Just back from another wonderful trip to Haiti, rounding up all the programs of GSF and 100% for Haiti over the last year, and preparing for the new start of school, and other expansions!
I’d delayed a month or more as many of our staff and teams were seriously ill with the chikungunja virus, including whole communities, some of whom went on to contract typhus and malaria, so recovery time was needed… That meant going in the worst of the summer heat but I felt that was a minor issue compared to the obstacles Haitians have overcome.
Luckily for me, Yolande, the head of our IMECT school near Peit Goave, was able to collect me at the airport by borrowing her father’s car, windshield still broken (for 4 years now) but with a replacement engine! So by nightfall of the day I’d left home on St Croix at 6am, I was at the school, greeting the family and meeting the giant tarantula who now lives in the shower…
IMECT did extremely well this year, with a 92% pass rate, the new classrooms bursting at the seams already – 230 children K to 6th grade! Badly needed new toilets, showers and a water cistern are just being finished, mainly thanks to Terre des Hommes Internationale.
I spent a thorough four days there meeting everyone, seeing the progress, discussing extra classes and improvements to the kitchen for the new year, and working out a budget we hope we can stick to!
The next Wedneday we drove to Miragoane, another port town with a bustling market, and I was met there by Pouchon, one of our translators from Ile a Vache, who escorted me by the most uncomfortable pick-up truck public bus (14 passengers on tiny seats in the back) or tap-tap, to Les Cayes – I was so cramped and miserable I insisted on a rest stop at La Cayenne restaurant before the boat trip, and a restorative hamburger!
Wonderful to get back to the island, the lovely little traditional wattle and daub cottage where I stay with founder Phelix Joseph and his wife and children, the mules and chickens and the pet pig, and where just like IMECT, I know everyone’s name – at least 200 people! and then where their house is, how many children, who has a goat and who has a boat…
The next 2 weeks are a blur, of meeting the teachers, the microcredit, the scholarship students, the children doing summer school, the applicants for bursaries, the sewing classes, the masonry classes, the literacy class, the boat builders, and many old friends – between rainy days and muddy days and relatively dry days… planning and budgeting and seeing how our efforts have helped the people of La Hatte, Trou Milieu, and nearby villages to get through the dry season, keep educating their children, and set something aside for hard times. Bon Samaritaine School also did very well with over 80% pass rate, up from 64%, and we’re now adding a 6th grade.
There has been much anxiety over government and foreign development, fears of the displacement of the locals, dispossession from the land, lack of information… but GSF is seen as helping guide the villagers into the modern world, and ensuring the children are in a position to get the training and jobs that we hope are coming.
It was a good trip, and we’ve come a long way in a year, I’m grateful to our donors, our hosts in Haiti, our staff, and for the vision of Michael and Phelix together, to feed and educate the children without regard to politics, race or religion. School is back in session!