Very little detail has been supplied this early in their visit. Similar to road conditions they found between Port au Prince and Les Cayes, they found significant road damage as they entered Boileau. (You should understand that what Boileau calls a road is a dirt trail which crosses a creek where it is normally 6 inches deep.) The small stream is now a small, albeit fast current river! The gradual decline that gently led us across the river is now a five foot cliff. Wind, rain and hurricanes have combined to bring erosion to Boileau which has completely isolated the village – all vehicle access is cutoff. Everything must be brought in by human ingenuity and foot power.
Two members of the team spent Monday at the Clinic where they first delivered donations of medical and lab testing supplies. They worked to understand every aspect of the patients and how they are welcomed and treated, the Clinic’s staff, the building, the lab instruments, other necessary “tools” and the supply of medications. As time allowed they talked with the staff about their current challenges and future needs. Although positive, this early report does not include any details relative to future needs and possible adjustments.
Two other travelers met with Charlemagne, the long time Director of the elementary school. They were pleased to hear that the school is doing very well and many of the students are graduating with certification. The state has just declared that in order for a student to earn certification they will have to complete the 7th grade and pass an assessment exam. That is tighter than today’s standards where a child can complete the 5th grade and pass an assessment exam in order to receive their education certificate. All schools must comply with this new rule or they will not be allowed to provide completion certificates.
Charlemagne is in the process of adding the two classes, which means that there is a need for an additional teacher. They were very encouraged by Charlemagne’s utilization of the lap top computer that was provided two years ago. After attending the classes we arranged for, he has taken great advantage of the lap top and has taken it upon his own to begin teaching his staff of teachers how to
use the computer to make their tasks easier.
One of the active school projects is to build a functioning kitchen, a multi-purpose community room and four additional classrooms. The project appears to be about 50% complete, but is at a standstill due to the inability of bringing in supplies and building equipment because of the road conditions. Our travelers are attempting to find a fix for this problem.
Two pilgrims also met with Pere Kensy to discuss the Agriculture project and also meet with John Robert to discuss the livestock project. The livestock project is going extremely well. The farmers receive, at no charge, an animal (goat, pig, cow, etc.). When the animal is mature, it may be bred or slaughtered. Regardless of the choice, the farmer must repay, in kind or money the value of the original animal. Many of the animals have had offspring, one is sold and the monies are returned to the project so that more can be bought, one is given away to another farmer who may be in need, and if there is a third, the farmer can keep it to improve his/her own position. It was no surprise that some livestock was lost to the hurricanes, literally washed away, some became sick and died; a couple of animals were stolen. This amounts to about 25% loss, but the program is actually working better than expected.
Other team members met with the Micro-Credit management team. These five people are strong and the program is well managed. There are 120 people participating in the program. The loans are as low as 5000 Gourdes to as high as 30,000 Gourdes. (5 Gourdes equal one Haitian Dollar and 7 Haitian dollars equal 1 US Dollar.) Our loss rate is approximately 6%, which is a 2% increase over
our normal loss rate. This is due to the rising costs and difficult economic conditions. At this meeting they met a woman who has a husband and eight children. She borrowed 1000 Haitian dollars which enabled her to create a wholesale food business. She has successfully paid back this loan and attends every monthly meeting to share her success and learn from others. She told us that this has enabled her to provide food, clothing and education for her eight children. On Thursday afternoon, these Pilgrims will return to St. Theresa’s and meet with 20 to 30 participants of the program to hear their stories of how the
Micro-credit program has changed their lives.
A few of the pilgrims went with Pere Kensy to look at the land that has been purchased for the tilapia farm. Closing a land transaction in Haiti takes about eight months, so we’re a far cry from being ready to start any construction.
Further updates will be shared as we receive them.