I’m writing this second GSF blog post the day before leaving for our projects in Haiti. It’s a long-due trip I meant to make in June or July, but our staff and the communities we’re working in were all really sick with the chikungunja virus which became an epidemic across most of Haiti this summer. Most people were too ill to work on anything at all, and the effects can linger for months as severe joint pains – so project activities would just have been an impossible additional stress until now.
There is still some danger of contracting it and I’m going with a case of clothes soaked in a special spray, 3 kinds of repellant, a bed net… but apart from the August heat I’m really looking forward to the trip!
Both schools had really good results this July, amazingly in spite of all the problems, so congratulations are in order, and we paid teacher bonuses for the first time! IMECT school at Morne Tapion near Petit Gouave not only made it through the chikungunja, then a small typhoid fever outbreak and more malaria, plus the very difficult pregnancy of Yolande (founder of the school and head-mistress, now proud mother of a second baby girl, Christephania) – the results were still in the 90% success band! I’m going to see the new wing completed, design a kitchen, view the progress on the collaboration with Terre des Hommes International on new toilets and a water cistern, and plan for next year.
GSF School on Ile a Vache also did really well, with the marks coming up to over 80% (from 65% passing) due to changes of staff, Phelix’s good management, and determination on all parts. The new Kindergarten has been a big success, I can’t wait to see all the new furniture, and equipment in use, and give them some new books and supplies. We’ll also be renovating the toilets, and hope to outfit the school kitchen completely.
Ile a Vache is undergoing huge changes with the government’s new road, the start of an airport, municipal wells being dug for the whole population plus standpipes to come, and many more visitors. We are trying to keep ahead of the changes and make sure local people will not be side-lined or passed over in the race to create a safe, offshore tourist mecca. That means we must concentrate on education, health and sanitation engineering, and local people’s rights and livelihood including agriculture, fishing, and trading by boats.
Our microcredit program has been very successfully expanded this year, and now includes 4 groups from different villages with up to 60 in each group – women who have small market stalls and other vending businesses. Our loans also helped finish a guesthouse in time for the great medical clinics we held with Flying Doctors (California chapter) in March, we’re establishing a phone charging centre, and encourage safe handling of fish and lobster for sale to hotels. More expansion is planned!
The women’s literacy and sewing program is now underway, as is the young men’s masonry course – and these will feed into a latrine building program to improve the lives of everyone in the community, as the water cistern program already has!
There are lots of exciting things in the works for the coming season – just a sampling includes our own agronomy program, after-school arts and crafts lessons, a sailing flotilla visiting in January 2015, a motorbike for the project, a video of our progress… Please stay tuned for news and photos in September! There are so many ways you can contribute!
GSF Administrative Director