Haiti Part 2

gardenbug(Canada zone 5)November 5, 2010

Tim's Blog

Fri, November 05, 2010

D5 .. Mountains to Jacmel

Yesterday started with much discussion about the mountain road to Jacmel and whether estranger could drive it safely. After a while, Abelard offered to drive us, which made me feel much more comfortable, as he has driven the road many times. The hour long trip was one switchback after another, and another, and another, through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. In Haiti, there are truly dèyè mòn genyen mòn (beyond mountains there are mountains).

After some tricky moments at the highest elevation when we passed into a very thick cloud where I closed my eyes as we veered left and right near monumental precipices, we reached Jacmel and found the orphanage we were there to visit.

The meeting was quite good. The organization looks like it could be a solid parter in Jacmel, which is fortunate since this city has a large concentration of 2008 OLPC laptops. Our hope is to include teachers from the existing OLPC schools in with our training for this orphanage and possibly other schools.

Jacmel was once a resort town for diplomats and other well-to-do Haitians. The scenery and the beach are clearly beautiful, and the town is safe. I would recommend visiting here, providing you're up for the twisting road over the mountains. Michena, one of our mentors, became ill from the twists.

Though we were scheduled to drive to Mirebalais, we discovered that the schools across Haiti were closed because of the approaching storm. We decided to skip Mirebalais and briefly considered visiting the Williamson orphanage near Archaie, though were warned that it was not safe, as the hotel there was on the coast. After some worried discussions, we called John Engle who offered to give us a "port in the storm" from Hurricane Tomas in Petionville. The rain had already started as we drove there. It was clear that flooding would become a major problem in Léogâne and Carrefour. I was very glad to be east of the Léogâne river, and even gladder when we finally met John and his children at a restaurant near his home.

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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Tomas strengthens to hurricane status as it bears down on Haiti

Tomas has reached hurricane strength in the Caribbean as it heads toward earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds early Friday were near 130 kilometres an hour and the National Hurricane Center in Miami said some additional strengthening is expected. Dangerous storm surges are expected along the coast and possible flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

Here is a link that might be useful: weather status

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 2:07PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Again, Mirebalais and Petionville both appear on this map.

Here is a link that might be useful: map

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 2:31PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

By now the names of the towns are becoming quite familiar to me. Places where Tim and Adam have just visited are a mess. Places where garbage has collected for 10 months have not been cleaned up. How long can people living in mud continue to be patient and brave? There is violence in the recent past... The people are tired of mud and epidemics. Schools are a good diversion I hope.

Here is a link that might be useful: weather status

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:07AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

LEOGANE, Haiti - The Associated Press
Published Friday, Nov. 05, 2010 5:14AM EDT
Last updated Friday, Nov. 05, 2010 3:04PM EDT


Most of Haiti's post-quake homeless live under donated plastic tarps on open fields. It is often private land, where they have been constantly fighting eviction. A September report from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 29 per cent of 1,268 camps studied had been closed forcibly, meaning the often violent relocation of tens of thousands of people.

Haitian human-rights lawyer Mario Joseph, who testified on behalf of those evicted before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this summer, said he fears the government is using the storm as an excuse to drive people off disputed land.

“I think it's going to be a time of eviction,” he said. He said he has advised people who know they are at risk for floods, landslides and wind damage to stay in buildings near the camp and return to their squatters' sites as soon as possible after the storm.

Reconstruction has barely begun and even the building of transitional shelters " sturdier than makeshift tents, but not solid houses " has been slow. Large installments of long-term funds, including a promised $1.15-billion from the United States, have not arrived. The State Department now says it still has to prove the money won't be stolen or misused.

As rebuilding lags, the United Nations and aid groups have been giving people reasons to stay in camps, providing aid and essential services such as medicine. That continued Thursday as residents reluctant to leave were given reinforcing tarps and other materials.

“We have always said that the best way to protect people in camps is to make camps as resistant as possible to any weather,” said Imogen Wall, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “[Evacuation] doesn't make sense ... on a practical level, on a large scale.”

Residents of the nearly 8,000-person government relocation camp at Corail-Cesselesse threw bottles at aid workers trying to get them to leave their ShelterBox tents for schools, churches and an abandoned prison nearby.

“If we go away, other people are going to move in our place! We want to stay here because we don't have another place to go,” said 29-year-old Roland Jean.

The camp's grounds were designed by U.S. military engineers and graded by the United Nations. But the selection of the site has been criticized by aid groups: The desert plain 15 kilometers north of the city constantly floods and suffers wind damage.

