This is our archive of all newsletters written by Sarah Griffith and other volunteers through the last two years.
To read another article please use the menu below to select year, month and the article itself.
Day 1 Monday 30th July
Flight to London all fine and the anticipated delays because of the Olympics never came to anything. Flight into Miami and - oh JOY straight thro immigration no problems at all!
Tuesday 31st July
Again no problems with the flight and they took my full to bursting bags without a murmer – both were well over weight! Landed Port au Prince and that is when my troubles began……….first off, first through immigration and I text Christian to let him know I was through and would be out very soon. Put my blackberry in my bag which was over my shoulder and across to the other hip – in the section that was facing my body – bag zipped!
Blackberry stolen and bag zipped back up! Wowa…….
It must have taken who ever did it less than 30 seconds and I am thinking it was not someone in transit either!
I was fuming…………..so angry so when the Lions (porters) approached to wheel my trolley – they were left in no doubt I was not to be messed with! The one who did was very apologetic about the fact I had only just stepped onto Haitian soil!
I was so mad in fact that I walked straight past Christian and when he spoke to me I was about to give him the same treatment – instead it was nice to see a friendly face and have a hug! He was mortified and like me could not understand how anyone could be so bold – Fagin’s boys come to mind – ‘gotta pick a pocket or two’ oh well as my younger son would say – ‘get over it Ma’ – so hey after a grumble to Christian – I am over it!
The heat was VERY intense and I was almost glad to notice that Christian was sweating profusely too. Phew after the summer we have had……..so very cold and wet.
We headed off to Onels and I was SO pleased that Christian hadn’t told him we were coming! He was very surprised……. Mario swept me into a big hug and had a grin on his face to light up the universe……….I love this man’s strength of character. Mario, has been employed by us as the Forman of the project. He was very proud to show me his work – Christian also told me that his brother from the states who is an engineer came to look and gave it the quality seal of approval – it is made very well!
I joked with Onel – asking him if he knew of the Great Wall of China – he said yes – I told him this would be The Great Wall of Haiti! We all laughed – the 8th wonder of the world.
Oh if I had the money we could make this school into something very special………..still little by little…..step by step.
There is a lovely quote and I cant remember who said it….If you build….they will come……….
Back home – still very hot and after unpacking Christian and I went to the bar for some much needed cold Prestige! Churchill arrived with little Fedjina who proceeded to – at the age of 3 ½ move to the music from the bar – I told Churchill that he will have many problems from admiring boys in the not too distant future – he said he was well aware of that!
He asked if we were going to the Festival – it is the last night of a 3 day festival of Flowers – and much as I would have loved to I am WAY too tired!
Wednesday 1st August
Straight to Leogane to see Gibson in his new shop – he has had an impressive sign printed on the front and he was inside with a big grin on his face! We had bought him the reconditioned generator that Farais had found for Christian. The main problem Gibson has is that electricity only goes on at best 3 to 4 hours in a 24 hour period and the way for him to make decent money is selling COLD drinks. He is next door but 2 to a small nightclub and the clubbers like to buy their beer before they go in – standard practise – so up to now he has been missing out on basic sales like these. We have worked out that the cost of the juice for the generator will be more than covered in the extra price he can charge selling cold beer! Result! He has made a good job inside and is now selling a fine range of drinks.
On a good day with the electric on he can sell 5 cases of beers – plus of course all the other drinks too!
I asked about Ivorsen and he told me he is better in health and living in his fathers house – we go off and get him to take them both for lunch. Ivorsen’s little face is a picture and he scrambles up onto my seat and gives me a big hug and a kiss – he is taller and has lost a tooth on the bottom layer!
Full of beans and very animated he hugs me hard on the way to eat. He is such a lovely little boy I am very fond of him and so pleased to be able to help his father to give them both a better life!
At lunch Gibson tells us that Ivorsen is now top of the class! Wow I am very impressed – only 2 trips ago he was always absent and sliding down the ranks as he was distracted.
I have given him a book with activities such as join the dots and match up different objects etc – he is a bright spark and most of them he worked out for himself but those he didn’t I only had to show him once and he got it! His smile when he got them right was radiant – just shows with a little positive encouragement most children will shine.
We dropped them back to the shop and went to find the Severine family – still in the same place however they have moved back on and now have a tiny 10X10 house using a Samaritians Purse tarp on the frame.
