Tuesday, January 31, 2012


My sister Michelle had her first chemo treatment today. Pray for strength and healing for her as she fights the cancer. This video is for her:

photos - family vacation - part 13

3 guys were standing on some rocks waving bye to the people on the ship.
I think these rocks were some form of wave breaker. Once we were past this point we were out into the open sea!
It was time to relaxation and enjoy the sun.
There were still quite a few people looking out at the Miami skyline.
And we saw another cruise ship heading up the channel.

photos - family vacation - part 14

The red/blue color fin is a distinctive mark for a carnival cruise line ship.
American port union have a law requiring union pilots to lead the cruise ships both into and out of port. The pilot boards at the dock and once the ship passes the last buoy guide marker the regular captain of the ship takes the wheel. The pilot boat needs to pick up the union pilot.
There were quite a few people interested in this pilot boat.
The ship started getting closer and closer to the side of the ship's hull.
Shortly after this photo was taken the pilot boat got even closer to the hull and we couldn't see the pilot boat anymore until he pulled away. There is an exit door in the hull of the ship that the pilot accesses to get out and aboard the pilot boat.

photos - family vacation - part 15

Now that we were out on the open sea we sat down and then explored the ship some more.
It was busy as everyone searched for a lounge chair to sit on.
We took a tour of the spa..
Entered through the Salon..
and found the gym :)

photos - family vacaton - part 16

They had a lot of walking treadmills.
With an ocean view. The gym is right at the front of the ship.
I couldn't believe how much equipment was in this gym.
I was too lazy to use it though. I had more fun eating pizza, ice cream and other foods that I can only dream about here in Haiti. Cruise boat food sure beats rice and corn meal :) Our menu here in Haiti had rice 4 times a week and corn meal 3 times a week :)
Us sisters shared a cabin...

photos - family vacation - part 17

... along with Michelle's best friend Lisa
Supper time was 6:00pm and our dining room was the Universe Room.
It is a large, fancy dining room.
It sure reminded me of the Titanic! It was a little intimidating at first with all the fancy food on the menu but some of it tasted good. I even tried alligator fritters :)
There are elevators throughout the ship to go between floors. A few times I walked up 9 floors to get from the bedroom to the Lido deck just for the exercise so that I could eat more food.

photos - family vacation - part 18

There was a display on the wall where we could monitor the course of the ship.
There were a lot of photographer stations where you could pose for photos. Later they would post them in the photo gallery area. If you liked them they were available for purpose.
They also had some fancy duty free shops.
We had to go to the guest services counter to update our info and get our room card punched. The guy working reminded me of when I watched the Love Boat show on tv.
Some brave people took a line dancing course on the stage in the theatre room.


VIDEO LINK: Man Shot In Haiti Still Too Critical To Return To Columbus

(10TV) -

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who was assaulted in another country remained hospitalized Wednesday night.

David Bompart was helping to build an orphanage in Haiti when a person robbed and shot him at a nearby bank.

He and his wife worked in Haiti to rebuild the lives of families who lost everything from a recent earthquake, 10TV's Glenn McEntyre reported.

Bompart was transported to a hospital in Miami. He was too critical to be brought back to Columbus.

"He was on life support. They took him and continued to do the best they could for him, and a lot of people are praying that that situation would change," family friend Laurie Dietsch said.

Friends, family and strangers reached out with thousands of dollars in donations. They plan to use the money to bring Bompart back home and help pay for treatment to save his life, McEntyre reported.

"Today's update is that his colon was starting to fail, and they are concerned that they might have to take that out, and they are concerned that he wouldn't be able to survive the surgery," Dietsch said. "And the recent update is that they are concerned about his lungs."

Bompart's family has been updating his condition online, McEntyre reported.

"They are very grateful for all of the support, prayer and well wishes," Dietsch said. "They just wanted to get out a thank you to everybody."

On Saturday, a day-long fundraiser will be held at Chick-fil-A on Sawmill Rd. to support Bompart's non-profit organization Eyes Wide Open International as it builds a new orphanage in Haiti, McEntyre reported.



(CBS) - By AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Human rights groups harshly criticized a Haitian judge Monday after he recommended former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier face trial only on corruption charges — and not for rights abuses during his brutal 15-year rule.

The organizations, both Haitian and foreign, said Investigative Magistrate Carves Jean ignored critical testimony that would've given weight to a prosecution of the once-feared ruler known as "Baby Doc" for crimes that include torture, false imprisonment and murder.

"The Haitian people deserve their day in court to prove Duvalier's culpability, which is an essential part of any meaningful reconciliation process," said William O'Neill, director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum.

Mario Joseph, a lawyer whose Haitian-run firm is representing some of the Duvalier regime's victims, said the judge "made so many errors" that they compromised his pre-trial investigation. He said the judge disregarded testimony from eight people who wanted to file complaints alleging torture and false imprisonment.

Jean decided that Duvalier should go before a special court that handles relatively minor crimes. Duvalier, the former "president for life" who has been free to roam about the capital since his surprise return from exile last year, would face no more than five years in prison if convicted in that court.

Jean said the statute of limitations has run out on any human rights crimes committed during Duvalier's 1971-86 regime but not on accusations of misappropriation of public funds. He did not explain his reasoning, although Duvalier is widely thought to have used money from the Haitian treasury to finance his life in exile.

