ROTARYenam200HelpForHaiti.ca Langford Fire

February 2, 2016 - Coming Home

We are on our way home, having left early enough to avoid the demonstrations that were planned for today that threatened to close down the airport in the hope of drawing attention to the perceived corruption associated with the Presidential elections.  Things will, no doubt, escalate as Haiti draws closer to the February 7th election deadline.

As we sit back in the relative comfort of United Flight 684, looking forward to returning to our families, I am reminded of just how fortunate that we are to call Canada our home.  I apologize for the "reflective moment" but those many Langford and area volunteers who have travelled with the team to Haiti before can relate to the understandable emotions one feels as they leave Port au Prince knowing that they have only "scratched the surface."

While our work is perhaps only scratching the surface, it does and is making a huge difference for the children at both orphanages.  These last couple of days we were busy doing the following:

  • finished off acquiring all the materials for both hen house projects including ordering 6 months of chicken feed and 90 birds. 1 operation will be more like a commercial penned operation, and the smaller project a free run with coop. It will be good to analyze the effectiveness of both types of operations.
  • small chairs and tables along with school supplies were acquired for the Baby Jesus Orphanage for the pre-school children and we helped pay for the balance of the school year for both orphanages as a number of children had been sent home from school because of insufficient funds.
  • On our last trip the 5 of us helped Enel out by buying him a used tap tap (taxi).  This allowed him to find work and give him hope that some day he too could have a home and family.  Enel was raised his entire life at the Baby Jesus Orphanage and at 27 he still lives there and helps the sister with the children.  His business is doing well and he continues to pay back his interest free loan and has money in the bank.
  • Based on this positive experience, and following a couple of late rum and cokes, the team has entered into another micro-loan tap tap project with Enel's friend Stanley who we have worked with since the earthquake.  Stanley has been driving a tap tap for many years and a few months back his transmission packed it in.  We will be providing the funds for a new transmission from the states and should have him back on the road in 2 weeks.
  • Monday we spent time discussing the vision for the new facility.  Assuming that our Haitian lawyer finds the land-title to be in order we are anxious to nail down a projected cost for the project so that we can begin fundraising in earnest.  Timing is becoming critical as the landlord for the existing location is thinking of putting that property on the market in April.
  • We set up an account at a really friendly grocery wholesaler so that the CDN police here in Haiti can drop off money or send it electronically allowing Doris to pick up goods when she needs them.  
  • In the evening we had a nice final Haitian meal with the team, followed by a meeting with Ricardo the Director of Baby Jesus Orphanage and then off to pack and a 0430 start to next day.

Well that gives you a snap shot of what we have been up to the last couple of days.  Thanks again for your support.

Bob, Dan, Russ, Rick, Bruce20160129 group

 

January 30, 2016 - A Special Day

Today we spent the day at the Baby Jesus of Prague Orphanage, this is the orphanage that Mayor Young and Council supported the rebuilding of following the terrible earthquake 6 years ago. Our meeting included the 4 staff, the Director, the 1 remaining sister, and 2 CDN Police Officers.  In brief it was a governance meeting to discuss sustainability matters.  Along with admin matters we sorted out the hen house project including the need for some small tables and chairs for the preschool age children.  It was great to reconnect and continue to support them with some small projects.

Back to Saturday, which was for many of us one of the most amazing and emotional experiences associated with our work here in Haiti.

We arranged for all 52 Divine Hands children and 8 adults, not including the 5 of us, to head out of the overpopulated and polluted city and spend a day at a sea side resort 1.5 hours north of the city.  (Given the election protests and road blocks we were a little concerned about travel but most of the problem is in the center of Port au Prince.) We rented an old school bus that had been converted in a large tap tap.

On arrival to the orphanage in the morning we were greeted by 52 extremely excited children, who had never been on a bus, out of the city, eaten at a restaurant, or swam at the beach.  We loaded up both vehicles and headed north, with Bruce and I crammed into the bus and Russ, Dan, and Rick following behind in our tap tap.

The children originally stared out the windows with anticipation of what the day would bring, but after about 45 minutes on the road with the bus gently rocking and swaying back and forth, the majority were soon fast asleep.

During the trip we encountered a police road block and the driver of our small vehicle carrying Dan, Rick and Russ, had to pay a trumped up $50.00 US fine for not wearing seat-belts.   None of the tap taps in Haiti have seat-belts.

That little glitch aside we arrived at the modest seaside resort and got all the kids down to the beach.  Doris, the Director, appealed to us to help with the lifeguarding for she was truly worried.  So the 5 of us waded out to chest high water and created what we hoped would be a safe area to play in.  We were like a rope stretched out around the perimeter in a lake.  At first the kids played at the very edge of the beach, then they slowly made their way out as they became comfortable.

