Tuesday, November 27, 2012
ANGELS FOR HAITI
(Tillsonburg News) - By Kristine Jean
Several years after their first trip, Angels For Haiti, a small yet effective non-profit group from Otterville, are still having an impact in the struggling and poverty-stricken nation of Haiti.
“This trip was such a productive trip, we did so much and the people were so desperate for medical care,” said member Tanya Bultje noting some of the changes seen in Haiti in recent years.
“There’s been a lot of progress in that they’re starting to repair the country – 500,000 of the one million people that were left homeless (after the 2010 earthquake) are now housed.”
The team of four women included personal support workers Marlene Magashazi, Teresa Cisek and Tanya Bultje, who were joined by co-worker and registered nurse Sandra Hynes.
The group travelled to Haiti in October to help provide medical care, volunteer their time and help out wherever they were needed. Each team member brought two hockey bags full of items such as blankets, clothing, diapers and baby food. Each bag weighed 50 pounds for a total of 400 pounds of supplies.
During this trip, the group purchased a new stove for the Christian mission they assist called Coram Deo, operated by Bultje’s sister Karen. They also plan to help repair a couple of houses in the near future, upon their return.
First-time participant Sandra Hynes said the trip was an amazing learning experience, and while it may have been a bit overwhelming at times, she learned much and came away with a better understanding of Haiti and its challenges.
“Those people don’t have anything and they’re still happy,” said Hynes.
“I have a brand new confidence in myself, that there’s a lot of things I can do to help.”
Angels For Haiti has returned to the nation’s capital, Port Au Prince so often, the people they help in Haiti look forward to their visits every year.
“We were there over Thanksgiving so we brought everything needed for a Thanksgiving meal except for the turkey, which we were able to buy there,” said Bultje. “We sat down and we gave them a typical Thanksgiving meal.”
“We even made pumpkin pie,” added fellow Angels For Haiti member, Marlene Magashazi.
Sharing the Canadian holiday and special meal was just one way that Angels For Haiti have blessed the men, women and children there over the years. But on this recent trip it was the local group For Haiti who would learn just how much the people of Haiti have come to appreciate what these women do and have done for close to a decade.
It was the people of Haiti who exemplified the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
“We had a woman bring her two children to the clinic because she heard that we were there,” said Bultje. “She came to thank us because she was one of the people that we helped right after the earthquake in 2010. Her husband was killed in the quake and she had just given birth to a baby and she was all by herself. She had nothing.
“We provided her with as much as we could and we gave her a tent. She said she ‘will never forget us and never forget what we did for her.’”
It is moments like this said Bultje, that make Angels For Haiti realize the impact they have had on the people of this impoverished and struggling country.
“We work so hard, we just didn’t expect a thank you – because we just wanted to give and to help,” added Bultje. “The fact that they come back after years, means to them it was life a changing moment.” Magashazi agreed.
“It’s so nice when they recognize us and thank us because it means we do make a difference.”
Saturday, November 24, 2012
November 1st and 2nd were holidays here in Haiti. On November 1st we went on a trip to the Dominican border. Once we got out of the flooded area the roads were dry and we enjoyed the drive out to the border.
The large STOP on the barrier was the entrance to the customs/douane area located at Malpasse. We didn't go into Malpasse and stopped outside the gates to look around.
The lake has been growing the last few years. You can tell where this tree is standing is now in the lake. People have lost homes and land to the growing lake. The road also has had to be raised up.
Calens and Benson are walking up the road away from the gates.
And heading back to our vehicle.
Manu said he had to go to the washroom and he headed out to find a place.
Far in the distance you can see the direction he headed :)
The Haitian government has been raising this road in a fight against the growing lake.
People use boats to ferry sacs of charcoal across the lake and to the road.
The man in this boat was busily bailing out the water from his leaky boat :)
A lot of churches held service on November 1st and 2nd.
Lots of people are waiting on this corner for a tap-tap.
After our trip to the border we drove back to Port-au-Prince and went to Epi Dor for french fries, sandwiches and burgers.
The highlight of eating at Epi Dor is their ice cream :) the children enjoyed their outing :)
Delmas 31 has been a flurry of road construction activity. Steadily over the last couple of months paving has been done along the entire length of Delmas 31, a section at a time. The road was closed for a couple of weeks at the Delmas 31 bridge. Instead of paving this area cement was poured.