Camp officials finally resolved the dispute and several hundred people left Thursday afternoon on trucks provided by UN peacekeepers. An AP reporter found that while the school, church and abandoned hospital chosen as shelters for them were large and undamaged, they had no water or usable toilets.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:12AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Tim's blog
Sat, November 06, 2010
D6 .. Hurricane Day

With rain through the night and most of the morning, we were braced for the worst as we looked down the mountain to the tent cities of Port-au-Prince. Watching the weather forecast, we were surprised to see the bulk of the storm had already passed before noon, which was much sooner than expected. After another wonderful meal by Merline, we headed out to see if there was any flooding down the hill. Here is an overflowing stream that is normally just a trickle:

Driving around the capital, things seemed relatively quiet and calm. Most things had been closed in preparation for the storm, so there was little traffic. We decided to meet Wadson at Healing Hands of Haiti. Wadson and Adam are building a new school north of the airport. We also met some folks from Everyone Has A Story (ehas) that are using digital cameras as a way to engage children throughout Haiti and elsewhere in the world.

John decided it would be a great day to visit the newly opened school in Cabois, as there was no traffic. As we drove out, we saw more evidence of flooding. Across from the school, a previously slim river had turned into a very wide and powerful force, which no doubt was emptying straight into Léogâne.

We passed a convoy of UN trucks that were headed for relief work in Léogâne. Adam and I were very glad we decided to cross east across the two rivers. Michena is still with us, as she and her mom cannot get west past the flooding.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 11:09AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Sun, November 07, 2010
D7 .. Schools, Lunch, Land
Tim's blog

Saturday began with a beautiful view from our mountainside perch. The rain was gone and Port-au-Prince looked beautiful.

Adam mentioned over breakfast that he'd like to meet with a gentlemen from Artists for Peace and Justice who was interested in buying some XOs. John, Adam and I picked up Benaja and headed to the US Embassy to meet Bryn at the Daily Cafe, an American restaurant that clearly catered to the many organizations that surrounded the embassy. It felt surreal to walk into this cafe, as it was very much like home. The market across the lot was also very American, and extremely overpriced.

Bryn was clearly a do-er (and apparently married to Mario Bello). His main concerns were a nearby children's hospital and secondary school, along with connections to 40 other primary schools. We presented both the laptop and the Waveplace program, along with the Haiti Partners Civic Empowerment program. He seemed very interested.

Later he took us on a tour of the hospital, where we met Davidson, a little boy who had lost his entire family, along with three of his fingers, in the earthquake. Davidson saw the XO and became immediately enamored with it, taking almost complete possession of it and running and hiding with it at one point.

The facility was extremely impressive, particularly the abandoned children's unit, the neonatal unit, and the cancer ward. Bryn took us on the roof to show us the many organizations surrounding the hospital, including a mental health hospital and several schools. He later drove us to the secondary school that was being built. They apparently paid 2 million for 16 acres.

As we drove back to John's house, we discussed what we were going to do with the 100 laptops that were now waiting in customs. We originally had planned to do a pilot in a school near John's house, but relations with the owner of the school had broken down, so we needed an alternative. As John was building a new school nearby, we hoped to develop a solid model pilot, beginning with children and mentors that John knew. He suggested we use a choir that rehearsed with Merline's brother Alex. After talking a bit, we decided on this as we walked up to his house. As fate would have it, the choir was practicing just then.

After listening for a while, we told the choir they would receive laptops. They seemed very appreciative and excited. I left an XO for them to look at. As soon as choir practice ended, they made a beeline for the XO to explore on their own.

Soon after, we took a drive further up the mountain to look at some land that John and Merline were considering as the sight for their new school. The views from up there reminded me of the Beverly Hills, overlooking San Fernando Valley, only much higher. It truly was a beautiful spot.

The day ended with talk around the dinner table about schools and Haiti. I demonstrated Etoys to Bonnie, who put her marketers hat on for a bit. We talked until about 11:30 about how to best describe the educational benefits of Etoys.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 8:35AM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

All your and your son's posts and pictures are fascinating. It must be so disheartening with the red tape, natural disasters, etc. My favorites are the two pictures (one in the first thread and the second here) of the boys with the laptops. Gosh, it does make one want to jump right in to help. Afraid that wouldn't be too helpful in real life. :(

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 7:23PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Tim's blog
Tue, November 09, 2010
D8 .. Rest

Sunday was a rest day, for the most part. We started with a phone conference with our good friend Mike Dawson in Afghanistan.

