Road Burns

Last night I treated a girl who had been in a moto accident 5 days ago. She had seen the Dr. once right after it happened but had not returned. She never even allowed anyone to clean the wounds. There were many road burn like wounds on her legs and buttocks. Two of them much worse than the others. They had treated them with pomade which is what the put in their hair to keep it from getting dry. The pomade was hardening to the skin around the wound and the wounds were covered with puss and filth. After seeing the wounds I told Esaie that she had to have treatment. With Esaie as my translator we discussed what needed to be done with her mother. Then went back to Thomas to pickup all the medical supplies I could get my hands on. This included a stop to pick up clarin (a Haitan made moonshine) since I didn’t have access to rubbing alcohol. We also grabbed a flash light and batteries as there is no power and very poor oil lamp lighting in the house where the wounded girl lay.

On the return trip I put on a dark olive-green cotton jacket, it was starting to get dark and it is safer for my white to be covered at night on the moto. On this night i am so glad I did! Not but five minutes from turning out of the road from Caf Thomas we notice that traffic had stopped, people were all over the street and road. Hundreds of them, funneling down into a dirt road on the right. On a moto we were able to start squeezing through, cars were at a stand still, God forbid a bus or large truck comes! The trucks and buses would just run them over, it happened recently where a truck killed 15 people who were part of a large group that were having what amounted to a party in the street. As we waited and tried to move down the road I told Esaie that I was feeling very uncomfortable. Men were throwing kiss faces and trying to get my attention, everyone that notices my white face (the rest of me was covered) stared and commented. Esaie agreed and said that we needed to get out of there and this situation was not safe for us. Our knees touching cars and people as we wove through the crowd, we finally managed to break free. Haiti means mountains upon mountains, in moments like that it means stress upon stress. This whole night as i was to learn would be stress upon stress.

Upon our return to the dimly lit modest home at the end of a really dark path, a path were people could hide and jump out at you path; I immediately gave her Advil, I wanted to get on top of the pain I was sure to cause her. I then cut my finger nails down to nothing, I didn’t have any medical gloves and didn’t want to introduce to her wounds any germs under my nails, then I washed my hands in the clarin. I don’t know people drink it, the smell could knock you out. I had Franck wash his hands in the clarin as well, so he could hand me items. I asked Mum, a neighbor woman who is friends with Esaie, to go to the girl’s head to comfort her. Esaie and another person took turns with the light and holding her leg down when the pain became to much, as it often did. The pomade was a problem, it has dried to a gummy but hard tree sap substance. Impossible to remove easily, I used water on gauze to soak the pomade mixed with fluids, to loosen it.  I went back and forth between the two wounds that needed attention. Using the clarin to wash them out and tweezers (previously washed in clarin) to remove pomade and debri from the wounds. She cried why why why, mum mum, she called out to God over and over. Franck became so upset he had to leave the room and then the house, i was so tied with what I was doing i didn’t notice for 10 minutes. Esaie felt like he needed to throw up, I just quietly sang and hummed hymns (they were what came to mind) now and then saying shhhh. I knew there was nothing more I could do for her pain, just to work efficiently so as to get done as soon as possible. Don’t get me wrong i wanted to run away or throw up to. Many times tears would start to rise in my eyes, I would quench them and chose a new song. There was no choice, I was doing what needed to be done, just like the time I gave my goat stitches with dental floss and a regular sewing needle. Sometimes you do what you have to do whether you like it or not. In Haiti is this is very frequent. By the time we left an hour later, she was bandaged with antibacterial cream on the wounds with instructions on how to use the Advil and the promise I would return the next night. I told her I would not have to put her in that pain again. We then headed out into the darkness. It wasn’t but 100 feet into our drive that the light on the moto went out and wouldn’t come back on. Just one more thing on this insane night. Over Esaie’s shoulder I am shinning a flashlight on the ground. Then seemingly out of know where came the people we had seen in the road on our return trip with the medical supplies. It was like some kind of insane parade. We stopped on the side of the road, we had no choice, they were filling the road with dancing, yelling, and a cart they were pulling. Their music blasted though the air, out of giant speakers placed on the cart. I could kick my self for being so tired and stressed from the medical work and shocked by what I was seeing that I didn’t pull out the video recorder! For five minutes we sat and watched as people danced, gyrated and walked by. Their voices filling the chill night air with song, chant, and load speech. My whole self was on alert, i have heard stories of crowds like this go out of control, and we were in the middle of it, for the second time. Finally the made it by us and We then returned to our flash light lit journey home. Along the roads side that night people had lit piles of trash on fire, some places on the road were so full of smoke you could see and your eyes began to burn have become very good on the moto over the past four years, but night-time in areas I haven’t been in before throw me off. Add to it no light but a yellow diving flash light and you have a stressed out person, not to mention that the medical care I had just given was tense and my body was strung out on stress. We made it back without major incident.

