Wednesday, March 31, 2010


In the last few days the internet (brought to us by HughesNet via satellite) has been excruciatingly slow.  Have a hard time surfing the web for that reason and I can forget about downloading anything.  It's encouraging to see so many responses to my query.  Maybe when the net is faster I'll be able to look up some of this stuff.
I hope you all realize that this blog is a kind of therapy for me.  I sit and rehash the recent events, dwell on some emotions and, hopefully, inform you all as to what's going on down here.
A woman came to see me today.  She's 32 years old, was a beautician and studying to be a lab tech in Port-au-Prince.  Her husband died in the earthquake but her three boys, ages four and younger, are doing all right.  Well, if you call living with friends in a house too small to accommodate them and going hungry everyday "all right".  Her host family has not been able to get any assistance, food or otherwise.  Her two older boys can't go to school because there's no money.  She has been looking for work and has found nothing.  She doesn't want a handout, she needs a job.  Couldn't help her out and she just broke down crying.  We gave her some food but that will run out in a week. 
Admittedly, this is sad.  Now multiply this by thousands and you have an idea of what life is like here these days.  I have asked a few big NGOs for help but their hands are tied--at least at the local level.  They get their orders from above.  (I'll save my sarcasm for some other time.)  The Haitian government is broken, has been for a long time.  It is inept and chronically corrupt.  The big NGOs can't seem to work together in responding to the needs of the poor.  I have seen so much good will since the earthquake both here with Haitians and across the globe.  But there's just a huge disconnect that prevents the right help getting to the right people.  I can't help but think that sin is at the root of this disconnect.  Of course I'd say that, I'm a priest after all.  Greed, selfishness, ego, self-absorption, fear, pride... all are present here as they are almost everywhere.  The Holy Triduum starts tomorrow.  Couldn't come at a better time! 


Does anyone know if there are published reports of how much money was raised by the large NGOs in the wake of the devastation that hit Haiti on January 12th?  I read that the Red Cross was being criticized for lack of transparency and that people protested at their headquarters in NY.  What about CRS, World Vision, CARE...? 
I've seen lots of small NGOs doing things here in the south.  Not much happening with the big organizations.  There's a lot of activity in Port au Prince which is completely understandable but when will the help come for all the displaced down here and their host families? 
Received a form to be filled in from the Haitian Government's Office of Planification.  They want to know who is doing what.  They aren't the only ones.


Less than twelve hours later, Bonhomme's eye looks much better.  He claims it doesn't hurt much but Bonhomme has always been a "stiff upper lip" child.  He is definitely not a whiner.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This is what happens when a hard object runs into soft flesh.  Bonhomme was studying when another child came running by with a stick in his hands. The stick somehow came into contact with Bonhomme's eye.  Lucky for him that there was no eye damage.  He's seen here with a bottle of frozen water which he rubs on his eye whenever he has a chance.  We keep the bottle in the Quad freezer.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome to the Durandisse brothers

Three brothers and new residents: Charly is 14.  Jamesly Jean-Baptiste (center) is 8 and Jamesley Jean-Baptiste is probably 6.  They are seen here at our clinic getting their physicals.  They passed with flying colors though there are signs of protein malnourishment.


Saw Sam sitting by himself this afternoon.  Will keep an eye on him as this isn't typical.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


We were involved in a small accident this afternoon.  No one was hurt.  Johnny was driving and a soccer ball came into the street from the right.  Johnny stopped as often a child follows the ball.  Before we could say anything- CRASH- the car behind us ran into us.  We made out all right.  The step plate can easily be fixed but the other guy?  Well, here's the photo.
All his lights were smashed, the grill pushed in and the hood crinkled a bit.  He kept saying it was our fault until the police arrived and set him straight. He's lucky he wasn't arrested as he threatened one of the cops who was first on scene.  Just another day in our tropical paradise!

A poor family

Mother with eight children living in one small room near Les Cayes.  She's pregnant and the rent is due.  Husband left her with the kids and the bills.
Photos of two of her boys who will moving to ESPWA probably tomorrow.  The photo on the bottom is of 8 year old Guerlin, that's his nickname.  Real name is Jamesley.  He was outside a small restaurant yesterday and crying when Nathalie saw him.  He had dropped a plate of chicken bones and had not eaten all day.  Nathalie and Dino bought him some food and then drove him home.