Inside is a bed taking up most of the space and Mamie is sitting on it with the new baby trussed up in many layers of clothes – phew in the 35% heat – in a plastic baby bath. He is the image of Peterson who has grown into a very serious little boy. Papa is also lying on the bed and has with Mamie lost weight since my last trip.
They are in a terrible situation on land not owned by them and the landlord wants them out. The children – in fact all of them look very malnourished and are covered in lice talc powder – their teeth are not in good shape but still they smile.
This is a situ that will keep me awake – I have to find a solution – but it is not easy as we have to be very careful not to make the others jealous. We also have to try and get them to stop having babies too! There are now 10 in the family.
Christian has an idea and suggests that we ask Papa to look for some land with out anyone knowing it is me. Of course this is the best way however finding land with clean title is NOT easy at all – I know we have done it once already.
The rain starts and as we get near to Carrefour we get stuck in a huge blokis – (traffic jam) – Christian being Christian decides that we will go the back way! Ie off road up some tracks NOT roads with HUGE gullies carved by torrential rain – it is an official white knuckle ride – I have been some places before with him but THIS takes the biscuit! I couldn’t even take pics for hanging on – very unusual for me!
However we made it in one piece and came out just by the junction to his house! Phew Only in Haiti!
Home and I went for a lie down – woke at 12 and back to sleep till dawn.
Thursday 2nd August
Awake at 5 after the longest sleep I have had in a long while – but feel great now!
The sun is shining and all is well!
Mid morning we set off to see Emily Hime – a young girl who has taken over a home for some 9 children who would otherwise be on the street.
We drove north of Port au Prince up the coast, an area I have never been before. It is arid and very barren on the mountain side and oddly lush on the seaward side. The sea was crystal clear blue and brightened as we drove away from the city. It seemed a very long way and I couldn’t help but wonder why Emily is so far away from Port au Prince. But I would soon find that out..
After around 2 and a half hours of driving along a straight road with a really good surface we found her.
A little house set to the side of the road and as we drove in there was a washing line stretched across the entrance with lots of pairs of knickers – it was wash day!
Emily greeted us with a small boy in her arms and then told me her story. She had taken over this house from some Haitian’s who proceeded to take everything of any worth with them – leaving her with very little.
She has 9 children ranging from 5 up to 17 – 3 boys and 6 girls. The bathroom consists of a shower that does not work – a toilet that does not work – they use buckets of water for both! The fridge doesn’t work as they only have electric maybe once a month for a few hours – so they have to buy their food daily which makes it more expensive.
Most recently Emily has had some problems with getting the house and children registered as an orphanage. In Haiti many orphanages contain children who DO have parents but cannot afford to look after them so they send them off to an Orphanage as they will feed them. This is very common and sometimes children are put up for adoption even tho they have parents.
Emily has to apply for residency – she has already put her application in and then she has to gain the parents written permission to look after the children – in one case the father is in jail and the mother has dies – so gaining that will be almost impossible.
The house they are in is not suitable and she is currently looking for another in Pau P – all this is a big ask and in the meantime she has to struggle where she is and with the little she has too.
I had taken some Healthspan vitamins for the children who all have health issues – as do Emily and her friend Montana. Emily has recently been in the hospital with Pneumonia and has also had various other things to lower her immune system.
There were Beanie babies, activity books, glitter spray and deodorant for the older girls and I gave Emily some moisturising creams that she had requested too. Not a great deal but I needed to see for myself what her circumstances are.
Christian donated his large garish blue plastic watch to one of the small boys – son of the security man – aptly named Tiny!
We drove home stopping for lunch in one of the Resorts along the way – it was very average and the staff were surly and disinterested – but we needed food and to reflect on where we had been. Wow it was a scary thing to take on and we agreed that there must be times when Emily gets very scared from the responsibility she has taken on.
Drove home and in fact the traffic we had anticipated to be bad was thin on the ground. We stopped at the Auberge for a drink and ended up have a rather emotional evening talking about recent sad events in both our families. We feel at ease discussing personal feelings – despite our normally jokey and humorous relationship. It was a really nice to sit back and talk properly.
I explained to him that I was constantly impressed with how he ‘gets’ my humour – he told me that I was the first English person he has had contact with – that makes it even more impressive.