 

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Merging Worlds

Merging Worlds

Deep in the heart of a mountain in Haiti lays the village of Boily. The people of Boily have a 5.5 hour walk, over dusty trails and rocky roads to get to the nearest market or medical care; to get to what we would call civilization. The villagers, of whom there are about 800, live off the land, gardening and raising livestock. In Boily is a woman named Redaline, she is 63 years old and her years of toiling in the rocky mountain soil show. Redaline raised all eight of her children by working the land. Two of her children ages 16 and 19 still live at home with her, along with her ten-year old grand-daughter. As with most Haitian families they continue to work together to support each other financially even after a child moves out and marries. Redaline reminds me of many old school New England farmers I know. She could find an easier way to live, but she loves her land. Her heart, her soul, her everything is in her land. She loves to garden on her land, seeing her hard labor turn into watermelons, pumpkins, tomatoes and plantain and her live stock of which she has very few, stay healthy and productive. my close friend here feels this way about her land. She works it, cares for it and loves it. Her land is another appendage, without it she would be lost; she would not be the wonderful person she is. I spend hours talking with her about gardening. We discuss the weather related to cutting hay and when to fertilize to the fields. We talk of her land and livestock as we would a child, which needs to be cared for and tended. I know that if my Creole was better Redaline and I would have these same discussions. Her passion for her land was explained to me by her son, who has tried to get her to slow down, to lease some of her property to someone else to work. Redaline loves what she does and won’t let anyone else work her land. Lately things have been very difficult to Redaline. The work is getting more difficult for her and the soil is producing less, partly due to a severe lack of rain over the past eight months. She has to consider the distance to the market when she decides how much to plant, this distance greatly impacts her decisions. Have not spoken directly to you the reader about what I do in Haiti. I am going to take the time to do it now. I help people start micro businesses; businesses that help a family realize a future. A business that helps them live a better life, a life out of poverty. I would like to give Redaline and her family a hand up, by helping them to start a business. For $800.00 we can help them buy a herd of goats. With ten female goats and two males they can start to make money the following year by selling the male off spring. This money will allow them to put food on the table, further their educations and receive medical care. On March 10th at the Piermont Congregational Church I am holding an all you can eat pancake breakfast to raise money for Redaline’s business. I would be honored to have you there! Come fill your stomach, learn about what I do in Haiti and support Redaline’s family move out of poverty. I hope to see you there. Please feel free to contact me about this or to engage me to speak to your group or organization. My number is 603.728.8949.

Nanny goat in Bercy Haiti

Small herd of goats Bercy Haiti

So What Happened? Bakery, Store and now Goats?

You the reader and supporter must be wondering if I have ADHD when it comes to the next project in Haiti. A short time ago I was writing about a bakery for Boily, and then a store/whole sale location there, and now you see me discussing a herd of goats for a woman in Boily. Well lets see if I can help clear up the confusion.

1) The bakery is off the table, unless someone with a lot of experience with solar panels can show me how this would work without covering the mountain side with them.

2) The store/whole sales buying is not completely out, just the whole sale buying. The whole sale buying piece has morphed into something different do me having travelled to Boily January 14 and seeing things up close. The store project will continue to move forward as will a project to help with the getting produce to market issue. More info to follow. The money raised for this project sits in the account waiting for the remaining funds and the right timing.

