Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Next Trip to Haiti

I had a great trip to Joplin this weekend where I met the 15 people I will be accompanying into Haiti in June. It is great that this group of people from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Webb City, Missouri will be life-lining the town of Savanette, Haiti.

There is going to be a lot of work to do, but I feel that these people have the ability, dedication and desire to make a significant difference to the lives of the people there.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Savanette, Haiti

Caroline and I enjoying fresh coconut milk in Savanette. It is very common to see people drinking coconut milk like this or eating freshly cut sugar cane.

School in Savanette

From up at the rectory of the local church where we stayed, we could hear children in the school singing or reciting their lessons. Late one morning, Caroline and I went down with Father Erus to visit the school.

The room full of little children wearing pink shirts were getting ready to eat lunch. The white bucket on the table in the photo holds the rice and beans they will eat. For many, we were told, this will be their main meal of the day. For some children, this is the only meal they will have during the day.

The two women outside are cooking the lunch for the children. It's a simple meal of beans and rice and a gravy that is made of beans. All this is cooked on charbon fires.

The school has a couple hundred children and relies completely on the Catholic Church for donations. There are few books, let alone any other teaching instruments. A simple blackboard and chalk are the most basic tools of a Haitian School.

This is the only school in this town that operates consistently. There is a state elementary school and a state high school. For the few days we were there, neither state school was operating. I was told that sometimes professors come and sometimes not. Since they are paid sporadically, when they are long overdue their salary, they simply don't show up. Once they receive pay, they return to school.
Children come everyday and wait a bit to see if a teacher arrives. If teachers do not arrive, the children walk home. I remember on previous visits when leaving at 4.30 or 5 am to travel, the roads would be full of children walking to school. Some travel distances of several miles each day to attend school.
As I mentioned earlier, there are thousands who live in encampments in the countryside around Savanette. Many of those children living in the countryside walk several miles each day to attend school.

The Market in Savanette

These are some shots of the market in Savanette. Many people sell goods such as beans, rice, bread, fish, freshly slaughtered meat, sugar cane, picked coffee, peas.
Other people cook and prepare food such as the stews you can see here. You can also see the market stalls under which people set out their items to sell. I believe the meat here is beef, which is not very common. Mostly the meat that can be found is goat, some pork and chicken. Not many people can afford to have meat in their daily diet. A little meat is usually mixed in with the rice and beans Sunday dinner.
It is easy to see that the sanitary conditions are very poor and this contributes greatly to the spread of disease. It is not uncommon to see Clorox Bleach which is used as a simple disinfectant. In fact, a small amount of clorox is thrown into water barrels to disinfect before using the water to cook or bathe by those who can afford it.

Savanette Haiti

While walking through town, I came across these two little children. These are probably the only clothes they own and if they do own more, it is not very much more. Immediately behind them, you can see the dedicated trench for sewage which flows through the town and dumps into the river that I posted photos of previously.

Savanette Haiti Sunday December 5, 2010

My mom has a good friend back in Wilmington, NC named Eunice Queeny. Eunice heard that I was going to Haiti and she started making these simple dresses for me to take. We took in about 25 of the roughly 90 she made (the rest will be brought in on subsequent trips).

On Saturday, these little girls gathered at the local church more than likely hearing that there were "blond" people visiting.

The thing about Haitians is that they never beg. They may follow you or stand nearby or want to speak English, but they will nearly never ask for money or food. It is obvious their situation is not good because of the way they are dressed or they may look hungry.

Caroline and I immediately thought the dresses we had packed would be great for the girls so we went through them sizing them up for each girl. After we had handed them the dresses, we told them to wear them Sunday and we would take a picture.

During church, these little girls all passed by us, smiling, wearing the dresses and their best shoes, some with ribbons in their hair. After mass, we took this photo.

It really takes so little to make the lives of these children better.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Savanette December 3, 2010

The authorities and many NGO's are trying to halt the spread of cholera. The one poster which appears in the clinic "Centre Sante De Savanette" as well as the catholic clinic I visited, explains to people in few wrods and images how to use sanitary methods when disposing of excrement and how to sanitize your hands. The banner across the street in the town says; "Washing hands with soap is a remedy against microbes"
This clinic and the small catholic one are the only medical services available to the 1400 inhabitants and the countless thousands in small encampments around Savanette. There is a Doctor in the area who rotates visiting these clinics as well as others in towns farther away. There is a nurse for each location, but very limited supplies for treating patients. I will post photos of the catholic clinic which was much cleaner and better stocked than the state one pictured here.