Monday, October 17, 2016

Hurricane Matthew October 4, 2016

We have had numerous inquires asking about how hurricane Matthew has affected our school in Pignon. As anticipated there was only minor damage in Pignon, which is located nearly 100 miles from the hurricane's path. There was plenty of wind and rain that created damage to homes and property but fortunately no serious injures.

The challenge for rural areas like Pignon is that when family homes are destroyed in more urban areas, like the destruction from Matthew, people migrate to unaffected rural areas to find food and shelter by staying with friends and relatives. We expected that over the next few months many people will move into the Pignon area thus putting increased strain on local services including our school. Student attendance has already increased to nearly 200 students from pre-school to 6th graders. This has been due to the commitment that Director Rimbol and his staff have made to provide an education to any child who asks. This commitment, at times, has meant that the staff forgoes getting paid in order to insure that school supplies and healthy lunches can be consistently provided.

Haiti is still dealing with ongoing challenges from the 2010 earthquake and the affects from Matthew will be felt for years. We are wholeheartedly moving forward to insure that we can continue to provide education, heath classes and school lunches for deserving students.

We know that education is the way to alleviate poverty. Your continued financial support is needed to help us meet this goal. Please go to the "How You Can Help" tab and click on the "Donate" button to set up a onetime contribution or monthly gift. Your donation will change lives in Haiti.    

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Susan had the distinct pleasure of visiting the 3rd graders at Oakhurst Elementary School in California yesterday. She shared photos showing students' lives here in the US, compared to life in Haiti (school, food, water, etc.). The kids were respectful, engaged, attentive and asked very thoughtful questions. Susan said, "I think it was my favorite presentation I've done yet! When I sent a letter of thanks to teacher Mrs. Harsha, this was her response:
"Great! And thank YOU! As soon as we returned to class, students were digging into their backpacks for coins and dollars. Others were talking about bringing money next week. One little boy asked me to untie a little bag he had. It was too tight but it was time to round them up for the busses. As the last child was heading out the door I noticed Anthony at the Power of One canister. He'd managed to undo his bundle and was placing coins in the canister!
You inspired them! Your presentation was perfect showing the contrast of what they have and what the Haitians have. Mrs. Murphy wonders if it will also make them more grateful for what they do have:)"

Young children seem to make a quick connection to their counterparts in developing countries.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

School Well Repairs

Jean-Ronel sent us some pictures today of repairs on the school's well. The hand-pumped well was drilled by Haiti Outreach in 2012 with support from Oakhurst Sierra, Oakhurst Sierra Sunrise and Tracy Rotary Clubs. At that time the Rotary Clubs set monies aside for future repairs. Oxidized and pitted pipes are being replaced to increase cleanliness and efficiency.
This well provides the students and staff with clean, easily accessible water. It is also opened to the community at scheduled times bringing clean water to many families in the area. Prior to the well being drilled students had to leave their class and walk to a nearby river if water was needed at school. Besides missing class time the river water is not nearly as healthy since the river is also used to water animals, wash clothing, wash cars and bathing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Health and Hygiene Classes Start

We are very excited that this month we were able to start offering health and wellness classes at the school in Pignon. Classes are offered every week by a visiting nurse. She has established lesson plans that are geared to each grade level and the kids are loving it.
Healthy kids have better attendance and are able to focus more clearly while at school.
Classes will be taught on the importance of personal hygiene, proper dental care, good nutrition and how to avoid transmitted diseases like malaria, typhoid, cholera, etc. For older students classes will include how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and the role of teenagers towards one another both socially and sexually.
We are aware of the importance of healthy students and healthy families. Our Board has agreed to take on this additional financial commitment for the rest of the current school year. We are actively pursuing financial support to assure that this important program will continue in the future.
As always, thanks to Jean-Ronel Joseph and Director Rimbol for all their work in Pignon!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 An Exciting Time….

This has been an exciting and busy year for Be the Power of One. Your support has allowed us to maintain funding for our school in Pignon, Haiti. The school continues to grow, we are over 150 students from Pignon and the surrounding community. As a result we have increased the amount of food we provide so that we are sure each child is receiving a hot lunch every school day.

We again travelled to Pignon this year and were joined by three dynamic women from our own community; a retired teacher, a nurse and a business woman.  It was wonderful to share our experience with others who had a fresh perspective.  The trip came together quite nicely, with a comfortable room and three delicious meals a day at the Haiti Outreach Guest House.  Haiti Outreach is a non-profit that is drilling water wells throughout rural Haiti, bringing fresh, clean drinking water and reducing water-borne diseases. See them at HaitiOutreach.orgWe are confident that future group trips will be just as successful.  Please let us know if you’re interested in coming with us.