The judge declined to give reporters a copy of the 20-page order that he held in his hands in his office at the courthouse. The decision, based on a yearlong investigation, must first be reviewed by the attorney general as well as by Duvalier and the victims of his regime who filed complaints against the former leader, Jean said.

Duvalier's lawyer, Reynold Georges, had argued that all charges should be dismissed, and he said he would appeal Jean's finding as soon as he received the paperwork.

"We're going to appeal that decision ... and throw it in the garbage can," Georges told The Associated Press. "I'm very sorry he did that — everybody will condemn this decision."

Human Rights Watch, which has helped push for a trial, also called for an appeal — to overturn the judge's decision against a trial on abuse charges.

"Those who were tortured under Duvalier, those whose loved ones were killed or simply disappeared, deserve better than this," Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, wrote in an e-mail. "This wrong-headed ruling must be overturned on appeal if Haitians are to believe that their justice system can work to investigate the worst crimes."

Brody and O'Neill both argued the statute of limitations hasn't expired on alleged rights violations because they wouldn't take effect until the victims' whereabouts or people who disappeared under the regime were identified.

O'Neill added that if the decision isn't appealed, he hopes to see the case taken to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Last May, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged Haiti's government to "investigate and punish those responsible for the numerous violations of the right to life and physical security."

Amnesty International researcher Gerardo Ducos said he was puzzled by the judge's findings, saying the "investigation was a sham and its conclusion a disgrace." He said that only a handful of victims were interviewed and that there was no effort to collect testimony from victims and witnesses outside Haiti.

Others said Haiti has an obligation under international law to put Duvalier on trial.

"Just as courts in Chile and Argentina have addressed past atrocities by their former military dictators, Haiti's courts are fully capable of bringing Duvalier to trial, and of seeking international support to do so, if needed," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Duvalier has posed a challenge to Haiti since his return from 25 years in exile in France. Haiti has a weak judicial system, with little history of successfully prosecuting even simple crimes, and the government is preoccupied with reconstruction from the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

A majority of Haitians are now too young to have lived under Duvalier, who was only 19-years-old when he was tapped by his feared father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvaler, to assume the presidency. But many still remember his government's nightmarish prisons and violent special militia, known as the Tonton Macoute, which killed and tortured political opponents with impunity.

More than 20 victims filed complaints shortly after Duvalier's return. Some were prominent Haitians, including Robert Duval, a former soccer star who said he was beaten and starved during his 17 months of captivity in the dreaded Fort Dimanche prison.

On Monday, Duval said he was stunned when he was notified about the judge's decision.

"I don't understand how he could've done that," Duval said by telephone. "If that's the case, that's an outrageous decision."

Since its inception, the case has stumbled along. Prosecutors have been fired and the defendant has made few court appearances, despite pressure from advocacy groups saying a successful prosecution would mark a turning point for Haiti's weak judiciary.

The United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti said it was eager to see the case go to trial, but Western embassies in Port-au-Prince, including the United States, remained largely mum on the matter, saying it was up to the Haitian government.

Haitian President Michel Martelly gave mixed signals. Last week, the first-time politician recanted a suggestion from a day earlier that he might be open to a pardon for Duvalier, citing a need to end internal strife that has long dogged the country. Presidential adviser Damian Merlo said, "A Duvalier pardon is not part of the agenda."

On Monday, Merlo declined to comment. Presidential spokesman Lucien Jura didn't answer his cellphone.

The Martelly administration has made Duvalier critics uneasy by filling its ranks with former officials from the Duvalier era and grown children of members of the former dictator's inner circle.

Since his return, Duvalier has traveled around the capital and countryside, hobnobbing with friends, dining at high-end restaurants and even attending a memorial service for the victims of the 2010 earthquake. Jean, the investigating magistrate, had threatened to arrest Duvalier this month because he was allegedly violating the terms of his release.


(Reuters) - By Stephanie Nebehay

* Rapes, torture and killings documented under his rule, UN says

* No statute of limitations for such crimes under int'l law

* Duvalier alleged to have embezzled up to $800 million

GENEVA - Former Haitian dictator Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier should be tried for torture, rape and killings committed during his rule, not merely on corruption charges as proposed by a Haitian judge, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday.

The judge handling the case, Carves Jean, told Reuters in Port-au-Prince on Monday that Duvalier will face trial for corruption during his 15 years in power, which ended in 1986, but not for human rights abuses.

But the office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced deep disappointment and called on Haitian authorities to ensure he is prosecuted for international crimes.

"Very serious human rights violations including torture, rape and extrajudicial killings have been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights organisations to have occurred in Haiti during the regime of Duvalier," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.

"Impunity for such serious crimes cannot be allowed to prevail and we urge the relevant authorities to ensure that justice is, albeit belatedly, delivered to the many victims of human rights abuses committed under the government of Mr. Duvalier," he said.

Pillay's office had repeatedly reminded judicial authorities in Haiti of their "absolute obligation" to investigate the violations, and prosecute those responsible, he said.

"It is clear under international law that there is no statute of limitations for such crimes," Colville added.

Judge Jean told Reuters that he did not find enough legal grounds to retain human rights charges and crimes against humanity against Duvalier and that a 20-page ruling had been delivered to the government prosecutor's office on Monday.

Duvalier is alleged to have embezzled between $300 milllion and $800 million of assets during his rule, stashing some of it in Swiss coffers before fleeing to exile in neighbouring France.

