Monday, April 30, 2018
Another beginning of a new adventure … This trip was planned in order to gather information and take pictures to prepare an electronic directory ‘Nip Boten’ based on the stories and realities of what we see, observe or are shared with us. In the first few days I would be on my own, but I will eventually be joined by two friends who agreed to form a team with me to tackle this ambitious task of travelling throughout the Nippes to collect people’s interviews and take pictures.
Prior to my departure I had called to have a cab to be at the house at 5 am. At 3 am, the telephone rang and the taxi driver said he was at the front of the house. I felt I had just fallen asleep. I told the dispatcher I had said I would confirm at 4:30 am. This was a mistake. I hope this is not a prediction of things to come. I could not fall back to sleep, I made coffee and prepared a sandwich and some fruits for breakfast as the airline only provides chips and a drink on the plane. By 4:45 am, I was ready with my suitcases outside by the driveway. I was careful not to exceed the weight requirements of 50 pounds. My husband woke up to give me a hand and be with me while waiting for the cab. I had to call the taxi service at 5:15 and within 15 minutes a car was at the house. The driver was from Nigeria. I made conversation with him on the way to the airport and told him that last year how two Nigerians, a nurse and a pharmacist, came to do a medical fair in the town of Ansse-a-Veau.
Although I had pre-checked online and paid for the second bag, I had to go to the kiosk to get the tags then look for the area to check in the bags. Again, I met another Nigerian. He was courteous and helpful to direct me where I had to weigh the bags. Then I proceeded to the TSA line. I had to go through two scanners. I asked why, they said it was a random security check. By 6 am, I was seated at the gate waiting for departure. JetBlue started boarding promptly at 8:08 am and the flight left on time. There were many open seats. The movie on the flight was Ferdinand. That used to be one of my favorite stories to read aloud to my students. My head phones from home were not working, so I was glad it was subtitled. The attendants served drinks and snacks 45 minutes into the fight.
We arrived in Port-au-Prince around 12:30 pm as scheduled after some minor turbulence in the air. The aides at the entrance and the immigration clerks were welcoming. I rented a cart for $2 before going to the carousel to get the bags. It took quite some time. Then I stopped at Digicel to get a new sim card and minutes. I purchased one for $10, hoping it would last me for a month. Then I also had NATCOM put the internet and minutes on my BLU phone for $17. The sellers and representatives of both telephone companies were very helpful. I called the driver before going to the parking lot and could not reach him. At first the connection was bad. Then a porter helped me to the arrival parking lot. When I called Batraville, the driver, again he said it would be a while before he could pick me up. The porter suggested I go wait by the entrance of the parking lot by the departure area. I tipped him and he left me there. I became very thirsty waiting in the sun. I saw a gentleman passing by, Mr. Simon Dificil, I asked where I could get a bottle of water. He said I could give him the money and he would buy it for me. I gave him a $1 US and he went across the street and brought it back for me with the change. I had barely thanked him before he left. After an hour standing there, another man called Joseph approached me. He told me that his nickname was Kapo as he is a mechanic at the airport. If I needed anything, he would help me. I thanked him and said I was fine. After about two hours, at around 2:30 pm Mr. B. showed up. While waiting I had called Sr. Martha and Alix, my childhood friend, to tell them I was in the country. As I was loading the car, Kapo showed up to give a hand. I gave him $2 and thanked him. We talked to Mr. Labissiere, president of CORA, who said we should come to the house in Santo to pick up something from him before heading to Anse-a-Veau. Then we went to Mr. B.’s house to pick up someone who was to travel with us. I met Mr. B’s wife and his younger four year old daughter, Sergine. I shared some Welch fruits snacks with her. As she showed me she knew the colors, I was impressed. At 3:30 pm before taking the long road ahead, I used the rest room at their house.
There was a lot of traffic before taking the Croix des Mission bridge. We went through the old Bisantenaire, Grand Rue and many other known roads, all disgustingly overcrowded and filled with garbage. It had rained a few days before so the ravine had overflowed piles of garbage. I was so upset that the government seems absent and the disrespect given to the human dignity of the people.
At 4:30 we were still at Carefour. We stopped to buy a battery on the road. I shared my hazelnuts and cashews with Mr. B and Dieulanise, our passenger. We reached Gressier at 5:30 pm. I always enjoyed the view of the Baie of Miragoane. In Vialet, we bought some mango and ‘zabriko’ (a larger size apricot). After Bezin, the car started to heat up. A cultivateur, Mr. Olvert Jolicoeur, gave us some water. We bought the plastic bottle from him. This rental started well.
We had stopped another time again on the deserted road of Miraogane to let the car cool down. Finally, the driver opened the radiator and we filled it with water. I don’t believe I am paying for this car daily – I was picked up very late and now we are having trouble to reach our destination. I offered it up to God. We got to the house at 8:45-9:00 pm.
I met the new sister assigned to the Salesienne house: Sr. Mirlande. Sr. Mirlene and Sr. Linda were there for the festivities. The house was filled with volunteers doing different activities in preparation for tomorrow’s event. I ate some fries and fish for dinner. I talked to Sr. Flora, she suggested we give the teachers the presents on Teacher Appreciation Day, May 17, or some other time rather than tomorrow. She did quite some renovations in the house. I really appreciate her efforts and ideals to upgrade and make improvements. This is rather rare here, maintenance is not prized. I went to the outside accommodation which was set up to welcome visitors. One of the two rooms was occupied by the male personnel. The bathroom, which is built between the two rooms, was left exclusively for my use accessible both from the outside and from the rooms. I settled in for the night as I was tired from waking up so early and the full day of travel. I prayed some of the inconveniences of today would not be repeated throughout this trip, but ultimately thankful I was alive and well.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
I slept late after trying to put some order in my suitcases. Then during the night, I thought I heard someone using the bathroom although they had reassured me the other room had no access. I used my flashlight and saw no activity but I placed one of a bucket filled with water right behind the communicating door, placed another one at the external bathroom door, and my heavy suitcase in front of my exit door. To ventilate the room, I always keep the door between my room and the bathroom open. I was not about to have it closed although I felt a little scared. I stayed in bed until 6 am, showered and went to the main house to get some coffee. This set up is so different from my home routine where I brew the coffee while I look at the backyard, then seat at the table and do general prayers – I call this moment coffee with Jesus, then I go on the elliptical while I do the readings for the mass before I get dress, walk to church and participate at mass.
I stayed in the gallery and prayed as it is quiet and there are no activities in the area. Then I went to the room to set up the gift bags for the teachers. I heard and saw the children getting ready in the yard before going to the church with their classmates and teachers. The ceremony was beautiful with the children singing and participating in the liturgy. The priest in his homily complimented the Salesiennes Sisters for their ten years of dedicated service to the students of the town as well as the spirituality of St. Joseph the Worker which they communicate in the education process.
After mass we crossed over to the Sisters house and school where the students performed different dances, skits, and songs. Lunch was served for all the guests after the children’s presentation. The Salesians hierarchy was present to support their coworkers in the town.
In the afternoon, I met with the Renesansavo participants with whom I had worked in 2014 and 2015. About nine of them showed up. I wanted to know what they had accomplished personally and for the community since last year. They communicated some of the challenges they were facing: graduation and no money to pay the fee, wanting to do some projects and having no financial support or sickness in the family. I congratulated Milio and Filienne for being the winners of solar panels because they were among the five finalists who had accomplished the greater score on their exit project during their training in Port-au-Prince. I felt really proud and happy we had sponsored them to participate in these workshops. Because of the low turnout, I had gifts for each person in attendance at the meeting.
Later in the day, I took advantage of the rented car, I visited l’Ecole Nationale Primaire Mixed and Ecole St. Ange of Anse-a-Veau: Frantzy Benoit, Albert St. Cyr, are the directors. I talked to one director to questions why both schools next to each other are primary schools with the same grades. He explained that one was the brothers’ old school and the other the old public school transferred to this area. Milio came with us as our guide. We passed by L’Etang. We saw the ground were Vorbes keeps his equipment to build roads. I almost went into conflict with one of the guards because he did not want me to come near him with a camera. I told him that I do not take pictures of individuals without permission. He did not believe me and said this is what usually happens with people from the ‘Diaspora’. I became very upset by this remark and actually lectured the gentlemen. I said I did not understand this adversary attitude between a people born in the same country. At times those who live abroad are sought to bring money and resources but when we are in the country we are treated as enemy combatants. I described my project and before leaving I gave him my business card. We returned to the house where I had some supper before I turned in. Reflecting on the day, I realize I have to be more flexible with people to achieve my purpose.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
All night from 11:45 pm to 2 am the dogs or “loogaroos” as I called them were running around by the rooms. It was scary at first. I prayed and relaxed after ensuring that no one could enter the room from the bathroom doors or my outside door. I woke up early enough to complete the bag of goodies for the teachers. After getting dress and going to the main house, I saw sister Flora organizing the classes to listen to the agronomist from J/P HRO (Haitian Relief Organization) who came to do a planting demonstration and distribute fruit trees to the children. Sister had the children repeat: “N ap rebati Ayiti pandan nap plante anpil pyebwa “ (we are rebuilding Haiti as we plant many trees). I really felt encouraged by this action of distributing trees, teaching the children how to care for them and the environment. There is hope for the future if all schools throughout the nation would teach sustainable practices and how we should take care of ourselves, our community, and the earth we live on.