Friday 3rd August
So we are driving to Onel’s minding our own business and a cop stands in the road and flags us down. Seems we have tinted windows! Yikes – did not know that was a crime! Tinted you understand NOT blacked out! Christian goes to talk to them – 3 of them with black face covering – black uniform and fatigues and very large guns – very threatening. After a while he comes back to report that you have to REGISTER and get a permit for tinted windows! Whaaaat? Why? Because you could be hiding something!
What to do? Pay the Police a fine now – OR – go to the police station and pay a fine – whaaatttt? The fine on the roadside will be cheaper and less hassle! Oh mi! I am not happy! What a load of twaddle! So we resolve that paying the fine on the roadside is more preferable and will be less confrontational that the alternative!
20 usd later and we are on our way……goes against everything I believe in! double YIKES!
So on to Onel’s to see progress on the wall – there has been a water issue and it has only just been delivered today so there was a slowing in work yesterday – all part of life here. Mario is cracking on and the old wall is being dismantled as well.
The yard has a makeshift awning and all the desks are lined up for a community meeting. Turns out it is a Government Social programme run by Laurent Lamothe the new PM and the First Lady Martelly. Called Ti Manman Cherie it is a programme targeting the poorest mothers giving them 400/600/up to 800 gourdes for the 1st 3 children.
It is being rolled out in Cite Soleil and Little Hearts school is one to benefit – it only started in May so it is good that this school is one of the early recipients so it was a really good coincidence we were there to observe its implementation. The money will be put onto the recipient’s mobile phone via Digicel. Lamothe’s background is in communication so all this makes sense. Also to make even more of a coincidence I met a guy called Nick England before this trip who knows of Lamothe via a business partner.
Onel is not there so I have a reckie around the buildings to see just what needs doing – there is a great deal!
From there on to look at playground equipment at a place Fito told us about up in Delmas 75. It is…. SO HOT I cant tell you even sitting in the car with the AC on is hard! Ouch
The place has a good range and we get prices on a variety of things. Swings/roundabouts/see saws/ table with seats and a roof for shade etc.
Next we go to Epi dor for lunch – it is not good and neither of us can eat much of it.
Christian has a Dr friend and he calls her to ask if she knows any eye specialists. She does, so we go and check out the clinic. Next we call Emily and ask her if she wants to bring the young lad with the problem (she has been told he has detached retinas) to the clinic Monday – I will pay for the transportation and consultation and we will see from there. She is pleased and we agree to meet on Monday at 1.30pm in time for the 2pm start of the clinic.
We head home and as it is so very hot I go to bed to sleep for a while – next I know it is 4am and I am still HOT! Wow – things are rumbling around in my head about the difficult situations we have to deal with – and work out the ways forward that is best for us all……..so very hard sometimes.
Saturday 4th August
No much done in the morning as we could not contact Dr Joe at Camejo – I wanted to ask him some questions with reference to land in the area.
So we set off after lunch and go and see Mamie Severine to see if she and Papa will come out with us so we can talk to her. He is not there – he is in Port au Prince so we arrange to come back in an hour after we have been to see Mario. He is at home with both children – his mother and new girlfriend. Both children are delighted with the Beanie baby bags I give them. We look at the house and I confess to being disappointed that they are all living in one room – the floor has been done but the others remain unfinished. Mario explains that he needs hardcore to fill them in and compact them down. I feel as if I am missing something as to me that is the finished house – floors doors and windows – but here everything is different and much harder to get things done in the way I feel is right. Everything is a huge challenge – it really is very frustrating and sometimes I feel as if I am walking backwards – not getting things done in the way I would like them to be done. It is all about expectations and perceptions – standards people are willing to accept.
I am sure I make the mistake of comparing everything to Sri Lanka where Damith and the men know well what I expect – but that has taken years. But when I think in 2 and a half years we had built 12 houses and here we haven’t even finished 1 – it does make me question ….. however I have to try not to compare and just forge ahead with other smaller projects….. like classrooms – play grounds, water purifyers etc etc.
We leave and go to see Mamie S – father is still not home so we ask her if she is willing to come with us anyway – she comes and brings her eldest son of 17 with her. We take them for lunch and Christian asks them some questions for me.
Before the earthquake she had a job as a maid and her husband worked for a manufacturing plant in Port au Prince. The building was destroyed in the quake and both of them lost their jobs. They lived in a house on the land they are on now and paid 1,500 haitian dollars around 200usd per year. Now they are on a ¼ of the land and are supposed to pay 1,000 – 125usd per year but they cannot afford it. The land owner has dies and the children who have inherited want to kick them off the land and are bullying them into the bargain.
