It is hard to know where to start – there are so many exciting developments.
A small group from Covenant (Jim Ingvoldstad, Debbie Griffin and Lee Wilder) and Debbie’s son (Zack Pitts) and Kurt Swensson, a structural engineer, went to Haiti the first week in May to check on our ongoing projects. As always, the trip unfolded in ways that we did not expect but with wonderful results.
- WATER. We learned that clinic at Nouvelle Citie had been without water for a year. Apparently, the earthquake of 2010 resulted in some rubble filling the bottom of the well and damaging the pump. The partnership had worked to assess the problem and get it fixed but the extent of the progress was acquiring a new pump and having an expert from Port au Prince come and confirm that there was water in the well. Pere Soner was extremely discouraged by the situation but Kurt and Zack offered to take a look at the pump. They looked at the old pump, the pipelines and decided to give it a shot. With an old suitcase full of random tools, ingenuity and quite a few helpers, Zack and Kurt rigged up the new pump and we (very, very slowly) lowered it 175 feet into the well. With hearts in throats, the pump was turned on….. and WATER spewed forth. Hugs, cheers and tears followed. Women raced up the hill from the clinic to see for themselves. It is overwhelmingly humbling to truly understand how much we take water for granted.
- WATER part two. Alan Colussey gave us a cast iron hand pump (and there is sure to be a story there!). The cistern at Nan Mango is tall and deep and water is pulled up by buckets. The elderly caretaker at our school has to stand on stacked rocks to get water. The dynamic duo (Zack and Kurt) sprang into action and installed this pump and rigged up a long spout which will make it easy to fill buckets.
- WATER part three. Construction for the second cistern at Nan Mango, thanks to generous donations from Covenant friends and family. Three men with pick axes were working away and blocks were stacked ready for construction.
- CHILDREN’S NUTRITION. We met with the nurse and healthcare worker who are administering the medika mamba program that we are using through Meds & Foods for Kids. Miss Esther and Mdme Michilene are very excited about the program and impressed with the results. Jim met 4 children from 3 families who have completed the program and he was amazed at the weight gain and health. Our original grant was to treat 30 children but MFK has increased our grant to cover 50 children. This is wonderful progress and a cause for celebration.
- EDUCATION: Again, with generous support, we have been able to begin construction on the two new classrooms. They should be complete by the time of the fall Covenant trip.
- ADULT EDUCATION: We have spent a great deal of time doing research and have identified an organization in Port au Prince that has a well established adult literacy program. This program is based on training a select group of people who are already literate to become teachers of adult education. The program involved four months of classes with close supervision. At the end of the program, we would have taught 100 people the basics of literacy and would have 10-12 trained teachers. Pere Soner has given us the go-ahead to pursue this and we are in the process of securing funding.
- CLINIC: As always, the arrival of Dr. Jim is a grand event at the Bill Rice Clinic. Jim saw over 125 patients and kept the ultra-sound machine humming.
- WOMEN’S PROJECTS: Debbie met with our women’s group and distributed sewing kits and crochet materials. One of the teachers at Nan Mango has stepped up to be the leader of the sewing cooperative. We hope to have a workshop this fall and have applied for a grant for sewing machines and training.
- TRADE SCHOOL. A trade school on LaGonave is a long term goal, and an ambitious one. The island desperately needs trained mechanics and electricians and other skills are also needed. We have submitted a grant proposal to a large US foundation and Pere Soner has identified a parcel of land that we inspected on this trip.
We are always mindful that these trips are not possible without the enthusiasm of the friends and supporters. We have truly developed friendships on LaGonave and these Haitian friends know that we merely represent a larger group in Atlanta. There are many reasons to be filled with hope.