Sr. Martha and I went to Marie Madeleine to visit first the school ‘Ecole Frederic Ozanam’ under the leadership of Marielle Dominique.
She has a three room school, a transitory or preparatory school to remediate the older students before they can be mainstreamed to regular school. I read ‘Kabrit Mawon’ for a class and had them orally formulate additional pages for the book.
The children from this school go to the Cantine of St. Catherine de Laboure located in the vicinity. This center mainly provides a meal and entertainment for the elderly. There are about fifty seniors who attend, and about 3 unable to come to the center who receive food at home. In that facility they provide medical care to children for three days and others for two days. Sr. Mathilde from Italy has been doing this assignment for 6 years. About 90 people show up on a daily basis to eat and chat with one another.
In the clinic, Sr. Marie Rose takes care of those coming for medical care. 100 individuals or more come for services.
We proceeded afterwards to Cite Soleil. I sang with the kids in the yard then we visited the facility with Sr. Monica de Juan, Sr. Servant, who has been in Haiti for the past three years.
The facility has 350 Kindergarteners, 750 elementary students, and 50 undernourished kids, plus 100 follow up cases. The center works with the mothers and teaches them sewing under the supervision of Sr. Milagros who has been doing this for 40 years.
The shop gets orders and sells the items—aprons, napkins, table cloth, cards done on material or banana leaves.
Sr. Amelia from Paraguay takes care of the school– St. Louise de Marillac & Marguerite Nau. The facility has a high rate of theft, and the children get practically no support from home– some parents are illiterate, some too busy surviving, and others may be ‘chimeres’ part of gangs. The community in this neighborhood does not understand the need to protect the institution that is providing service to their children. The individuals’ safety and survival override any other concern for tomorrow. The area is so dangerous even the MINUSTAH, I am told, refuses to enter these surroundings.
[Side note:] Speaking of the MINUSTAH, I wonder why that force of heavy armed men is still in Haiti. Whose interest are they defending? It does not seem that they are providing protection to the citizens of Haiti who are not involved in civil warfare. They are not there to help the people build anything, but spend money that could probably best serve the need of the poor people. For the number of years they’ve been in the country, have they even trained a new police force to take over when they leave? Is there a plan and date for their withdrawal?
Many students come to school to get that one hot meal. The Haitian $400 ($80 US) a year for tuition provides: food, clothes, books. The mission has about 42 employees.
While snapping pictures, a little girl told me: “Please take my picture to make me beautiful!” I answered: “You are already beautiful but I will take a picture to remind me of your beauty.” She smiled.
In the afternoon, Sr. Martha and I drove around the different compounds sponsored by Rick Frechette. We went inside St. Damien Hospital. The grounds there are well manicured and immaculate.
I had a quick meeting with the Director of the alphabetization classes, Jean Pierre Nau, who monitors The Rosalie Rendi and Vincent de Paul schools. There are 270 students. The classes are from beginning literacy to 6th grade. There are a total of 8 classes (2 Gr.1; 1 Gr. 2; 1 Gr.3; 1 Gr.4; 1 Gr. 5; 1 Gr. 6). These classes use the same facility as Jean Paul II but in the afternoon.
Had a meeting with the Dame de la Charity (AIC). Met: Rosmene St. Hilaire (sewing), Micheline Cadet (prof 2nd), Mireille Medor (prof 3), Nicole Philipo (treas.), Kerline Laguerre (vp), Marie Solange Cenatus Eugene, Natacha Delegue (prof. KGB). Group started since 1979. The group’s mentor is Sr. Clara Martin, and the priest assigned is Jean Marie Mangoneau. The group has about 30 members in Tomazeau. I introduced myself and each person did the same. I summarized the projects that the Ladies @ St. John’s take care of: We do follow the principles of the Vincentian family & we strive “to serve rather than be served in simplicity, humility, and charity.”