You Could Say Life in Haiti Stinks!

28th October

On Tuesday Sr. Rose got a call from the director of one of the schools to say he had just brought one of the cooks in his school into the hospital as she had been sick that morning. She was suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.

Sr. Rose immediately headed for the hospital here in Jean Rabel as she felt the woman’s condition must be fairly serious if she needed to be hospitalised, because for most people, the hospital is the last port of call, when ill.

Hospital in Jean Rabel

Local Hospital in Jean Rabel

The reasons for this are many and range from the high cost of treatment for everyone regardless of means or lack of means and you won’t be treated without paying up front for whatever medication is prescribed.

[Read more…]

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After the Storm

28th October

We’ve had a lot of rain here in Jean Rabel over the past week and our only hope is that the people who have gotten new corn and bean seeds will have had the chance to plant them and that the rain will have helped their growth. If they haven’t yet planted them they will likely do so over the coming days now that the rainy spell seems to have passed.

Hurricane Matthew's Path

Hurricane Matthew’s Path

These seeds are their life line to survival over the coming months as their crops and animals were destroyed during hurricane Matthew.

[Read more…]

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We Must try to Manage the Hurricane Season for the sake of the Haitian People

25th October 

Recent donations have gone towards buying new seeds for the people of the greater Jean Rabel area who lost their crops to hurricane Matthew. (Thank you all for your kindness).

It was decided that bean and corn seeds were the best options as it is now the planting season. Hopefully, they won’t have been ruined already by the latest bout of rainfall but will thrive and give a good harvest in due season.

[Read more…]

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Prison Breakout

24th October

 

I’ve been told there has been a prison breakout in one of the prisons in Haiti today – quite a frequent occurrence by all accounts! And over 200 inmates are now at large!

I think I’d need a degree in law to understand how the justice system works here in Haiti.

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Hope Springs Eternal!

25th October 

By all accounts it appears all the rain we had here in Jean Rabel last week was in fact due to hurricane Nicole we just didn’t have any wind along with it so the damage it caused was much less than that of hurricane Matthew. However having cleared up over the weekend, here we are again this morning unable to go to school as the river is once more too high to cross.

In fact we were pleasantly surprised to be able to make it there yesterday and get back on track, but one day does not a huge change make as this morning dawned bright but with very heavy rain. It’s difficult to make educational progress under these circumstances. But tomorrow is another day and we become more like the Haitian’s every day – they tend to go with the flow of the weather, do what they can and never give up hope of a better tomorrow.

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Learning Something New is Often a Real Challenge!

18th October

Today it was back to school having had a day off on Monday due to it being a national holiday in Haiti.

Learning Opportunities are everywhere

Learning Opportunities are everywhere

At long last we had agreed the time-table for computer instruction and the pre-school teachers were beginning their lessons once their classes were finished at 12.00 and they would stay till 1.00 when the rest of the school would finish.

Well there I was ready and waiting having finished with the previous class, checking the computers were ready to go and we could all begin together when they arrived.

[Read more…]

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Sunday Lunch in the Best Restaurant in Town

Rose and Naza with the team of 3 Spanish Dentists in Chachou's Resto, Jean Rabel

Rose and Naza with the team of 3 Spanish Dentists in Chachou’s Resto, Jean Rabel

4th October

Last Sunday we had dinner in one of the best restaurants in the town of Jean Rabel, or ‘Resto’ as it is simply called in Kreyol. The owner, Mr. Chachou is friendly and welcoming and offers typical Haitian food, fried chicken, fried banan (plantain), a beetroot based salad, pikales, fried potatoes and a mountain of rice.

The occasion was that we had a team of 3 Spanish dentists staying with us this week offering dental work to the local people at a fraction of the regular price. [Read more…]

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The Big Divide!

4th October

Nothing brings out the big divide between rich and poor quite like the build up to a country’s general election. And in Haiti, perhaps even more so than in other places!

Last Sunday Jean Rabel was treated to the presence of Dr. Maryse Narcisse one of the candidates in the upcoming election, a member of the Fanmi Lavalas political party.