3) Herd of goats. It is an inexpensive project that I can fund raise for in a short period of time, like most of the projects I have done in the past. I will post a column about it here today, that will also be published in The Trendy Times paper out of Woodsville, NH.

So it is a matter of working out all the details to make sure that the project is successful for the people and the village. To many projects in Haiti and put together with out a lot of thought, without the input of the villagers, without a deep knowledge of what works in Haiti. None of these projects would be bad for Boily, they would all help the village and families. Its is in the fine details for the village, families and Haiti that the details have to be refined, ironed out, and discussed.

 

So let me share with you pictures of Boiy, Haiti.

Part of the road Boily

Boily, Haiti

Can you spot the houses on the other side of the gorge in Boily, Haiti?

Boily Haiti

 

Boily Church

 

Homes in Boily, Haiti

Living on the edge Boily Haiti

Pillar of the Community

Pastor Wilkens is an amazing man, highly looked upon in Thomas and many other villages. The first time I heard about him was several months ago when Esaie started talking about him. It was his car that drooped them off and picked them up from the airport, for that matter it was his car that did both for me.
The last trip to Haiti I had the privilege of attending Pastor Wilkens church in Thomas and then meeting with him for several hours a couple days before leaving Haiti. A meeting that lasted five hours taught me much about Pas (Pastor Wilkens), and how we see many things in the same way.
Pas is not just a Pastor and a pillar of the community, he is also a business man and has returned to school for a degree in marketing. Pas, grew up as a only child in a poor family. A Pastor in his village took him under his wing, teaching him and helping him. Pas has never forgotten this and has made it his life to pay it forward.
In the village of Thomas Pas is paying for 30 children to attend school, he feels that education is extremely important. Of these thirty children he has given ten of them female baby goats (ti Karin). He has met with them, teaching them not only how to care for their goat but how to move ahead in this business. They are learning about raising more goats, turning a profit and some day being able to take those profits and buy into yet another business. He is also teaching them that to whom much is given, much is expected. That they need to become strong educated leaders and that they will later need to pay it forward to others.
To meet someone in Haiti that on there own is not only working in the same manner I am, but starting with the youngest generation was wonderful. Pas and I have decided to become partners in what he is doing. I hope to find sponsors here in the US to purchase more goats, buy materials, and what not, so that the Pastors program can grow bigger. While it is important to work with the adults, as I have been doing, the youngest generation will make the biggest change for the future of Haiti.
If you would, like more information in this project please let me know.

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Ti kabrit

The Weak Link

Life is a strange beast!
We complain about whatever reality we live in. Whether rich, poor or somewhere in between. How many of us just step out of that box and try to change what we don’t like? Or try and change ourselves? In Haiti young men will spend thousands to leave Haiti and go illegally to another country, such as Brazil, because they think they can make money there. If they took that same money and started a business they could stay in Haiti with their families. They often leave behind a wife and very young children, knowing that they will never return. Their presence in their children’s lives will be infrequent phone calls and money sent western union. What does this practice teach their children? Does it say Haiti can not be fixed to ditch it and run away? Does it say I don’t care about you enough to figure out how to make money here?
This running away is a symton of people feeling hopeless, helpless, and futureless! These are intelligent young men who feel there is no future in their own country. They needed hope for the future and unless someone gives that hope to their children this practice will continue. In the United States we give people support through government programs when they are down and out. Not sure this is the best plan but we do it; Haiti does not. Here in the US we have free programs people can access to help start a business, get training, and redirect their future; not the case in Haiti.
So what does Haiti have? Well they have lots of organizations that are coming in supposedly to make things better, they have the ability to start a business without a huge outlay of money and they can get free land. So what is going wrong? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but you know I have an opinion!
What exactly are all these organizations doing? How many of them are giving Haitians to hope for their future? How many of them are offering classes on running a business, training in a trade, and/or helping them start the business? For $1000.00 I can help someone in Haiti become independent of their poverty. I can help them gain control of their life and of their families future, $1000.00! For $2000.00 I can buy a female goat for 15 children, teach them how to care for it, grow their heard and give them hope for their future. For $6000.00 I can help a village of 600 move away from poverty, by offering them a means to get their produce to market, allowing them to grow more and get it to market before it spoils. This extra money gives them the opportunity to provide their children with an education, medical care, and well, food and clothes. Maybe they would by solar panels for light rather than using old lamps, maybe they could get together as a village and put in a well, the maybes are endless.
Yes, rebuilding does matter. Some organizations are doing that. Certainly medical care and the building of hospitals are very important as is the building of schools. But if people can’t afford to go to the hospital or clinic or pay to go to school then we still have a weak link in the chain.

