Monday, May 16, 2011

A Brief Summary: May 10 to May 15

May 10
Stayed at Victory Compassion’s compound last night.  Left at 6am to meet the Paraguayan UN by 7am at the site.  Spread gravel, put up new fencing.

Captain Florentin and Kendra Luna

Kendra went to court with Dr. B regarding the land dispute.  UN Japanese company came by at 2pm to discuss access road project and garbage pit.  Told us their 2 weeks of work would begin Monday, May 16.  Emily went with Dr. B to the hospital to take some pictures of the bandits who broke his fence because he bailed them out of jail to fix it.  Meeting with Kendra, Emily, and Dr. B in the foam core house to discuss micro-enterprise possibilities.

There have been 4 main issues when trying to help people move in to our camp...

1. Does the land belong to me?  The answer is no. Here there is a law of "squatters rights" so if you set up somewhere for 10 years and no one asks you to move, you now own the land. We also learned that by law you have to be Haitian to own land, though this is not confirmed. So our contract with Dr. B is 9 years and 363 days, renewable if things go well. The doctor did say he would sell land to any individual who has the money.

2.  How will I make money or look for a job this far away from town and the main road?  We have been telling people that this is up to them.  We realize we do need to have suggestions since these people are essentially picking up from majorly populated areas and moving into the countryside.  Our reason for meeting with Jean Frances today and having a whole list of others to contact with experience in microenterprise and micro loans is to find a few solutions and suggestions for this.

3. What about security? I understand why they are asking this question, but I don't like it. They are asking because this area is new and completely foreign to them; however, where are they living now? In crowded camps, in tents less secure than our structures. Our priority is IDPs (displaced persons), so these people have been living in close quarters, some in tents with other families, some in tarps wrapped as a tent like structure and having nothing of their own. We always ask them "who does security in the camps now"?The response is always that the people do and that is what we expect here after families get to know one another better.

4. National Identification Number. Oh, this one is a mess. To receive better temporary housing, we have to have copies of the head of the families' ID card. Some people lost theirs in the earthquake, others simply don't have it. Most people (almost everyone actually) has told us that they will not give us a copy of their card because they heard the US Embassy gets a copy of the list and anyone who receives help of any kind post-earthquake will not be permitted to get a VISA. Even Pastors are preaching this in churches and everyone heard it from a friend of a friend, so we can never identify a source. We aren't sure if it is true or not, but it seems to be another big reason people won't move in. Even though they have no money and have been living in a tent for almost 16 months, they would rather stay in that situation than possibly jeopardize a chance in the distant future (if ever) to be granted a visa for the US.

Ok, back to micro enterprise. Jean Frances (or FanFan) runs a small store in our area of Croix-des-Bouquets. He gave us a few ideas for enterprise opportunities.  FanFan took us to see a home Food For The Poor build in the area as well as his mini-mart store.  By the time we left Vaudreuil it was 6:30pm and we had spent 11 hours at the site with limited sleep last night. Home to make chicken broccoli noodles and to bed by 8:30pm.

May 11
Paid for well this a.m. and Kendra talked to John from ARI about working with other organizations for about 2 hours, to Croix-des-Bouquets for 11am meeting with the mayor about his original promise of land. Pastor Rod from Victory Compassion attended with his translator, Stevenson also. Mayor said the final step is a land survey, then it is ours!  Met FanFan in town and took him back toward the land in Vaudreuil (pronounced vood-way) so he could help us hire a worker to re-dig the holes for our pavilion. Unfortunately, the rain filled in 3 of the 6 holes Danny, Alonda, JohnBern and I dug.

Handicap International stopped by to discuss NET, what they have done in Haiti and then we were able to ask better questions about their program. Made lots of phone calls, then Dr B stopped by to help us extend the "security" contract with Edward. 

Left the land about 5:15pm and went straight to the FM Church in Delmas to pick up Pastor Gilot and his new wife (they were just married Saturday and are adorably in love!) Dinner with the 5 of us was fun - the Miami/Boston basketball game was on TV and Kendra was so tired she fell asleep at the table.  Home with no electricity, right when I laid down it cane back on and so did my fans. Thank you, Lord!

May 12
JohnBern and Kendra left at 5:15am this morning to go pick up FanFan for our Food For The Poor Meeting at 9am. Emily stayed back to print emails and prepare our food and water for the day.  Met with Jozeth from FFTP who is in charge of Food Distribution.  She referred us to Beth Carroll who we already had a meeting with at 4pm today. 

Picked up medicine from FOHO, took FanFan halfway back to Croix-des-Bouquets, back to house to prepare concept paper for 4pm meeting with Beth Carroll. Conversation started about fish project.  We brought up FanFan and I showed her a picture of our foam core home. Beth says, "Oh, well we can provide permanent housing for you." Instead of forging ahead in that conversation, Kendra decided to ask more about the darn fish. I elbowed her to zip it. They will do a site visit on Wednesday, May 25! This is very exciting news as we have been thinking of what our funding options would be and here is a very realistic, excellent option. A final yes will not happen until after the site visit, but we love that we didn't even ask them to build, they offered it up with all the funding and contractors to construct them for each of our families.  Praise the Lord! 