After a light breakfast, I met with Milio and Mr. B. to start the visits to the adjoining chapels of Anse-a-Veau. We went to Joly and talked to the director of Chapel of St. Andre: Franky. We also spoke briefly with the teachers–Guerrier Lovely & Saintil Calorgina–working with the children in the chapel. The preschoolers were so attentive to the lessons. I did my usual song and gestures with the kids of “head, shoulders, knees and feet” in Kreyòl. Then Franky brought us to the Gwot Jean Jacque Acao. With recent rains, the cave is filled with soil and access to the different chambers are limited. We saw a small house on the way, and we talked to her owner and the possible cost to build such a home in prevision of a proposal I would like to write—it would provide training in construction to a number of young people for future employment while repairing vulnerable houses to weather for low income families.
We visited the National School of Joly. We had an interview with both the associate director at the school and the director, Duvald Denis, we encountered on the road.
We also visited two other chapels of St. Anne. In Rocher Lavalle, St. Michel was closed. It had started to rain we left disappointed we could not take pictures of the inside. In Perrien, we talked to Darius Sylvain, director of La Saint Famille Chapel founded by David Fontaine in 2010 which was demolished by Hurricane Matthew and is now under reconstruction.
In O’Rouck we had a conversation with Fr. Iradin Louis, pastor of St. Louis Montfort de Guignon church. He is very knowledgeable of history and is also an agronomist concerned with the environment. He wished he could develop more small business for this coastal town. He hoped for more help with the school which is still housed in the church. We also talked to his director of school, Dabrezil Lejuste-Adams.
On the interior road toward the beach, we stopped at the Ecole Nationale d’Orouck directed by Edouard Lucner. The teachers and the community are working to make it into a Lycee as well. Further along, we talked to Tony Francois who operates the school Kindest Heart Academie founded in 2011by Dr. Patricia Nicholas. The building is still well maintained (we had visited this school in 2014) and improvements are being made. The Doctor’s foundation supports the school and also the adjoining clinic.
In Baconois, we met with Fr. Jude Jean Louis an OBLA pastor of a chapel recently elevated to church, L’Eglise St. Francois de Sale. He currently lives in a borrowed house while the rectory is being built. The area is so poor, he is at 95% supported by his order OSFS. He studied and ministered in Brazil for eight years before returning to Haiti. I pray for all priests in my daily prayers and for the ones who have affected my spiritual life. Hearing this priest and all the other ones I have met during this trip doubled my appreciation for these men who give up personal relationship and take a vow of obedience and poverty to bring and live the Gospel.
On our way back, we stopped at Ecole Nationale de Baconois founded by Olga Devilier Franck. She was trying to let some organization into the building to check how to install electricity from some solar panels. It seems that there is a contract to have all the Nationale schools in that region powered. That would be good news if the students are able to use technology.
After those visits, we came back around 5:30 pm. I ate lunch and supper in one seating (legume, white rice and bean sauce, a mango corn followed by a warm melisse tea. Back in my room, I tried to fix my Natcom internet with the What’s App. Could not make it work. At 10:30 I talked with my husband. He had just come from Manhattan with our daughter. I felt reassured about everything at home. Tired, I just went to bed.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
By 5:30 am, I got out of bed. Since 4 am I was tossing, turning, and falling in and out of sleep. I was restless. Got dressed and went out for coffee at 6:30 am. The nuns were in prayer. I stayed outside on the gallery to pray and read the lectionary’s reading for the mass. I had a special thought of my son, as today is the feast of St. James and Philip. After a light breakfast of slices of zabriko and some omelet. I went in the yard to give out the patriotic booklet to the teachers. I sang ‘Fière Haiti’ and at the refrain of Jean Claude Martineau’s ‘Yon Verite” on Kreyòl for the students.
I went to the rectory next door to see if the pastor was available. He was not there but I met a street vendor on a bike selling his bread and we had a chat. Then I went back to my room and completed the packages then distributed them to all 12 teachers during recess. Gave the rest of the materials to Sister Flora for the office. I still have to find some items for the personnel for both the school and the house.
At 9:35 I had received a call from Msgr. A. who said he would be at the house soon. It was 12 and he had not yet arrived. I needed to do several activities, however, the scout representative, Paul Justin of Jean Jacques Acao, came to thank my friend who had sent the material to make the uniforms. At this time, he does not have the funds to sew them but he also needs the scarves and the emblems. He is hopeful to have the youngsters participate in the feast of St. Anne in July.
When Kim, the director of Music of the Art, came to visit the students she sponsors in the school. We had a nice chat about the prison ministry and her stay at a hotel in the area. On her way out, I went to the hotel with her on the road to TiBarcadere. Her room seems to be right on top of the water with a view of the ocean and right next to the stairs that lead to the ocean side (not beach as it is not yet fixed for that). This B&B is getting ready to be opened by the Feast of St. Anne in July. It is really a lovely space. Remy dropped me back at the house. He showed me his newly built house at the entrance of town.
I had lunch with Sr. Flora. I complimented her on doing upgrade and maintenance of the house. Afterward, I walked downtown to the fishermen’s area. I saw Jean Vanel on my way downtown. I went to his house where his wife was cooking some rice and beans with coconut milk. Jean Vanel and I went to the fish depot that used to function as a refrigeration facility and store front for the town. I met Moumoune who is managing the place since her mother’s death. She agreed in doing the interview. The place is in need of eight 12 volt batteries at a cost of $350 per unit. She would be willing to get a loan to repair the facility and get it open for the fishermen to return to the area and make this business a viable venture for both the fishermen and the people of the town. Then I went to Jules Fleury’s hospital to meet the new doctor. Jean Vanel and I tried to find out if Mr. Monde was home. No one was there. We stopped by the Salle Paroisiale to get some water for me and a soda for Jean Vanel. He told me that Dessalines had a house in Anse-a-Veau. He used to come on vacation. They had accused him of sexual assault and that is one of the reasons of Guerin and many others disliked him in the area. The people here thought he was an autocrat. I told him I had never heard of such information. Is it a story being told here to exonerate one of their leaders? When I got to the house, I gave Jean Vanel the refrigeration materials I had shipped for him as well as the insulating bags for his wife and his sister.
Msgr. came at 5:30 pm to discuss his book to be published on July 13th as a tenth-year anniversary of the diocese. He went over how he would like to see the book set up. I shared some of my compiled documents with him. As it started to rain, Danielle and Carlo arrived from Port-au-Prince. I helped them get settle in their room. We had supper. Msgr. left with a pancho I had brought so that he would not be soaked during the travel. We were worried about him riding the motor cycle to go back to Miragoane. Then it started to rain harder. I cross over to my room before they let the dogs out.
Friday, May 4, 2018
The dogs started to fight with something around midnight. I settled my mind to ignore everything and tried to sleep. It continued to rain all night. I finally got out of bed at 6 am. I guess not being at home unconsciously is affecting me. Routines here are different. Went for coffee so that I could have “some time with Jesus”. For some reason, I cried while being quiet looking at nature on the quiet gallery. I did not feel sad but water flowed from my eyes. I did my prayers and read the mass from Magnificat for Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter and first Friday of the month. Milio stopped by to find out about the Tools Bank (Bankzouti) job. We discussed the possible job description. He talked about what this could mean for him as it is so difficult to find jobs. Carlo, Danielle and I had breakfast before being picked up by Mr. B.at 8:50 am.
Our first stop on the way to Petite Rivière and Miragoane was Plaj Lakay in Madian. We spoke with the manager at the door. This beach is owned by the diocese. Here they have a clean area for the beach goers. There are stalls to change clothes. There are also vendors’ stall for when they host a festival. It is a good initiative of the diocese not only does it welcome the beach goer but provide jobs—the door keeper, the beach cleaners, etc.
We proceeded to Life Teens formerly Jean Paul II Center directed by Paul Alain Albert, a lay man, who was born in Boston, US and returned to Haiti with his American wife and fathered four children. He is committed to his ministry of evangelization in the area and his work with the youth under the Supervision of Fr. Louis Merosne.
We skipped the clinic and went directly to the Diocesan Office of Caritas where we met with Fr. Jean Franky Rosemberg who explained the mission of this office and his new ongoing project. We visited the ground with him where he is building an ‘auberge’ (inn) of 20 rooms for the people who come in mission or service to the diocese. We also saw the radio station. I mentioned the construction training project/fixing of weather vulnerable houses for low income families for which we are writing a proposal. He was very much interested and would like to be involved in it.