Dr. Maryse Narcisse, Presidential candidate for the Fanmi Lavalas Party

Dr. Maryse Narcisse, Presidential candidate for the Fanmi Lavalas Party

Of all the candidates to have arrived in the town over the past few weeks I would say Dr. Maryse Narcisse had the biggest turnout from all ages. Indeed she was accompanied by the Haitian National Police, unlike the other candidates who visited during the past week to make their last plea for votes (perhaps this was because she also had renowned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide accompanying her). [Read more…]

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Hurricane Aftermath

6th October, 2016
Despite the huge winds and very heavy rain and the assurance that hurricane Matthew has wreaked havoc on many families in this area of Haiti where the only livelihood centres on farming, crops and animals, mainly goats, others have turned a devastating occurrence to their advantage.

Gathering timber for charcoal

Gathering timber for charcoal

There are always some enterprising souls ready to seize their opportunities as soon as they strike and by Wednesday afternoon many people had begun harvesting timber from the large numbers of fallen trees around the town of Jean Rabel. This they will likely sell as charcoal for cooking, it being the main source of fuel in the whole area. [Read more…]

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Friends in High Places!

7th October

This morning broke bright and sunny with the promise of a good day, a typical day in Haiti, a welcome sight after hurricane Matthew and the overcast days that followed.
With the sun came a stream of people, mostly women seeking help from the Sisters in the aftermath of the hurricane, with the queue forming from 6.00 am.
Sr. Rose directed them to the local leader, telling them it was the responsibility of the State and not that of the Sisters. But these people are local and know only too well their best bet for getting assistance in times of need is to come directly to the Sisters and that little or no assistance will be forthcoming anytime soon from the State. [Read more…]

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No River Crossing Today

10th October

We headed out to school today for the first day since hurricane Matthew struck Jean Rabel. The devastation it caused was evident all along the route, with huge trees just outside the town having fallen during the gale force winds. Some have been taken away but others lie all along the side of the road for the moment. In the fields the crops have been flattened, particularly banana trees and sugar-cane, the main-stays of the area, which are sturdy plants but they were unable to withstand hurricane Matthew’s destruction. [Read more…]

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Spanish Dentists Visit Jean Rabel

10th October

Last week we had three, Spanish, Dentists visiting with us here in Jean Rabel. They came to volunteer their professional services to the local people. Oriol, Marieuna and Carmen worked as many hours as possible and must have attended up to 100 patients at very reasonable costs.
Oreol has volunteered in Haiti before both in Port-au-Prince and in Gros Morne. This was his first visit to Jean Rabel and he brought staff from his Spanish practice to help him. They were two lovely young girls, eager to use their skills for the benefit of others.
They told me that if they hadn’t seen the misery in which the people of Haiti live day in and day out, that they would not be able to believe it! [Read more…]

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Back to School

3rd October, 2016

Schools here in Haiti returned at the beginning of September but many didn’t bother attending regularly until October began. The reason for this is mainly due to the pressure of the high cost of education relative to income in the country. There is no ‘free education’ in Haiti and families struggle to send their children to school, to buy their books and uniforms.

School children enjoying a meal

School children enjoying a meal

Haitian school children

Haitian school children

The policy is that the children are allowed come to school in normal clothes for the month of September but by 1st October they are expected to have their uniform. However, many simply don’t come much till October arrives but overall there has been an improvement in this regard over the past few years as education has become more of a priority for parents in the Jean Rabel area.

The Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary have been instrumental in this regard, having established 6 pre-schools/primary schools in the area catering for about 600 children and implementing a sponsorship programme with up to 200 children having their education funded.

[Read more…]

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Hurricane Matthew hits Jean Rabel, North West Haiti

5th October 2016

Fallen trees in the school yard under our home

Fallen trees in the school yard under our home

Well this is the scene I awoke to at 5.30 this morning as hurricane Matthew continued to rage in Jean Rabel, NW Haiti. We thought we were going to escape it as the weather was all calm up to Tuesday at around 1.00 pm, although we had had rain from about 5.00 am that morning.

