Monday, July 27, 2015
We didn’t have a working day session as to give the teachers, participant, and personnel a break for having worked all week-end. Sr. Flora, the teachers, and the three participants in the house and I decided to go to St. Yves. Many of them had not visited that area and the waterfall before.
The driver brought us all the way to the church steps by the market stands. Then we followed the path to the mountain to the top of the fall. At times, the path was very narrow or we had to jump over some small pools of water. First, we saw the round side of the fall. No locals wanted to go near. They said it is for the ‘service’. That there is a pink fish in the area watching all the time. Then we continued to the higher fall ending in a small pool. The three young men, Carlo, and I continued up the mountain to locate the source of the water. It was quite treacherous and steep. We reached the top were the nap of water lies. Many ‘lessivyè’ were doing laundry. The men continued toward the area were the water is captured for distribution to town. I met a group of about ten young girls and boys studying under a tree. I asked what they were learning. They answered that this group was discussing a problem in the area of teen pregnancy and what it takes to prevent it. I commended them for addressing this issue. I asked if the young men were also taught about the need to respect women and not use the Haitian proverb-Kòk la gen tout dwa se ti poulèt ki pou pran prekosyon. After asking me where I was from, I told them I was doing an empowering community development project through solidarity and hospitality in Anse-a-Veau. The purpose is to help young people change their attitude and become agents of change and advocate for equality in a just society.
The three young kids we had as guides – Evans, Lines, Michael came back down the mountain with us. We tipped them close to their homes to prevent others stealing from them. We had a good time, taking massages under the waterfall. Sr. Flora enjoyed the outing as she doesn’t have the opportunity during the academic school year. We had lunch at the house when we got back. Mr. Labissiere came to see Sr. Flora to discuss some financial matters. Later at 9:30 pm he came again to have some papers signed. I was so drowsy, I went to bed. I was too tired to write or do anything else.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Went to mass, Fr. Enel was the celebrant. After breakfast, I went to EPSA. I made sure everything was in order as we were off yesterday. I had to change the bottle of water on the cooler, added cups, ensured that the toilet had tissue paper and the water bin to wash hands was filled. I visited the lunch room and the kitchen to make sure we would be ready for lunch later. The speaker was going to be in at 9:30 am. We finished or routines and practiced the songs. Many participants did not show up. That was a shame that they would not be there to listen to Mr. Chenet Jean-Baptiste recommended to us by Fr. William Smarth. He was here to talk about the history of the country that affects our way of thinking and acting.
Carlo, who was part of the audience shared his take on what he heard from the presentation. “Mr. Jean-Baptiste went on to explain some of the negative proverbs such as: Ayiti se tè glisé, a way of seeing ourselves that is a problem that plagues the country since after the proclamation of its independence from 1804 and until 1915. Restless period for definitive power was an unrealistic achievement because of the constant insurgencies emerging from the northern and the southern section of the country, accentuated with the perpetuation and ineptitude of bad rulers. Finally the role and the influence of foreign countries interfering in our government invalidated all the constitutions. The people coming from slavery to freedom through fighting, struggling to remain free did not really have a chance to build a nation.
Mr. Jean Baptiste a professor of fòmasyon sosyal added that working with the youth should be of paramount importance if we want to see a difference in the future of the country. Changes are possible he believes if the youth understand the past. In a nutshell, he believes that the future is in their hands, because they are the ‘poto mitan’ of a certain future. A call to unity amongst the youth should be our hope.” A quote we should revisit: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
We had lunch and continued with instruction as well as questions and answers. I was so glad we had a chance to get Fr. William Smarth’s 2 volume “Histoire de l’Eglise Catholique d’Haiti 1492-2003”. I gave one set of his books to the library of EPSA for the benefit of the students. Another set was purchased by Danielle. I will bring one set back to the States.
When we got to the Sisters, we sat on the porch enjoying the breeze from the mango trees. We had supper and enjoyed the conversation around the table about our children, things we were successful with or what gave us some challenges. In my quarters, while checking my email, Pierre Skyped. I talked to Natalie as well. I was so glad to connect with home for these few minutes.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Woke up to go to mass but the church was closed. That is when I noticed the bells had not rung. Unlike in the US, if the mass is at 8:30 am it always is at 8:30 regardless of who will come to celebrate if the pastor is not in the parish. After my prayers and breakfast at 7:30 am, I left for the University. There were only 20 participants today. I told them how disappointed I was with the attendance and lateness. Every day I was receiving a note to excuse an absence, a lateness, or leaving early. I reviewed the policies written in the manual and the agreement they had signed. Someone with three absences or more would not receive the certificate at the end of the session and will not be paid for the third absence. However, I conceded that I would look at each case individually mostly if the absence was related to a community matter. Example, I gave a participant who had to attend a 3-day Red Cross recertification training, an assignment to do. He had to paint the round-about at the entrance of town on his own time to support the work of his team. He did it willingly. I will not penalize him in any way because he is always on time otherwise and ready to be of service in finding needed tools for the different groups.
