Monday, February 28, 2011

FROG ALERT - rrrrribbbit

The children were excited to find a frog on our staircase leading to the roof. I grabbed my camera and raced outside to see what type of frog it might be. I told the children not to move and took some photos from different angles. This is a front view. You can see that the front legs are hanging on one bar and the back legs stretched to the back bar. I think that the frog was stuck and didn't know whether to hop backwards or forwards! I tried to see if I could get it to croak because in Haiti a "special" frog was recently rediscovered after being thought to be extinct. The rare frog discovered is called the "ventriloquist frog" and it can throw it's voice. You can hear "rrribit" in front of you and the frog can be in another location. This is not a lie! Please read the following article from VOA (Voice of America) :)

(VOA) - Rosanne Skirble

Rediscovered lost species sound hopeful note

As Haiti marks the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake that destroyed its capital, the Haitian people continue to struggle to rise from the ruins that still surround them.

One sign of hope is in the country’s dwindling forested region, where a team of scientists journeyed late last year in search of lost frogs.

Frog hunt
Robin Moore led the frog hunt. He’s a scientist with Conservation International and leader of a global campaign to find lost frogs. He spent eight days last October in the cloud forest in the southern part of the country, scouring trees, river beds and ground cover for frogs.

One day, he heard a call from a frog that was easy to identify but hard to catch. “One of the challenges is it really does throw its voice," Moore says. "So we would spend an hour, an hour and a half, honing in on this frog and we kept finding that we weren’t finding it where it was supposedly calling from.”

It turned out to be a strategy the Hispaniolan Ventriloquial frog uses to defend itself against predators. The tiny brown and orange frog hadn’t been seen in 20 years. The team also found five other lost species and about half of the 50 amphibians known to live in the region.

Moore says this was an encouraging sign given such widespread deforestation in Haiti, where only two percent of the original forest survives. “We’re at a point where we need to try to really protect these last fragments of forest in order to have something to build on.”

Looking to the future
Moore says the surviving healthy forest underscores the importance of protecting natural ecosystems for the services they provide, not only for amphibians, but for the entire watershed.

“They are filtering water that is supplying downstream communities and cities downstream including Port-au-Prince that is supplied by water that originates in these mountains.”

Moore says if forests are cleared, the soil erodes and muddies the water people use to drink. “So, just one of the services provided by the forests is clean water.”

Conservation International plans to work with non-governmental groups in Haiti to help people learn how to make a living from the forest without destroying it. Moore says the cultivation of shade grown coffee is one such idea.

“It’s hard for them to invest in things like this because it is a long-term investment. So we want to be able to absorb some of that risk and provide ways for them to earn a living without having to cut down the forest, to make charcoal, to clear areas to grow cash crops.”

Moore says, managed properly, species and ecosystems can become a source of natural wealth and national pride for Haiti.


Please continue to pray for the Pye family. Daniel is still in jail but more people are getting involved on the case. Pray that he is released soon and be able to rejoin his wife for the birth of their child. A recent article follows below:

(Bradenton) - By Paradise Afshar

Family, friends fight to free jailed Bradenton dad, missionary

Everything moves slowly in Haiti.

After seven years, Daniel Pye and his wife, Leann, both from Bradenton, had grown accustomed to that unwritten law of the land.

They run an orphanage and mission in the southern coastal city of Jacmel, where they care for 22 children along with their 4-year-old daughter, Riann. Leann is expecting a son, Joseph Daniel, in a few weeks, too.

But the system came to a grinding halt more than four months ago, and it has them trapped in a nightmare.

Daniel is in jail and Leann said he did nothing wrong. She has been pleading for help since she returned to Bradenton in January.

The U.S. Embassy is working to move Daniel’s case forward, as are two Haitian senators and the country’s Ministry of Justice, she said.

Several lawyers, missionary friends and the senior pastor of her church in Haiti are also fighting to free Daniel.

The first arrest
On Oct. 13, Daniel was arrested and jailed without charges being filed against him.

The 29-year-old was detained after he and his wife went to the courthouse to sort out assets with a previous organization they worked with, said Leann, 27. During the process, Investigative Judge Jean Maxon Samedy ordered Daniel’s arrest.

“I was literally spazzing out in two languages, no one knew what was happening,” Leann said.

She said it was a pressure tactic to make sure the couple signed over assets. Daniel would be released if they did so, they were told.

They signed over the assets, she said. But Daniel wasn’t released.

“I was told my husband was being held by the court and that, legally, the judge can hold somebody up to 90 days to investigate,” Leann said.

According to Haitian law, an investigative judge can hold someone in jail for up to 90 days while an investigation is being conducted, said Joel Petit-Homme, a lawyer in Haiti. The accused doesn’t always have to be in jail during this investigation, but it can happen, he said.

“I remember when Danny was first put in prison. When I was told that he would probably be there for the 90 days. I remember saying, ‘There is no way I will last 90 days. There is no way that I can do Christmas alone.’ When talking with Danny, he said, ‘I can’t do three months in this prison. I won’t live,’ ” Leann wrote on her blog. “I wonder if God saw that as a challenge. Him knowing what the future days held. And now, four months later, I wonder where this strength has come from.”

Christmas eve
Daniel was supposed to be released Christmas Eve.

Leann says she went to the jail to pick up her husband.

As the couple walked away from the jail, he was slapped with another arrest warrant. The judge had ordered Daniel back in jail.

“We were literally about 10 feet outside the prison. And that’s when I had my second meltdown,” Leann said.

The warrant was written in French. But Leann, who speaks Creole and English, said the paper was snatched out of her hand before she could get someone to translate it.

She later learned the judge had charged him with possession of illegal documents -- specifically, his identification card.

Leann said the pair obtained Haitian identification cards legally from the immigration office in Port-au-Prince seven years ago. Daniel’s card expired in April 2010, but he had since obtained another form of legal identification, she said.

In January, doctors told Leann to return to the United States. The stress of the situation could cause premature labor, they said.

The Haitian system
The U.S. State Department warns on its travel website that the “judicial process in Haiti can be extremely slow; process is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific case.”