Back to the National gas station for another sandwich (it counted as lunch and dinner) with a candy bar to celebrate, then home to make a few calls, send a few emails, talk to the family at the house and head to bed by 8pm.

May 13
Up at the crack of dawn to be at the land by 6:30am (remember this is after a 45 min drive - at least) in order to get ready for Pastor Rod's group of students from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We welcome and love the help of these 35 students as they painted the latrines, planted the rest of our trees/plants, and began the cement work on the pavilion foundation. 

Dr B was, of course, around to meet with us beforehand. He said he had 15 minutes and a variety of topics to discuss. Kendra and the doctor both like to talk... a lot, so he deemed Emily the time keeper - then they didn't listen to her. Paid Edward for security over the last month.  Then Dr B told us about a land dispute, we told him about our possible permanent housing grant and he stretched his time from the 15 minutes to two hours to show her 3 other options of land he would outright donate. Today is an important day for him because he is writing speeches for the new President's engagements over this weekend, but he was so excited he took the time to show us what else he could donate!

Emily gave college group a tour of the site before they began work. 

A small boy had a major cut on his foot that reopened after 8 days.  A pre-med student cleaned it as best she could and bandaged it.  Drove/carried him home and will check on him later.

After lunch, half of the group went down to the hospital to play with the kids. Besides constructing orphanges and homes for single mothers or widows, Victory Compassion is also actively engaged in children's ministry and outreach. In Oklahoma, they have a number of vans with stages and games to do inter-city outreach. They even brought one to Haiti, but today they are doing a short time of games since this is their 1st day out. The kids loved it! The team played limbo and did a skit without words that made the kids really laugh.

Meeting in town with Handicap International. Kendra really wants to create a community with a sense of affinity to one another and when they called us last week after hearing about our project, we've been more excited about this possibility. Instead of getting a modge podge of people from a variety of IDP camps - the HELP employee families and families recommended by Handicap International might be our answer. The hospital is right down the road and the school is being built now - it could really be an amazing thing for these people. Originally, Amandine said she couldn't meet today, then she was going to come out to our site, then she asked us to meet her at the UN Log Base. We told Victory Compassion (VC) about the new meeting time and snuck out. Unfortunately, we were in traffic for 1.5 hours on the way there so we missed her - then the drive back took an hour and we didn't even make it all the way to the UN Log Base!

Arrived back at the site and the team was wrapping up. Went over to see the land Dr. B offered to Kendra - right next to his hospital and the new school! This land must be a prized possession!

Stopped back to see the boy before we headed home – he has been so good resting and staying off his foot.  Home for a mac and cheese dinner, showers, and BED.

May 14
Up by 6am - Kendra packed up the workroom while I wrote and sent her emails for her. Out to land to stake out new area near HELP hospital (125 ft by 225 ft). Hired someone to dig 3 holes for perimeter as the 4th corner is a beautiful mango tree, also checked on Edward.

Checked on boy. Took him and his older sister to Cuban Haitian clinic to get the wound cleaned and for antibiotics. During our ride to the clinic, we listened to the Presidential address on the radio. Johnbern liked what the President was saying and would translate the general ideas for us.

Home to get ready for Paraguayan party – they invited us to their 200th Anniversary of their Independence. All the men were in their uniforms.  They had a short ceremony (sat us in the front row) and then a reception followed. Started at 7pm sharp, home by 11:30pm.  Traveling to the DR tomorrow!
Captain Florentin, Kendra Luna, Emily Hendershot, Major Rodriguez
May 15
Travel day....sorta.  Woke up before 5am to finish last minute packing.

Drove up the coast to Pierre Payan to see a model community built by Food For The Poor and managed by a lady named Michaelle – eager to see their design and community philosophies.  They showed us the area - the fishing dock, trade school, community center, church, gardens and houses. Each house comes with 2 rooms, a small "kitchen", a latrine toilet, place for a bucket shower, a porch, rain barrel drainage system, and a solar light.

Drove back towards Port-au-Prince, but stopped by Johnbern's English school.  He was proud to show us what he helped build as he and his sister were some of the first students.

Got back to Clercines in Port-au-Prince to drop off Johnbern and make a final stop at the land. Dr. B has given us about 25 more feet than we originally measured. So we fixed the markings and drove by our other place to make sure that Edward was on watch.

Stopped by Pastor Vitales to drop off paperwork and then at Victory Compassion to drop off 4 watermelons, update them on the boy, and the news about the land. They are an amazingly loving group. We always enjoy even a few minutes with them.

To the border by 3pm. Wow, where has the day gone? The Jimani border crossing is flooded. It is right next to a lake and the water keeps creeping higher!

Kendra drove the whole way. As soon as we crossed the border I changed my airplane ticket to stay until June 1st. We stopped for to go fried chicken for lunch and kept going. Listened to lots of music, listened to an audio book, and did lots of talking - that's what girls do!

I napped. Woke up in time to stop for a fudge ice cream bar. It's Kendra's staple when she gets tired on the road. I was going to drive but then we thought that since I wasn't familiar with the route that we should think of another plan. Got to Santo Domingo after 10pm and decide to stay at Doris and Raul's (we stayed there during my last trip). To sleep about 10:45pm.

Up at 4:15am to finish the drive home to Jarabacoa.

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