I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this.

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In the background of this picture is a very small business my friends wife started. She sells food items. With $1000.00 they could make it big enough to support themselves.

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Jo drives a motorcycle for a living. He takes paying passengers where they need to go. He does not own his the motorcycle he drives. He pays $200.00 week to the owner and he keeps the remainder, he pays for the fuel and small repairs. Many weeks he does not make any money. Right now in Haiti the fuels prices are $20.00 USD for 1 gallon, he has not been able to work for 5 days! If he owned his own motorcycle when the gas prices are high he would not still own someone else, he could make a living and feel that he could move ahead with his future of marrying and having children. Right now he can’t even afford a house to live in, he lives with others.

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This is Esaie and his Mum. She lives in the village of Boily. I have written about Boily in several posts. She lives by the land; she grows plantain, eggplant,and watermelon just to name a few. She has to get this produce to market. She has a five and half hour walk to the market, so she does not plant as much as her land could handle. She supports herself two grandchildren and two children off her land. Her struggle is a day in day out struggle with poverty, yet she goes on because she has no other way. She loves her garden and there is no place she would rather be. When Esaie offered to help her start a store she said “no, I like to garden”. A store/wholesale buying location would help move her out of poverty.

Words Fail, Photo Blog

As I have no words to share today I am just gonna photo blog animals on this trip to Haiti. -Enjoy

 

Baby Donkey

 

Baby Donkey Mama

 

 

Walking to the stream

 

Another path to water

 

Hung dead in the tree the whole time I was there.

 

Hanging Out

 

 

So Hot the Pig got in. Happy clothes washing to those down steam.

 

 

 

So small Esaie didn't see her and almost crushed her under his foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie & Motorcycle

Having never been around or on a motorcycle Charlie was very excited when he heard we would be using them in Haiti. Unlike his mother, he had no fear the first time he got on one. In fact the first thing he said is “can I drive?”, every mothers nightmare, her five-year old driving a motorcycle!

Charlie became an avid rider, wanting to ride as often as possible! With the exception of riding in Port Au Prince, Charlie always had the same drivers Esaie or Jo. Jo, who Charlie renamed Tonton (uncle) Jo, was the first person to let Charlie run the accelerator and then steer. Jo became his favorite person to ride with, mmmmm I wonder why. One of our trips to the beach we had so many people going that we needed to take two motos. Charlie refused to ride with someone new, so that driver (a friend of Esaie’s) let Esaie drive and he became the passenger. Charlie got to ride up front on the fuel tank, (as he always did with the exception of Port Au Prince), everyone else, 3 total piled on behind.

I was very comfortable with Charlie on the motorcycle until the trip to Port Au Prince. You can read Stream of Thoughts for more on that.