Jon Piechowski, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, notes that travelers in a foreign country are under their laws and their system.

“For him and his family, it’s a frustrating experience and we are trying to get the government of Haiti to move this along,” he said.

According to Osner Fevry, a legal expert in Haiti providing Daniel assistance pro-bono, the charges against Daniel stem from a personal issue with Samedy, the judge.

After the devastating earthquake in January 2010, a considerable number of international organizations flooded in with relief. Daniel helped translate for one of those groups.

“We knew the people and the language,” Leann said. “We helped an organization rent a hotel.

And it’s my understanding the judge was at that hotel and had to leave,” once it was taken over.

Fevry contends the judge could not “forget this past experience” and now “is taking revenge.”

“I think we’ll get him out. I am convinced there is no evidence to keep him in prison and it’s a kind of personal revenge,” Fevry said. “Ethical and moral principles have been violated by the judge.”

Life behind bars
Being an American might benefit Daniel in jail, according to Ken Boodhoo, an emeritus professor at Florida International University specializing in Haiti.

“It’s fourth world ... they don’t have structure in their society to help them,” said Boodhoo. “He would get good treatment there by Haitian standards because he is an American. It’s very likely they would permit his friends and relatives to take meals to him.”

That’s exactly what Leann did right after Daniel was jailed. She also provided cleaning supplies and medical aid for her husband after he caught malaria, skin infections and had digestive issues that put him in isolation.

Come November, however, all visitation to the jail was severely restricted because of the cholera epidemic. Her visits were limited.

Since her return to the United States, Daniel has been protected and taken care of by his cellmates, who recognize him from his missionary work, she said.

What’s next?
In her blog, “Pye’s in Haiti,” Leann has shared her sadness.


(Miami Herald) - By Frances Robles

More than 4,000 people have died of cholera in Haiti, and while the international attention has focused on the country’s capital, Cuban doctors are providing crucial care in rural areas.

MIREBALAIS -- Wracked by diarrhea, Emmanuel Losier was surprised at what he found when, after two hours on foot, he finally reached the closest cholera treatment center to his central plateau home: plenty of empty beds and Cuban doctors he could not communicate with.

“Without them, the whole country would have been destroyed by now,” Losier said, an IV strapped to his arm and a bucket at his side. “They seem to have a real interest in helping us. I hope they stay.”

Losier was treated last month by Cuba’s medical brigade, a corps of nurses and doctors who experts here say are among the leading health care providers in Haiti’s battle against cholera. He and about a dozen critically ill patients were under a large white tent beside a Mirebalais diagnostic center, which is a joint operation between Cuba, the Haitian Health Ministry, Partners in Health and the University of Miami’s Project Medishare.

As the death toll surpasses 4,000, Haiti is still struggling against challenges of a disease the country had not experienced in 150 years. In rural villages, doctors are often difficult to find.

Some urban treatment centers have lots of beds but few patients. Many earthquake displacement camps still lack clean water and toilets, even as some aid groups begin to scale back water chlorination programs. With the epidemic entering its fourth month, the United Nations’ $164 million appeal for cholera funding remains less than half-filled.

The international community and major aid organizations came under scathing criticism when the disease swept the countryside in October. Doctors Without Borders blasted “one of the largest and best-funded international aid deployments in the world” for failing to stop the spread of the deadly illness despite vast resources.

While many critics found fault with the international community’s response to the raging disease, experts agreed that the Cuban medical brigade quickly filled a critical gap in a country where the death rate is still twice the accepted average.

“The Cuban delegation are unbelievable workhorses,” said David Walton, deputy director of Partners in Health, a Boston-based medical aid organization. “They are very savvy and not afraid to get their hands dirty.”

While the United States poured more than $45 million in supplies and expertise into Haiti’s cholera epidemic, cash-strapped Cuba provided human resources. The brigade is part of a decade-old medical diplomacy program Cuba uses to sow goodwill around the world, which critics argue is aimed at deflecting attention from human rights abuses.

“Cubans sent more doctors and nurses than any other country in the world,’’ said Gabriel Thimothe, director general of the Haitian Health Ministry. “By 7 p.m. the day after we learned of the outbreak, Cuba’s health chief was calling me on the phone saying: ‘We have doctors; where do you want to send them?’”

They sent them to the boondocks, far from established clinics and urban centers.

“The Cubans have a less sophisticated approach, but are much more mobile,’’ said Claude de Ville de Goyet, acting representative for the World Health Organization in Haiti.

At one point, the brigade numbered about 1,400, the United Nations said. By January, there were 47 mobile teams, comprised of both Cuban doctors and foreign graduates of its medical school. About 125 of the doctors deployed were Haitians who had graduated from Cuba’s medical school, former leader Fidel Castro wrote in a newspaper column.

“From time to time, a plane lands with 50 or 100 more,” Thimothe said.

Cuba’s Deputy Health Minister Lorenzo Somarriba, who leads the Haiti mission, told Telesur TV network that the teams work in a number of new community health centers the Cubans helped launch as part of an international effort to rebuild Haiti’s health system.

“What characterizes our work: being in the furthest and most inaccessible places,” he said. “To say ‘Cuban medical brigade in Haiti’ is synonymous with saying, ‘being where the population most needs it.’’’

His staff in Port-au-Prince did not respond to interview requests from The Miami Herald.
The Cuban press — including its chief booster, Castro — has boasted a death rate of .57 percent among its patients. The accepted norm is about 1 percent. Haiti’s average death rate is 2 percent.

To be sure, Cuba was not the only country that stepped in. At least 700 medical professionals flew in from the United States, including Centers for Disease Control experts and Haitian-American doctors, Thimothe said. The first to show up were doctors from the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, he said.

Doctors Without Borders set up about 35 treatment centers.

“The U.S. brought a lot of surveillance equipment and labs. The CDC helped with training,” he said. “The Cubans work in the field.”

Cuban doctors have been based out of the Mirebalais diagnostic center for 11 years and were among the first to ring the bell of alarm that cholera had come to Haiti, Somarriba said on the Telesur interview.

