Jean Zaché Duracin, Bishop of Haiti, has been invited by Bishop William H. Love of the Diocese of Albany to visit the Capital District in November. The Bishop will meet with To Love a Child and other Empire Haiti Coalition partners to discuss the work that is taking place in Haiti. On Thursday, November 15th a concert and reception will be held at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany in recognition of his visit.
Bishop Duracin, was made homeless by the devastating earthquake in 2010 which forced him to live in a tent city in downtown Port au Prince where he cared for 3,000 other homeless victims. More than 100 of the diocese's churches were damaged or destroyed including the beautiful Cathédrale Sainte Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral) in Port-au-Prince. At least four of the diocese's 254 schools, ranging from pre-schools to a university and seminary, were destroyed.
Haiti is numerically the largest diocese in the church with more than 83,000 Episcopalians in 169 congregations served by just 37 clergy. To Love a Child looks forward to his visit. More information on the concert will be out soon.
Last Monday we arrived at the Orphanage before noon. It was very quiet with some children at school and others just coming back from school. We had purchased bread on the way and our suitcases were filled with peanut butter, jelly and drink mix. The team made sandwiches for all the children and adults. The tent that the children are living in was moved from the front of the property to the back of the property. A generous donor invested in the pouring of a cement floor for the tented area. The tent is divided into two sections--one for the girls and one for the boys.
On the beds lay the beanie babies that we brought last year. The boys brought out one of the soccer balls that we brought last year and some team members played with them. The younger children loved being around Lucinda and Amanda and styling their hair. One little girl brought out the American Doll we left last year. The doll has been well taken care of and is played with frequently.
The children were well behaved while we were there. The Red Cross comes to the site 2X per week to play with the children for about an hour. We handed out new clothes to the children. They all really seemed to appreciate what we brought. Louizanne has a prothesesis now and is doing remarkably well with it. She goes to the doctor three times a month for her diabetes check-up. We
are anxious for the sea container to arrive so that the children can benefit from its contents; powdered milk, tuna,
sardines, pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, first aide supplies, soap, shampoo and more! We also sent
The search for land appropriate for the orphanage still goes on. Once the land is purchaed funds will need to be raised to build a structure appropriate for growing boys and girls. The orphanage will also need furniture, kitchen equipment and many items for everyday living.
We set up a water purification for everyone to use. The portable system will be used to produce clean water for cooking, washing and drinking.
On February 22nd, Father Milor drove us to Rantlamouaie in the vehicle that was purchased for him. The journey took about two hours. The roads were as rough as usual and we carried many supplies. Father Milor’s vehicle had some problems along the way and at one point, after crossing a creek, we had to push the vehicle up the hill. The vehicle was parked on the main road and all the supplies were carried about ¾ mile to the house and school. The road that had begun to be built last year is still being worked on. Every Saturday folks from Rantlamouaie work together to make the road wider, smoother and longer. This is all done in anticipation of future projects by TLC and the work is done by hand with simple tools.
Several people helped carry our supplies the 3/4 of a mile to the school where we were met with great anticipation. TLC forwarded money to have a storage unit built to house the batteries for the solar panel project. We were so happy to see that the structure was built with great care and planning. It was wonderful and far beyond our expectations. The main man that built the unit, Hermann, is very talented and we feel he can hired in the future for more masonry jobs as well as teach other men the trade. The storage unit is built of cinder block and next to it is a cement tower for the solar panels. Tim and Scott immediately started work to install the solar panel system and the wiring for lights. Hermann shadowed their work and did very well. The system was completed except for the installation of the panels themselves as they were still being held up in Customs. The panels will be installed by a trusted company in Haiti in the next two weeks. Just imagine, the excitement when there will be light in the school and church for the first time. Soon this area can be a gathering place for study, education and social events in the evening.
Tim and Scott did a lot of research for a future water project. We walked to the lower water hole and also hiked to the top of a hill where there was a second water hole. The water was tested and both holes contain bacteria. We will work toward installing a gravity fed water system with a filtration system.
We provided art supplies for the kids to use and collected many nice drawings. The kids will continue to work on art pieces and we will collect them on the next trip. Both adults and children made peace cranes and we hung them in the church where they will look beautiful not only for Sunday services but also for an upcoming wedding.
We ran a sports program and it resulted in loud laughter by the students and the teachers. The kids participated in a sack race, three legged race, ball toss and relay race. Although the rules had to be adapted a bit everyone had fun.
We served canteen twice which was greatly appreciated. The meal consisted of rice, beans, a red sauce and sausage. The school was presented with their first computer and the teachers grinned from ear to ear. We also presented them with a digital camera so that we could have more frequent updates on our projects. We gave the teachers English/French dictionaries and English/Creole dictionaries.
We met with the village nurse, Janet, who was thrilled to work with us on a maternal health program. There are 50 women pregnant in Rantlamouaie all needing vitamins. We managed to supply the women with the tablets. Janet was given a “history” ledger to maintain on the women and their children so that in the future this program can be expanded. Next we will provide "Bundles of Love" home birthing kits and "Bundles of Joy" newborn baby kits. They need the items so desperately. The women also need maternity clothes .
Time flew by really quickly as the littlest projects take a lot more time than expected due to language difficulties. The time in between projects was spent helping out with the cooking and washing dishes. A great investment for the school would be reusable plastic plates, spoons and forks. We found ourselves washing the Styrofoam plates over and over again leaving them to be very fragile and difficult to serve food on.
We were also blessed to be able to attend our first Haitian wedding and reception. The bride was dressed in a beautiful white gown with lots of lace and a train. She had a veil and wore white lace gloves. The groom wore a nice suit. Guests wore their finest clothes and shared a lovely service as well as a traditional meal of beans and rice after the ceremony.
We presented the family whose house we stayed in with many gifts to share(hot pads, soap, washcloths, lotions, clothes, aprons, etc.). I know this was greatly appreciated.
Exilent, the lay leader, told Father Milor that the people in the village are more enthusiastic than ever because now they see “hope” through our work.