Charlie's Fist Ride

Charlie with Tonton Jo

One Cool Dude

Debating who will drive

Charlie, Esaie, Bubu and Franck

Charlie in the middle in Port Au Prince

Stream of Thoughts

Do I want to be part of change in Haiti? Yes and then again no. Do I want to see living conditions better, schooling for children, people feeling that they have a future? yes, I do. Do I want to see the current community and family structures torn apart by the craziness of technology and other modern day issues, a resounding no! Is the Haitian culture strong enough to withstand what Americans could not? The toys of modern culture that have invaded our lives to a degree where I am typing on an iPhone inside a tap tap on the way to Port Au Prince. We are on our second trip to Port Au Prince to try and fix this passport mess I have gotten us into, by losing them within an hour of landing in Haiti. If I hadn’t been to Haiti so many times this process would be upsetting but; Haiti is Haiti with all the dust, traffic chaos and lack of time, I love it. Do I get frustrated? Without a doubt! Is there anything I can do about it? Yep, just remind myself I am in Haiti and relax. Right now we are in our second tap tap of the morning with several more to follow, just hoping to get to Port Au Prince for the 8 o’clock meeting at the embassy. 7:27 still in the second tap tap, very concerned about getting there on time, I can tell Esaie is to, every time we stop he knocks on the drivers window to get him going again. We are due to leave on Sunday a mere 6 days away. Am I ready to leave, not really, reality is going to hit hard.
We get out of the tap tap into the insane streets of Port Au Prince. I have been trying to find the words to describe to you the utter chaos that is Port Au Prince for. One risks their life with every move they make: crossing the street, riding in tap tap or on motorcycle. Because of our hurry we decide to take motorcycles to the embassy. Good lord, it was like being in a movie, swerving in and out of cars, tap taps, buses and trucks, oh and other motorcycles. Passing into on coming traffic, driving down the middle of two lanes of traffic. Goats, dogs and people all to be avoided at this breakneck pace. Dust filling our noses and blinding you as is rises up from the tires of others vehicles. I have not been this scared of anything in a very long time, if ever. I was petrified for myself and with every swerve we made to avoid something i became scared that the moto carrying Esaie and Charlie wouldn’t avoid it. My fear was doubled with my stomach in my throat, to scared to close my eyes but petrified to keep them open, I spent a lot of time looking down and to the right. Not sure why the looking down or to the right, but it was one of the physical reactions I was having. Arrival that the embassy was welcome relief! At the first security gate they would not let Esaie through he argued with them as they had let him through last time, to no avail. Charlie and I went into the building alone and found that I couldn’t have Esaie’s cell phone or my no service iPhone. Back out we went to hand them through the fence to a very surprised Esaie. In again, they looked for our names on the appointment list. They didn’t see them. At this point I decided that playing the poor foreigner was not working for me and my American teeth came out. I insisted we have an appointment and to let us through. Once out of the building we began the approach to the next, there was a line of 75 – -100 people waiting for what I don’t know. Oh don’t tell me we need to wait in this mess! I walk bold as brass to a security guard and told him I have an appointment and am a US citizen. He told us to go right in, luckily charlie is not seeing anything upsetting to him, it is just like any other time with mom, “She has it all under control” (so he thinks). We enter the second building and get directions from security as to where to go. Let me cut this shorter, after two hours of waiting with a five year old who is freezing in the air conditioning and going back and forth with agents they wouldn’t issue Charlie’s passport with out a paper that Robbie sent FedEx that we hadn’t picked up yet because the flight fedex was on hadn’t come yet. A paper I was sure was wrong, but I had to take the chance. We left having been told that we can come back before 2:30 with the paper and they would issue the passport.
It is shortly after leaving the embassy that things get crazy again. Esaie and I knew that FedEx is located near the back side of the airport but keep in mind getting to any place in Haiti without a private car is a challenge. We started in tap tap, made a quick stop at Deli Mart (more on that to follow), jumped in a van crammed with people and made our way across port au prince. Only to be dropped off at they end of the van route, to find a tap tap and be dropped of 15 min later at a motorcycle stand. where the negotiations on the fare to FedEx began. Several drivers later we had an agreement with two drivers. The routine as usual is me on one bike, Esaie and Charlie on the other. Keep in mind I said I was scared that morning on the moto, so how do I adequately describe the absolute terror I was in for this final stage of the trip to FedEx. If I were a cat my nine lives would have all been sucked up in that one ride from hell. He was driving at a breakneck pace in heavy traffic, several times we were almost eaten by an on coming traffic that he insisted on passing into and driving down the middle of. My knees brushed the sides of cars as we went down the middle of traffic. Switching from pavement to dirt didn’t change his speed at all, he wiped around pot holes, dodged other vehicles, all in all just scared me to death. Upon arrival at FedEx Esaie spoke to me and I just couldn’t even answer, my hands were trembling and I felt like my insides were jello. And to think that driver was waiting outside to take me back was enough to do me in. Esaie asked what was wrong when I told him to wait until I stopped shaking. I told him how scared I had been for me and for them. He said he and Charlie’s driver was not as bad, I then told him that we could not change drivers, I would not have Charlie on the same moto with my driver. I would rather be terrified out of my mind than have my son on there. Esaie spoke to my driver and told me that maybe he was driving that way to get me to hold on to him, which to that point I had not done, instead I held onto the moto. So new plan, hope the driver listened to Esaie and hold onto the driver. We started out doing a little better, but old habits die hard and soon we were the holy terror of the road again. So back we went: tap tap, bus, moto and embassy were they told me the paper wasn’t good enough. I asked them if they thought Haiti needed a white five year old to stay because that is how they were behaving. They said that they had to have the parent form filled out and notarized, not signed by a justice of the peace, for him to get the passport. I said I am aware of that since we just did it a few months ago. Did they think Robbie would want Charlie to stay in Haiti? They insisted on the correct paper, they suggested we FedEx it at which time I informed this innocent American girl that works in the embassy, that is costs $55.00 to send a FedEx to Haiti and several days. I also told her what we go through to get to Port Au Prince; I don’t think she got it, seeings how they live in Port Au Prince in US Embassy lodging and never step foot in a tap tap or put their ass on a moto. I finally got them to agree to accept an emailed copy of the form, they sent the blank to Robbie he would have notarized and email back. As soon as it came in they would print the passports and call me. So Monday ended with no passports and a new fear of motorcycles. Tuesday afternoon the call came that the passports are ready for pickup and again on wednesday Esaie and I traveled to Port Au Prince, leaving Charlie behind and not using any motorcycles we picked up the passports.