“There were a lot of people coming, more every day,” said Cuban nurse Virginia Quiyala, who has been assigned to Mirebalais for 19 months. “At first we didn’t know what it was, just that it was some kind of epidemic. All of them were in deplorable condition. It was obvious that we were in the middle of something big.”

Doctor Luis Denis González, who started working in Mirebalais in October, acknowledged that even with the 100 people in his team, it wasn’t enough to tackle the streams of people that arrived from the countryside.

“The hardest part of all this is seeing how many of these people don’t have access to clean water,” he said. “Here what most affects you is seeing the conditions people live in: they don’t have water. They don’t have toilets. They don’t have water treatment.”

Haiti now has 100 cholera treatment centers, including several run exclusively by the Cuban brigade. On a recent visit to the Cuban center in Carrefour, several doctors milled about waiting for patients. A Cuban flag draped the entrance.

“We’ve treated three patients so far today,’’ said a doctor who said he was not authorized to give his name. “More will come.”

Thimothe acknowledged that several cholera clinics, including the one in Carrefour, had to be relocated because there were too many unused beds. The placement of treatment centers remains one of the most difficult logistical challenges, he said.

At one point, the hospital in Cap Haitien had 600 beds and 40 patients, he said.

“I do not buy the across-the-board criticism that the international community failed in its response to cholera,’’ said Nigel Fisher, the United Nations’ chief humanitarian officer. “The CDC is doing a lot of work, so are Canada and Latin American nations including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela.

“The Cubans are in the most inaccessible areas doing preventive work. They don’t make a lot of noise, they just do it.”


(AFP) - By Emily Troutman

JACMEL, Haiti — Playing the bongo drums to adoring fans is unusual as presidential campaigns go but this is the Caribbean and Michel Martelly is no ordinary candidate: he is Haiti's former carnival king.

In the nation's cultural capital Jacmel, residents donned extravagant papier mache masks, started up the band and marched through the streets, refusing to be cowed by natural disaster and political turmoil.

Many of the town's brightly-colored, colonial-era facades were destroyed by the January 2010 earthquake that claimed a quarter of a million Haitian lives, including some 500 Jacmellians.

The carnival, the city's lifeblood, was canceled last year as traumatized residents rebuilt shattered lives, but the catchy rhythm of traditional compas music blares once more through historic streets.

Last night, the town had a surprise visitor when the artist formerly known as "Sweet Micky," the self-proclaimed "president of compas," held a rally by the beach to whip up support ahead of next month's run-off election.

Martelly, 50, is a familiar figure here and is hopeful his iconic status as a musician and outrageous carnival performer can help take him all the way to the flattened presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.

But for some voters in a nation confronted by deadly serious problems, ranging from cholera and corruption to endemic poverty and returning dictators, Martelly's colorful past is no cure-all.

Violet, 18, who arrived at the rally in a pink shirt on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle does not seem fussed. She just hoped it was the rock star that turned up, not the politician.

"I came for Sweet Micky, but I think I'll get Michel Martelly," she told AFP, among hundreds of delighted girls in pink vying to catch a glimpse of their hero.

Pink is Martelly's signature color and has been for years, since he regularly rocked the floats at the carnival.

Pink posters, pink flags, pink shirts, pink hats and a special pink stage, adorned the city overnight, before his supposedly surprise arrival.

As a musical star, Martelly was famous for dirty, straight-talking songs. His 1990's hit "Yon ti Moral" called out the government and police forces for stealing rice in a corruption scheme during Haiti's embargo days.

Mirlande Manigat, the other candidate for president, has framed this vital presidential election around morality, a pointed jab at Martelly's former wild days and off-color lyrics.

Before he arrived to take the stage in Jacmel, a singer led the crowd through one of Martelly's dirtiest songs. The lyrics are unprintable.

"I'm 100 percent for Manigat," said Claude Etienne, a teacher. "If she was here, you might see a few people, not thousands. But that's because there's more bad people than good people."

But Etienne too sang along, then watched as a man dressed as a woman launched into a fierce dance routine. Although he said he believed Martelly followers were immoral, he had no qualms about enjoying the show.

"I'm just here to relax, have a few beers, smoke some cigarettes, and then go home," he said.

The earthquake delayed the election cycle in Haiti, so no candidate has ever had the chance to campaign at carnival time. It would seem a natural fit for Martelly, up against a bookier and less hip rival in 70-year-old Manigat.

Throughout his campaign, Martelly has leaned on his celebrity to draw crowds. Some are curious, some hopeful he'll sing.

Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born international hip-hop star, recently endorsed Martelly and was spotted with the candidate this weekend in Jacmel.

Music, especially compas, is a vital component of Haitian life. Weddings, funerals, political rallies and street corners are all infused with its rhythm and melody.

Natalie, 19, again in pink, was not offended by Martelly's lyrics.

"They're about things that happen in life," she said. "He's lived through it; he's not associating himself with it. At least, not anymore."

Martelly seized the carnival celebrations as a campaign event but downplayed his own identity as a musician.

As he took the stage on Saturday, he posed for photos and spent a few minutes playing along with the band on a set of bongo drums.

He sang a few bars but left most of the singing to others, and, as if to counter his wild boy reputation, his wife and kids were in tow.

Fans who came expecting a performance of a different kind were disappointed.

"I'm going to head downtown and see if I can still catch some music," said one voter, Wilson Charles.


(New York Times) - By Pooja Bhatia and Damien Cave

PORT AU-PRINCE — Three weeks after the Haitian government gave a diplomatic passport to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country’s exiled former president, his planned return appears to have stalled amid unresolved security and logistical concerns.

Mr. Aristide’s longtime lawyer, Ira Kurzban of Miami, accused the United States and France of interfering with his client’s efforts to go home, while in Port-au-Prince, the mood at Mr. Aristide’s refurbished residence has been dampened.

“We were sure President Aristide would be here by now,” said one of the caretakers, Cerdene Blanc, 35. “Personally, I’ll never stop believing he will return, but I don’t know when anymore.”