Colville, asked why Duvalier would face corruption charges but not for human rights crimes, replied: "We're puzzled too, because under international law it is the very serious crimes such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, serious violations like torture which can also be a crime against humanity, these have no statute of limitations."

"In Haiti, our understanding is that under the constitution, international law is given supremacy so it does seem rather bizarre that financial charges appear to be possible but not international crimes," he added.

Pillay sent a senior expert to Haiti last March to provide legal and technical advice to Haitian authorities on the issue of prosecuting a former head of state for serious human rights violations, according to Colville.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Giles Elgood)


(Haiti Libre) -

Following the delivery of the closing order of Mr. Jean Carvès to the Commissioner of the Government, in which he recommends that Jean Claude Duvalier be charged with embezzling of public funds; several human rights organizations, have strongly reacted to this decision.

Anthonal Mortimé, the Executive Secretary of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH), criticizes the decision of Mr. Carvès, estimating that it is an act of trivialization of Haitian justice. "This decision is simply a scandal [...] Impunity and anarchy: there is no other word", noting that only minor facts were brought against the former dictator. He estimates that this order is equivalent to whiten Jean Claude Duvalier and that it is "a slap given to Haitian justice and victims" adding the intention of the POHDH, to take steps to obtain a more appropriate following in the case of Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Reed Brody, Counsel and spokesperson for the international organization "Human Rights Watch" expressed his surprise at the decision of the investigating judge, to judge the former President Jean-Claude Duvalier for embezzlement, and hopes that this decision will be overturned on appeal.

"Those who were tortured under Duvalier, those whose loved ones were killed or simply disappeared, deserve better than this [...] This wrong-headed ruling must be overturned on appeal, if Haitians are to believe that their justice system can work to investigate the worst crimes."

For his part, Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International's researcher, said he was intrigued by the judge's findings, stating that "the investigation was an imposture, and his conclusion a shame". He stressed that a limited number of victims were interviewed and that no effort was made to collect testimony from victims and witnesses outside of Haiti.


(Costa Rica News) -

The Minister of Agriculture of Haiti, Docteur Hébert, at the invitation of Dr. Victor Villalobos, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture “IICA” went to San Jose, Costa Rica. During his visit of two days, the Haitian Minister met with Gloria Abraham Peralta, the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, and solicited the support and cooperation of Costa Rica to improve the production of coffee and other export products in Haiti.

According to the Costa Rican Minister, the Minister of Haiti was “impressed” by the development of agriculture in Costa Rica, which is a net exporter of food products, while Haiti is largely dependent on imports to meet food needs of its people. Faced with this situation and the serious problems faced by the Haitian economy, Gloria Abraham Peralta has expressed to her Haitian counterpart, her willingness to cooperate as far as possible with Haiti. “[...] With the support of IICA, we will provide the requested cooperation.”

During his stay in San Jose, the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, made a visit to IICA Headquarters, met with representatives of the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE) and visited the facilities of the EARTH (Escuela de agriculture in the region del Trópico Húmedo) where there are currently 16 Haitians scholarship students, beneficiaries of a program of study in agronomy.


(Haiti Libre) -

As part of her visit to France, aimed at promoting the development of tourism in Haiti, Stéphanie Balmir-Villedrouin, the Haitian Minister of Tourism yesterday Tuesday (Jan. 24), met Frédéric Lefebvre, Secretary of State for Tourism.

Stéphanie Balmir-Villedrouin presented her tourism development strategy oriented towards a tourist offer of quality based on historical heritage, but also its living cultural heritage. The Minister of Tourism deplored the fact that, following the earthquake, potential tourists and foreign tourism professionals have a negative image, but false, of the situation of this country, which affects its tourist attractiveness.

The two Ministers desire to encourage the implementation of a partnership between the Republic of Haiti and the French Antilles, to develop tourism on these territories, which may be based among others, on the new air link between the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport and the French Antilles launched in November 2011.

With this perspective, Frédéric Lefebvre suggested that the CEO of Atout France, Christian Mantei, pay a visit at the end of March to the Republic of Haiti for a mission to accompany the revival of tourism in this country. On this occasion, Christian Mantei will study in conjunction with Guadeloupe and Martinique, the possibilities of establishing joint tourist offers, for example regarding cruises, which may be presented in September at the next "IFTM Top Résa" show.

The two Ministers welcomed the future strengthening of ties between the two countries in tourism, which is part of the aid that France provided for the reconstruction of Haiti. They said: "Haiti and the French Antilles must rely on their recognized strengths, including their living heritage, to develop a joint tourist offer in the Caribbean, and jointly improve their attractiveness among new tourists, especially of emerging countries."


(Haiti Libre) -

As part of his exploration mission to France, Laurent Lamothe, the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke this morning on the air of France Info, to encourage the diaspora to return home, and invited French companies to seize the opportunities available to them in Haiti.

"[...] I say to the Haitians [...] we come to see them and to comfort them on the various actions taken by the new Haitian government as part of reconstruction, through the establishment of a policy to rebuild hope in Haiti, and allow for their return to Haiti [... ]

Haiti has a human resources problem which is very serious. We lose over 85% of our teachers who have left the country; so there is a shortage of teachers. There is a shortage of executives; therefore, we must have the return of the diaspora to help us, to accompany us in the refoundation project of Haitian society and the reconstruction of Haiti [...] I think that generally the Haitians living outside want to return to their country. They are very proud to be Haitian, and we are very proud to have executives, doctors, Haitian nurses worldwide. I think that it will be necessary to accompany them. Firstly, the wages are missing; it is necessary that wages are complemented by the Government of Haiti, to have these executives. We're working on that. We have a support plan for executives, we work with many partners to support the Haitian professionals who live abroad, in France, to support their return.