AIDS Prevention Program

Three of our boys won prizes for their posters depicting different aspects of the AIDS Prevention Training they have received.  Frankie's poster shows that we should not ostracize people with HIV or AIDS.  Michael's stresses the importance of education in the fight against AIDS and Andre encourages everyone to be tested and to remain faithful.  Good job, guys!
 Djoune Constant, AIDS Prevention Program Director, Miss Betty, FanFan and Nancy are the program leaders and doing a terrific job.

Dimanche des Rameaux

Gathering for the Palm Sunday procession

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scout leaders

Jimmy, Michael, Lines and Jean-Robert
Four of our scout leaders posed for a photo this afternoon. The others have no uniforms so they felt awkward about being in the photo.


Caught Dedelay daydreaming about the day he'll be behind the wheel of his own vehicle.  He'll be learning to drive soon.  Consider yourselves warned!!

Rosie and the rabbits

Rosie (Roosvelt Pierre) comes by several times a day to make sure that the bunnies get fed.  There are 23 right now.  They are kept separate from the mamas until they are a bit bigger or mama will inadvertently step on 'em.  Ouch!

Friday, March 26, 2010


A local artist paints our name on two of our vehicles.  The man is very talented!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Zonyon (scallions) ready to be transplanted from the nursery.
Cabbage patch
Haitian spinach
Green peppers
It is anyone's guess when the rains will come so we plant and pray that the veggies are big enough to survive the rainy season.  Because we are in a flood plain and the rains tend to come down in buckets,  the sooner we get them in the ground the better!!

Mama with six ducklings

Ran into Mama duck and her brood while out for a stroll this afternoon.  The kiddies were all following her in line but Mama stopped as I was right in their way and the little ones gathered.  These belong to MacKenson Michel who raises them for cash.  I've never seen or heard of anyone eating duck here.  Cat, yes.  Duck, no!

South African Boers

This is our male South African Boer who does nothing all day but eat, sleep and procreate.  He's not complaining.
Two of his youngest offspring taking a rest after frolicking.
I only found out recently that we had South African Boer goats here.  I had asked for and believed we had purchased some Nubian goats as I had heard that they produced a whole lot of milk.  I was wrong.  Not only that, but we should have bought Alpine Nubian goats!  Who knew?  Next time we'll get the right kind if we can find them here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tailor's dream

One of our tailors, Nazaire, measures Baseman.  He will tailor the clothes that came in on the M/V SeaHunter so that it fits Baseman.  We received a lot of adult sized clothing and our older boys are smaller than that so the tailors have their work cut out for them..

REACH House for our girls

The REACH team plods along digging by hand one of the septic systems for the girls' home.
This is what it's gonna look like when they're done.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going away get-together

Doctors Larry and Danielle will be departing tomorrow.  Thank you very much for coming down here and spending precious time with us and for sharing more family with us.  You are good friends.

Great news!

Maxime and Louinda Louis announce the birth of their son, Lentz Max Angel Louis born 21 March 2010 at 1025 PM.  Congrats to them, especially Louinda!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Bergeman, one of our apprentice welders, puts the anti-rust paint on the gate our welders just finished for an outside client.  This is GOOD!  The guys get a little extra money, publicity is made which will hopefully bring in more clients and the guys feel a sense of pride in doing a good job.

Prayer Request

Virginie, pushing seventy, was hit by a motorcycle today who just left her there bleeding in the street.  Could not take her to the General Hospital as they are on strike again.  We took her to CiteMed.  Doctor thinks she has a concussion.  Can't verify as we don't have the equipment.  She recognized Nathalie so that's a good sign.  The poor are all saying that if you get into an accident tonight, might as well say your prayers cause you won't find treatment anywhere else.  What a pathetic situation!  And the Haitian government wants to control the billions of dollars of relief aid!!  Yeah, right!
To those who don't know-- Virginie is part of the ESPWA family.  For years she worked in our kitchen and made the best roasted peanuts.  She's been sick of late and we help her out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

TiOurs (little Bear)

Oh, almost forgot, TiOurs got a new car today, too.  I think he was ten times happier to get his than we were to get the Toyota after so much waiting.

