Haiti Part 3

gardenbug(Canada zone 5)November 11, 2010

Tim's Blog

Thu, November 11, 2010

Day 11 .. Restavec Roundabout

I will never complain about traffic in the States again. Yesterday was one standstill spot after another as I toured five schools with Djougine from Restavec Freedom. This wonderful group works with very poor children who have been given to wealthier Haitian families, where they are essentially treated as slaves without education, free time, or much food.

First, along the infamous traffic on Rue Frere to the Restavec headquarters...

Then across to Route 9 for a visit to a primary school with many Restavec children that Restavec Freedom has convinced families to allow to attend school.

I presented the laptop and Waveplace program to the school director there. He seemed very enthusiastic and grateful. I suspect this will be one of our schools. We then went down the road to a secondary school where more Restavec children are taught. We are hoping to train these older children as mentors, so they may work with the younger children.

We headed down Route 9 into Cite Soleil to visit a third school which was inside a gated complex beside a very large church. Djougine told me that an afterschool program is held here on weekdays which would be perfect for our efforts.

After a stop for lunch (which like everything else that day was a very long wait), we headed through downtown Port-au-Prince to Carrefour to Visit Institution Mixte La Providence, a school associated with our coordinator's boyfriend's family. Due to the traffic we were too late to meet with the school's director, though we did speak with the afterschool director and demonstrated the laptop to several children.

Our last stop was a women's adult literacy center, where we delivered a chalkboard from Restavec Freedom. Here as every other school I've visited, Haitians appeared very serious about education and the opportunities it represents.

After yet another grueling drive across Port-au-Prince, I dropped of Djougine and made my way up Rue Frere through more standstill traffic, to finally collapse on the bed once again. I did get to video chat with Paula and Isabel,(Tim's daughters) which was a big hit with Daniel, John's son who is the same age.

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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

This week Adam is building a school near the airport with Wadson, the kite flying psychotherapist... Read about him here.

Here is a link that might be useful: back in April...

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:41PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Fri, November 12, 2010
Day12 .. Big Thursday

Started down the hill yesterday for my meet with JP/HRO, the Sean Penn Camp, with calls aplenty trying to coordinate the day. Note to self ... don't talk on a cell phone while you're navigating through the Petìtionville market during rush hour. Found my way to the Petionville Golf Club, which has been turned into a camp, and had a great meeting with Lisa and Shannon from JP/HRO. Things look good for a December pilot.

Peter from Haiti Partners joined me at the club, then we drove up and up and up to Save the Children for a meet with three women, one of them just in from Washington DC. Initially, they seemed uninterested, as their focus is very much disaster recovery, but then we started talking about restavek children and after-school programs and they seemed much more receptive.

After Save, we drove to the Amsai school again to pick up supplies to deliver and I ran into Sara from Amurt, who's becoming my new best friend. She showed me the workshop space upstairs and we agreed that it would be an ideal location for our December workshop, with Amurt as a much stronger partner than expected. I also got to spend more time with the kids, which as always was a highlight.

We picked up Hannah and drove to the UN "logcamp" where many NGOs were clustered in little trailer camps. We meet with a gracious and helpful woman from the education section of Unicef who offered to set up a presentation to a group of partner NGOs, where we could tell them of our approach and ask for the help and guidance in conducting future pilots and developing courseware.

Back at home, I met John's brother and his friends, and then we all went out after 11pm to the Hotel Olaffson to watch RAM, an incredible band. I danced until I was pretty much soaked and we finally returned home after 2am.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 10:01AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Sat, November 13, 2010
D13 .. 18 Meets, 20 Schools
Tim's blog

As I type this, I'm sitting on a plane at Miami Airport, waiting to fly north and home. Last night I had my first hot shower in a while, my first flush toilet, my first guiltless power-up for all my devices.

Yesterday started with goodbyes at John's house. John, Merline, Layla, Daniel, and Alex were truly a home away from home these past eight days. Saying goodbye was bittersweet, with promises to soon return.

I then met Hannah for a meet with Valerie of World Vision, which went very well. There is a strong possibiity for a year long grant to help three schools in Port au Prince that focus on differently abled children, which would be wonderful.

We then drove to the Amsai school once again, making this my third visit in the last week. The children have grown to recogize me (and my laptop). They crowded around and held my hand. One little girl was using the Paint program and wrote "I love you", then handed it back to me with a smile.

Adam's Blue Tarp group toured the school with Sarita. We discussed the upcoming December workshop more with her, Hannah, and Darma. I had a good long time to simply sit in the space. It feels right. It feels like history.