[...] January 12, 2010, created a very difficult situation in Haiti, however, this situation has created opportunities, today, for French business leaders. Club Med, for example, could return to Haiti [...] there were many families who lived on jobs created by the Club Med [...] Unfortunately, after 1986, Club Med has left. Now we are working so that the Club Med will come back, and exploit the beautiful beaches that we have in Haiti.

In Haiti today, we have various agreements with the United States; for example, the HELP agreement, that allows Haitian assembly companies to export to the United States without paying customs duties [...] French employers, French companies are welcome in Haiti.

We have various opportunities in the oil sector. There is Total, that we will meet with today. We hope to work with them for a new strategic reserve, because the storage capacity of Haiti is low; so we will work with them to improve and expand the capacity, and on various other points, Total is welcome in Haiti.

To get investments, for example the support of the French authorities, COFACE [French Insurance Company for Foreign Trade] will be necessary, We'll ask it to return. It is responsible for the accompaniment, of insurance, which gives confidence to companies. We will also ask the company PROPARCO [Society for the Promotion and Participation for Economic Cooperation] that I met yesterday, to commit themselves, to invest more.

[...] There is no emergency in Haiti. Now we must pass to the physical reconstruction phase. We are not there yet; the Government is ready to begin, but it is necessary that the rest of the world follow...

President Martelly wants to maintain excellent relations with France, and he thanks President Sarkozy for being the first French President to have visited Haiti in 208 years....


(Haiti Libre) -

Yesterday Tuesday (Jan. 24), Laurent Lamothe, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as part of his official visit of economic exploration to France, met with Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France. This meeting was followed by a joint press conference where the two chancellors spoke.

Speech of Alain Juppé :

" Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome Mr. Laurent Lamothe, the Foreign Minister of Haiti. I told him how France has been attached to relations with his country for as you know, historical, political, economic and cultural reasons.

I am very happy at the end of this meeting to see that things are progressing, and that they are making good progress in Haiti. Political stability is confirmed and reinforced, the reconstruction of the economy, devastated by the earthquake is also progressing.

France is committed, through its bilateral aid, through the assistance of the French Development Agency [AFD]. We are quite determined to continue in this way and provide particular support in terms of training, given the priorities which are those of Haiti.

I think it's important; I have noted that it was the desire of the Haitian authorities, that private investment moves back to Haiti.

The political context, the country's stability are likely, I think, to attract our investors and of course we encourage them.

The minister met yesterday with my colleague Pierre Lellouche. He will also meet [Wednesday] the leaders of MEDEF. There is a successful collaboration. I am glad, finally, that the discussion I had with President Martelly about adoption procedures allows us today to consider the total unblocking of the situation.

That, Mr. Minister, is what I wanted to tell you by ensuring you of our support, while wishing you a very good opportunity for this coming year."

Speech of Laurent Lamothe :

"Thank you Mr. Minister,

Haiti is very honored to be here today. We intend to continue the excellent cooperation that we have with France. France is a preferred partner for Haiti, and we thank you for the help, assistance and the cooperation that you have given us after the quake [...] We are grateful to President Sarkozy, because he is the first French President who has visited Haiti in 208 years. We thank the French Foreign Minister, who visited Haiti for the swearing in of President Martelly.

Haiti is doing better today. We still have problems, and we are working on these problems to manage them. However, the emergency period after January 12, 2010, is completed. We need to work for a sustainable development of our economy by attracting private investment; that's why I'm here. I have already met with several Heads of French companies. Tomorrow [Wednesday] I will be at the MEDEF [Movement of Enterprises in France], to talk to business leaders, to show the opportunities offered by Haiti in infrastructure, roads, airports and also to ensure that France should be present. We asked that COFACE [French Insurance Company for Foreign Trade] enter back into Haiti, that PROPARCO [Promotion and Participation for Economic Cooperation] be more present.

In general, we want a commitment from the French private sector, because Haiti needs massive private direct investment. We want to continue as one with the cooperation and we thank the French Development Agency, we thank the Government and we want to continue this. Haiti needs private direct investment and Haiti has many opportunities to offer".

A journalist asked the Chancellor Lamothe; "You have met many French investors, are there some who are interested, very interested even, to establish themselves in Haiti?"

Chancellor Lamothe answered that he already had several fruitful meetings, without providing more details. "We met with Veolia today. It was a very good meeting, and it is a great group that can bring a lot to Haiti. There are several meetings scheduled tomorrow with the MEDEF and we think that there are many opportunities, because the Haitian market represents double of the CARICOM market, [...] The Dominican Republic has a lot of French investments, and we would like that Haiti also has investments; and so far the response is very positive.

I think that for an investor throughtout the world there are always constraints. [...] Today in Haiti the security situation is much better [...] the security situation in Haiti is not a problem for investment. To come make the roads, build airports, bridges, hotels, I think the French expertise is there, the experience is there, and we are a growing market [...]"

Another journalist asked Minister Lamothe, "as part of the rehabilitation of the army do you envisage seeking assistance from France; if yes how?"