Determining when or if Mr. Aristide might return from his exile in South Africa continues to be difficult. American officials have clearly stated that they oppose efforts to bring him back before Haiti's March 20 runoff election, arguing that Mr. Aristide’s presence would create instability — a charge his supporters deny. They see Mr. Aristide, a former Catholic priest, as Haiti’s conscience, a true democratic leader, who could pressure the government and international donors to help the poor.

Nonetheless, international opposition is a concern, according to Mr. Kurzban, because all commercial flights from South Africa fly through countries allied with the United States.

“The idea that Aristide can simply get on a plane and come back to Haiti ignores the fact that he’s not just a Haitian citizen returning home,” Mr. Kurzban said. “There are security concerns and powerful governments that have already expressed a desire to keep him out of the country.”

In the midst of such vague diplomacy, however, it is not clear whether a private flight would be held on the ground by the South African authorities, or if it would be allowed to land in Haiti.

While Haiti’s top officials — including the president and prime minister — have said Mr. Aristide had the right to return, they have failed to outline specific plans for it, especially in terms of security.

A letter to the Foreign Ministry from Mr. Kurzban requesting that Haiti work with South Africa to ensure Mr. Aristide’s return has received no response. And last Thursday and Friday, several Haitian officials either refused to talk about Mr. Aristide or insisted that other issues were more important.

“This country needs to be rebuilt and that needs to be the priority right now,” said Alice Blanchet, a special advisor to Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

Some supporters, acknowledging disappointment, have even begun to think that it might be better for Mr. Aristide to wait. That may mean trying to return under a new president who would be less friendly that the current president, Rene Preval. But Patrick Elie, a political activist who has served in the Aristide and Préval governments, blamed Aristide’s own political organization, Fanmi Lavalas, for failing to build widespread support and to “prepare the return of somebody who is a living symbol.”

Echoing the concerns of many, he added, “I won’t sit back and let him become a martyr.”

Sunday, February 27, 2011

photos - marlene's team - part 25

Sunday afternoon we went for a drive and were driving through the Tabarre area. The visitors wanted to stop to take a photo of this large dove statue in a small little park setting.

I told the visitors that the residence of the ex-president Jean Bertrand Aristide was across the street. The graffitti written on the wall of his property reads "Aristide must return quickly".

In the driveway at the entrance to Aristide's property was a UN tank manned by soldiers from Brazil. One of the soldier's popped up through the hatch to take a look at what the "blance" were up to.

We thought it unusual that we saw a few tanks parked in several locations and Marlene asked the soldier what was going on.

The soldier replied "Traffic Control"! We thought that was kind of strange. There was not much traffic on a Sunday afternoon.

photos - marlene's team - part 26

The talk of town is when Jean Bertrand Aristide is returning. This is a photo of him on his gate. Right now he is in exile in South Africa and plans are being made for his return.

Grounds workers were busy inside the gates cleaning the property.

The guys wanted to take a photo with one of the soldiers.

A few of the others sat on the back hatch of the tank.

Liz never gave up her quest to be able to enter inside the tank. She had a long conversation with the friendly soldier seated inside. We asked him why the tank had propellers on the back and he told us that it could move in water... just like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

photos - marlene's team - part 27

Mission accomplished! This is a photo of Liz sitting inside the tank. Congratulations! We found out later that the reason the tanks were in the area was because of a rumor that Aristide had arrived at the airport. It wasn't true.

While we were at the St. Christophe mass grave memorial site the visitors asked if there were any beaches nearby. We saw a gate open on a damaged/abandoned property and went inside. We were right by the seashore. With joy the team headed to wade in the water.

The guys were being cool and didn't want to join in on the fun.

It was quiet and peaceful. The people living nearby rely on fishing to make a living. This is a typical haitian fishing boat.

We headed out exploring along the coastline.

photos - marlene's team - part 28

This area used to be more developed. Time... and the earthquake have caused some things to crumble. I think the steel structure in the distance was some form of hoist for boats.

We passed some fishermen with their nets.

It was a nice and peaceful walk along the coast.

Different size fishing boats were along the shore.

These trees/bushes were growing in the saltwater alond the shore. I think these are mangroves. I thought that was kind of neat seeing vegetation growing in saltwater.

photos - marlene's team - part 29

We had fun hunting for seashells by the seashore.

Haiti's coastline has a lot of shells available for the picking.

These boys were sitting on their families canoes. They enjoyed watching the "blanc".

At one time this rocky outcropping must have been some form of pier. This boy walked out to the end and posed for a photo. More mangroves are growing in the distance right in the middle of the water.

This cute little boy was keeping an eye on us as well.

photos - marlene's team - part 30

These local children wanted to ham it up for the camera.

The visitors found the "mother load" for shells. Hundreds of shells all in one location!

The animal living inside these shells are boiled and removed from the shells and then eaten. The pile of shells was the disposal pile after the animal was removed from inside the shell. In the same area we heard music playing....

... and walked a little further and came across this resort where people were swimming and enjoy the sun!

We came back with a lot of souvenir conch shells. Someone called Johnny on his cell phone and we had some fun talking on our conch shells!


(IDB) -

Project in partnership with NGOs, foundations and development agencies

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)announced a $4 million grant for a project to provide job training to 9,000 unemployed and out-of-school young Haitians.

The four-year Haiti Youth Reconstruction Academy project, with a total estimated cost of $9.3 million, will be carried out by the Haitian NGO IDEJEN. The MasterCard Foundation, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Education Development Center, and Catholic Relief Services are also partners in the project.

The project will offer young men and women ages 15 to 24 six months of intensive job training, mentoring, life skills development and literacy and numeracy courses. YouthBuild International, a U.S. non-profit with a long track record in training unemployed young adults in applied work skills, will support the project’s design and implementation.

Trainees will receive stipends for participating in community construction projects such as rebuilding houses, schools or sanitary blocks. To promote financial responsibility and management skills, the project will match every dollar saved by the trainees with two dollars in a savings account which they will be able to access upon graduation.