At College St. Antoine de Padoue we met the director of CESA: Jack Davidson. He is a member of American Haitian Foudation which sponsors the school. We also Interviewed a staff member, Micha Deslerherme, a graduate from the school in 2006 who is now coordinating a program.
Further up the road we visited St. Antoine de Padoue Church whose pastor is Rev. Emmanuel Volcy. Beside this church he is responsible for 5 Chapels. He was on his way to visit one of them, Notre Dame de l’Assompsion, on his motor cycle. Fr. Volcy is responsible for 3 ‘presbyterials’ schools Coeur de Marie with 400 students; Immaculate Conception with 450 students; St. Marie Madeleine with 100 students. This parish was founded in 1873. The first Haitian priest was installed on August 2013. The parish which welcomes about 300 faithfuls, have three choirs, a Kiro group (Catholic youth group), pastoral agents, a group to visit the sick, and many more activities. The parish was affected by Matthew and it is a slow process to recuperate.
Our third visit was at Visitation Hospital Foundation, a Catholic institution, sponsored by Parish Twining Program of America (PTPA). Dr. Marie Claude Francois agreed to talk to us at the condition she would not take her picture nor show her face on the camera. We accepted her terms. The hospital was founded in 2000 by Theresa Patterson of Nashville, Tennessee though the PTPA foundation. About 100 patients are seen daily. The greatest medical problems encountered here is sedentariness, diabetes, nutrition. The small fee of 160 gourdes covers consultation and lab exams. They receive free medicine and are taken in until stabilized. They provide 24 hours and 7 days services. We also visited the staffs’ house on the ground which is really an agreeable space.
We were looking for a chapel on the road and missed it although we had received several directions. Not an effective way to find locations where is my GPS? We continued on and came upon the Eglise Episcopale de Bondeau (formerly known as Marie Madeleine) is Le Bon Samaritan. We talked to Rev. Jean Berthold Fanor whose Bishop is Msgr. Zache Durachem. The school has 300 students with 9 teachers. We had been welcomed by a lay person, Wilker Casimir. The school includes first level to philo. They also run a clinic. The Episcopal Church has three parishes in the Nippes.
In Miragoane, we met Soeur de la Charite of Cardinal Sancha: Sr. Sonia Pollino, Sr. Marcia, & Sr. Ecaldda Felor. They manage Ecole Nationale Congreganiste & Vocational de Miragoane which has 952 students and 24 teachers. For three nuns and this staff it is a lot of work and it seems they receive intermittent funding from the government as it is a public school. Although the ground and school were clean, I was struck by the terrible conditions of the building missing window panes and bricks. I think they were unable to repair after Hurricane Matthew.
We stopped at the Co-Cathedrale de Miragoane: St. Jean Baptiste whose pastor is Msgr. Herve Grandjean. He refused to give us an interview because all information we need for the diocese will be published this week-end. After a prayer to send us on our way, he told us this sentence: “The enemy of the church is the church itself”. Which I did not understand and found puzzling. When we had arrived, he was in a meeting with I guess a parishioner. Maybe he had been stressed out by the amount of work to be done and little resources to accomplish them.
Our last stop was at the Hospital de St. Therese, Miragoane. As it was late, we only found Philisten Olsen in the emergency office, who is an internist who was willing to talk to us. The hospital was inaugurated on Aril 3, 1980. There are about 100 beds available for inpatients. They do not have an ambulance. I wondered how the emergency traumas reach them? There is a maternity and radiology section. Dr. Olsten is there temporarily fulfilling his mandated year of service in order to be licensed, then he will be going back to obtain a specialization hopefully in pediatric care.
We were exhausted when we returned to the house. We ate supper and we each went to our rooms after briefly discussing how the day had gone. We felt we had accomplished a lot but we would need to organize better to get a break and food on the road.
Saturday, May 5, 2018
At 5:30 am I woke up with the nagging feeling that I had lost my camera’s sims card. I emptied my bag, looked everywhere. I let go of this search, finally, I showered and stayed in my room to pray. At 7 am, I went to the main house to drink coffee and write a little. At 7:30 am I woke Danielle and Carlo to warn them that I had unhooked the shower pipes by accident in my bathroom, if Carlo were to use it. I found out that I had given the sim card to Carlo last night and had not remembered. What a waste of time and needless anxiety this morning.
While we had breakfast Mr. L. joined us to go to Petite Riviere at Manolo’s, we journeyed on to Charlier. The priest, Fr. Evens Grand Fils, was not there. I talked to someone on the phone. It was very windy I could hardly hear him with the tin roof flapping overhead in the church. We identified this parish as St. Charles Borromée with Rev. Faustin Louis, as pastor of the church and a presbyterial school. We continued on toward Miragoane. We saw a group of people in front of the emergency shelter facility and we stopped. We made conversation with some participants and one of them, Cadet T, agreed to give us an interview.
At the Evêché de Miragoane (bishopric), we talked to Fr. Yves Voltaire; Directeur du Bureau Diocesien de l’Education et Vicaire Episcopale pour l’Education et le Développent; membre du conseil épiscopal. There were two other buildings on the ground: Commission of Justice and Peace, and the Bishop’s residence and office. I called Fhrerre and asked if he wanted to be our guide for the rest of the day. He accepted and escorted us to Fort Reflechi on Rue Coloniale. Then we went to the University Publique of Berquin directed by Yves Voltaire. The director present did not want to be interviewed. I understand that he was probably afraid to step above his superior’s approval,
The next stop was Eglise St. Therese de l’Enfant Jesus where we met pastor Mac Cley Antoine Elie installed in the past 7 to 8 months. He believes in the youth and evangelization process. He wants to awaken faith, hope, and charity in the community. While we were waiting for Fr. Elie to talk to us, we saw a group of boys and girls singing in a shed like room behind the church. We took pictures and talked to them. In the sacristy overlooking the inside of the church we witnessed one young lady thrashing on the floor screaming in front of the sanctuary. I thought she was possessed by a “loa” (spirit) but the director of chapel told us that she was a member of the family of the deceased whose corpse and coffin were in the back of the church. After a few minutes she stopped. I wondered if she was a daughter or a young wife. Suddenly another younger lady came in screaming, and another one supported by two males started groaning like a wounded animal. This was really eerie. I felt like a voyeur peeking at this mourning ritual.
Every time we travelled pass L’Etang de Miragoane, we admired the golden flowers (Nenuphar Nymphaea). We stopped to take pictures. They are called ‘chayèt here we give no importance to them although members of the Minustah come to collect some. I remembered a member of the Myriam Group in Canada pointing out how these flowers were admired in Egypt. I would like to know more.
At Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours we saw Père Jean Denis Joseph Hubert who was preparing to receive a ‘Caravane Mariale’ from Port-au-Prince of about 4 busses and more mini vans going to Caye after an hour of prayer here. He quickly talked to us about his parish and presbyterials schools. There were several other priests who had come to concelebrate with him in the shrine. Fr. Elusmas Bazile, director of EFACAP de Chalon, reminded me that we had met last year when he had brought a number of KIRO groups in Anse-a-Veau. He said he will be sending me a proposal for computers (maybe 5) for his 300 students. This is not the first request made to see if members of the team or myself could make a difference for them. I truly wish we had the ability to respond to all those needs but unfortunately, I am not a foundation. I have no money but my own retirement funds after forty years of working in NY City and my friends and colleagues here also contributed time and their own expenses because of their conviction in the project.
At St. Michel Archange, Pastor Père Casimir of St. Michel du Sud was absent. We continued to Ecole FOMAPI (Formation Moderne Appliquée et Integré) – is a private congreganist school under the direction of Sr. Jeanne, Sr. Bernadette Bastien of the Congregation Compagnie de Jesus. They supervise the three cycles proposed by the ministry of education for 835 students.
St. Joseph of Pemerle was founded in 1949 by a group of religious according to Pastor, Noemi Ambroise, who seemed very versed about the history of the parish. He not only pushes the evangelization process but also works for social understanding and responsibility of the faithful. The pastor is very aware of the need for strong education to make a difference in this community.
At Fonds des Nègres, we came upon Notre Dame de Mont Carmel whose pastor is Jude Pierre Junior Jacques. The community seems transient. The youth is here one day and gone the next, seeking the next opportunities elsewhere.
At the last parish visited for the day, Notre Dame de Lamercie in Virgile whose pastor is Prosner Altidor, also has a presbyterial school. He is new to the area having replace Fr. Enel to mission abroad. Fr. Altidor seems very diplomatique and reserved, we could feel his educational and experience having studied Canonical law and living in Rome for the past six years in his demeanor.
Today we had brought food with us for the road so we were not as famished during supper. The team talked for a while about the people we had met during the day. We conversed with the sisters before we went to our respective rooms.