"Haiti wants to take control of its security services. We now have a situation in Haiti where there is a UN force that provides security; but this force will not be in Haiti forever, so we are looking to our partners for the assurance of a technical assistance to the design, and the formation of a new force primarily to protect the economy. Haiti loses $320 million today because of smuggling on the Haitiano-Dominican border; so we requested assistance, a technical assistance for training of this force.... to protect the economy."

For his part Alain Juppé added, "I confirm that France has responded positively. We are ready to assist Haiti in terms of training for this Security Force. We have in this area a good expertise, and the Minister told me that the issue of customs was a particular concern for him. This is a point on which we will assist Haiti."


(Haiti Libre) -

As part of his official visit to France, Laurent Lamothe, the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs met last Tuesday with his French counterpart Alain Juppé. They discussed the question of tax reform in Haiti. The delegation was received with military honors, a protocolary gesture that was done for the first time, vis-à-vis for a foreign minister of Haiti; according to specialists in diplomatic affairs of the Quai d'Orsay.

Minister Lamothe, during this meeting, emphasized the board line of Business Diplomacy and immediate emergencies of Haiti for its development and reconstruction. The delegation also discussed the issue of tax reform initiated by the Government of Haiti and the efforts of President Martelly to revive economic growth. Alain Juppé promised, without delay, a technical assistance, to help Haiti to use modern and efficient methods of tax collection; which will enable the Government of Haiti to reach all its taxpayers, especially the 97% who pay nothing to the State.


(Defend Haiti) -

PORT-AU-PRINCE - First Lady Sophia Martelly will begin the Aba Grangou feeding program for 100,000 mothers on Tuesday.

The program will receive technical support from Ecuador and the Economic Commission for Latin American (CEPAL) for its launch.

Aba Grangou (down with hunger) aims to build a network of government, private sector and the international community to fight hunger in vulnerable families.

The Martelly-Conille government hopes to implement a national strategy against hunger and malnutrition.


(Haiti Libre) -

President Michel Joseph Martelly and the First Lady of the Republic, Sophia Martelly officially launched Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at the National Palace, the National Programme for the Fight against Hunger and Malnutrition, "Aba grangou". Starting this year, 10,000 development officers will be mobilized throughout the country to each accompany 100 families.

The ceremony was attended by personalities and national and international institutions involved in this program, which aims to create conditions necessary to achieve a healthy diet for all Haitians, the implementation of concrete actions of emergency, and in the long term to break the vicious cycle of hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

In her speech, the First Lady, Sophia Martelly, appointed President of the Commission, will be responsible for coordinating and monitoring the activities of "Aba grangou"and she calls on the solidarity and action, of the international community, the private sector, civil society, community based organizations, and the church...

Speech of the First Lady, Sophia Martelly :

"I thank the President of the Republic for the confidence shown in me, and the members of the Commission. Of all the tasks entrusted to the Haitian State, that of working to eradicate hunger and malnutrition is perhaps the most ambitious; but also the noblest.

The role of civil society is fundamental. The community-based organizations, churches of all denominations and business organizations are all invited to take part in this task.

Working to fight hunger is a first step towards a stable and balanced society. The commitment of the Haitian State in this struggle is irreversible. With "Aba grangou," we will open, together, for our citizens, access to an adequate nutritious food, and to strengthen the mechanisms for the revival of local food production.

Together, we can build a better Haiti, a Haiti without hunger, a Haiti without malnutrition, a Haiti, where, our children can finally develop to their full potential.

Together, we can meet this challenge!

Haiti is too rich to be hungry."

For his part, the Head of State, believes that the fight against hunger is also one of a vicious circle of exclusion; a fight against the social and family disintegration, disease, despair, an increase in violence and the death of children. "Hunger can not wait" concluded the President of the Republic, who is asking for concrete results.

"Dear Compatriots,

To the Haiti who suffers but does not complain.
To the hungry in Haiti.
It is to you that I am speaking.

It is for you that Aba Grangou is created. To those who struggle from morning to night, but do not earn enough to eat healthily and sufficiently. It is for you that Aba Grangou is created.

Is to you that I dedicate most of my action and that I devote my energy.

I do not come crying for you.

We have cried too long for you but not enough has been done for you.

I would just rather tell you that the Haitian state has ceased to capitulate before your suffering, that the state has ceased to sit back, that your state does not want to be out of economic and social policy.

I do not come to talk to you of assistantship. I come to put into practice the obligatory solidarity, the basis of all social justice.

I come reconciled around "Aba grangou" those who win and those who suffer, those above and those below.

To all those that have been taxed, too long taxed without accountability; none, I e say: your contributions are not lost, they are part in part of this chain of solidarity.


The economic and social policy that I have an impulse for is simple: Not one of you will be abandoned or left without recourse.

This policy, is at the heart of my family, it is part of our convictions. We have worked for over 18 years for this.

It is therefore in this same spirit, that I applaud today the launch of the program for the fight against hunger and malnutrition, "Aba grangou".

This program will create the necessary conditions for the reduction of half of the population suffering from hunger by 2016 and eradicate hunger by 2025.

"Aba grangou" is the result of six months of volunteer work by the First Lady. I would like to thank her. It is also the work of a technical team bringing together professionals from 9 Ministries, 7 autonomous organizations, the Haitian Red Cross and Parliamentarians sensitive to this noble cause. They are here and we thank them publicly and specifically.

It is the synthesis of a joint effort that involvs many partners and the participation of representatives of the United Nations, NGOs, grassroot organizations and experts in food safety. They are honored."