Our new LandCruiser

This is the Toyota LandCruiser that was ordered 18 months ago when we started the AIDS Prevention Program funded by both Cross International and USAID.  It has been sitting in customs for months on end.  It FINALLY arrived today.  Customs has got to be one of our biggest headaches!

Saturday morning

Saturday morning clean up crew 
Ryan has got these guys all revved up to pick up litter.  It takes a lot of hands to pick up a lot of litter.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Impromptu music session

Seems like music is ever present here.  Above is a shot of Ryan, Jimmy and Prosper singing and playing some religious songs.  Jimmy is our new guitar player and really gets into the music-- he's directing Ryan in this photo.

Baseman and Kakorne

Baseman and KaKorne (artist names) perform for our departing guests.  Baseman is the grandson of Mami, the photogenic grandmother, and Kakorne is illiterate but they create amazing music.

Au revoir

Aaron, Paul, Danielle and Larry Mutty
Aaron and his dad, Paul, will be leaving us tomorrow... something about school.  Aaron is in high school and his dad works at another educational facility.
Jerry, on the left, is leaving us after a month of being on call 24/7.  He has become part of the fabric here and we'll miss him.  His sense of humor, his dedication and his great attitude make him a wonderful guest.  Hurry back, Jerry!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


If you scroll down a bit you'll see the post on the homes we build for the poor.  I have to make a correction because I was using the figures from old reports and not current ones.  I was off by 30% as that's how much construction materials and fuel have gone up.  What was once a $1,500 house is now $1,950 and so on.  Sorry about this.  I should always verify with my experts before broadcasting facts and figures.  Nice to know that some of the staff bother to read this blog! 

Meeting with employees

Every now and then we meet with as many employees as we can to bring them up to speed on organizational changes, insurance matters, critiques and compliments.  With more children we need more employees so these meetings allow them to feel a part of the family.  It's also a way to reinforce the good that is being done here.  They applauded especially loudly when they heard that a raise was in the works.

From bus to clinic

Flexibility is the name of the game.  We are using our school us as a vaccination clinic.  It's parked right outside the primary school.
The kids enter, their names are registered and they are passed down the line to one of the docs who does a quick physical.
They are then sent to be vaccinated by either Ryan (immediately above or Paul).  A lollipop or small candy is their reward.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


A couple of our friends from UNPOL, United Nations Police, dropped by for a visit today.  They were invaluable when we were unloading the M/V SeaHunter.  The gentleman on the left is from Jamaica and the other is from Minnesota, USA.  We toured part of the campus, visiting the school and the clinic.  These are good guys to have as friends.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Someone asked in a comment on a previous post how much it might cost to build a home for a Haitian family.  Above is an example of a two room house we built for the Remarais family.  It ran just under $3,500.  Some are more expensive if they are far from the city and others cheaper if they live near the river where we get our sand.  We build one room homes that run about $1,500 - $2,000 but Lord knows how long we'll be able to do this as prices keep inching upward for all construction material.  There's no electrical nor plumbing and the family must own land.

For our friends at la Charite

We filled up the Kia truck with disposable diapers, towels and rehab equipment for our friends at la Charite, Mother Theresa's place in town.  They can surely use whatever we can send them but especially the special needs equipment.  We've started distributing the humanitarian goods we received via the M/V SeaHunter.  There's still lots of sorting of clothing going on but the medical, personal hygiene and food stuff are pretty much squared away so we are spreading the wealth.

Eleven more little victims

These nine boys and two girls were brought to us today by relatives who can no longer care for them.  Most come from Port-au-Prince.  None are going to school.  We haven't accepted them as we still have to verify their backgrounds, interview them individually and get them checked out by the clinic.  They were on their way there when I caught them with my handy camera.  The trauma of the January 12th earthquake is still happening for these children.
Maybe if the relief effort was a little less centralized in PaP, these children could stay with their families and not be perceived as another mouth to feed when there's too little food.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spektak for the REACH TEAM

The children wait for the show to begin.
Master of Ceremonies, Chris Constant, announces the acts.
Bonhomme, Bertho, Jean Bertho and Bossico perform a folk dance for our departing guests.
Widmy sings a song he wrote to the amazement of the honored guests. 
The REACH Team is leaving us tomorrow morning so the children got together and performed for them.  We are very grateful for their presence and assistance.