Sunday, May 6, 2018
I had gone to bed early the previous night but by 11:30 I woke up and could not fall back asleep. I finally got out of bed and prepared to go to mass after my morning prayer and light breakfast. The mass was celebrated by Fr. Johnson Charlotin and the students of St. Joseph the Worker, the Salesians sang, read the scripture passages and petitions.
As usual I felt that the homily although lengthy communicated a good message on the Gospel that we are no longer slaves by friends of Jesus. If we remain in Him and He in us, we will no longer be slaves but His friends.
After mass, which ended after 10 AM, Danielle and I went for a conversation with Fr. Louis. We explained the project for which I had come to the Nippes for in this trip, the Boten. I also shared the idea of looking into the construction training with a component of home improvements for weather vulnerable houses for impoverished families. He suggested we work with EPSSA on such a project and he announced that the university had received its recognition from the Ministry of Education as he knew that CORA had participated in paying for the application process. As he is the liaison for CORA and the Bishop’s office, I made sure I told him of all we wished to accomplish and all our complaints. I told him how I noticed that last year many constructions and activities that were being done seemed to have stopped frozen in time. I know he has a lot on his plate being pastor at the Cathedral, director of evangelization center and assistant to the bishop. He is very conciliatory, he always tries to find a positive side to things.
When we returned to the house, we talked to Sr. Flora and had a sumptuous lunch before going to Paillant.
The pastor of Notre Dame de la Guadeloupe, Valery Rebecca, is on vacation for a month. We took pictures of the outside and inside of the church and also of his residence. I had met Msgr Rebecca in 2014 when he used to be pastor at St. Anne in Anse-a-Veau.
We noticed the Ecole Nationale Congreganiste de Paillant – College Notre Dame de Guadelupe (CNDGP) also the Centre de Formation Professionnelle FHAHM (Fondation Haiti Help Med- Père Farnese Louis Charles) in the same area as the church but no authorized personnel were present to give us more details.
We tried to go to L’Etang Rey unsuccessfully we could not find the right entrance leading to that road. The inhabitants of the area told us it was far and that our car was too low for such a path. As it was getting late, we decided to return to the house. Sr. Mirlande was with us for the ride and wanted to go to evening prayer as every night, the statue of Marie went to spent the night with a family in the area where rosary and mass was celebrated.
Late evening Msgr. Louis and a small group of young parishioners came to the sisters’ house to congratulate them for their 10 years of service to the town. As he was absent on May 1st he brought the nuns gifts – baskets with chocolate and wine.
Danielle, Carlo and I decided to do some documentation on the computer. However, the one I borrowed had a different keyboard and I could not type properly without looking at each key. So, I gave up. Carlo did a fantastic job of backing up all the pictures on my external storage.
I felt really blessed that we had such a great team doing this mission of a living boten.
Monday, May 7, 2018
I woke early to give Sr. F., before her 4 am departure to Port-au-Prince, a package for Lucien A. to be picked up on her way.
At 6:50 am I went for coffee as we planned to go to Petit Trou de Nippes. Sr. Mirlaine had to be in charge of the children. I was going to have breakfast when she came in frustrated with two boys who hid in the back of the school after she rang the bell. She also had two classes who did not come to mass the previous day as instructed. I went to the yard and I had them line up in two rows of boys and girls. We discussed why Sr. M. was upset. We walked around the yard three times then we stopped and they apologized before going back to their respective classes. The teacher in me had taken over. Some of them were very young and soon the sun would make it hot. I felt sorry for them, but they just needed to understand why Sr. was upset. She is the same age as my daughter so I know they can become easily impatient with the younger ones not following the rules to the letter.
Today we made sure we brought some refreshments for the road before heading to Petit Trou de Nippes. The first visit was to the Lycee Nationale. We met Mr. Jean Roc Saintil, rector of the school which was founded in 1992. We stopped at the Bibliothèque de Nippes – Dany Laferrière, whose director is Clement Benoit, however, we interviewed Dona Cassandre Atellus, Assistant Secretary and Mimose Montalment, housekeeper. It was posted that Jean Claude Aurelus was bibliothecaire. This facility is opened from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. Sundays 2 pm to 5 pm. There were four rooms each dedicated to a different literary person (1) Baudelaire Pierre, (2) Pierre Clitandre; (3) Claude St Pierre; (4) Bonel Auguste. In the one room, there were pictures of several authors, poets, and political figures. The library is well organized and well kept. They seem to welcome about 30 students per day mostly after school. The students receive ID card. Although, we were only gathering information about the library, we had to sign the visitors’ book and give a donation.
What I like about the town of Petit Trou, everything is so close and within the square. We met Mr. Pierre Saurel, directeur de la Mairie (Town hall) des Nippes. The mayor: Winord Pierre was absent but Jose Leonel, the secretary talked to us.
Fr. Luckson Simeon, the Pastor of l’Eglise de Notre Dame de la Nativite, a colonial church built in 1631, was absent. We talked to L’Abbe Jean Pierre Henri Claude and Daniel Olson, lay person and member of the church council. They gave us a brief history of the main painting in the sanctuary and the stations of the cross (the vestiges) in the facility.
We walked to the dock where we saw the fishermen. I called to one in his boat coming to shore. He allowed me to get on his boat, his name is Joseph, for a talk about the fishermen’s lives on the sea. He was agreeable and we did the interview.
Then we dropped by the Culturel Centre which I had visited in 2013 with my friend Therese and a women’s group LIPOUFANM presenting a workshop. It was affected by the hurricane Matthew and is in need of repairs.
On the way out of the center of town, we stopped by the Centre Medical des Nippes, and talked to Dr. Solene Rodrigue, general medicine. She was reluctant at first to give the interview but did talk to us. She did something no one else had done before, she listened to the whole interview before letting us leave. What were her reasons, I don’t know.
The Abbe had suggested the director of chapel, Alponse Raymond, travel with us to bring us to several places around the area such as St. Joseph Chapel (quasi Parish), Zone Grand Ravine 2nd Section, located in Bwa Chapat; Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours, Zone Reymond being constructed; St. Therese de l’Enfant Jesus–Section Raymond , zone St. Therese (demolished). On the road we also met a director of chapel but also a director of Ecole Nationale in St. Cyr. After the visits to the chapels, we stopped at Mr. Raymond’s home and had some coconuts to drink and eat their meat. He also introduced us to his children. We made sure he was able to return home by using a taxi motorcycle.
In the Zone of Chevalier we stopped at the second Episcopal church that we visited in the Nippes. Rev. Luc Desiré is the pastor of the Paroissse de St. Paul and School as well as the professional center. We noticed that their buildings are always well maintained and they are responsible not only for the pastoral care of the community but also the social needs of the people.
At Ecole Nationale Communautaire de Carrefour Lundi, built by Digicel, we talked to both the director Nore Destin, and his assistant directeur, Charles Getho. The buildings were recently constructed and I thought inwardly I hope they maintain them in good conditions.
At Ecole Nationale de Baconnois, Mr. Simon Renal, Surveillant, gave us the interview the director Jean Baptiste Jean Claude was absent.
The Boulangerie of Baconois belongs to Milon. What we call bakery is a big mud and brick oven and a table with the equipment to roll the dough. Very primitive set up but it gets the job done.
We felt very productive taking pictures and talking to people. At the last place for the day, the ebeniste (carpenter), pastor of l’Eglise de Dieu de Baconois wanted us to interview him because he feels that would help his struggling business. Although the house is called funeral home it has no morgue; he refers his friends to other places in Miragoane or elsewhere but he likes to build the coffins.
During supper, we always try to evaluate our day before we separate for the night.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Woke up, had coffee and some breakfast with the sisters. Instead of doing the daily readings, I tried to type the outline of past days. Mr. B. came at 8:30 am. Sr. Mirlande had lunch prepared for us. We went to Brossard to see the PFST. We saw the ‘guildive’ in action. They had bagasse all over and the ‘vidange’ not being controlled yet. The place is very busy with the people bringing them sugar cane to be transformed. Everything seems unkept as they are overwhelmed with the work to be done and lack of equipment. We bought some of their cassava from them (2 bags of salted ones and 2 bags of sweetened ones), plus 2 gallons of honey—one for me and one for Danielle). Br. Camille pointed out that the peanut mill is not working. He needs about 50,000 goud (10,000 $HT) to have it repaired. He needs this right away to continue production for himself and the peasants of the area.
The road is in construction, they opened it very wide and were working to break down the rock side and using the big roller tractors to flatten the path. A participant in our program whose parents live in the area told us that, her parents lost five coconut trees and four mango trees with fruits on them. The company making the road did not compensate them for the trees nor the land they encroached on nor did they tell them in advance to pick up the fruits from the trees. They even put one of this individual’s tree on another person’s property. Thank goodness they knew that individual and witnessed the move where they were able to claim the tree to collect the fruits and use part of it to make coal. No law to protect the people and no one to appeal to.