Designed in three strategic axes consisting of social security programs, agricultural investment, and improvement of basic services, the program "Aba grangou" mobilizes 9 ministries, 7 independent organizations, the Haitian Red Cross and will implement 21 government programs that will be federated, strengthened and harmonized.

The main objectives of "Aba Grangou" are:

To benefit one million vulnerable mothers and individuals by money transfers and food;

To permit one million children less than 5 years old to benefit from nutritional programs;

Facilitate access to one million small farmers to agricultural programs, facilities for the storage of crops, and tanks for water storage;

Accompanying 200 private investors, of medium size, for the development of agricultural sectors, on uncultivated state-owned land. »

In 2012, the Commission for the Fight against Hunger and Malnutrition, "Aba grangou" will support the preparation of a National Nutrition Policy, a National Policy for school feeding and a National policy on a social safety net. It will assist the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, by constituting contingency food stocks at 35 points in the territory, for 100,000 people, towards a greater investment in the agricultural sector of 6 to 10% of the Treasury.


(Haiti Libre) -

President Michel Martelly, met yesterday, Monday, January 30, the Ambassador of Spain in Port-au-Prince, Mr. Manuel Hernández Ruigómez and Mr. Edouardo Almeida, the representative of the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) in Haiti to ensure the follow up and planning of the assistance of 50 million euros granted to Haiti by Spain for the benefit of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Haiti.

On this occasion, the representative of the IDB informed President Martelly that the process of operationalizing of the credit program for SMEs, originally scheduled for January 2012, will finally take effect at the end of February.

With the implementation of this program, SMEs in Haiti, will be eligible for the general credit system, from local commercial banks, which will manage the fund in conjunction with the IDB.

President Martelly welcomed the conclusion of this important issue, a success of his official visit to Spain last July, when the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, had promised him to create this fund of 50 million euros.


(AOL Energy) - By Ray Larsen

The United Nations identified needed developments to eliminate the worst of world poverty in a program called the Millennium Development Goals. The key is to foster conditions for market-driven economic growth to create a safe infrastructure that includes the people most in need as empowered participants, not mere recipients of a handout. Success would eliminate current ineffectual foreign aid programs and uncoordinated charitable aid in favor of growth by-and for-the people.

In response, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) established a pilot program which identified Reliable Electricity as one of the key enablers of economic growth, especially in areas of the globe containing nearly 2 billion people subsisting on incomes of less than $2US per day. The correlation of poverty with lack of electricity is obvious, but solutions that truly effect sustaining economic change are not. Fortunately, we have learned that a small amount of electricity can have a huge benefit at an affordable cost. Moreover, the technology already exists to create a sustainable business model that, in principle, can grow rapidly to reach millions of people.

Lighting alone in homes makes it possible to read, study, and pursue crafts and routine tasks - some of which enable income generation -as well as providing new safety from theft and violent crimes. Additionally, basic home power supply can enable communications by cell phone, radio, low power TV or web interconnectivity via computers. Simple scaling makes electrification of entire schools, community centers, churches and small businesses possible.

Now an independent IEEE non-profit known as the Community Solutions Initiative, CSI, which is working with the Sirona Cares Foundation, is on track to provide electricity to at least one million people in Haiti in the next 5 years. Starting this year, the program will also expand into many other countries of need.

The CSI SunBlazer Mobile Generator and Home Lighting Kit Products

The guiding design principle was to use technologies, some of which only recently have become mature and cost effective, that are available from multiple suppliers. The design is straightforward, but many details have to be optimized for both performance and low cost. Although units are currently operating successfully in communities in Haiti, work continues to refine the model.

Six 245W solar panels in 2 parallel banks of 3 produce 54V DC to drive a 48V "House Battery" bank of 4-12V 200Ah units in series. Regulation and discharge limiting are controlled by a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar cell charger controller. Discharge limiting to 50% is essential to preserving battery life of the deep cycle sealed lead-acid batteries used in both the House and Home Kit batteries. The House bank can absorb a full day's solar production so in the absence of sun it is still able to charge customer loads.

The station chassis carries 40 customer Home Kits consisting of a 12V 18Ah portable battery pack with an added small Low Voltage Discharge (LVD) limiter circuit board to cut off at 50% drain. Each home pack is accompanied by a prefabricated lighting kit of 2-4W LED white globes and chain-pull wall or ceiling mount sockets with 15 ft (5m) of interconnect wiring from the power supply and between units. The battery pack is a converted commercial automobile jump-start kit with jumper cables and internal trickle charger removed and a second automobile cigarette lighter outlet added for auxiliary loads such as a 12V cell phone charger, small radio or TV, laptop charger etc. With the 50% limiter a customer has 108Wh per day capacity before cutoff. Additional pack conveniences are a push-button state-of-charge meter, plus a flashlight for use when walking at night. The rear access panel is modified with tamper-resistant screws and instructions in 3 languages. The pack will run a single 4W LED room light for 31 hours, 2 bulbs for 14 hours, etc.

The third critical component is a bank of 20 intelligent 48V to 12V fast 3-stage sub-chargers to charge the 40 Home Kit supplies in 2 banks of 20 every day if needed. The solar panel array has a peak capacity to produce full charging of all loads on the lowest seasonal average daily production in Haiti.

