HAITI TRIP REPORT – APRIL 2017
In April, Havard and Jeremy traveled to Phaeton, Haiti to visit our school, review our progress, and set the direction for the next several months and beyond. We were met by Elmond and stayed, as ususal, with Rosie and Fred in the village. We met with teachers and administrators, all the Noah’s Ark students and some parents, village leaders, Dr. Clonel, and others. In addition, we visited the non-profits Meds and Food for Kids, and SOIL to explore nutritional and sanitation options for the school and village.
We were able to observe and participate in classes and review the status of all of our capital and operating projects. We are extremely pleased with the progress made, and optimistic about the opportunities to expand our help to these children and the village.
Our biggest challenge relates to the relatively rapid success of the school. Due to the government’s dysfunction and cost and shortcomings of the Baptist school, Noah’s Ark has emerged as the village’s best opportunity for kids. As a result, we have increased the student body to 75 kids grades K-6, and we anticipate next year’s enrollment will approach 100. In light of this growth, we are planning for increased operating costs (predominantly teachers and food), and we are addressing the critical need for a new 4 classroom, properly outfitted school building.
New Kitchen Building:
Thanks to the successful completion of our last project, the construction of a new kitchen building with a secure storage area, we are prepared to continue our most important mission of feeding the kids daily.
Time was spent in each classroom with the kids on several occasions, introducing them and the teachers to a variety of new books and learning materials we brought down with us.
We held productive meetings with the teachers, Patrick (The Principal), and Wiski (grounds and logistics). Most importantly, we asked lots of questions about the unique circumstances and challenges they encounter daily, and identified the following needs which we authorized:
- 5 Tables and lockable cupboards for Teachers.
- 5 soccer balls and playground balls to augment recess.
- Improve play grounds with clearing larger grass area, level as possible.
- We have three 6th graders who will move on to the middle school in Terrier Rouge next year. We are arranging for our first Graduation ceremony, combined with an end of year recognition and celebration party in late June.
- Explore construction of a play ground/jungle gym with volunteers and funding from the US.
- The 3rd grade taught by Jean-Jean in the west half of the tent is unbearably hot and windy, and we relocated it to the storage area of the new kitchen building . Patrick will use half of the tent for his desk and teacher meeting area.
We have also authorized the following improvements to the grounds and buildings:
- Repair/Replace fence on side of property as needed.
- Paint Flagpole and side of the building.
- Improve trash collection by kids with new garbage container and burn pit.
- Clear and level an additional play area.
- Complete the remaining items to make the Kitchen fully operational, including screens for windows and at eaves to prevent rats, cooking grates, prep tables and storage shelving
- Two new water cisterns (200-300 gallons), connected to the main line for the new kitchen and the garden for proper irrigation.
The Garden Project has been a huge success, healded by teachers, parents, and the village. We met with Wedley, the agronomist who works with AKV who has been helping us establish the garden. The results are impressive, and we are already using garden produce in meals.
To further expand and improve the garden, we are:
- Exploring a more efficient drip irrigation system.
- Determining the best additional fruits and vegetables to plant.
- Increasing our gardening teaching.
- Wiski will increasingly utilize kids in watering and weeding, maintain and harvest garden, and sell excess for benefit of Noah’s Ark.
- In addition, we are exploring the best uses for the rear land, which we will soon need to be properly fenced. This land offers more opportunities for establishing a sustainable model for the school.
Health and Nutrition:
We were able to spend considerable time with Clonel, the young local doctor who comes to the school on a regular basis for check-ups and preventive programs, as well as to treat children for an assortment of generally preventable ailments, including iron deficiency anemia, conjunctivitis, worms, head and skin infections, and malnutrition. In addition:
- Clonel will record the height and weight of each child in September and June so we begin an ongoing record of how our kids are growing and developing.
- We secured an updated list of medicine prioritized by need, and we are exploring potential sources and funding options.
We had a wonderful meeting and tour of the factory with the Director of Meds and Food for Kids, a St. Louis based non-profit which produces and distributes peanut based Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food. We purchased 4 cartons of Vita Mamba to implement a morning snack program to alleviate hunger and improve nutrition. It is our hope to continue this program throughout the year. MFK also makes Medika Mamba for extremely malnourished kids, and we are working with Dr. Clonel to see if this is needed in the village. Please take a look at their website to learn more about their exciting work and the possibilities for TCI: https://mfkhaiti.org. This includes the potential use of our back land for peanut growing.
We also visited SOIL, another non-profit that offers extensive expertise on sanitation. As we have discussed, only about one third of the village has access to proper latrines, and working with Clonel and the village leaders he has assembled, we are trying to find the best solution. We are now reviewing the options that SOIL has presented, and will report more at our Board Meeting.
In order to improve the efficient and secure flow of funds from TCI to Haiti, we travelled to Cap Haitien and established a new Haitian bank account at Sogebank (Societe Generale Haitienne de Banque). Most importantly, we are planning for increased fundraising to maintain our programs and expand the school to meet the need.
Conclusion and Funding:
In just a few short years, TCI’s impact on Noah’s Ark and the entire community has exceeded our expectations. We have proven that the infrastructure and ingredients for success are in place, with committed stakeholders who have reliably executed on every capital and operating program we initiated.
We are committed to maintaining increased operations through dedicated fundraising for Haiti. Like each of our projects in Vietnam and Honduras, Haiti is now at a stage which justifies a special injection of capital to fully establish the school, serve more children, and secure the future.