At the Ecole Nationale de Brossard, we talked to Simone Jean Pierre the interim principal of the school until a director is officially appointed. The school was recently built, it is clean. The teachers and principal were really welcoming. Quite unusual they had a library with books in both languages—Kreyòl and French. I wished I had more time to find out how they used the books and the interaction of the kids with the material.
We went on to Arnaud the birth place of a member of CORA, Mr. Nougais, who we had just encountered at the PFST. We saw the pastor, Fr. Francois Charles of St. Catherine de Sienne. We talked to the children of the presbyterial school. He invited us to visit the ground around.
Then we continued to l’Asile under the leadership of the pastor David Fontaine who was absent.
We talked to Colbert Ceide the vicar and director of the school of St. Joseph — Ecole Père Henri Guimard and Ecole presbyterial kindergarten of the same name which is under construction.
At Hopital Communautaire de Reference de l’Asile (HCR) we interviewed Denius Eluderne, nurse and coordinator of staff; Hyppolyte Jean Sylvain, controller; and Michel Alicia Jean, secretary. We were glad to hear how proud the people were to acknowledge the work that ADA, an NGO, did to establish and maintain this facility.
We also visited Ecole Fondamental d’Application Centre d’Appui Pedagogique (EFACAP) directed by Morinoa Guersony.
Without stopping for interviews we took pictures of : La Mairie d’Arnaud ; Commisariat d’Araud; Eglise de Dieu Lumie de Marcou; Ecole de Marcou et Grand College; Ecole Nationale de Sanri; Ecole Nationale de Suzette; College Fondamentale Mixte, Alliance Chretienne et Missionaire; Police Nationale – Commisariat de l’Asile; and the Tribunal de Paix, Etats civil de paix.
We came back earlier than usual – around 6 pm. Going from place to place and talking with different people takes a toll mostly after trying to sell them the idea and purpose of what we are trying to achieve with this ‘boten’. Making these stories come alive for the listeners and readers—allow us to be cognizant of their realities– that is what energizes us to keep going.
At supper, we commented that although a few individuals were hesitant to talk to us most people opened up to us and were somewhat glad someone cared to hear about them.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
I could not sleep. Finally, I got up put some lotion on my legs. They started to burn, I had to wash them with some alcohol to remove the sting. I still did not feel like putting the fan on. I feel it affects my breathing and I get a sore throat when it remains on. After my morning prayers, I showered and went to the main house to drink coffee, ate breakfast and typed the itinerary of the previous days. Mr. B. came and we had to wait until Carlo got some medication from Sr. F. as he was not feeling well. We had planned to go to Morisseau – 4th section of l’Asile by going through Miragoane. When we went through Aquin, I saw many advertisements of Castor Funeral homes, Castor this, Castor that. I inquired. A young man answered me. He said most of these lands are owned by members of the Castor family. In my head I said, this descendant (me) of a Castor has nothing.
When we got to Eglise Sainte Rose de Lima, we talked to Fr. Jean Philippe Raymond, pastor of the church and in charge of l’Ecole Presbisterale de Morisseau. We had a good conversation. I reminded him of the effort of my parish, Incarnation in NY, providing APREM/CORA the ability to raise funds to support this church in a type of twinning process started with the previous pastor at Morisseau, Fr. Thelemaque. Fr. Raymond directed us to the Ecole Nationale de Morisseau where we met the surveillant responsible, Rodney Maçon. After the visit, he indicated to us the road to get back to Anse-a-Veau.
We went back to Anse-a-Veau through l’Asile. Although we had travelled only to one area, we got back to the house late evening.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Last night I was tired and went to sleep but at 12:55 am something flew by the room, like someone trying to escape and the dogs began to bark. After this, I was unable to go back to sleep. I would not put the light on. Finally, at 7:45 at day break I went to the main house for coffee as usual. Lucienne, the cook, had made a natural juice of ‘korosòl’. This is the only juice that I drink when it is fresh and has no sugar added. Soursops are recommended for high blood pressure sufferers for its calming effect.
At 8:40, I purposely crossed over for the 8:30 mass, I had been told people were waiting. I was getting annoyed at the delay. Mass started at 9:07 am. Many classes of the different schools had students present. I imagined they would sing less stanzas and have a shorter homily. No! This disregard for punctuality riles me up. I have to get inside of myself to ask God’s peace so that I could let go of all feelings and to be present in this celebration of mass. After the numerous announcements, blessing ended at 10:40.
Danielle and I went for breakfast before we walked to Ka George to meet with Mr. Martin Henri who owns the boulangerie. Again, I want to say that what they call boulangerie is the brick oven, with another space for the table with the machine to roll the dough. This place is a family business which the people of the area recognize as necessary to carry the tradition. Mr. Martin provides the press, baking utensils, and the brick oven for a fee. He has four workers who prepare the dough for the people who want to do bread. The ‘prentè’ as the client is called must provide all the ingredients for the dough as well as the wood for the oven.
At EPSSA, Ecole Polytechnique Supérieure de St. Anne University founded in 2011, is currently being directed by Fr. Junior Vital. The same ground and classrooms are shared with College St. Anne, a type of junior high, directed by Fr. Johnson Charlotin.
We passed by the Ecole Nationale de l’Anse-a-Veau, then stopped at Lycee Nationale Boisrond Tonnere de l’Anse-a-Veau where the director Horace was absent; we talked to Elice Valcy, administrator, Thelusme Ojely Math Teacher, and Josue Toussaint, Security guard. The lycée had a quote painted on the top front wall: “Le But de l’instruction c’est d’en être devenu meilleur et plus sage.” After reading it, I realized that maybe I have forgotten French grammar. If I am right, there is something wrong, I hope people from the town who have some influence will take action to have it corrected or erased.
At the Tribunal de Première Instance de l’Anse-a-Veau, we talked to Juge de l’Instruction Maitre Gerson l’Esperance. He usually attends events sponsored by CORA. He recognized me.
We walked past the Calvaire, which we had given a new coat of paint last year. It will need another painting for the feast day or in 2019 for the biennial.
As we were still going toward the beach area, we stopped at Haitian Sports Foundation which had invited me last year to see a karate demonstration. Diegue Blendell showed us all the improvements and additional plans being implemented within their complex such as the afterschool, karate and computer classes, housing for the instructor, medical clinic….
We visited the hotel on the road to TiBarcadere. We had to go through a pathway and a tall gate to reach Hotel Franco Ville. The owners are Dimitry & Herve Francois who live in the US. On leaving this place, we wanted to see the road to the beach to find out if it was repaired and maintained as we had done in 2015. It started to drizzle, we asked Mr. Nicolas Poullard and his wife Bernadette Lumene if we could shelter from the rain in their house. He was overjoyed. He wanted someone from the personnel to run to buy something to offer us. We told him that we were ok and did not need any drinks. He insisted on giving us water. As Carlo was thirsty, he did take a small bag of water. After a few minutes of conversation, the rain stopped. We decided to return to the house instead of continuing to the beach. We got there to have lunch around 4 pm.
Filienne, one of the energy training participants, came to see Danielle. She gave us a rundown on how the training had been in Port-au-Prince and her expectation to use this acquired knowledge to create a possible enterprise to support herself as it is so difficult to find jobs in this area.
Later on, we had supper and we turned in early for the night.
Friday, May 11, 2018
Woke up around 2:45 am and had difficulty going back to sleep. I finally got up. I use the time to find out if I could put my smaller suitcase in the bigger one. Yay! I could but it made it feel heavier. I went for coffee after a brief time of prayer. I talked to Sr. Mirlande about the trade school. I explained the need to write a proposal to request money and support. I agreed to help her with this project. I prefer to pay for teachers rather than sponsor a student or two. The idea of creating a small business to obtain funds to support the project really appeals to me. Buying a freezer to do ice and ice cream for sale, this also could be used to teach the older students how to establish and run a small business.
Danielle and I discussed the scheduled of the rest of the stay as she would like to attend the funeral of a good family friend in Port-au-Prince. Claudette brought a sac filled with about 22 coconuts and a ‘rejim bannann’ (plantain) to thank me for my support of her education and experience in the school. She would like me to be her ‘godmother’ for the graduating class in July. I said I would not return to the country this summer. I agreed to pay for her the graduation fee requested by the university instead.
In the afternoon, we tested the car we rented from les Cayes. The other one was returned yesterday because it was too low and was not a 4-wheeler for the roads we need to be on. We decided to go to Ti Barcadere by car to see how far we could reach to appraise the conditions of the beach and road. We met with Me Ally Anousse and Engineer Francois Junior both agents of Institut Haitien de Statistique (IHFI) cartographie department des Nippes. I was so glad to meet them. I told them I like their CD published in 2005 which provided so much data about Haiti. I used the information gathered there on the Nippes to start this directory or NipBoten.