The project will establish partnerships with local governments, businesses and organizations to recruit mentors for its trainees as well as to find internship and employment opportunities for graduates. IDEJEN will follow up on its alumni for six months after their graduation, providing guidance as they pursue jobs, further education or vocational training, or start their own businesses.

In addition, the project will finance the improvement of the facilities, equipment and operations of the 12 community-based centers where the training will take place. The teaching manuals and monitoring and evaluation tools developed by the project will be provided to the Haitian Ministry of Education’s National Institute of Vocational Training.

MIF, part of the Inter-American Development Bank group, promotes economic growth and poverty reduction through private sector development, focusing on microenterprises and small and medium-size businesses. Since the 2010 earthquake it has approved more than $16 million in grants to support projects in Haiti, with an emphasis on jobs and income generation.

YouthBuild International
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
The MasterCard Foundation
Education Development Center
Catholic Relief Services

Haiti and the IDB


(University World News) - By Garry Pierre-Pierre

A completion date of January 2012 for a new university in Haiti has been announced by the Dominican Republic's President Leonel Fernández. It will be built in the northern city of Cap Haïtien at a cost of $30 million, and will be fully funded by the neighbouring Dominican Republic government and business community.

Dominican and Haitian officials say the university will accommodate 10,000 students. It will consist of several three-storey buildings, 78 classrooms, library, meeting rooms, state-of-the art computing facilities, including provision for virtual teaching, and scientific research laboratories, totalling 300,000 square metres of development. The institution will be a public university, in a country where private universities were proliferating before the earthquake. The aim is to open the new university by the second anniversary of last year's 12 January earthquake.

By building the new university outside the capital Port-au-Prince, which was devastated by the earthquake, the new project dovetails with new Association of Francophone Universities (AUF) proposals for Haiti, which have been obtained by University World News.

"Higher education needs to be decentralised along with other social services and economic development," said the AUF proposal.

According to AUF, more than half the country's universities or professional schools are concentrated in Port-au-Prince and that presents two fundamental problems: it favours the development of the country's western region to the detriment of the others; and it increases the vulnerability of the system to natural calamities, such as the earthquake and hurricanes that often hit the Caribbean state.

The plan also suggests creating a national conference of university rectors as well as inter-university doctoral programmes. More professors with doctoral degrees should be recruited to strengthen university teaching across the country, under the AUF plan.

Indeed, according to an AUF report, Haiti's higher education system is in dire need of administrative and systemic reform. The report concludes that the country's university system has been functioning without a legal framework defining how both the State University of Haiti (until now the only major public higher education body) and the private higher universities should be regulated and supervised.

It adds that Haitian higher education institutions also need to budget money to fund research. In recent years, most of these institutions have had very small research programmes.

"Higher education institutions need to be endowed with well-equipped laboratories and equivalent university libraries to support research work," the report states. "One of the most valuable forms of assistance that the international community could provide towards supporting Haitian higher education institutions would be access to electronic libraries and other scholarly resources to facilitate research."

Meanwhile, as students await the physical reconstruction of schools and universities, courses are being offered remotely by the Salesian University Network, via 13 computer centres established across the country in communities of the Salesian Catholic order. These are currently allowing students to improve their skills in computer science, English and Spanish.

"Taking part in the Salesian University Network is an important step for these youth," said Father Mark Hyde, the Salesian Missions director.


(PRWeb) -

Salesian Missions reports students are already contributing to the rebuilding Haiti—even as they learn new skills to become the country’s future business people, teachers, construction workers and leaders.

Students are already contributing to the rebuilding Haiti—even as they learn new skills to become the country’s future business people, teachers, construction workers and leaders.

In Cite Soleil and La Saline, children are returning to classrooms in temporary shelters built by Salesian Missions’ own vocational students. The Little Schools of Father Bohnen— "Oeuvre des Petites Ecoles de Père Bohnen" or OPEPB in French—are in operation despite of the fact that buildings were destroyed and some things are in short supply. The school has found ways to turn the circumstances into learning opportunities.

“While we lack tools and equipment for the vocational students to work with, we are involving them in various projects including construction, tailoring of school uniforms for the younger children, carpentry and painting, thereby encouraging them to contribute to the rebuilding of their school and their country,” says Father Zucchi Ange Olibrice, executive director of the Little Schools (OPEPB).

Fr. Zucchi says he expects about 20,000 students to enroll before the end of the school year, as many families who moved to other towns after the earthquake are now returning to Port-au-Prince.

According to Salesian Missions, many of these students will be studying vocational trades as well as training to be teachers to help prepare future generations of leaders.

OPEPB is among the most progressive and the largest school program in Haiti, serving Port-au-Prince’s “best and brightest,” Fr. Zucchi adds.

Prior to the earthquake, the school provided education from preschool to vocational training. Teacher training programs educated teachers to serve at the Little Schools and Early Learning Centers. At the time of the quake, hundreds of students were killed—many studying to become teachers.

There were also three vocational schools that provided both academic and occupational instruction to 2,400 students in more than 16 careers, including automotive body and repair, automotive mechanics, baking and pastry arts, carpentry, computer typography, culinary arts, electrical maintenance and construction, electronics, horticulture, jewelry design, leatherwork, masonry, plumbing, sewing, tailoring and welding.

Before the earthquake Jan. 12, 2010, the school had added a business technology program to prepare students for entry level office positions.

“These classes were implemented to keep pace with the changing needs of the country. This work will continue as we rebuild,” says Fr. Zucchi, who noted that even before the earthquake there was a high demand for trained individuals and that their placement rate for business students was nearly 100 percent.

At OPEPB, rebuilding has already begun on one of the elementary schools, with many of the workers former students who learned valuable skills in construction. Walls are also being erected to secure the properties where other schools were situated. According to the United Nations Development Program, 80 percent of schools in Port-au-Prince and 60 percent in its South and West departments were destroyed or damaged.

“Our goal is to rebuild all the schools in the near future. We hope to foster positive self image and citizens capable of contributing democratically to the betterment of their country,” says Fr. Zucchi.

He adds that Salesians are fully committed to rebuilding its educational infrastructure in Haiti. Since 1935, Salesians have worked to educate Haiti’s most vulnerable youth and trained the best and brightest to become future business people, teachers, construction workers and leaders.

Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, NY, is raising funds to help rebuild its schools and programs in Haiti. Donations are still urgently needed and can be made by going to

Salesian Missions has launched to keep the public informed of its progress in Haiti.


(ReliefWeb) - By Jason Friesen - Source: Project HOPE

With the grand opening set for March 11, Project HOPE staff and volunteers have been busy putting the final touches on the rehabilitation facilities. Inspired by art from local artists, the rehab facilities were named "Change Lavi Diquini", which means Changing Lives in Creole.

However, Project HOPE and their partner organizations Christian Blind Mission and Prosthetika, haven't had to wait for the new rehab facilities to start changing lives. Over 50 local Haitians have already received new prosthetic limbs and a small crowd sits outside the temporary facilities everyday waiting to receive physical and occupation therapy – a medical service which had been non-existent in the Diquini community less than a year earlier.

With the new facilities, disabled Haitians will be able to receive top-notch rehabilitative services, as brand new equipment is being brought in based on the same guidelines that rehab clinics in North America use. But what makes this clinic unique is the fact that all of the services will be provided by newly-trained physical therapy technicians, as strengthening the capacity of local health professionals is a central part of the entire project.

The grand opening ceremony on March 11th will be quite an event, as Project HOPE and its partner organizations have booked the Haitian Secretary for the Inclusion of Disabled Persons as the keynote speaker, and have also invited some local disabled musicians to perform. And in order to guarantee that as many disabled persons as possible can take part in the rehab's services, Christian Blind Mission and Project HOPE are working with their newly hired Community Outreach Workers to help spread the word in the surrounding communities about the new facilities and the free physical rehabilitation care that we're offering.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


(Reuters Alertnet) - By Robert Shaw

PORT AU PRINCE – A month before a massive earthquake derailed pretty much everything in Haiti, the government set up a climate change division within its environment ministry, building on a “National Adaptation Plan of Action” (NAPA) the government announced in 2006.

But in the aftermath of the devastation, climate change has been all but forgotten in Haiti as the country struggles to deal with pressing rebuilding priorities.

“We have seen very little concrete action in terms of climate change,” admits Jean Pierre Moise, Haiti’s climate chief.

Still, promises by rich nations to provide $100 billion a year in funding by 2020 to help vulnerable countries deal with climate change may present opportunities for Haiti to address its problems and vulnerabilities, particularly if it can overcome longstanding political paralysis, experts say.

“Over the last number of years it is true that there has been a void of leadership in Haiti, and with no budget, no authority and no capacity, very little can be achieved,” said Ross Gartley, a disaster risk specialist at the World Bank.

But Haiti now has a “unique opportunity to position itself to get big financing further down the line … and to build solid capacity,” he said.

Many Haitians live in urban areas that are vulnerable to landslides and floods, a point not lost on the Ministry of the Environment. About a year before the devastating January 2010 earthquake, which claimed more than 50,000 lives, the ministry appointed 26 Haitian artists, actors, comedians and journalists as environment and disaster risk reduction ambassadors.

Haitian mayors are also beginning to understand the need to act on climate concerns, international experts say.

"We have already begun work with the mayor of Port-au-Prince, Muscadin Jean-Yves Jason, to bring together local leaders from around the country and the world in raising political commitment to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation,” said Ricardo Mena, head of the Americas office of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

But action is still far off. At Pic Macaya, in Haiti’s remote southern mountains, researchers in October rediscovered six rare frogs and other amphibians not seen in nearly two decades in a much-abused national park. The region where the animals live has been all but denuded of trees by illegal loggers and charcoal harvesters.

The loss of trees leaves land more erosion prone, less stable and less able to absorb rainwater, raising the risks of landslides, flooding and drought, experts say.

Joseph Serisier, a journalist and lawyer in the city of Les Cayes, about 25 miles from the national park, said that the region’s forests have dwindled over the last 30 years.

Now, “there are major water shortages in the city during the dry season,” he said.

Massive damage from the earthquake also has led to a surge in forest cutting to provide materials for reconstruction of homes, according to Andrew Morton, Haiti programme manager for the U.N. Environmental Programme.

"The demand for timber poles for tents and construction is accelerating the rate of deforestation and this is one impact which will be very difficult to mitigate," Morton said.

Some disaster risk experts in the region say the amount of international money available to deal with climate-related problems in Haiti and the Caribbean region likely will fall far short of the region’s needs.

“The simple fact is that the international community, together with the Haitian government, continue to talk about tens of millions of dollars, when in reality we are talking about an issue that is at least in the range of one billion dollars,” said Simon Young, who works with the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, an innovative regional insurance pool that helps countries find affordable hurricane and earthquake insurance.

Scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 predicted that hurricanes in the future may become more intense, with faster wind speeds and more heavy rain. That is a significant worry for Haiti and other Caribbean islands that regularly deal with hurricane threats.

But in its 2006 climate change adaptation plan, Haiti identified just $24 million in projects it hoped to carry out, focused on vulnerable coastal zones, reforestation and drainage basins.

Both Haiti’s leaders and the international community share the blame for the island’s lack of preparation to deal with climate change impacts, international experts say.

Oxfam International, in a report last month, said Haiti needed to show greater strategic leadership but the international community also needed to do more.

‘‘What Haiti needs is a comprehensive strategy, complete with short, medium, and long-term actions, measures and indicators,” said Yolette Etienne, Oxfam’s Haiti director. “In turn, this strategy must be supported financially by the international community, preferably with the most polluting nations providing more support.”

There are a few signs of progress. Last month, the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced a 20-year, $200 million recovery plan for southern Haiti’s degraded landscape, supported in part by funding from the government of Norway, Catholic Relief Services and the Green Family Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that works on health and poverty alleviation issues.

The project aims to better manage water drainage basins in the region and assist small farmers and fishermen, said Antonio Perera, UNEP’s local coordinator.

The country also is hopes to receive funding aimed at climate-related projects – particularly disaster risk reduction and sustainable development - through the international Haiti Reconstruction Fund and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti’s outgoing prime minister.