Mamie Sev told us that she is very scared and worries constantly about their situation.
I asked about the children – her oldest daughter is 20 and failed her exams 2 times and was thrown out of school – the lad with us has just finished this year and passed his exams but his ‘sponsor’ has withdrawn – no one seems to know quite what it is all about. We asked him if he wanted to go back to school and finish and he said yes but it seems the school he was at was run by a European and they are a little suspicious of the funding issue – ie withdrawal of the funding. There is another school down the road and they have already done some investigation about it. We drive to see it – all closed for vacation – so we ask him to go and get some information on Monday morning about – whether they would accept him and the true costs etc.
I feel as he is keen to finish school that as the oldest boy we must try and help him to do that as he may well be the support for the family in the future.
As we drive home we talk through options about buying/renting land and just what we might be able to do….. we even mull over the possibility of putting them on our land for a while while we look at options – however that could be fraught with problems if the families did not get on.
We arrive home and I notice there is a strongish wind – checking on the internet to find that the Tropical Storm Ernesto is passing to our south – however we ‘may experience strong winds as it passes us by! I hope that is all it is and I hope too it does not damage Jamaica as is predicted!
There is also a beautiful and dramatic skyline with the sunset and Carlito’s tells me to walk to the other end of the bus park for a better view – he is right and I take some pictures!
He and his friend and little Pasha Charlies’s boys are here for the weekend. Nice lads and very chatty too.
Still very hot even with the wind outside!
Sunday 5th August
Up to Petionville to see Elsie and the family. All there except for Shadrak who comes later. The house is all ok and the landlord is not giving Elsie any grief.
We discuss the girls schooling – Fedora has just taken exams and is waiting the results on Monday. She will go into another school next term it will be a different one to Soriyee. They were all on very good form – lively as usual with the girls taking Christian’s phone and pinching the minutes – putting them onto their phones! They love it when we come! I explained the concept of the Band4Hope bracelets and they wrote out their hope labels for me.
We had arranged to meet Fito for lunch – it was great to see him looking very well - he is eagerly awaiting Nathalie’s return to Haiti with their baby Nico on Wednesday so he has had to build the crib and get the room ready etc.
He is looking for a nanny for the baby so I suggested Elsie as a possible person – he doesn’t want to mix business and pleasure and of course if it didn’t work it might compromise my relationship with Elsie too – but he did think it was a good idea and will think about it. The bonus is that we all know Elsie is very fond of Fito and their connection is strong.
Homeward bound – very hot again – the impending rain did not materalise.
Fito has told us of another Hurricane on its way – this time due to hit Haiti at the end of the week! Yikes
Monday 7th August
Call to see Einstein to pay for my bowls and also to take him the bags for packing.
Next up to see Onel and discuss how everything is going and check we are together on our aims etc – all is well I think and he seems happy with progress. His men have already started the build of the new classrooms for the far end.
We discussed about next term and how important it is for him to cap the number of students he has at 600 – re uniforms etc I told him I would have the funds for 400 and even tho we do not have 400 sponsored yet I am true to my word - the charity takes the hit each month for all the children not sponsored to ensure they each get the same.
Our arrangement to meet Emily was next – she has a little boy at the Orphanage called Norens – he has major problems with his eyes and I offered to pay their transport and the consultation fee for him to see a specialist. Christian has a friend who is a Dr and she recommended this guy.
We arrived in very good time – Emily was being driven by a Haitian friend and had Norens who is 5 and his 9 year old brother Don in tow. We waited and we waited and eventually 2 hours after the clinic was supposed to start – we were 1st in the queue – we saw Jean Claude Cadet the Eye specialist – at first he said there was nothing wrong with Norens’s eyes but when we pressed him he said that he would put drops in his eyes – wait 10 mins for the pupils to dilate and then have an other look.
10 mins later we went back in and he had his son there who spoke good English – I encouraged Emily to fill them in Noren’s background as she knew it – they prescribed some cream for the angry boils on his face he keeps getting and also some sort of tonic to stop the ‘shaking’ in his eyes.
They also said they had a US specialist coming over next week and he could come back to visit and get seen by him too. They confirmed to Emily that he does NOT have detached retinas – she had been told this by a US Dr.