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Missions Mistake

Yesterday a Grace World Missions bus pulled into Thomas as Esaie and I were standing near the store. Looking out the window were many Asian faces. Esaie and I at the same time asked each other if we should follow. He wanted to attend a meeting that was happening with a Haitian man who said he was going to have a project, but in 11 years has done nothing for the community. They were going to give him a list of demands to meet or he needs to leave and his project would go to another organization. I wanted to watch the mission team in action. The surprised looks on their faces when they say me in Thomas, were enough to make me want to shock them some more. I already knew that I didn’t think I would like what I was going to see. I have such an issue with these groups anyways. I reminded myself to be quite and just watch. We jumped in the back of a truck and hitched a ride up the mountain to the church and meeting place. Deeply regretting leaving without my camera, climbing into the mountain I was able to see things in a new way, the ride was all together to short, I would have loved to continue to climb into the mountains.
In side the wall surrounding the church were dozens of Haitian men and a couple women. The bus was parked and a couple Asians were wondering around. Children were starting to file into the church. Esaie and I decided I would not attend the meeting as an American there might make things more difficult. Fine with me I had other things up my sleeve. About a dozen, as I learned Koreans, we’re inside the building with their three translators. As usual without Esaie by my side young men came flocking to spend time with me, try their English and see if I speak creole. In know time I met Jackie who not only is a translator but is the head of the children’s programs of the church we are standing in. So as I feared this was yet another group of missionaries out to make themselves feel better. Only their spoken words were translated, they asked the children to learn songs in Korean and in English, they taught the children how to greet someone in Korean but they didn’t themselves know how to greet some one in creole. They couldn’t even say bonjour or Chitta. I spoke to one of the Koreans and said their message is good but the children do not understand and are having no fun because you are asking them to learn and sing something that has no meaning to them. He said they didn’t have time to prepare. Their words are like the wind blowing by the children’s ears. The charade went one for over an hour with the children sitting listless and confused, Jackie could have translated the songs but the group said no. The children were spending a lot of time checking in with me, many of them know me and the ones that didn’t soon had the word spread to their ears. When Charlie made his appearance the Koreans might as well have left, Charlie stole the show. They came made them selves feel better, left nothing but confusion behind. Why? What was the point? They did nothing to improve the future of those children, they didn’t even spread the word of god in a language they could understand. So I hope they left patting themselves on the back for the good job they have done. what a joke!
When will these groups open their eyes? Yes, save the soul but give then hope for the future while living not just hope for their future after death. Those children are living in homes where they might receive one meal a day, they are thirsty for more than just the living water, they are thirsty for clean water to quench their physical thirst. They hunger for hope in their future.

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