In the distance a motorcycle driver is advancing along the new cemented section of road.
And then drove over the rubble pile to continue his journey up Delmas 31.
This is a view of the ravine running across the Delmas 31 bridge.
The children spent some time looking at the sights.
It sure is good to see infrastructure work being done in our area. Other small bridges are being constructed as well to connect roads from the Delmas 31 neighbourhood to the Delmas 19 neighborhood and then connecting with Airport Road.
We spoke to the man pushing a load of salt in his wheelbarrow. He proudly explained his life living in the Delmas 31 area.
This road leading from Delmas 31 to a side street in our neighborhood is being constructed using cement. When done this road will be solid.
Amos had a small accident with Kimosabee a few weeks ago and side swiped a Toyota Land Cruiser. The driver of the other vehicle pressured me to pay for his repair. I told him we would go together with him to the Haitian insurance office and he didn't want any part of it .
I drove over to the insurance office and made the claim. The vehicle belongs to a larger mission. They didn't even bother following up with insurance. Now I have the phone number programmed into my phone of the police and the insurance company for any other problems we may have with drivers. I hate it when people try to strong arm me.
Pastor Pierre has been busy with the construction work we have had going on in the yard for the last few weeks. I have lots of happy surprises to show in photos coming up :)
Here are a couple of newborn chicks that are only a couple of days old.
Saturdays are wash days here at Coram Deo.
We also had a community clean up day in front of our house. People sometimes dump their garbage near our house and we took a day at bagging the garbage and driving the loads of garbage to a local dumpster.
Many bags were filled that day :)
A future project will be cementing the ground and putting up metal stands to stop mechanics from using our front area as a garage. Pray for funding as we still have quite a bit of repairs to do here at Coram Deo. Things sure look a lot better when they are clean :)
Thursday, November 1, 2012
November 1st is a holiday here in Haiti. All schools, government offices and most businesses are closed for the next couple of days. Today is All Saints Day. We took some of the younger children here at Coram Deo out for a drive to the Dominican border. Manu wanted to see the "door to the country". The Grise River is no longer in flood stage by the Tabarre bridge.
Water is still flowing but a whole lot less than a week ago.
We expected to have a leisurely drive out in the countryside. It was not to be :) Notice the journalist filming something in front....
These 2 children are watching the situation up ahead.
We encountered a very wet road near Bonnette. We just followed the vehicles in front of us.
Water and mud were along the side of the road. The man with the stick is plodding his way through.
People standing under the shade of a tree were watching what was taking place ahead.
A very flooded road is what was ahead :)
Pedestrians were wading through the water covering the road.
We got a good splash from this dump truck as it passed us... sort of like a wave hit the door :)
We were wondering how far we had to drive down the road/river.
People were wading carrying their shoes with them as they walked the flooded road.
Down this side street/river people were wading almost up to the waist in water!
I felt sorry for this man standing at the side of the road holding a stick in water up to his knees.
Homes in the area had yards filled with water and mud.
Farmers fields were flooded with water and were draining to the road.
Agriculture took a big hit during Sandy's passage.
Even after one week (a week with no rains) things were still very wet and muddy in this area.
The Haitian people know that they have to manage with whatever disaster they are faced with.
We came to an area and a man yelled out stop! There is a hole in the road. We heeded his advice and followed his directions around the hole. This Dominican truck though ended up in the hole. Maybe the truck driver didn't understand :)
A good samaritan truck driver backed into the truck and nudged it out of the hole :) The Dominican driver continued on his way to the Dominican border at Malpasse/Jimani.
Barefooted pedestrians plodded through the muddy waters.
Another muddy/flooded yard.
This motorcyle rider drove through the waters and kicked up a wake as he went :) I wonder if the passenger got a discount price for the drive. Most of these motorcycles are taxis.
This was one of the deeper sections of road. I joked with the children and told them to be careful. If the door opens they will fall into the river/road :) I heard a click as they immediately locked their doors :) They sure took that seriously!
It looks like it will be a few more days before the flooding recedes in this area.
It was like a maze with pedestrians, motorcycles and vehicles picking a path down the flooded highway.
This bicycle rider managed well riding through the waters.
As we went along the flooding was not as bad.
And soon we were on dry roads again for the rest of our travel to the Dominican border.