Adam, Hannah, and I then went to lunch at the Visa Lodge, the site of our first Haiti workshop. We discussed numbers, and philosophy, and emotions. It was so good to spend time with Adam again, bringing our trip full circle. We drove to the airport and dropped off the rental and said goodbye.

In the airport, I met Richard A. Morse, the owner of the Hotel Olafson where I'd danced up a storm the night before to his band. Apparently his mother has a school and he knows Jimmy Buffet. His cousin is Martelly, the rapper presidential candidate. Our talk was very interesting.

On the plane, I sat next to a man from Uruguay who worked at the IDB, which is one of the organizations we had hoped to meet, but never connected with. He gave me great insights and contacts for a future follow-up.

All in all, an amazing trip. I visited 20 schools and had 18 meetings in 12 days, which is almost double what we'd hoped. More than this, our upcoming pilots are planne with excellent partners and wonderful locations.

Ah, electronic devices need to be off. Take care, everyone.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:42AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I'm not sure of Adam's travel plans. I know he visits a friend in NYC on Sunday and returns to Boston on Monday. Where he is now is what I don't know. He often cuts things too close, so could miss his flight. ;)

We've concentrated a great deal on Haiti these past two weeks, but of course, OLPC deals with educating kids in many lands. The big journey will continue in other areas I'm sure.

Personally, this has been very touching for me. Not only does it remind me of my own Peace Corps days and travels in West Africa, but it fascinates me how children do sometimes follow in their parents' footsteps in many ways. I never would have guessed this with Adam. Certainly the technical part makes sense in this day and age, but educating little people is the surprise. I wonder why? He LOVES kids in a very wonderful way: a bit quiet at first, yet warm and he takes them very seriously and has much to offer. His work is a perfect fit.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:55AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Tim is home, and suffering from what used to be called Culture Shock. Here is his post from this morning:

Sun, November 14, 2010
D14 .. Cause for Complaint

I woke early in my airport hotel bed, then went looking for coffee. Two women were sleeping in chairs near the elevator on my floor, as were many people downstairs in the lobby adjoining the airport concourse. I later learned the airport had sold out, so these thirty or so people were making do with an uncomfortable night.

After a trip to Starbucks across the way, I settling in to a free lobby chair to drink coffee and play with my well-traveled XO. The women who were sleeping on my floor sat across from me. One of them said, "Did you steal that from a kid?" (her tone was light, not accusatory.) I went into the story of my two weeks, with both women asking questions in a "boy-did-I-have-a-rough-night" sort of way. They were pleasant, friendly, and interested. Clearly though, I was back in the States.

Like so many Americans, these women had no conceptual frame of reference for the conditions I had just come from. Just ninety minutes by air from where we sat, Haiti belies description. My words and photos fall short of simply sitting and watching as you drive through Port-au-Prince. The many tiny contrasts I experienced as I traveled home to Pennsylvania .. shiny surfaces, orderly rows of parked cars, garbage cans everywhere, running water, people waiting for you to turn .. these tiny unnoticed luxuries are arrayed in such a dizzying abundance that words fail.

As I waited on line in security, a situation developed where one line was shorter than the other. The TSA rep called several people from the back of my line to the front of the next. I stood silently while two people complained bitterly behind me. "It's just not fair, they should do this and that", etc, etc. So small a thing, an extra five minutes, to ruin your mood and those around you as well.


We Americans are selfish, entitled, crybabies whining that our food is cold when around us millions have nothing. If there's one thing I hope to hold from my recent trip to Haiti, it's this: Gratitude for the many, many, gifts we are each given. Each walk through the mall, each drive to work, each TV show, each meal, we are each bathed in indulgences of a kingly proportion.

Later, dining with my wonderful daughter Isabel at the Hotel Bethlehem while we waited for her mom to finish concert, I mentioned to our server that I had just returned from Haiti and was looking forward to my Hotel B Burger. She mentioned that she was a figure skater and had performed in Haiti with the Disney on Ice Tour. I'm pretty sure she mistook Haiti for another Caribbean island, but I still love the idea of Disney on Ice performing for the children of Haiti, providing Disney brings their own electricity to freeze the floor and light the hall. Most would roll their eyes at such a thought, but the truth is ... the children of Haiti would absolutely love the show. I can see them watch it now.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:19PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

A school in Port-au-Prince...and thoughts on the education system, the future.

Here is a link that might be useful: Haitian schools struggle

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:23PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Tim's blog
Mon, November 15, 2010
What We Learned in Haiti

Re-reading from the start of these posts, here's a quick summary of things I learned during the last trip.

