Haiti Trip Report – November 2017
Havard and Jeremy’s most recent trip to Phaeton is best characterized as one of affirmation:
- The commitment of the community to our Noah’s Ark school is growing.
- Our teachers are doing a good job.
- The 82 children now attending Noah’s Ark are getting healthier and thriving at school. Pictures of kids today compared to those of just two years ago tell a graphic story of great progress.TCI’s efforts are yielding impressive results for the school and the entire community.
- Our garden project is a highly valued initiative.
We spent time observing, listening, making decisions, and planning for the future. Visit highlights include a number of valuable and enlightening meetings:
- Our first full day in Haiti Havard, Jeremy, Elmond, Patrick and Fred traveled about an hour from Phaeton to Decles to visit the Kay Anj d’Ayiti (Helping Haitian Angels) orphanage and school. We met with Debbie Harvey from Virginia. She is a virtual whirlwind of activity who has created an orphanage for approximately 50 children and a school with 80 local student age 6-16. With a financial investment in excess of $5 million, they have accomplished wonders in just 9 years. Their property of over 40 well-secured acres has 19 new buildings, with more facilities under construction. We learned a lot about their school buildings, construction, and kitchen methodology for feeding kids. We will stay in touch with Debbie to see how we can share knowledge and collaborate.
- Soeur Marie-Eva is a Canadian nun who has spent over 6 months a year for the last 40 years in Haiti. With support from her church in New Brunswick, she has established three kindergardens, and the one in Phaeton has approximately 30 kids ages 3-5 in attendance. Like us she provides a hot meal and snack, and many of her students move on to Noah’s Ark to join our first Grade. We discussed changes and priorities for the village, and inspected the very impressive garden she has established. We share the same values and commitment to kids, and she is a valuable source of local knowledge. We will continue to brainstorm ways to collaborate and support each other’s efforts.
- We met with the Teachers and Patrick, the school Director, and had a candid discussion about conditions and plans. We agreed to fund additional books for the kids so they can adhere properly to the national school curriculum. Recognizing that Mucho’s combined class of 3rd and 4th graders was too much for one teacher, we agreed to hire Obed and separate the grades by creating a new temporary classroom as a lean-to off the storage end of the kitchen building. In addition, we will repair the tent after hurricane damage, and better wall off the area previously exposed to sun, wind and rain. This will allow Patrick to locate a secure office in what was designed to be the kitchen storage room. We are making do with the overcrowding and under-classroomed facilities as best as possible until a new 4 classroom building can be built.
- Our most amazing meeting was with the Parents. At first, they appeared stoic as Patrick brought them up-to-date on our school plans, and our agreement to pay half the cost of uniforms if they would pay the other half. However, they shortly expressed their appreciation for all the teachers, Elmond and TCI, and two parents delivered stirring speeches thanking us for our commitment to their children and Noah’s Ark. They agreed to volunteer time to help support the school in a variety of ways on a schedule to be determined by Elmond and Patrick. Their love for their children, appreciation for Noah’s Ark, and dedication to the school’s success was joyously expressed, and raised our spirits. We left more committed than ever to continue our mission of helping their kids and this village.
- We met with Wedley, the agronomist who is helping us re-invigorate and expand our highly successful garden project. He is overseeing the nursery, eventual re-planting, and the new irrigation project. He will also help us determine the best way to expand the garden and use the additional land when we can afford to do so.
- After six years of do-nothing stewardship, a dynamic new priest has just been installed at the Phaeton Catholic Church. Père Domingue’s presence is already invigorating the community, and we have high expectations for the positive effect he will have in the village. Amongst other initiatives to help the most poor and needy, he has established a daily Mass at 5:00 am which is well-attended and we found stimulating and enlightening. Unfortunately, in this impoverished region, he is receiving virtually no support from the bishop, but we will do what we can to stimulate interest in the US that could help his efforts.
- Before transiting on to Cap Haitien, Havard met with Dr. Clonel Louis in Miami. Clonel is the young doctor who has returned to Phaeton after his medical schooling in the DR. He visits our school regularly, administers needed vaccinations and de-worming, and measures and records the height and weight of each child. When we started Noah’s Ark, most of the students were malnourished and undersized. Our daily meal program and basic medical care reduced that to about 20% a year ago, and now with our Vita Mamba snack program, we only have one child in need of special care. The difference can be seen in the appearance and energy of the kids, and in their increased ability to stay awake, pay attention in class, and play joyously. Exuberant smiles were in abundance.
We returned energized and more committed than ever to support and nourish Noah’s Ark and the community. Our major efforts will be focused on fundraising to build the new classroom building.