We came back to the house, when I remembered I wanted to visit Carl Monde, an agronomist, native of Anse-a-Veau. We had seen him arriving in town while going to the beach. We found him home and he was glad to talk to us. As it was dark, we were unable to visit his yard filled with fruit trees and leading to a view of the ocean. We said we would come back another time during daylight.
We walked in town in the dark with my little flashlight at times. My husband always asked if I took the time to look at the constellation in a clear night in the darkness where no artificial light interferes. Today I did. What a magnificent blue sky with all the stars blinking bright reminding us of the immensity of creation. Another reason why I am attracted to this mountainous coastal town.
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Last night I slept a little better, then Danielle called at 3:55 am to ask if the nun was still going to Port-au-Prince as there was no light or activity in the house. I told her to go in the dining room and wait because she will surely try to grab something to eat for the road. At 6, I started gathering my clothes and other items needed for the trip to St. Yves Church and the water fall. It seems it had rained lightly during the night and I was worried that the road might be more difficult to travel. After I had brushed my teeth, I heard Carlo at the external bathroom door. I quickly went into my room so he could use the facility. Because I was not yet ready, I decided to do my morning rituals of prayer and scripture reading of the day in the room. He took a while. After he left, I was ready to shower and get dressed. When I opened the faucet, there was no water. Thank goodness one of the last bucket was a quarter filled. I went to the main house to get coffee and some breakfast. Brought some casava and peanut butter for the driver and Carlo for breakfast and we got ready to get on the road. Sr. Mirlande eagerly came along with us because she had never visited there before.
When we arrived at St. Yves and St. Joachim Church, we interviewed Abbe Saintilus Jackson because the priest was absent. We parked the car in the parish yard and started on the path to the waterfall. An old lady saw us pass behind the church in front of a patch of burnt candle and called to us, “You did not pray before going to the waterfall”. She meant the ‘people’s altar’ to their deities. We did not answer and started the climb. It’s a 20 minutes’ walk on rough terrain of rock and 3 to 4 water passes and holes. Finally, it was such a delight to be in the water. Cold (not freezing) water giving you a massage all over. I prayed a lot while the water kneaded me. It felt so divine to be in that space standing in that pool of clear water. This year the area was kept clean. I noticed a man observing us later I found that his name was Blanc Fanel who is said to be the water/environment watcher for Sault du Baril. Whoever took that initiative, I commend them and hope it remains that way. They had a bench built for people to sit and a changing tent. We left the water area around noon. We heard the church bell ring while we were approaching it. When we got there, the church was packed and the pilgrims were singing ardently under the direction of a song leader. At first, we had difficulty finding the abbe, he was located so that he could open the gate of the parking lot for us. I gave him some money to give to the ‘water watcher’ for keeping the area clean. However, he said he was not aware of such a person being appointed by the church. I reiterated that this was an improvement from the last time I was here. Such arrangement should be maintained for the sake of those coming to the waterfall.
At 1 pm we were on the way to Anse-a-Veau, I did not want to waste another day, I decided to go to Rocher Laval to talk to Mrs. Nènè Mathurin (Christine). She was not home. A young man at an adjoining house said she was at someone’s house because of a death that had occurred this morning. He guided us in the direction of where she was. We walked for a while. Then, I asked the young man to send word to her that I wanted to talk to her. We waited a while until one lady who works at the Salesian sisters as a cook convince her to talk to us. We were told she is temperamental. We knew because she is a white woman, they could say anything about her because she has a different culture. She lives in her house alone with the people in adjacent huts around, caring for her bees and particularly about the care of the environment. She was reluctant to give us an interview as she said she had another appointment to attend on another mountain. She relented after I gave my ‘spiel’. She led the way back to her place walking like the goats unbothered by the landscape with open flip flops. She is a Belgian woman who has adopted Haiti as her country for the past 40 years+. She has not even gone to Port-au-Prince, the capital, for the past three years as she has become very territorial. Christine is eloquent and she is genuine in her love for what she is doing in the country. She’s been in the area more than 20 years. She is well versed in the history of the Nippes and its people. She produces her own honey without using pesticide in her environment and the trees she ensures are planted to nourish them and produce the fruits needed for her product. In her four apiaries she has many beehives with thousands of Italian bees. All her processes are done organically and manually. She distributes her products through “La Maison Vieux” under the label Ferme d’Experimentation et de Demonstration Apicole (FEDA S.A.). She gave us a sample of her honey and a Hydromel bottle called L’Ansavelaise. On the label of the bottle there is the following story: Mead is the oldest known alcoholic beverage; it existed long before Noah invented wine. Many people regarded mead as a tonic, a kind of magic potion that gave them strength, invincibility, and immortality. Some traditions associate it an aphrodisiac. Young couples used to drink it after the wedding ceremony to promote procreation hence the term “honeymoon”.
When we got home we had supper and turned in early.
Sunday, May 13, 2018
I slept more this night then the past few days. I finally got out of bed at 6:30 am. Prayed then at 7:30 am went to the main house. In the dining room I had coffee then crossed over to the church. Mass started at 8:20 an improvement for today. The homily took some time. The announcements took forever. We left church at 10:45. I called Mr. B. and asked if he could come within 15 minutes for our outing. We prepared refreshment for Carlo and the driver. I took a second cup of coffee, cassava and peanut butter. We went to L’Etang Rey to meet the Petites Servantes de Jesus-Hostie du Coeur Immaculée de Marie et de Joseph under the leadership of Fr. Lionel Dheroux who founded this contemplative congregation in 1984. They have adoration 24 hours 7 days a week. He has 4 houses: 3 in Haiti and 1 in France. Here at ‘L’Etang Rey people can come for retreats. To support themselves they sew priests’ vestments for sale and some other religious items. The nuns also run an orphanage for 55 children. Although they do work to support themselves, that does not cover feeding and caring for the number of children. They conduct charismatic prayers.
We also visited the St. Raphael church of l’Etang Rey, the pastor is Rev. Emmanuel Richie who was absent. Sheila Jean refused to give an interview as she is not a person from the area. The church is under construction as it was affected by hurricane Matthew.
When we got back to the house, I had some tea and turn in early as we had to wake up early.
Monday, May 14, 2018
I woke up at 4 am with the alarm. Prayed and got ready. I waited until 4:45 making sure that the dogs had been moved to their quarters. Sr. Mirlande was ready and coffee had been brewed. We prepared some food for the road. At 5:10 am Mr. B. was not yet there. I called him to say that we were waiting at the gate. He arrived at 5:30 am. I asked him if he knew how to get to Meyer and if it was not too far from the main road of Jacmel. He said he knew and had talked with the cook from the house who was from there. We arrived in Meyer at 8 am after many inquiries, rocky tortuous road. The more I questioned the driver, the more persistent he became to get there. I wanted to visit the Daughters of Charity at Meyer. Sr. Iliana Monroig, and Sr. Halina Kowalska both were recently assigned to this area. They are responsible to provide clinic work in the dispensary, pharmacy, and pantry as well as pastoral care to the children and parishioners of L’Assumption church formerly Notre Dame du Bon Conseil. They do home visits in the vicinity. We went to see one of their client a handicapped young adult who lives with her grandmother. While at their place, a mother came to fill out a prescription for her child. We dropped by the National school and the presbyterial school. We interviewed them Sr. Iliana has four years in Haiti and Sr. Halena a few months. The latter worked in Cite Soleil before being reassigned here. They are both nurses. One of the sisters, Angela, was absent because of a death in the family. They told us that they would be travelling to Port-au-Prince while I would be at the Daughter’s House in Tabarre. They had given us breakfast when we had arrived and now as it was noon they offered us lunch and we ate together. We had decided that we would try to get to the main road as this is very difficult to drive here and more so in the dark. We left their place at 12:55 and started walking until we reached Twouin around 4:30 pm where we met Dr. Brea who came to see us from FONDWA where she works. We spent some time with her then Carlo and I decided we would take a motto to get to Carefour Dufort then continue to the National Highway. Danielle and her brother had not yet been picked up in Port-au-Prince. To reach us at this location, it would take an additional hour and half. The motor driver was very courteous and gentle. He understood that it was my first-time riding and my fears mostly without helmet and any other protection. He allowed me to hold him tight and Carlo sat behind me. I was so glad we made it down the hills facing big trucks on this narrow tortuous road. It had started to drizzle, I prayed it would not rain to make the road slippery.
On the national road on the side of the street to go in the direction to Anse-a-Veau, we found a store with a little wall in front of it so we could seat to wait until we were picked up. A red cross driver stopped to ask if he could give us a ride but he was going to Miragoane. We thanked him. While we were standing there, daylight was fading. A man dressed with the heavy peasant clothing, a little out of sort, with a machete in his hand approached us. He tried to shake hands with Carlo who gave him a fist bump, then he banged his forehead with Carlo’s head. He came to me embraced my head on the left cheek, then the right, then the left again. He mumbled something trying to hold my hand. I said calmly to him: “Thank you, brother”. As if he knew me and was giving me a friendship accolade. He looked at me. He backed off and walked away. I had no fear. I did not show any emotions of surprise or questioned his coming close to me. Did he mean me harm? Was he giving me a blessing? In that moment, we were two creatures of God. Whatever the intent of this encounter, only our Maker knows.