Mike Dawson

Having a meet between Haiti and Afghanistan felt pretty cool, as did his emphasis on cost effectiveness and assessment. Adam, John, Bonnie, and myself had a good talk about both of these subjects before breakfast.

I drove Michena to the bus station in Port-au-Prince with Alex, Merline's brother. He showed me some landmarks in preparation for my solo trips this week. Port-au-Prince is a real maze, though I guess like anywhere, it's understandable after a bit. To me right now, most of the streets seem the same. They're of course largely unmarked.

Back at John's, Adam hatched a plan to drive the rental north of the airport by himself to meet with his Blue Tarp Group. At the last minute, Bonnie came along. I stayed home to have a welcome afternoon nap. When I woke, it was already dark and Adam and Bonnie hadn't yet returned. Though worried about them, I resisted the urge to check up on them like a parent, and instead had a relaxing meal with John and Merline. When Adam appeared later, I was much relieved. I later learned that their expedition north of the airport (near Cite Soleil) was pretty dicey at times. Bonnie was genuinely worried on the ride home.

All in all, Sunday was exactly what I needed: a break between two busy, busy weeks.


As you can see, this "day of rest" is from Tim's point of view. From Adam and Bonnie's point of view,(and MINE!) NOT restful. This next week will be nerve-racking for us back in Canada with less communication while he works in the difficult Cite Soleil area to build a school! I have no idea who Bonnie might be.

Beth Santos, about whom I wrote earlier, has not made an appearance in Tim's blog yet. Perhaps she will arrive later to work with Tim or perhaps she could not make it for this trip?

My thoughts are with Michena for her difficult bus journey back to Léogâne. Mention was made earlier of her mother too, but I do not know if they are traveling together.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 8:37AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Tim's blog
Tue, November 09, 2010
D9 .. Cite Soleil and Back

Took two cars down the mountain to meet at Phillippe Armand's office complex to borrow his parking so we could meet with the Blue Tarp Group. We started with a quick greeting in an impossibly posh conference room, which given our next destination was quite the contrast.

We all crammed into two cars for the drive into Cite Soleil. I've seen pictures and heard much about this "worst slum in the western hemisphere," but had never been here, so was bracing for the worst. As we drove in and around, I realized that it didn't seem much worse than pretty much any street in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince. With all the tents and garbage and chaos, the capital city had become nearly as bad as Cite Soleil itself.

The school itself was wonderful. The kids were bright and enthusiastic. The teachers were motivated. We decided upon a class to do the pilot with and showed them a laptop, which was pretty much the highlight of the day.

We all went off to meet at a nearby hotel (with a pool!), then Bonnie and I went to the Visa Lodge for lunch (which also had a pool). We decided to try to meet with FONHEP (http://www.coe.fsu.edu/ednews/fall07/haiti.htm) at 3pm, but traffic along Rue de Delmas was so bad that we didn't get there until 4:30! We even picked up an unexpected passenger in the back of the pickup, who disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared.

FONHEP was great. Both women were very receptive and enthusiastic about the Waveplace program. Their organization is connected with some 6000 schools in Haiti, so this meeting could have long term benefits.

We met Hannah, Peter, and John at our third posh restaurant for the day, La Reserve. There we met a man and a woman that run a school and tent camp. They seemed very receptive to my presentation, telling me that my passion was clear, etc, etc. I was too tired to remember what I said, but several commented on my effectiveness. Bonnie and I headed up the hill, making one tricky wrong turn along the way, then ate quickly. It was a long day.

Here is a link that might be useful: Phillippe Armand

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 9:47AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

When reviewing Saturday's activities, mention was made of the laptops being distributed to the choir participants. Today I came across the choir's music which certainly produces an emotional response in me. The drummer...Oh my! He brings back memories of DH's band back in Nigeria where we taught in the mid 1960s.

"WOZO is a Haiti Partners supported initiative helping 18 children to develop their talents and leadership potential while inspiring Haitians and Americans through justice-minded songs and performance. Haiti Partners is also supporting their families rebuild their lives following the earthquake through a micro-credit program."

I love the fact that art, music, photography, Civic Empowerment and more are added to the Haitian learning experiences.