They did also ask if he had been seen by a Children’s Dr – she said no.
I have said we would pay for the transport and visit once again for the next time.
All over so we took the boys and Emily’s driver to Mini Muncheez for a burger and a drink.
The boys’ pleasure in a simple glass of coke was priceless – first just the coke bottle alone – then the cup which was filled with ice – the fun had from that one simple thing – brings the whole reason for being, back to basics! Everyone should be made to experience it and be part of it. Everyone in the world should see just what simple pleasure is ……. We laughed till we cried at their antics – these boys have a very special bond as brothers that extends to their joined pleasure in seeing each other happy too!
Next they had nuggets and chips – Norens said he didn’t like chips so Don told him they weren’t potato! He ate them swathed in ketchup then cleaned out the ketchup dip pot too as did Don!
These 2 little innocent boys represent many children throughout not just Haiti, but the world over in various countries who are struggling trying to survive in a tough place. Then along comes someone like Emily who passionately wants to help and throws herself full on into the chaos that is orphanage life – she changes their sad little lives into a life that has laughter and light in it and against all the odds she manages to carve a life for both them and her – fighting hard for them in every corner. Emily has been sick herself and living long-term in a place like Haiti for a none Haitian in very difficult in conditions with no regular supplies of clean water/electricity – it is hard to keep oneself fit and healthy – many have seen the inside of hospitals here challenged with medical conditions they do not understand.
Emily is currently trying to make the circumstances better for them all but again it is a huge mountain to climb and she has many hurdles to get over along the way. She is a kind funny sweet girl with a deep heart who dearly wants to make their little lives have some meaning for the future. I applaud her for her grit and determination – she is one sassy cookie!
If I think it is appropriate ( believe me I am thinking long and hard about this) and she will let me, I would very much like to help her – but it has to be right for everyone!
She needs serious on the ground help on a daily/nightly basis.
Tuesday 9th August
Christian had to do some work on the car after collecting the chassis from Port au Prince so I took the opportunity to catch up on my work – it was so humid and hot but he soon returned and we decided to go and see Einstein to see the jewellery he has made. We get there and he is no where to be seen – he sends a girl with the keys to give me my bags of bowls – we will come another day!
Since we had not eaten we went to see Christian’s chef lady friend – the sun was shining and I have never been there in the day so it was nice to see the deck in daylight. We had our meal and did the usual discussion of all things Haitian which I find so fascinating – these chats give me a special insight to Haitian ways and its culture!
Christian said he thought it was about to rain and with that the skies darkened and you could see the rain laden clouds racing in the skies above. As we clambered into the jeep large drops fell on the windscreen – a quick fill with gaz ready for tomorrow and the rain started full on. As we drove home Christian remarked the winds were very strong and we chatted about if this could be the end of Hurricane Earnesto or the start of Florence which is headed our way too!
Wed arrive home and sit in the car waiting for a small break in the rain – Carlito arrives from the door carrying an Ozannes umbrella to save me getting soaked – what a gent! In fact I videoed from inside the car – it was quite a storm. I am now in my room and the lightening strikes having crashed alarmingly loudly right over head have quickly moved off – phew.
Just solid rain now and no loud thunder snaps at all.
Time for bed soon me thinks as it will be a while before electric is back on I am sure of that.
That said just settled for bed and it came back on!
Wed 8th August
Up early as we were going on a trip – I had decided to take Christian to Ile a Vache (Island of the Cows) off southern Haiti – by way of a thank you for the work he does for me – we never take a day off and so I figured even tho I find it difficult we had deserved it especially him. He does so much – negotiating/hatching/planning/overseeing and I am very demanding when I am in Haiti – he does have a lot to put up with. He is also my sounding block and he sees me mad/sad/excited/etc etc and he soaks it all up!
So off we go – it should be about 2 and a half hours on a mostly straight and reasonably good road. It is a lot better than the last time I went on it that is for sure. We arrive in Les Cayes – confusingly pronounced O-ki in good time and after some scouting around to find the man who was arranging the boat trip – he dropped me off and took Christian to stash the car in secure parking. Christians face was a picture when he saw the boat we were to go in – it was small and a little like an over sized canoe – there were 3 rows of seats and they sat us in the middle row – put life jackets on us and we set off – one guy at the engine and rudder at the rear and another seated up front. Another larger boat also took off with around 10 folk on board.