Making the projects work will require the input of local communities “who understand the real needs at stake,” said Gartley of the World Bank.

Robert Shaw is a freelance writer who works regularly in Haiti. This story is part of a series supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.


(Blog Critics) - By William Lambers

There was once an episode of the hit TV series, The Waltons, where the family was approached by a contractor seeking a huge lumber order. The Walton family mill could not provide the order by itself. But by combining forces with other mills in their area, they could. Strength in numbers.

That is essentially what is starting to happen in Haiti with small dairy farms, except there is no John-Boy Walton.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) kicked off a project in which small Haitian dairy farmers, by combining forces, can provide milk for the country's school feeding program.

WFP's David Orr recently reported on the story of Jean Claude Belizaire, a dairy farmer with 10 cows outside Port-au-Prince. Belizaire collects milk from his own farm as well as others in his area. He brings it to a local dairy and before you know it, a sizable amount is available to supply schools.

The government of Brazil made a donation recently to allow WFP to purchase this milk from the farmers. The milk is then delivered by WFP to the schools. Right now 17,700 children in Haiti are receiving two bottles of milk a week at school, in addition to their regular meal.

Jean Claude says, “This is a great way for small producers like me to do business. It’s been a very hard year but at least dairy farmers around here have a secure market for their milk.”

This is the goal in Haiti: Help local producers and allow them to feed their country. In the case of school feeding, the next step is expansion, and David Orr reports there are plenty more dairy farmers available to get involved.

It's obviously a great development for local producers in Haiti, but also critical for the education system. Having milk at the school strengthens the nutrition program and is vital for improving children's attendance and performance. That is what school feeding does and why every country needs a national program. You can see a ripple effect.

In Haiti, the World Food Programme is trying to help build that national school meal program in conjunction with the government. Right now, WFP is feeding about 800,000 children while the government program is covering about one million.


(PRNewswire) -

BELLEVUE, Wash., - Understanding the critical need for Haiti to conduct a successful presidential run-off election on March 20th, Haitian wireless provider Voila announced today it will provide Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) with enhanced text messaging capabilities to facilitate voter turn-out. Voila has also committed $100,000 to a fund that it's establishing to support the recruitment of polling station observers throughout the country to thwart improprieties and bolster public confidence in the final election results. Voila is a subsidiary of Trilogy International Partners, based in Bellevue, Washington.

The innovative SMS application allows a mobile phone customer to request information from the CEP on the location of the polling station where the customer is registered to vote. In an effort to encourage broader participation, the CEP is also staffing a call center to handle inquiries and help voters properly identify their polling stations.

In addition, Voila has established a private sector fund to ensure the two presidential candidates have the necessary resources to hire poll observers throughout the country. The fund will be administered by Haiti's Private Sector Economic Forum (Forum Economique du Secteur Prive (FESP),which will collect donations and distribute the funds to both presidential campaigns.

Voila, a founding member of FESP, will contribute $100,000 to the effort and is encouraging others interested in promoting fair elections to contribute as well.

"It's important we move forward with the elections and usher in a new government that can help lead the Haitian people to a brighter future," said Brad Horwitz, CEO of Trilogy International Partners. "We're proud to leverage the capabilities of our network in support of the CEP's efforts and encourage the private sector to promote a credible and transparent democratic process."

About Trilogy International Partners
Trilogy International Partners, LLC (Trilogy) is a privately-held company based in Bellevue, WA. Trilogy invests in wireless telecommunication operations in international markets that exhibit strong opportunities for significant growth. Trilogy and its businesses owns wireless communications systems in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and New Zealand, holding licenses to provide wireless services to over 31 million people.

For more information on Trilogy, please see its website:


(Doctors Without Borders) - By Aurelie Baumel -

MSF is preparing to reposition its response to the cholera epidemic in Haiti. In the coming weeks, the international medical aid organization will hand over responsibility for treating cholera patients to other national and international actors capable of assuming that task.

MSF's medical teams have treated more than 110,000 people since the epidemic began, in addition to its full slate of non-cholera related activities.

* In the week ending February 6, patient numbers fell in six of the country's eight departments.

The numbers tripled in the southern part of the country during that same week, but, overall, the total number of cholera patients recorded at MSF facilities has fallen by nearly 70 percent compared to the start of the epidemic.

Whereas 12,000 presented in one week in October, for instance, 3,118 did so in one week in early February. In Artibonite, the medical team treated close to 4,500 cases per week when the disease first hit, but the current figure is approximately 500 per week. MSF has also observed that cholera cases are distributed unevenly across the country.

As a result, MSF is adjusting its programs in order to respond appropriately to the current situation, reducing the size and number of treatment facilities. Caroline Séguin, MSF’s emergency coordinator for the cholera response, explains that the decision will be based on two factors: the epidemiological situation—that is, the change in the number of cases treated—and the availability of nearby treatment facilities.

The sites taking over for MSF will receive donated medicines and medical supplies. "We have made preparations to withdraw," says Dominique Bernard, MSF's project coordinator in Port-de-Paix. "We are making sure that the facilities that will take over are ready to absorb the cholera cases. After we leave, an MSF team will conduct epidemiological monitoring of the situation. We are in touch with these facilities and have asked them to contact us if they receive an influx of new cases."

Since the epidemic began, MSF's medical teams have treated more than 110,000 cholera cases at 47 treatment centers (CTCs) around the country, or approximately 60 percent of the cases country-wide. MSF has established a hospitalization capacity of 4,000 beds and the mortality rate in its facilities is now less than 2 percent of cases.

The drop in new cases is due, in part, to the dry season in Haiti, which is less favorable to the spread of the disease. In addition, the isolation of patients in cholera treatment centers, treatment of contaminated sites, chlorination of water at the sites, and the extensive public education efforts by MSF and other actors have had a positive impact on the course of the epidemic. "At the beginning, people didn't know anything about cholera and were very frightened," Séguin says. "It's quite different now. They recognize the importance of the chlorination efforts."

