gatherings with your Mother's and for those unable to be with their mother for whatever the reason, may cherished memories fill your cup.....mine runneth over!

Happy Mother's Day Mom....Debbie