It was getting dark and we had no idea when the car would pick us up. My friends, Babette and Therese, were getting worried for us. We had been there since 5:15 pm, the car finally arrived at around 9 pm. I had to control myself not to say too much. The car was filled with items on the top and in the back. Sr. Mirlande was in the front where she squeezed for me to enter. Danielle, Carlo, and her brother Philip were in the back seat. We had a grueling day. We finally arrived at the house at 11:30 pm. The dogs were loose and the front gate was locked. Thank goodness, I had Sr. Mirlene’s number on my phone. We called her to have the guardian, put away the dogs and open the gate for us. It was so late I could not call my friends to tell them I had finally made it to the house. I ate something quickly, before going to take a shower. I felt so dirty and tired after walking for so long and waiting to be picked up.
Danielle came a few minutes later to share the room with me as her brother would be staying with Carlo in her old room. She was ready to sleep. I finished reading my prayers for the night before turning off the lamp.
I gave praise to the Triune God for this eventful day.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
After such a tiring day yesterday, I woke up around 4 am coughing. Danielle was concerned. She thought it was because of the fan. I turned it toward her and tried to fall back to sleep. I finally woke up a 6 am. I prepared my bag for travelling then after getting dressed, I crossed over to get coffee and pray quietly. At 8 am, the others came in the dining room. We had breakfast and by 8:30 we drove on the road to Baradere through Petit Troup. We got there at 10:30 am. We went to Philip’s house, Danielle’s brother, where we got some coffee and pineapple.
Then we went through the town beginning with Ecole Jean Paul II ran by the Little Sisters of St.Therese (PSST). Sr. Jacqueline Louissaint founded the school in October 1971, she began working in August 2015 with 350 students in the school. They also work with the parishioners of the chapel adjacent to their building, St. Michel Archange de Laurent.
At the congregationalist high school founded in Oct 1999, College St Jean Baptiste, they were playing a soccer match. The director of the school, Fr. Jean Philippe Saint-Aubin, was there to cheer the teams playing, we learned that he is also the pastor of the parish St. Pierre on the square.
We met the nurse in charge of l’Hopital des Baraderes a Laurent, Sr. Marie Judith Prochete, who belongs to the congregation of the PSST. At the vocation school, Fr. John Maxwell another PSST, Sr. Denia Terazelien, is the principal. She supervises 28 students in the process of two years to learn to sew, cook, bake, crochet, floral art, and computer literacy.
We took pictures of several places such as Ecole National des Baraderes; Temple Adventiste du 7eme jour and school; Croix Rouge Haititenne Bureau Comite Local des Barraderes;
Police National Commissariat
At Lycée St. Pierre des Barradere, we saw La Douceur Wilson training a group of young men and women to march and chant in preparation of the May 18 flag day celebration. We visited the
Jarden des Adonis next to the river and met Mr. Dupner Clement, alias Franky who manages the bungalows, gardening of fruit trees, composting and other environmental issues for the town.
We travelled after lunch to Fond Tortue to meet Fr. Osias Dominique, pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungry Church with seven chapels and a school.
When we got back to the house we interviewed Philippe Belizaire, our host, about the Bon Berger guildive enterprise, he is running in memory of his father and family, Gustave Kersaint.
For supper, Philip gave us chocolate and tea, I had a few spoons of confiture chadèk with bread. I retired to the room early. After prayer, I tried to sleep. The bed was squeaking every time I turned. I was afraid to bother Danielle sleeping in the room we shared on the other bed. I suffered a cramped leg, I had to get up in the middle of the night and stand to alleviate the pain.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
As soon as I saw daylight, I moved and woke up Danielle. We talked for a few minutes. While, I fixed my bag to return to Anse-a-Veau. I showered and went to the dining room area to pray and wait for everyone else to get up. We got ready to drive to downtown next to the dock area. Then we walked to reach the canoe alongside the water. Billy, the conductor, talked to us a little and explained the different sites around the ocean and how to navigate with the tree trunks and sand that has stilted the ocean.
At Grand Boucan, we visited the presbyterial school, the church center, the bakery, the generator contributed by a town benefactor who according to the people was arrested and in an American jail. The pastor of Notre Dame Marie Auxiliatrice, Fr. Jean Eric. who had gone to Baradere to see a doctor was not feeling well when he landed. However, he came out to talk to us. When we approached the commissariat, there were two military men. One of them said he was in charge but he did not give us his name. He had us register our names in his books. He showed us the problems with the facility: lack of water, electricity, and space for the prisoners. We took some pictures. Not talking to us or giving his name nor taking pictures, I could understand it here because he might be afraid of retaliation from his superiors but for the other professionals we encounted, I don’t.
We stopped by a small school house/church and interestingly the woman, Mrs. Emilienne, who welcomed us is a deacon of the Ecole Evangelique de la Prophesie de Nipppes. She was so proud to tell us there is a council of 12 that governs with the pastor, Jonas Saintus.
Philippe was a great host, he had a goat killed for dinner. He also had sweet potatoes, plaintain, rice and beans and salad.
At the Centre de Sante de Grand Boucan, we talked to Vivianne Clairveau, chief nurse who explained how difficult it is for some patients to come to the center to get the service and they don’t have the means to go to them. They would need a boat as an ambulance.
Again, the road to return from Baradere to Anse-a-Veau was very rocky and twice the car swayed sideways. We wanted to go to Plaisance du Sud to visit St. Catherine de Sienne whose pastor is Emmanuel Delisca. In the conditions we saw the church, I did not realize right away that Matthew’s hurricane happened more than a year ago. As we were leaving, we saw across the street the Foundation Leopol Luc Guillaume and we asked to talk to the director, Guillaume Jocelyn. It was so striking to see the difference in appearance between these two places. The children playing tennis, the different busts of Leopol Guillaume strategically placed on the ground in comparison to the decrepit school and broken-down church structure across the street. They both call themselves Christians. In that situation would I have asked and the other would I have shared? We think of the things that separate us rather than the person of Jesus that unites us and His prayer for unity (John 17). Maybe both should reread 2 Corinthians 8.
We climbed close to very high cliffs. When we passed Arnaud going toward Brossard, the road recently leveled was wet and muddy. The car swooshed and slid. When we got in the town of Anse-a-Veau, the driver gave an ode to God. We, the passengers, were not the only ones who were scared at different parts on the journey.
We quickly got something to eat and I crossed over to my room. I didn’t take too long to fall asleep.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
The dog was active during the night. I wish I could have had a camera to watch what this dog was up to. It knocked itself several times on the room door. To keep my mind occupied, I prayed for the family and the project. At 6 am, I got out of bed and fixed the suitcase by wrapping each bottle and jar in clothes so they would not break during the travel. I prepared envelopes for each personnel and those who had made request for assistance. [Claudette’s graduation; Witterson, Mother’s Day in Petit Trou de Nippes; confirmation of mother and child in Cathedral]
The students at St. Joseph Travailleur had their May 18 celebration today as tomorrow school will be closed. I went next door to find out if Msgr. Merosne would be able to do the interview with us today. He had just arrived from Port-au-Prince and was resting. As I was going downtown, I saw Mr. B. He drove us to the mayor’s office, he was not there. We went to his house, we were told he was in Port-au-Prince. He later called me and said he would let me know as soon as he gets in town. I updated the notes about the trip with Danielle.
After lunch we went to the rectory to talk to Msgr. Merosne as the pastor of the Cathedral. When the interview was completed, we went downtown to talk to an entrepreneur, Wilkenson Degrammond, an Ansevelais businessman owner of Sky Restaurant which is located in the periphery of the square. We finally visited Mr. Monde’s yard which has a view on the ocean and many different types of fruit trees. We saw Jackson Morisseau and Mr. Marius, both involved in the RENESANSAVO project in 2014. We went back to the house to back up all the pictures and videos and put them on the external drive. In late afternoon, we stopped at the Saline to see the group of youngsters play a soccer match. Anse-a-Veau was playing against Petit Trou. The Ansea-a-veau town won 2-1 and the crowd went wild with joy (mostly the girls).
At 8:30 pm, I turned in to complete the packages for the personnel with their envelopes. I called home.
Friday, May 18, 2018
Woke up finally at 10 to 6 am after a night of hearing voices, doors opening and closing, dogs running around and barking.
I prayed in my room dressed and went to the main house by 7:45 am. The sisters were there. I had coffee and breakfast. I gave some of the personnel their bags, the others will be given by Sr. Flora in my name.