Finally, an AC converter / regulator is included to allow connection of an external source such as a wind turbine, emergency diesel generator or, if one should ever become available, a grid connection of 220-240V AC. An auxiliary source can be invaluable in emergency service in critical applications such as a clinic, operating room, school, computer lab or emergency communications system.

Local Entrepreneur Business Model

IEEE's local partner, the Sirona Cares Foundation, developed the entrepreneur teams to take ownership of the first 6 units and has customers lined up for the next 9 units and beyond. Entrepreneurs were found through the organization's connections with church communities that support orphanages and schools and with Jatropha farming cooperatives for bio-fuel production.

Owners contract to receive an initial station, conduct a formal market survey and secure customers who agree to lease a Home Kit for a monthly charge of $6.50 US, the current cost of candles and kerosene. The station operators collect the fees and make a fixed monthly lease payment to Sirona-Haiti, a new for-profit overseeing all operations and set up for future manufacturing in Haiti. The difference is their profit for running the business. The only upfront cost is a small security deposit. The initial 15 units are seed-funded by IEEE entities and CSI volunteer work. Sirona-Haiti must now raise major capital to grow the business at a rapid rate through long term loans or investment. They are off to a good start with a USAID grant for bridge funding to equip a factory, as well as to build, deploy and service the next SunBlazer units. The approximate construction cost of a 40-kit unit in the US is $15,000, which will be reduced considerably in high volume production. The next 9 trailers will be shipped empty and have the components installed in Haiti; all further units will be completely procured and assembled in Haiti. Due to the conservative design, the next units will all be equipped with double the number of home kits, 80 per trailer, to service an estimated 480 people per generator.

CSI and Sirona have worked closely with the Haitian government energy authorities, most prominently the new Secretary of Energy, and have received their full support for the SunBlazer program as synergistic with their new national policy stressing rural energy independence and stimulating economic development.

In 2012 and beyond IEEE and CSI plan to expand the Haiti model to new initiatives in Africa and India, as well as continuing to support and learn from the ground-breaking work of Sirona-Haiti.

Ray Larsen is former Head of the Electronics Department of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, where he currently serves as Project Manager for the Instrumentation and Controls Directorate. His career at SLAC includes accelerator beam instrumentation, high speed pulse instrumentation, high level RF power systems, modular instrumentation standards development for physics, and design and project management of very large scale accelerator and detector instrumentation, control and RF power systems.

Besides forty years of service to SLAC in accelerator and particle detector instrumentation systems and standards, Ray earlier worked in defense research in Canada and from 1988-95 was cofounder, President and CEO of Analytek Ltd., a Silicon Valley instrumentation company. He is a Life Fellow of the IEEE, Past President of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS), and Founder and Co-Chair of the IEEE Community Solutions Initiative (CSI) currently managing the Haiti SunBlazer project. He developed the original conceptual design of the Haiti technical and business models and currently oversees construction of the pilot program for Sirona Cares, participating in technical training and deployment of the first six kW-scale generators established in June 2011 as rural businesses in Haiti.

Ray holds Bachelor's and Master's of Applied Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia and the Degree of Professional Engineer in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. His IEEE Fellow award was for advances in gigahertz sampling rate analog integrated circuits and systems, and in 2011 he was awarded the prestigious NPSS Merit Award for a career of innovation and service to the Society.


(Haiti Libre) -

President Michel Martelly, presented yesterday, Monday, January 23, during a press conference at the Hotel Le Plaza, the program "Ban m limyè, ban m lavi" which aims to electrify in the long term, all communes and communal section of the country.

Initially, in less than two years, the Government aims to enable the electrification of 200,000 homes. The Grand Anse and the Northwest will be the first departments to be targeted; an initiative supported by the Senators Northwest and of the Grande-Anse, Maxime Roumer and Lucas Saint-vil.

"...I must tell you that the power company of Haiti (EDH) which has 40 years of existence, has 200,000 subscribers. We have a program to provide electricity to 200,000 homes over 2 years. It is a very ambitious project. In the long term, we want to provide electricity throughout the country, to help create jobs, help people create wealth through businesses, help to strengthen safety and allow them to enter definitely onto the path of development [...]" said President Martelly.

Through this program, fast and sustainable [estimated at $45 million], to be implemented by the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Energy and Communications, in partnership with private sector companies, the opportunity is available to households in rural areas for lighting using solar energy [the solar kits each cost between 250 and 350 U.S. dollars] through a $30 million loan. This credit approach, will be developed with banks, credit unions and all institutions that grant credit in rural areas.

Several representatives of companies producing electric power and institutions working in the field of credit (SOGESOL, BPH, SOFIDHES, ANACAPH, E Power, T Energy, Eco Energy Plus Energy Group, etc...), present at the launch, applauded the approach of the Martelly/Conille administration and expressed their willingness to support the Haitian government in the success of this extensive partnership program.

The whole country should be electrified, according to the desires of President Martelly. To this end, $15 million in credit will be granted to local governments to light 375 km of streets in 3 years, repayable over 7 years at a maximum rate of 7% per annum. In the neighborhoods, electricity will be restored with the repair of streetlights. To begin with, 10 neighborhoods of 400 households each, will be served with a budget of $300,000 dollars from the Treasury. To encourage investment and facilitate the smooth operation of businesses, EDH will make available, in less than two months, 15MW of reliable electricity in some industrial areas.