But close monitoring of the situation is still required because cholera is now endemic in Haiti and the rainy season will start soon, increasing the risks of a resurgence of the epidemic. Séguin is cautious: "The numbers can rise and fall. That's why we will continue to monitor the situation in Haiti in the coming months. We are ready to step in if the number of patients rises again."

*MSF’s operational budget projections for Haiti for 2011 are 46 million euros ($60.7 million) to maintain a network of six private hospitals in Port-au-Prince, with a total capacity of up to 1,000 beds, and to maintain support of two Ministry of Health hospitals. Three of the facilities in the capital will be newly constructed in 2011—including the only functioning burn treatment unit in the capital—replacing temporary facilities established in the aftermath of the earthquake. Outside the capital, in Léogâne, MSF will continue to run a newly constructed 120-bed general hospital. Among MSF’s operational priorities in Haiti are obstetric, emergency, and trauma care.


(Popular Science) - By Clay Dillow

Earthquake prediction is a difficult business; it can be done, but usually with just enough lead time to yell “earthquake!” before the shaking begins. British and Russian researchers hope to change that through an agreement inked this week that will see two experimental satellites launched into orbit to try to identify natural warning signs that an earthquake is on the horizon.

TwinSat, as the project is known, involves two satellites cruising a few hundred miles apart in a polar orbit. One satellite will be roughly the size of an old vacuum-tube style television set and the other smaller than a shoebox.

The duo will be looking for subtle but detectable electromagnetic signals that can be gleaned from the upper atmosphere. These signals are the result of stress building up in the Earth, slight changes in the Earth’s magnetism that could be the telltale signs that tremors are imminent. These kinds of signals were picked up in the days leading up to the devastating Haiti ‘quake last year, though they weren’t parsed and analyzed until later.

Scientists think that if they knew what kinds of electromagnetic signals predate earthquakes, they could use them as predictors of when and where big ‘quakes are likely to strike perhaps days or weeks beforehand. Of course, the only way to categorize those signals is to put sensors in place that can identify them and wait for earthquakes to happen.

That’s TwinSat’s role; the tandem satellite setup will monitor seismically active zones like Iceland and eastern Russia for the signs that predate earthquake activity. If it works--and that’s a significant “if”--an array of the sats could be deployed to monitor the entire Earth, ensuring disasters like the Haiti earthquake exact a minimal human toll. TwinSat will launch in 2015.


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(Jamaica Observer) - CMC

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are to launch a fund to help the earthquake battered Haiti, a senior CARICOM official has said.

Deputy CARICOM Secretary General Colin Granderson told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that regional leaders, who are ending their two-day inter-sessional summit here on Saturday, will most likely announce the launch of the Haiti-CARICOM Development Fund as one of the outcomes of their deliberations.

He said that while the ceiling for the fund is still being worked out “I think they want to start off with a US$100 million and they would certainly like to carry it as high as one billion dollars if possible.

He said the fund would help the private sector in both CARICOM and Haiti, which is still recovering from the January 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left more than a million others homeless.

He said that the new fund is different from the Regional Development Fund (RFD) that is used to help disadvantaged CARICOM as the region goes forward with the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region.

"This (the Haiti-CARICOM fund) is totally different. This has to do with the reconstruction in Haiti and to give the smaller companies, because what has been taking place for the time being is that large international companies are getting the contracts in Haiti."

"It also means that one way you can give smaller companies, whether they are CARICOM or Haitian, the ability and the where with all to be able to tender, to be able to come together through joint ventures, to be able therefore to become participants in the reconstruction of Haiti."

Granderson, who is head of the Organisation of American States (OAS) CARICOM Joint Electoral Mission (JEOM) in Haiti, said that the new fund would also be different from the one involving the former president of the United States Bill Clinton and including CARICOM.

"It is different in the sense that this will be a fund for which CARICOM and Haiti will be responsible,” he said, adding that it would most likely be funded by contributions from CARICOM and Haiti but also from outside donors," he added.

Friday, February 25, 2011

photos - marlene's team - part 19

This man is serious in this pose, but when he came to the house to pick up a "baby bag" of supplies his face turned into a grin and he told the visitors "God Bless You".

This father is holding his sleepy daughter.

This mother came up to us and showed us her baby. She didn't want to be forgotten.

This is "grandma"! She is proud of her grandchild.

The parents of all these children were appreciative of all they received. Thank you to all those people who responded to the Angels to Haiti's efforts at collecting donations to help the people in the small refuge camps in our neighborhood.

photos - marlene's team - part 20

Hopefully we continue to get teams to come down to continue helping some of the people living in our neighborhood.

One of the students in our school program here at Coram Deo is Calens. He is the boy in the red shirt. He is blind and lives in the dormitory during the week. On weekends he returns home to his family. We went with the visitors to visit his family in the Puit Blain area of Delmas 75.

This lady and her daughter are friends of Calens' family.

On Sunday morning Amos' father, Pastor Marcelin invited us to attend services at his church which is located in our neighborhood. We left our house on foot to walk down the street to his church.

Last year's earthquake damaged the building and they partially repaired it for church services.

photos - marlene's team - part 21

The church has a tarp roof to shade the worshippers from the sun.

They even have a band! They played well.

The Haitian people love to sing and their church services on average last a couple of hours and more!

Their faith gives them strength to endure the difficulties of life here in Haiti.

The church even has a children's choir. This young girl wasn't shy in singing with the microphone.

photos - marlene's team - part 22

The children's choir sang a couple songs that morning.

Jefftay lives here at Coram Deo along with his older brother Amos. The visitors had the idea that it would be best to let the pastor's son, Jefftay take photos during the service. He enjoyed this task.

This young boy has a serious face. He walked over to check out the "blanc".

This young boy is not shy. He got right into our faces right away!

Both soon hopped onto Marlene's lap. Notice the one boy has a "ringworm" head fungus on the back of his head. The head fungus creates a bald spot. There is medicine that can treat it. Marlene better keep an eye on her skin now that she is back in Canada. Marlene if you notice a circular rash on your skin you will know that this little boy is the contributor to your skin disease! Hope you read this Marlene!