Danielle and I went to the church for the 8:30 mass. The officials came in the church at 9 am and we still waited for mass to begin. It started at 9:28 am. It seemed they were waiting because the bishop came to celebrate this “Te Deum”. His homily was very lengthy. Finally, he used Kreyòl. In all the readings and prayers, they had only use French. I thought this country, Haiti, was bilingual with 90% understanding kreyòl. Everything including announcements ended at 11:30 am. I hurried after mass to catch up with the mayor, Jean Marie Fouche, and the members of his administration to talk to us. We went to the house got some refreshments before going to the club for the conference. I made sure to go to the rectory to give Msgr. Merosne the funds for the confirmation candidates while he was available.
At the club, we took pictures and recorded the conference done by Ms. Manigat, former candidate for president, addressing the youth of Anse-a-Veau for about 2 hours. After her talk, I asked if she wanted to give an interview specifically for the Boten as a native of Miragoane. She seemed reluctant but I think she was tired and had to go to another event. As we were leaving, we saw Ketia, a former Renesansavo participant. She was coming to remove the decoration she had done in the room. We took an appointment for later. While we were having lunch, Msgr. Almonacy came to collect some of the pictures we had done for the churches, chapel, and the diocesan offices. After he left, we went to Ketia’s house to see her school, Institut Mixte des Etoiles. However, the house was under construction. I told her I had brought some gifts for her but given them away as she did not answer her phone and did not show up for the scheduled meeting. We went to Jacky’s restaurant and bar downtown as he has increased his business to include a hotel section beside the restaurant and meeting place (hall). After we interviewed Jacky the owner of Jacky’s Hotel-Bar and Restaurant, Mrs. Mirlande Hyppolite Manigat came out of her room. She finally agreed to talk to us as she is a native of Miragoane. This is the last one we did wrapping up our work sessions.
At the house, we finished the documentation before I completed packing. Talked to Natalie, prayed and turnrd off the light.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
The dogs started making noise around 3 am. I dozed on and off waiting for the time to get ready and complete packing. I went for coffee and prayer at the main house court yard. My favorite place. The sisters came around 7:45 helping me with the suitcases to the front yard. Some children were also gathering getting ready for an outing with Sr. Mirlene. Carlo, Danielle and I loaded the car and we left Anse-a-Veau at 8:15 am. Mr. B. stopped in the marche of Petite Riviere to buy some bananas. We stopped again at the Dous Macos (tricoclor fudge) house, then we continued on to Port-au-Prince. We slowed down the car at one point in order to give Carlo the chance to take a picture of cows being carried to the slaughter house. We discussed how other cultures treat the animals even though they are going to the butchery.
We were caught in traffic of cars, busses, and motorcycle weaving left, right, for hours. We dropped Danielle and Carlo after stopping by Alix’s house, a former childhood classmate, who is on the way to their place. He was happy to meet them and I was glad to have said hello. We tried to find Matthew 25 guest house located at Delma 33 but traffic was horrendous. I ask the driver to just drop me at my original destination because he was getting a little antsy. The Daughters of Charity were just going to go for lunch. After lunch, I sat on the gallery by the chapel. I realize I have special spots where I feel comfortable. I felt so dizzy, I mentioned it to sr. Natalie she suggested I go lie down after wetting by face with some cool water. The rest did me good. At 5:25 I went to seat by the chapel. I met two new sisters I had not seen before. We talked to Sr. Perpetue in Gonaive to send a thank you note for the money she had received from the Ladies of Charity recently. Sr. Martha and I talked for a while before I returned to my room. I called Pierre before going to sleep telling him where I was.
I could not sleep, so I started the novel I had brought to read on the plane.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
No dogs to wake me up. Thank God! The room with attached bathroom is spacious and comfortable. The lights were flickering. I turned them off and had to use my flashlight to read. I woke up at 5:30 am before the alarm. Daylight was filtering through the bedroom and bathroom windows. By 7:10 am, I was ready. I went to the main house to get some coffee. Breakfast was already laid out by the sister in charge for the day. Two of the sisters came and we crossed the boulevard of Carefour Fleurio to the Salesian Church, Our Lady of Miraculous Medal. I sat in the yard under a big tree. Here they started on time 7:35 for a 7:30 mass after the choir had practice a few refrains with the parishioners. The homily was rather long (25+ minutes). The priest tied the 1st reading and 2nd reading to instruct on our collective responsibility to not be afraid to do the right thing whatever the circumstances. To avoid the fears that paralyze us or create mistrust of one another. To forgive those who hurt us (but not to become door mats) in the spirit of building the body, the community right here on earth. They had 2 collections: one for the church and the other for the construction of the new church. He also appealed for the radio ‘Telesoley’. After mass I saw Sister Halina and Iliana who had come back from the funeral and where getting ready to go to Meyer.
A few girls came and one was consistently snapping selfies after selfies. They belong to the Marian group (JMV)working with Sr. Katia. They are preparing a fair to sell their products to raise some money to be able to travel possibly to meet the pope during youth world day in 2019.
At 2:30, Sonide came to talk about the education committee of the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative (VFHI) which is being organize for Lahoye. She is very enthusiastic and has a vision of what is requireded after doing some evaluation of the needs. She is planning to see how to improve the school’s quality, teacher training, and increase community participation and involvement for the area. Her endeavor will work in conjunction with the economic and agricultural development. She reminded me that we knew each other from a common friend, Vanessa, I had met in 2013. She introduced me to both her husband and her lovely daughter. I gave Sr. Ketia some money for the radio appeal and she will be giving it under her name. I am glad we had printed my boarding pass earlier in the day because it was late when I became free. Sr. Martha and I had a nice chat before I went to bed.
Monday, May 21, 2018
In the middle of the night, I could not breathe well. I felt so stuffed. I turned off the fan that is right over the bed. I prefer to be hot. I used some vicks and tried to fall back to sleep. The alarm clock woke me up at 5:30 am. It was still dark. I did not really want to put the lamp on. I waited a while. I was in very slow motion to brush my teeth, shower, and get dressed. I arrived at the chapel at 6:15 am. The mass had started, they were already at the offertory. I stayed outside on the gallery and watch as the daughters and the school children walked to get communion. At the end of mass, a girl walking out gave her back to the altar and tabernacle facing the outside door made the sign of the cross. I called her back and explained why we genuflect and do the sign of the cross facing the sanctuary. She seemed to be in a world of her own. I wanted to give myself a kick in the shin for noticing and saying something.
We went to breakfast and I prepared a sandwich for lunch as well. Then I borrowed a scale to weigh my suitcases. It was 22 kilo. So I decided to leave the larger suitcase and carried ‘only the smaller one that was about 20 kilo on the side and 19 standing up. I went back to the gallery to read and wait for the time for Sr. Martha to drive me to the airport. At 10:15 am, we left the daughter’s place. We had some traffic between carefour Rita and carefour departure. I checked the bag, it was 48.3 pounds. I realized I could have brought the bigger purple bag with me. Then I went through security. The agent wanted to see the make-up bag that was in the carry-on. I went by the Rhum Barbancourt stall, my friend was not there. I was told today was her day off.
I went directly to the jet blue security and lounge. That was a mistake because there is no bath room connected to that area. I ate my sandwich while waiting for departure. The plane was on time for boarding and departure. In flight, I was unable to get the movies to work. The stewardess moved me to enable me to see a movie. On the same row I was placed there was a doctor who works at l’Ile a Vache, we exchanged information.
In NY, everyone coming from Haiti with American passport or not had to go through the baggage screening—purses, carry on, and all suitcases.
I was not questioned for any of the items bought from the PFST and sisters. When I got home, I noticed my suitcase had been checked but there was no TSA slip this time. I had to walk all over the airport to find the yellow cabs. I really don’t like where the airport administration has the taxis’ stationed now.
When I got home my husband was waiting for me. I thank God for being home safe and sound as I had left 21 days before. I have seen and experienced different situations which made me more appreciative of my own personal life. Now I am entering the second phase of this project to write, produce all the videos, and create the website for the Boten. Praying that I will find the right people to bring it to fruition.
Responses received by email:
July 9 at 9:37 pm
Wow, wow, wow, Marika! The diaries of your recent trip to Haiti are such delightful reading. They made me salivate and wish I was there. Such intricate details masterfully described in fact put me right above your shoulders enjoying every minute of it. Thank you.
Jul 10 at 12:20 PM
Enjoyed “traveling” with you on your journey. The hyperlinks make for easier reading. Fabulous work!
July 11 at 6:01 PM
Thank you, Marie, Your beautiful pages on Haiti help me to relive some pages of my own history. I am a “nippoise” from Miragoane, and I had the privilege to visit all the places that you are describing there. May the Lord bless you and keep you safe on those wonderful journeys. Thank you again for what you are doing and planning to do. I wish one day, I can accompany you.