We had to cross this stream at the back of our home

We had to cross this stream at the back of our home

Lots of damage to trees in Jean Rabel

Lots of damage to trees in Jean Rabel

The wind howled and the rain poured down and we thanked our lucky stars we were fortunate to be living upstairs over the local school in the town. This meant we were unlikely to have rain coming in the doors regardless of how many inches fell.

Many were not so lucky; these children were busy trying to get rid of about 12 inches of water outside the door of their home at about 9.00 am this morning.

Two children helping to beat flooding in their home

Two children helping to beat flooding in their home

This tree is only one of the numerous ones that fell within close proximity to our home. This one even uprooted the concrete surrounding it in an area in front of the local priests’ home.

Naza checking out the damage after hurricane Matthew

Sr. Naza checking out the damage after hurricane Matthew

One tree even uprooted concrete

One tree even uprooted concrete

And this car (belonging to a local German organisation) was damaged by a falling tree while parked nearby.

Car damaged during hurricane

Car damaged during hurricane

Sr. Nazareth was anxious about her workshop to see how the roof held up over night. It wasn’t a pretty sight when she entered this morning. There were gallons of water that leaked in through a hole in the roof, needing to be swept outside and lots of materials needing to be dried out.

Sweeping out the water from the workshop

Sweeping out the water from the workshop

Without delay however, the stalwarts of Jean Rabel (who Sr. Rose and Sr. Nazareth have befriended over the years here in the town) were on the scene helping us to get rid of the water, and make the roof waterproof once more.

Meanwhile at the back of our house, the usual pathway to the classrooms was blocked with these falling trees (the only benefit being the crop of mangos that up to now were not ripe enough to fall from their height).

Pathway to computer room

Pathway to computer room

One of the classrooms was fairly damp with a good pool of water sitting on its tiled floor and Sr. Rose lost no time in setting to sweep it out. The mobile clinic’s chauffeur was on hand without delay with a mop and bucket to help with the operation.

The rain had come in under the door due to the fact that the building is built on a slope and will need work done to ensure such an occurrence won’t happen again. Thank God the new printer and computer, installed only last week, remained intact!

As we slowly got back to normal and removed as much water and leaves as possible from around the veranda of our home and from the steps downstairs, in order that no one would slip and injure themselves, we began thinking about our neighbours, knowing many of them would not have escaped as well as us from the impact of hurricane Matthew.

I went down the road and around the corner to see the river that runs through the town and usually furnishes the townspeople with water for daily survival. Two days ago this river was almost dried up and people were worrying about a shortage of water in the area.

This morning however, it flowed, furious and fast through the town – and it didn’t look very clean to my eye.

This could cause further problems as the days pass, if people cannot access clean water to drink. We were in need of some rain for the crops and a supply of water throughout the area of Jean Rabel but I’m not sure the supply we now have will be of benefit.

I’m sure the next few days will tell us the true story for many people in Jean Rabel who daily live from hand to mouth and are ill equipped to weather such catastrophes.

Many must be isolated with no food and little access to food, as fallen trees have completely blocked roadways and byways that are normally used by walkers and motor-bikers (taxis) allowing people go about their daily business.

I hate to think of the conditions of many families I regularly pass on my evening walk. Their homes are flimsy, built on the side of a hill, with little to secure them in place and a dirt track for a road or a pathway for access. These now have undoubtedly changed from sturdy, dry-earthen, dirt tracks and roadways to muddy and mucky flood paths, making access and egress next to impossible.

It’s amazing that despite the fact that movement is so difficult, the rain and the wind were so strong and heavy and roadways are blocked or turned into mud slides, regular market stall-holders still turned up today to sell their wares in the Jean Rabel Wednesday market.

Wed Market Day

Wed Market Day

To me this shows the persistence and tenacity of the Haitian people, particularly the womenfolk who are in a majority among market sellers. It will take more than hurricane Matthew to quench their spirit!

 

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