Christian was very funny – he had not been on this type of trip before and I sensed he was more than a little nervous. But it was still very funny and he was questioning why anyone who didn’t have to would go to sea – he said he would much rather jump out of a plane with a parachute. I was not nervous and really enjoyed the trip – the sea was sparkling and as we nearer the island it changed to aquamarine JUST like in all the brochures. He relaxed as we neared the tiny jetty – hopped out and were met by Lyn the manager with a rum cocktail – she offered to show us around the hotel and general area – it was all lovely with perfect picture postcard views all around. The Bungalows were right on the beach we each had an identical room and down 2 steps onto the sand and 10 yards to the sea! Heaven.
After lunch Christian got chatting to some of the guides who took him to see the otherside of the island. At this point I was so so hot I decided to stay and cool off in the room. I went in the sea for a swim it was truly glorious and I stayed in for around an hour floating around. Christian had come back by then and gone to his room so I read in the cool of my room and then nodded off.
I was woken by the howl of a puppy and to my dismay when I looked out of the bathroom window I saw a boy holding a puppy up in a really bad way – the dog was howling in pain – the other 4 or boys were laughing. My blood pressure rose rapidly and I wondered what to do – the puppy squealed again and I went outside – the boys did not see me but by now I was really cross. Luckily coming towards me was the deputy manager and I quickly told her that I was very angry and she must do something immediately. She went off to see them and I went to look out of the window – the men had disappeared. She came and told me they told her that they were not torturing the dog but playing with it! That made me crosser still – I asked her why I would make that up? She said she believed me and would make sure it was dealt with.
I went back to bed and woke quite a lot later - we went for dinner in the air conditioned dining room – the food was amazing and after dinner we watched some of the Olympics on the big screen at one end of the room. There were various folk there who we chatted to – one family had been working in Jeremie and come to the Island for R and R before returning to the states – they were lovely and great fun. There was another couple – the man was involved with building a sports stadium in Cite Soleil – it turned out his girlfriend was not happy and had been ill on the boat ride over so was holed up in the room feeling unwell and not eating anything.
I headed for bed and Christian headed for the bar…. I am sure he will find someone to play with!
Woke early as we had arranged to go for a walk to the end of the bay. Christian was still sleeping when I knocked on his door so I wandered off to chat to the husband of the nice family from last night.
We walked to as far as the tide would let us – beautiful rock formations rose from the sea – it is a little like what I imagine Robinson Crusoe must have found – beautiful scenes all around.
Back for a quick shower and breakfast.
It seems that the trip back needs to be this morning as the weather might close in. There are 8 of us that need to get back to Les Cayes. We have the same boat we came over in much to the dismay of the lady who didn’t like the trip over yesterday – well that was calm compared to today. Again I was not scared – I love it – and I reassured the others that it was plain from the way the man was using the engine and riding the waves and positioning the boat that he was MORE than expert at what he was doing. Not sure it gave them any relief tho. The wife of the nice family chatted away and told us what they had been doing etc.
Finally much to everyone’s relief we arrived on the shore. It was a bouncy trip and considering Christian wasn’t too keen on yesterdays trip I thought he did amazingly well today. The sick lady however looked as if she was on the point of collapse. Mark her boyfriend had asked if we would take them to get their bags from Port Salut and drive them back to P au P – I agreed of course and they piled into our car. (turns out she not only is frightened of boats but cars too! Ouch – don’t think Haiti is the place for her somehow)Their driver arrived for payment and the girlfriend stumbled out and got straight into the back and it seems she was not moving so Mark decided that he would go to Port Salut and stay the night for her sickness to calm before driving up to P au P in the morning.
We set off and Christian said he wanted to show me a place where they have a Carnival next week – it was on the beach and I managed to buy some amazing shell bracelets for sale back home.
Then we had a lunch of lobster – but unlike PauP it was SO cheap and the BEST lobster I have eaten EVER!
We set off and made it home in the same time again – all good.
Charly has fitted an inverter to the house which should mean that the electrics do not go out in the night – or day either – so the fan SHOULD always work! Whoo hoo that would be amazing – with the fitted mossie screens on the grills and windows of the room we are GOOD to go. They have made an enormous difference to how many bites I have got!
