Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trip to the South of Haiti

Our family recently had the chance to travel to the southern peninsula of Haiti.  My husband has been many times and now that our children are older, this was a good chance as he had a speaking engagement and we could tag along.  I came away from the trip jealous of the south's beauty and roads.
These are some of my favorite flowers, that grow throughout Haiti

I was surprised at how many mountains there were even in this portion of Haiti.  This shows driving along the southern peninsula towards Les Cayes.  I was jealous of their roads!

Stunning beaches near Port Salut

The opening of the largest cave system in Haiti, in Port Piment.  The system stretches 4 miles long and includes an underwater lake!  

This was also my first chance to travel through Leogane, which was the epicenter for last year's earthquake.  There were quite a few still living in tents, and some homes built for people in the mountain communities.  I saw several schools and homes built as shown:  
While I appreciate the work of whatever organization put these up, I was disturbed to hear that the little homes cost $2,500 but as you can see, are made of plywood and are heavily mildewed from the rain and humidity.  Without paint or any type of treatment, I predict these homes will fall apart in less than two years.  When I asked if the same amount of funds couldn't have built the more commonly used cement block homes, I was told yes.  Not too surprising, but sad.  

While the roads are good, rains frequently flood this national highway around Miroguane.  

The southern political leaders had this bill board up expressing a common opinion, that the UN forces  and Cholera are one and the same.  

The highway descending down to famed for arts and crafts, Mardi Gras festivities, among other things.  

Jacmel, Haiti

Coast in Jacmel

I had to agree with other travelers, though that the most beautiful beaches I saw were in Port Salut, further out from the capital, but worth the drive.  Just beautiful.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

One who stopped to say thanks

     This afternoon as the sun was beginning to sink, I had some unexpected visitors.  The young man I recognized as Edlin E. who had been a sponsored student for the past 13 years.  He introduced the small, older woman beside him as his mother.  Edlin's father had died about the same time he entered into our sponsorship program.  His mother began by telling me she wanted to come by and thank me.  I stopped her and told her, "Hey, I'm the contact person in our sponsorship program,  not the one who gives funds, but I can send your greetings and thanks to the sponsor".  She nodded her head and said she understood but still wanted to say thanks.   Her son spoke up and said that ever since his father died, he had prayed for another way to go to school and God had provided.  He has gone through our school and finished with the equivalent of an Associate's degree here in Haiti.  He excitedly told me he'd been given a scholarship to attend a dental tech. training program in Port au Prince and planned to start next month.

It's thrilling to see answered prayers.  I told Edlin's mom that it was encouraging to me as well, because some day I'd be in a place where I needed help and by seeing how God provided for them, it encouraged me to trust Him with my future needs as well.  The same God who hears the prayers of an impoverished widow and son, hears all our requests today.  I can rest by  trusting in Him with my future, just as you can.  

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Some things are Universal . . .

     The first day of school, holding on to your parent's hand to get rid of the anxiety of trying something new.  New uniform which is stiff and clean, shoes that are not  yet broken in.  It's interesting to see that there are some things which are the same for all of us:  such as the desire to help our children advance.  I've watched many parents and kids come in to register and then this week, actually to start classes.  We had the preschool and elementary grades start first.  Next week will be the secondary grades.  One of the strange things here to me is that children don't always come on the first day.  Here in Haiti, up in the hills anyway, children seem to come in stages.  Often it's because their families have finally managed to scrape together the needed funds for supplies and tuition.  All I know is that every day there are a few more students who've "made it in" and the classes are growing each day.  
     One thing we've been careful to do is to make sure the parents know how important they are to their child's success.  We see it over and over each day.  The children came come to the same school, same class and have the same teacher, but if their home life isn't stable and secure, they will have a very hard time making it.  The school administration has already had parent meetings for each section.  The parents whose children are on scholarships or sponsorships are also told how important their role is.  We tell them no one can take over their responsibility to parent their child.  Someone may be helping their family out financially, but it is up to them to love, support and impart how necessary education is here.   
     The other image I loved from the first day was the preschool class meeting under the gazebo and basically having a party!  The three to five-year-olds were greeted with decorations, chairs set out for them, snacks, and a lot of games and activities.  They were learning a new French song as I walked by and saw the teachers enthusiastically singing and dancing.  I'm amazed at their energy level.  I hope they can keep it up past this week (smile!)