(Haiti Libre) -

The Secretary of State for Energy, Dr. Jean René-Jumeau present yesterday Monday (Jan. 23), alongside President Martelly, for the official launch of the electrification program of 200,000 houses "Ban m Limyè, Ban m Lavi", provided some additional details about this intervention.

"...This program aims to have a capacity of provide electricity to small houses scattered in rural areas thanks to solar energy. There will be credits for people to get a small solar system and at the municipality level, to install solar street lights[...]

The EDH [Electricity of Haiti] will start to give contracts in rural areas, areas that have no electricity, so that private companies can intervene, not only in production but in all aspects of the public offer. The EDH will make the regulation, and will define the context, so that little by little we will have these small networks. One day, we will be able to make the interconnexion of these into a national network.

The program will begin immediately. Partners are already working together, defining the mechanisms. The companies have already come to Haiti, and have already started training technicians and actions are already in place.

In terms of duration, this is a program that has no end. We will always need to provide rural electrification. We will establish a permanent fund for that, we will continue the electrification in the cities, and we will continue with the partnerships that are needed for that.

There is something very important for the program to work. It is that we need to work with the deputies, senators, and mayors in the cities [...]"


(Seattle Pi) - By Trenton Daniel, AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti's president said Monday he hopes to double the number of rural households that receive electricity within two years by offering people small loans to buy solar kits.

The announcement by President Michel Martelly is part of a $45 million-plus energy package that aims to introduce electricity to thousands of people in this impoverished nation who otherwise illuminate their homes by candlelight.

The program, dubbed "Give me light, give me life," seeks to build credit for rural Haitians as they take out loans to purchase small solar kits for charging their cell phones or computers. It also aims to line streets with light posts in the countryside and repair power lines in poor neighborhoods in the capital.

"If a country wants to talk about development it's imperative to talk about energy and electricity," Martelly said at a news conference at a hotel in downtown Port-au-Prince.

The need for energy in Haiti is critical to the reconstruction of Haiti as the Caribbean country struggles to recover from a massive earthquake two years ago that devastated much of the southern half and initially displaced 1.5 million people.

The 40-year-old state-run Electricity of Haiti can only power 200,000 homes, Martelly said, and only 30 percent of the population in this country of 10 million has access to a power supply. Even then, most parts of Haiti only have electricity for a few hours a day, forcing many businesses and some homes to rely on generators and expensive fuel imports.

The new program will call on smaller Haitian banks to issue $30 million in loans with an interest rate of 7 percent, payable over seven years. The credit will help families purchase solar kits that will each cost between $250 and $350.

The families in question live in two of the most remote corners of the country — the Grand-Anse, the mountainous tip of the western peninsula, and the Northwest province.

In the end, the program seeks to give a power supply to 200,000 households within two years before moving onto the rest of Haiti, Martelly said.

"We feel they have less access than the rest of the country," said Rene Jean-Jumeau, Secretary of State of Energy.

Another part of the program, budgeted for $15 million, will give the government loans so that mayors in the countryside can line 375 kilometers (233 miles) of streets with lamps. It will begin in three years.

The government project will also focus on urban areas. It will repair street lights and electric posts in 10 popular neighborhoods with $300,000 from the national treasury.

The program joins other efforts to boost energy production in Haiti.

The Inter-American Development Bank last month announced that it had approved a $20 million grant to help refurbish Haiti's Peligre hydroelectric plant, the country's largest renewable energy generation facility.

Monday, January 30, 2012

photos - family vacation - part 7

This is the purple lounge. This lounge is only for children younger than 15 years of age. Even the youth have a room for themselves on the Carnival Destiny. I have never been on a cruise before, so I was in tourist mode and took lots of photos:)
There were several ships in port preparing to debark. The ship with the giant water slide is the Carnival Imagination. It is a larger ship than the Destiny.
According to American maritime regulations all cruise ships must conduct emergency escape drills for all passengers and crew before leaving the port. On our room cards we had the emergency meetup area as section E on the 4th deck. We headed down from Deck 9 (Lido) to the staging area. and stood in our assigned spots.
The life boats are a good size and have covers on them to handle possible rough seas.
The lifeboat we were in front of had the following sign: "Lifeboat 15, with a capacity of 141 passengers and 9 crew."

photos - family vacation - part 8

We waited until the all clear signal which was six short and one long sound from the horn of the ship. Only people who were completely deaf would miss hearing those sounds! At the end of the drill the captain said "chow" which is Italian for bye. You can see the looks of shock on Lisa, Michelle and Tanya's face. The Italian captain on the Carnival Destiny was a good captain and we had no incidents of heading too close to land :)
Once everyone passed the emergency evacuation drill the ship started pulling away from the dock and started heading up the channel to the open sea. We waved Bon Voyage to the Carnival Imagination ship.
This ship is yet another cruise ship. I don't know the name of it.
The Miami port area is beautiful and we all enjoyed looking around as the ship headed up the channel.
Some people with a lot of money have some pretty large boats!

photos - family vacation - part 9

We passed some beautiful homes.
The Miami coastline is beautiful.
Here we are approaching the end of the channel. You can see the open sea ahead.
We passed a dock where a ferry ship was loading vehicles.
It was the Fisher Island ferry barge.

photos - family vacation - part 10

We passed the Coast Guard port. Here are 2 of the ships.
There was a large container yard off to the left of the channel.
and some more smaller boats of the Coast Guard.
The last big buildings marking the shoreline are getting closer and we will soon be entering onto the open sea.
Lots of people like to live along the coast.