* If you can speak French, you're fine on the Haiti mainland. It was absolutely no problem traveling with Adam translating. There were times when Adam translated for Michena and then Michena translated in Creole, but all in all, there's always someone around that can understand French.

* Bottled water is abundant. I never had to use my water purifier, which I am hoping to return to LL Bean for a full refund.

* Suits are unnecessary, laundry is easy, though hard to dry. Make sure you give your clothes a few days to dry, particularly if there's no sun. Be prepared for somewhat smelly clothes if you do laundry.

* Definitely buy a local cell phone at the airport These are cheap and plentiful and extremely useful while you're there. Don't think, just do it. Include US minutes too.

* Rent a 4x4 pickup (with $0 deductible insurance) and drive it yourself. If you can handle extremely bumpy roads, incessant pedestrian and motorcycle cutoffs, jumping into traffic, and changing flat tires, your best bet is to drive yourself. Don't go by yourself in the rough neighborhoods without a Creole speaker, preferably Haitian. Make sure you get home before dark.

* Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it! Never trust vegetables unless you know for certain that they were washed in purified water. The only time I got the runs was from a lunch buffet at the Visa Lodge where I had some salad.

* Always bring more USB drives than you need.

* Never be late to a new site visit. There might be a room full of Haitians waiting to sing to you.

* Always leave room in your schedule. New opportunities came up nearly every day, so having some flexibility in our schedule was a great help. We saw double the number of schools anticipated and almost double NGO meets.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:15PM
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"but educating little people is the surprise"

You are one proud Mother--you should be Marie. Isn't it nice that Adam is following in your and Ric's footsteps.

Maybe I missed it but could you please post an address for those of us who would like to send contribution so even more laptops can be purchased.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:47PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

When I began these threads, I had no idea where things would lead and if there would be enough information to even last 2 weeks.

Obviously there was more than enough. I have not shared much of what I have picked up on Google and elsewhere. But I think personal stories are often gripping, and so I suspected (correctly) that some of you would be interested in this journey.

And so today when Adam phoned to at last share some of his experiences with us, I mentioned missalice's question, namely what is the best way to offer help? His answer was not what I would have expected. First of all, he feels that people want to know where their donations are going and would like some sort of feedback,. He feels this is not going to be possible with places like OLPC and Waveplace. He also mentioned his great respect for Haiti Partners.org which will be setting up neighborhood education meetings in many areas with funding from AID.

But Adam's strongest suggestion was to actually send donations to the school which he expects to have the closest connection to and will be able to give updates on. This is the "Blue Tarp School", better known as College Mixte de L'experience. He has arranged to pay a teacher to send email from an internet cafe ($1) twice each week with updates. It is a very unusual school with no tuition fees. Used School uniforms were supplied from a school in Albany New York, mostly for 5-10 year olds. This gives the school a kind of respect in the community. Teachers need to be paid. There are 10 of them for about 100 children and Adam feels they can do a good job if they are willing to stay. The charisma of Wadson and a Nicaraguan friend have helped in this regard. He was able to donate 5 computers last week and train the students for 3 days in their use. He would love to provide more. The teachers are supposed to be paid $100 per month. This rarely happens, because money is also needed for electricity, books and other necessities. Right now, latrines are most urgent as there is only one very poor one for the entire school. A construction team is volunteering a great deal of time and assistance to the school and this is wonderful! Oddly enough, the charismatic owners of the school are illiterate.

Adam sees a situation here where assistance can produce immediate impact: salaries, regular staff meetings, mentors and parent involvement, computers and more. Classes are in the morning only as they cannot afford to feed the children, only provide potable water for them.

He offers you this address:
Adam Holt
PO Box 397280
Cambridge, MA

By the way, College Mixte de L'experience is situated nortwest of Port-au-Prince in the town of Marin.

And so, if you would be interested in helping him with a direct link to this particular school, he would accept any donations personally and be able to get the funds to College Mixte de L'experience, as well as report back on progress there. He is hoping to find a way to set up a blog soon to show what is happening there. I would help, but being in Canada adds to the confusion in collecting funds. This was not my purpose in any case.

Here is a link that might be useful: July, hoping for an update soon!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 5:15PM
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Jerri_OKC(z7 Ok)

Hi GB,

I'm so happy you shared this journey with us. Do you know if Adam is set up on PayPal? From what I understand it's not complicated. If he isn't I could send him some information on it. If not I'll figure something else out. :)



(Hi ya'll, if anyone remembers me!)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Jerri_OKC(z7 Ok)

I'm so happy Adam came up with a local source to donate to. It was just on the news here that one of our local charities paid their CEO over $177K. It's not a large charity by any means. It just goes to show that you never know where your money is going when you donate to an organization.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 6:23PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Sorry to have forgotten to post the addresses for these great organizations:

PayPal donations can in fact be sent to:


I apologize we are not yet an IRS-registered 501(c)(3)
non-profit, so tax receipts will not be possible until that time,

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 8:51PM
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I have really enjoyed this journey, GB. Thank you so much for sharing this experience.