In no time the five of us were like life rings with up to 5 children clinging to us and squealing with joy.  I should mention that 2 young american women who worked at Christian NGO group and who had recently helped Janelson, one of our kids with his prothesis, came over and asked if one of us was Bruce Brown, for they thought that they recognized Janelson and knew that Bruce and coordinated his visit to the clinic.  Anyway they came over and spent an hour with us playing with the kids and helping ensure that no one drowned.  One little girl that never left my arms the entire time just wanted to float, for she had never experienced the buoyancy of deep water.

After a couple hours on the beach we headed up to the restaurant for an incredible Haitian luncheon that was delicious.  Each plate had 3 big chicken legs and I know they have never experienced that at the orphanage.  It was also amazing how quiet the kids were, I guess they were just intent on finishing every thing on their plate.

After lunch 52 kids piled into the shallow end of the pool.  I hope that the resort guests didn't mind the "invasion"

Following the swim in the pool, the children dried off and went to a stage area at the resort to put on a performance of "thanks" for everyone who helped make this day possible.

Late afternoon we loaded the bus for the return trip and got safely back around 6 pm.  We think the children will have slept well that night.  During a rum- sour wind down with the sunburned 5 of us, we all agreed that the children truly had an experience of a lifetime.

Latter that evening we had dinner at a restaurant with all the Canadian Police serving on the UN mission, followed by a meeting with Ricardo the Director of the Langford orphanage, and a team meeting rap up that lasted late into the evening.  A most successful day!!!!!

 

The Team is returning to Haiti

IMG 0495 2We are heading back to Haiti on January 25th, 2016 to do more work at the Divine Hands Orphanage.   Further details to follow and if you would like to know more about the trip or make a donation please contact Bruce Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Bob Beckett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

January 29, 2016 - Update from Haiti

Where do I begin, like all our trips there is so much to do, but each step, each act of kindness results in the children's world being just a little better in a country that is so poor and in such need.

Since arriving we have:20160129 Birthday cake cropped

  • started the hen house,
  • visited the new site for the building,
  • met with a lawyer to review the land title
  • purchased $1,600.00 worth of food
  • celebrated a birthday with cake for 60
  • met with the director of the Baby Jesus Orphanage where we have agreed to duplicate the hen project.
  • purchased a generator for Divine Hands
  • bought two tables for the kitchen to replace the plywood on tires that they are currently using.

Today we are hoping to buy a couple of black boards on the way to Divine Hands. Once there we will:

  • be out buying chicken cages for both orphanages,
  • finalizing arrangements for an outing for the entire orphanage which looks like Saturday rather than Sunday with some potential travel restrictions due to the protests and road blocks.    
  • acquiring the building materials for the Baby Jesus project
  • and finishing off the hen house at Divine Hands.

The entire team continues to amaze me, never missing a beat, always willing to go the extra mile and never complaining about the challenges that are constant here in Port au Prince,

As we get ready to head out, we would be remiss if we did not once again acknowledge the many, many generous donors and supporters of us and this project.

Bob and Team 20160129 multi photo

November 14th - Update

The Colwood Rotary Club would like to thank everyone for their generous donations and support of the work at the Divine Hands Orphanage in Port au Prince, Haiti. This orphanage was on the brink of financial and operational collapse which would have resulted in 52 young children being displaced and/or worse, ending up on the streets.  With your support we have been able to completely turn things around and provide a high degree of sustainability for the orphanage along with a sense of dignity for the children.

Because every dollar raised went directly to the project, the team was able to complete the following:

  • Provide an electrical service for the site including a battery back-up inverter system for when the power is not on, which is the majority of the time.
  • Provided the orphanage with their very first fridge and freezer.
  • Built a separate dormitory for the teenage boys.
  • Built an outdoor kitchen complete with a propane stove, replacing the open wood and charcoal stove
  • Built a large combination dining hall and classroom facility complete with tables and chairs.
  • Provided school back packs and uniform shoes for all the children.
  • Provided the children with 13 heavy-duty dressers and armoires for their clothes and possessions so that each child would have a space of their own, rather than simply piling their belongings on the floor.

In addition to the various goals and objectives we also hired 10 Haitian men for 3 weeks to assist with the building projects.  This also included installing solar security lights and concertina barbed wire for security of the children and staff of the orphanage.

In looking to the future, the Colwood Rotary Club is thrilled to be involved in this worthy humanitarian project and is looking to purchase a small tract of raw land for the orphanage so as to avoid the annual rental costs that they incur each year.  This would prevent the orphanage from being uprooted by landlords, and the money currently being allocated for rent could be used for items such as food and education.

If you would like more information on the project or how you could help, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Bob Becket of the Colwood Rotary Club at 250-478-9555 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Mr. Bruce Brown at 250-888-7062 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Again, thank you for supporting the children of the Divine Hands Orphanage.