Each group gave a report of what they had accomplished during the festival and what they could improve next time. Then Kettly Samuel started her workshop on effective leadership. After lunch, we resumed on the subject until 2 pm. Afterwards, we all cleaned-up and set up. We then went back to the Sisters. Sr. Flora had bought some coconuts for me. They put the water in a pot in the freezer to keep it cool. Yey! Heaven!
We took some refreshments and went for a walk to “L’Etang.” We walked about half an hour and passed the entrance leading to the body of water. The road being constructed was elevated and completely overlooked the entrance path to l’Etang. The road construction company, Vorbes, knows about the existence of this pathway as a villager told us. The company had a confrontation with the inhabitants about their use of the water for the construction. They felt using the diminishing water would affect the fish and the water supply that is a drinking hole for the animals of the area. I believe there is no one defending the people on this issue. Is it a way to make the people pay for their opposition to the use of the water? That would be a pity. A Haitian company acting in such a despicable manner, I don’t want to believe it. I will bring this issue to the participants for them to follow up on this subject. When we returned to the house we really had to have our feet washed. We were so dusty.
We had supper and good conversation at the table. Sr. Myriam was there as she came to pack up as she is leaving Anse-a-Veau for another assignment in Port-a-Prince (Cabaret). Sr. Marie of next door called me back in response to my visit earlier at the rectory. I wanted to share some materials I had for her use. I had her visit my quarters and reminded her that I had proposed for her to do this work for her space. We need a welcome center in Anse-a-Veau if we want volunteers to come and give us a hand. I can’t stress enough the need of good hospitality.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
The bells from the church did not ring. I got ready anyway. The doors of the church were closed. I stayed on the porch and prayed. I miss hearing the word of God proclaimed and sharing in the Body of Christ. At 7:15 I went for breakfast before going to EPSA. I have to start the clean-up process. The uniforms must be given to be washed and stored. An inventory of things used and other must be done. We have to begin planning how storage of materials will be done and what should be given away.
There were again several absences. A few were studying during the session for their afternoon exam at the university. This overlap of activities is not healthy for all the participants in the program and shows that they may not be prepared. These types of issues must be addressed if there are future programs. The work session for today consisted of ‘mapping’ the town. I asked the teams to talk among themselves to determine which area they would cover. A few took the liberty to pursue their own agenda. However, at reporting time the representatives of the five teams presented and explained their work. Group 3 did a really detailed map. Group 2 wrote a legend. I questioned the way they did not include “the Calvary” in their map. The representative answered they did include the monument as Saint Inri as it is named (I heard Enri). I argued that there were no monuments dedicated to any saint in that area of town. I described the cavalry as the newly renovated monument with stairs and a crucifix inside a little chamber with an iron gate. The representative insisted that I was mistaken and that place is dedicated to a saint. It was time for lunch, I relented. After lunch, I sat right beneath the design and my eyes fell on the “INRI” on top of the cross. I realized they did not know the inscription represented the Latin initials of the title Pontius Pilate had written on top of the cross in three languages – Hebrew, Greek, and Latin meaning: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” [John 19:19]. Lycée and University students not knowing anything about such a historical and prominent monument in their own town. This again denotes a lack of functional literacy of many of the participants.
Kettly continued with her presentation of leadership. At the end of the session, she had the participants do a mock election. She chose candidates for President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Ballots were distributed, votes were tallied.
When we got to the house, we leisurely stayed on the porch to enjoy the breeze from the mango trees then we had supper all together to thank Carlo, Danielle, and Kettly for their presence in Anse-a-Veau. They told us how grateful they were for the time spent with us. They made a donation to help defray some of the expenses incurred on their behalf in matter of food and personnel. This was unexpected but very generous of them. I really appreciated the gesture from our guests. This will help us to pay for some needed equipment in the house such as an oven, fan, and freezer and ‘a chateau d’eau’ for EPSA beside walling the storage area, and installing an iron door to secure the generator.