I like the idea of seeing the school flourish.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 6:30AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Today I have received the minutes of the first school meeting between the school's head teacher and one of DS's personal friends and OLPC NYC/Port-au-Prince volunteer Samuel Darguin. A photo of Reginald was attached, symbolic of College Mixte de l'Experience building a permanent connection to the outside world, starting TODAY :).

Samuel & Reginald hit it off tremendously earlier this evening, and their Civic Empowerment facilitator/animator Daphinis Wilio should enter the loop with phone calls tomorrow:

Daphinis Wilio

He graduated in theology from the Royal Caribbean Institute. He is the pastor of a church and he has also worked as a teacher from 1998 through 2005. He works as a literacy teacher for the Secretariat of State and GTAF; he is also a WR and OS practitioner since 2002. He’s also provided WR and OS training to many groups, including BYA in Cite Soleil, Cabois teachers, Lutheran funded teacher training, Elementary and Middle School Students for RALE.

I'm hoping to share more progress Saturday night.

If anyone is interested in the progress of things, do email me and I will send updates privately. I think these threads on Idylls should soon draw to a close.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 8:23AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I really like this idea from PEI. See the link below. I've been searching for ideas where the College Mixte de l'Experience itself could raise funds. I struggle so much with the idea of asking for donations on my blog. (http://buildingaschool.org)
These are from notes to myself...

I would like to see a plan for raising funds coming from the school. I
> want to see a 2 way street, not just expectation of handouts. A plan, a
> budget! If the finances are transparent, teachers will be happier!
> Some ideas. (grabbing at straws)
> 1.Maybe creating stories answering the question WHO AM I? They could
> be printed into a book with photos to be sold and put into a starting
> library (and others as well). (Who we are changes from year to year, so
> this can go on forever!)
> 2. Selling and displaying children's art work. (This requires materials)
> 3. Learning songs to sing as a group for churches. Make a song book,
> illustrate it.

I would be more comfortable asking for assistance if I saw effort first stemming from the school and the parents in the community.

In the end, if I don't provide a way for people to help
(financially or otherwise, rich countries or poor) none of them will. I still struggle.

Here is a link that might be useful: One soccer ball for $10

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 2:51PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Here is the blog I have been working on. You can contact the Boston office from the top right of the site page with questions or donations. (contact@buildingaschool.org)

I think you might enjoy the sections on kite flying, computers and currencies.

Do subscribe to the blog and you will be notified when new postings are made.

Here is a link that might be useful: Buildingaschool

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 9:44PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I continue to be involved with Haiti, one year after. I'd like to share a bit today, the first year anniversary.

This site is fascinating to me! The photos are of the Petionville Tent City before and after the earthquake, as well as a year later. Click on the blue and white square in the center to view the images too. Fascinating! Also continue to see photos of other areas by clicking the items in the right hand bar.

There are other stories and photos here: http://buildingaschool.org

Here is a link that might be useful: Petionville Golf Course

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 12:05PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

A second post today. (Don't ignore the one above where you can view the site discussed here!)

Battle for Haiti

Last year, in the chaos of the earthquake that devastated Haiti,
thousands of the country's worst criminals seized the opportunity to
stage a mass escape from the National Penitentiary. One year later, the
gang leaders are reasserting control in the capital, threatening the
country's stability. With unique access to the police units trying to
hunt down the gangsters -- and revealing encounters with the gangsters
themselves -- FRONTLINE examines the uphill fight to rebuild Haiti in
the face of deep-rooted corruption and intimidation. The film also
offers intimate portraits of the fearful lives many Haitians are living,
as the central government and judicial system routinely fail to maintain
order. "Haiti is a nation that committed collective suicide some time
ago," the chief of the U.N. mission tells FRONTLINE. If the gangs are
not defeated, many now believe a new Haiti cannot be born.

Here is a link that might be useful: 9PM Tuesday

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 12:25PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I've been busy with the Haiti blog. There are very positive postings today, so I hope folks will take a look. See "transition"...and more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Transition

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 3:13PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Oh my...news around the world is sapping energy! Yet there IS good news to be found. This note in an OLPC computer box brought a tear...

I'm also very excited about the work done by EPHAS. (Every Person Has A Story) take a look over at the blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good news to be found...

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:55AM
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