(Patience, some of the songs may skip and jump until things catch up)

Here is a link that might be useful: Children's choir in Haiti

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 11:20AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Benaja Antoine

From Haiti Partners Partner Schools

Network of four community schools in Darbonne. All of them are using XO laptops, alongside the "Reflection Circle" and "Open Space" community learning methods of HaitiPartners.org

This You Tube impresses me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reflection Circles

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 11:44AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

A small clip...from a while back.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Caribbean, received over 10,000 XOs from the Give One Get One program and additional XOs from the Haiti government and from the Inter-American Development Bank. In all, 13,700 XOs have been purchased for use by students and teachers, and hundreds more have been deployed in smaller pilots by independent NGOs.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 11:48AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

The capital's first cholera fatality was reported on Tuesday in Saint Catherine's Hospital, a clinic run by the aid group MSF-Belgique in the city's largest slum Cite Soleil.

"We are worried about Cite Soleil, where one death has been recorded," said health ministry director Gabriel Timothe.

"Extrapolating from Peru's experience, one might expect upwards of 270,000 cases if Haiti's epidemic continues for several years, as did Peru's," Andrus said.

Hurricane Tomas, which claimed more than 20 lives in Haiti at the weekend, made matters worse as it dumped heavy rains that caused rivers, including the believed source of the cholera, the Artibonite, to flood.

"We have every reason to expect that the widespread flooding has increased the risk of cholera spreading. The effects of this could become apparent through an upsurge of cases over the coming days," said Andrus.

Although easily treated, cholera has a short incubation period and causes acute diarrhoea that can lead to severe dehydration and death in a matter of hours.

In addition to the capital, aid groups are worried about remote areas where residents do not have access to clinics or hospitals.

"Outside of the larger population centres, it is critical that smaller, dispersed communities are able to access treatment," said Kate Alberti, an epidemiologist working for Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

"We are very concerned about the spread of the epidemic in rural areas, where transport to existing health structures is difficult."

Here is a link that might be useful: Update on epidemic

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 5:23AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Day 10
Wed, November 10, 2010
Solo Tim

Said goodbye to Bonnie early yesterday morning, which left me with no companions to accompany me through Port-au-Prince. After a quick breakfast, I headed down the mountain to make my way back to the US Embassy. I went into the Daily Cafe for water and Coke, then followed my directions to the Tabarre School, which was quite nearby.

There I met Gladys, who was very welcoming and gracious. She introduced me to the Bishop and I demonstrated the laptop and Etoys. I've become so accustomed to my demonstrations that I fear I'm being too automatic, though from people's responses, this doesn't seem to be the case. Gladys spoke briefly about Wilson Jeudy's presidential campaign, of which she is the campaign manager.

We then toured the school and showed the laptop to the 4th/5th grade class. This school seems quite well behaved in an engaged and friendly way. As usual, the children simply loved the laptop and could not wait to play with it themselves.

After lunch at the Daily Cafe, I made my way along Rue Tabarre towards my next stop. Traffic was at a standstill, so I tried a "yellow (aka paved) route" on Google maps, to find that it was anything but. It did take me through the middle of some very large tent camps. After nearly two weeks here, I'm sad to say that very little surprises me anymore. The harshness I drive through every day seems to blur. As I write this, I realize I didn't even try to take a photo of these camps, as I have so many more. Truly the one thing missing from the photos is the scope ... just how many people are living in these temporary havens.

Eventually I reached Sineas, the camp city I was visiting. Sara and Darma (both from an organization called AMURT) introduced me to the school's teachers and administrators. Their approached seemed quite well thought out, with an emphasis on organic sustainability such as composting toilets and hydroponic gardens. The children and school were impressive to see.

I then drove with Sara to their other school (Amsai), this time in a physical structure that was damaged by the earthquake. The teachers and students at this school were likewise impressive. I watched dance, art, and karate classes. There was an air about the place I can only describe as "freedom" .. a great place for a pilot.

Four of the teachers joined me on my drive back up to Petionville. I four-wheeled up the mountain and talked with Merline and her children (John was away on business) and easily, easily, fell asleep.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 8:52AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Just got a phone call from Haiti! What a surprise... There were at least a hundred children surrounding DS and so I understood very little. He's obviously in his element!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 3:46PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Just got a phone call from Haiti! What a surprise... There were at least a hundred children surrounding DS and so I understood very little. He's obviously in his element!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 4:48PM
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Its all quite interesting. I just love the last picture of the laptop, girl and foliage all in green and white.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 11:07PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

You may continue to Part 3.

Here is a link that might be useful: Haiti Part 3

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 10:00AM
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Know you loved getting a phone call from Adam!

Love the beautiful little girl with the green dress and white bow with the laptop!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:31PM
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