I had a message from Emily about a baby that had been left on her doorstep at the Orphanage. YIKES it is 3 weeks old. Called Bill Farrar as I know he is going to see her next week and maybe try and introduce her to some folk to help her out. Her problem has been weighing heavy with me and I cannot see a way forward at the moment. I am very hopeful that some idea will pop up from nowhere – hopefully!
Friday 10th August
Straight into Paup for Christian to pay his mobile contract and then we went to Veritmed which is an organisation set up to guide agriculture especially cows chickens and rabbits – I wanted their advice on the chickens for Leogane. The lady we met was very helpful and gave us a booklet explaining the model of projects in Northern Haiti. There are no such projects in the south at all and she said she thought I would have difficulty getting this off the ground as getting communites to work together without suspicions arising was damn nigh impossible. But she was very helpful and it made me think that we need to change tack on this project as soon as possible.
Last time I was here I asked the group to come back to me with ideas of what they wanted to do but they have not in fact they have told Mario that they want no more to do with it but think I should compensate them – and specifically they said that whatever I was going to invest into the chickens I should give them to share out! Well I most certainly am NOT doing that. I have really struggled with this project and the whole time have tried my hardest to get them to move it forward and they have blocked me at every turn. They are demanding that we do Battery hens and said that they told me this at the start. That is not true as I would never have agreed to battery anything – it goes against everything I believe in so I KNOW that is not true and anyway I have others who were there who know this is not true.
It has been hard for me to take that they do not trust me (Mario excluded) apparently this type of community project has never been done before and is so unlikely to work as they see me as owning the land and ‘therefore’ I am out to make money from them – NOTHING could be further from the truth and I find it totally heartbreaking after all we have done for the group from the beginning that they regard what I have tried to do with total suspicion. There is an incredible feeling in SOME people of dog eat dog – but then I suppose if you have to fight for everything you have it makes you like that. There are of course some from the group like Gibson and Mamie Severine who do not see us like that but apparently most of the others do.
What I am left with is a piece of land with a wall around it and Mario in his house on there – so back to the drawing board – firstly we have to smooth things over for Mario with the others. I do NOT want to put him in a position of being persecuted by the others. He is totally loyal and very hard working.
We chatted about how we could do it – I am so angry that they think they DESERVE compensation as they call it, that I dare not put into print what I really feel!
We discussed what THEY think they have ‘put into’ he project and apparently it is ‘time’ and part building of the wall and ‘clearing the land’ that is a joke as I was there and none of them were at all reliable and it was hardly done at all – it turns out that Serge and his family came and took half the beans that were on the land and claimed them as theirs! I am beyond speech at this point!
Realising that I have to deal with these folk – and more importantly Mario has to live there I reluctantly agree to ‘pay’ them for the work done on the wall – this will amount to very little for each family but I am not going to be pushed into more as it is simply not fair – they have given nothing but grief to me when all I wanted to do was help them. Not looking forward to the meeting at all.
Note to self – focus on what you CAN do and not what you CANT! I use this for others all the time – now is the time for ME to use it!
It is amazing how here in Haiti you can swing from extreme happiness one minute to total sadness the next.
I have many failings I know but the one I am most conscious of at this point is failure – I HATE failing at something. I am aware also that once we have got over this hump there are many things we can think of to do on the land with Marios’ help – he is totally onside!
I just need some time to lick my wounds – I don’t have many yet but I am sure after the meeting I will be very busy!
So back to the positive stuff……
We were speaking with Mario at the school about tomorrow’s job with the digger and the fact we need to hire a big truck to shift the earth too. The classrooms are coming on a pace and after tomorrow we will see some major difference on the site with the rubble cleared too.
In between we had gone for lunch at a little café and in the yard there was a group being entertained by a local pop star – the girls waiting table were totally over excited about the fact that he was there…..then suddenly some girls came out to a flash of camera’s modelling some strange clothing – it looked as if it was supposed to be recycled but then again it didn’t – all very strange and the models walked on their toes bouncing up in a very strange way. The pop star arrived inside and I offered to take a picture for the young waitress who was looking after us – she was sweet and very smiley and after some thought she came and took me up on the offer. I promised to email the pic to her.
Home after a long hot, dusty day – there were many road blocks so we did a lot of off roading again – exhausting!
Called Emily to check she was ok and arrange to go and see her tomorrow. She is staying with the Dr so the jabs can be done there. I will buy her formula and some clothing if I can find some.