Friday, July 31, 2015
No bells. I guess no mass. I got ready. No one was awake not even the kitchen staff. I sat on the porch, prayed and waited for coffee. Later went in for breakfast – akasan, egg, and avocado.
I had finally received the desk yesterday after three weeks of waiting. I made sure to set it up in the classroom. Today the bricklayer came to install the iron door and wall the door space to the storage area. He needed money for cement. The participants will complete the mapping of town and by small group to use the computer room for introductory lessons by Carlo, assisted by Antonio, Kettly and Blaise. After lunch, we did English vocabulary through mapping and directions.
Made payroll and received notes from the two nursing students who will not be returning for the last week. They have to start their nursing internship. Another conflict. I paid them for the full three weeks they had worked. Danielle, Kettly, Carlo said their good-byes too to the participants although we ran out of time as many students had to go do their exam after 2 pm.
The wall and the door installation were completed. I paid Mckenson the labor charge without bargaining because he had come in early as requested and completed the work well within the day. He had to hire a helper to finish the job in the framework I wanted
Danielle, Kettly, and Carlo did not leave as planned because the driver had some issues to solve. They stayed one more night, the boys were happy. They asked if they could join us for our trip tomorrow. Sister’s car could not accommodate that many passengers. Their car would not be available as early as we wished to leave in the am. Again it was a disappointment that they would not be able to be without in this outing.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
I woke up before the alarm set on for 5 am. Sr. Flora, the young men, the house personnel would be going with us to Ile à Vache for the day. It would be a day to thank them for their services. They only did coffee for this morning. Those who were hungry ate peanut butter and bread before leaving. Sr. Flora ordered food for us in Les Cayes. We stopped at the Salesian’s mission there to pick up Sr. Marie Merci who would join us on the boat. We boarded a motored “kannòt” to bring us to l’Ile a Vache about 30 minutes away. We landed a Kay Kòk. We walked to Morgan – visited the outside premises pass the pool to the beach. We saw the horses, the dining area, etc. Sr. Marie Mercy took another deep in the ocean there. They all enjoyed the ocean except for one who is an Adventist who refuse to participate in some activities because it was the Sabbath. We had a nice welcome by Mr. Dume who came along with us and brought us to his house on the island where we met his wife Santana and land manager Abron. They provided us with coconuts and mangoes. We shared our food and cake with the whole family (besides the 12 of us, husband, wife, and three children). When we returned we packed some of the food for tonight for the staff. I would be doing the cooking for them as it was there day off. Technology is good but could be scary as well. The boat ‘captain’ stop the motor twice to answer his cell phone while the water seems to be high and choppy swaying the 15 seater wooden boat.
Finally, we left Les Cayes at 5:30 pm. Twice, we met some convoy of candidates on the way. All in all, I am glad I was able to make this day happen for the personnel and all those who helped in the program.
When I got to the house, I quickly sautéd some onions and added some sardines. We ate in paper plates so that no one would have to do dishes tonight. Thank you Lord for a successful day!
Sunday, August 2, 2015
I stayed late in bed. I heard Blaise arguing with Antonio that finally made me get out of bed at 7 am. Soon after getting ready, I heard the bell for breakfast. The church bells did not ring. But I got ready once and for all for church. I was pleasantly surprised while organizing some things on the dresser to notice that Danielle had left the “Off” mosquito repellent for me. How thoughtful!
Blaise left to go to Baradere to organize and plan a meeting. Valescot and Antonio were relaxing. At mass, Fr. Enel thanked CORA and the Renesansavo for their presence and work in the town. After mass, we talked a little with Mrs. Leblanc and Sr. Flora. In the afternoon, I worked on doing the presentation on behavioral styles. I did some clean up in the room as well.
Fr. Enel came to visit. While we were talking on the porch, Sr. Flora and I heard an explosion like noise coming from inside the house. The newly bought oven door busted into pieces. It was not on. Thank God no one got hurt. We picked up the broken pieces.
When I went back to my quarters, I saw ants crawling in different parts of the room. I tried to sweep the colonies away and put them in the tub. There was no water coming from the faucet. I did not want to use the little reserve in the bucket. I looked outside it was pitched black no one to ask for water. I pour the bottle of peroxide water on them. I thought they would not climb on the bed. I went to bed but could not fall asleep.