The coming year looks to be full of wonderful possibilities.  A friend and fellow Rotarian in the Los Barilles Club, Baja, Mexico, shared the need for an expanded kitchen and eating area for a local school. Our board has tentatively supported this project, pending more information.  In addition, with the help of a grant writer, we are exploring the possibility of applying for grants to make several big changes to the school in Pignon, Haiti. More exciting details will follow as the grant process unfolds.

It is with your help we are able to continue the work of Be the Power of One, providing hope through education. The need for quality education is great throughout the world, indeed it is the way out of poverty for so many.  In our travels, we are humbled as we see how excited the children are to attend school and how proud their parents are. As you celebrate the New Year with friends and family, please take some time to be mindful of the blessings we all enjoy. 

Your donations are changing lives, making the world a healthier more peaceful place. Just $25 provides more than 300 healthy school meals in Haiti. Please contact us if you'd like to become a monthly donor or donate here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

June 2015 Haiti Update

We returned from Haiti about five weeks ago from a short and very busy trip to Pignon, Haiti. We had not been to Haiti in over a year and were eager to see our Haitian friends. This was a unique trip in that we took three friends along with us; Melissa Buller (Oakhurst Realtor), Rachel DeBernardi (Nurse) and Roberta Tackett (Retired Teacher). It was the first trip that Susan and I have made without traveling with Pastor Carsel. There was a bit of anxiety about our travels within Haiti and these quickly dissipated upon arriving at the office of Missionary Aviation Fellowship in Port au Prince. MAF was the air charter NGO that was going to fly us from PaP to Pignon on a six passenger Cessna. This 25 minute flight replaced the 4-12 hour drive we’ve taken in the past covering 90 brutal miles to Pignon. This is certainly the way to go!

We arrived at the Haiti Outreach Guesthouse ( Tuesday afternoon and after getting settled in to our rooms we met with Neil Van Dine, Country Director for the Haiti Outreach, and arranged to participate in a well inauguration on Thursday morning in the community of Lomenis.  Later that evening we meet with Director Rimbol to get an update on how things were going at the school and to hear about current needs, which include textbooks for next year and new school uniforms. We were pleased to hear that the school has grown to nearly 150 children, new teachers have been hired and now that the school offers K-6 grades they are ready to apply for their national accreditation. It was wonderful to see the excitement and smiles of the students when our group arrived at school Wednesday morning. Rachel, Melissa and Roberta immediately made lots of new friends and quickly saw what has brought Susan and me back to Haiti every year. Your financial support continues to change the lives of our students, their families and their community. These changes create healthier, more peaceful flourishing communities.

We were all honored to be present Thursday at the well inauguration in Lomenis. As is typical for Haiti, the program lasted about 2 ½ hours featuring singing, dancing, speeches from all the local dignitaries along with skits about proper use of the new well. It was heart warming to see the community pride as the ownership of the well passed from Haiti Outreach to the new Community Water Board of Lomenis. This was the culmination of 18 months of the coordinated efforts of the community and Haiti Outreach to provide clean, easily accessible water for the first time. I am thankful everyday when I turn the faucet handle and clean water comes out. This is a blessing that is very rare in many parts of the world, Haiti included.

There were so many other things that filled our time that I will only mention here as to not make this letter a novelette. We had an informative tour of the local hospital. Its fully equipped operating room serves communities throughout the region. We met with folks from Many Hands for Haiti about the possibility of providing school lunches a more affordable cost. Susan and I were excited to visit Madam Odryle’s (Pastor Carsel’s sister) home and to thank her once again for her hospitality over the years. I played, pretty poorly I might add, a few games of dominos and got soundly beaten by her children and grand children. It was also such a treat to spend some time with Jean-Ronel’s family (we love them all) and to hear the wonderful progress his brother Viladoin and sister Margerie are making with their schooling.

Haiti is a wonderful teacher and I often return from our trips with more questions than answers. Susan and I continue to educate ourselves and search for the most effective and efficient ways to accomplish the goals of Be the Power of One. I appreciate our willingness to be open to the wisdom and experience of people like Neil, who has been in Haiti for 25+ years, and our eagerness to hear the impressions of those who have seen Haiti for the first time. Rachel, Melissa and Roberta were courageous trailblazers and we look forward to offering more trips to Haiti for friends who are interested in seeing our work firsthand.

As always Susan and I are anxious and open to sharing our story with groups of all sizes whether at your home, church or club meeting. We both feel very blessed by your financial support, your words of encouragement and the hospitality and friendship we are always shown in Haiti. Be assured that progress is being made and your generosity has touched many lives in Haiti and other developing countries.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Local Rotarians Come Through….Again!

It is with GREAT appreciation to the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club (the Noon Club), sponsors and participants of this year's "Evening at Erna's" that we THANK YOU, THANK YOU for the incredibly generous donation of $3035 from the evening's proceeds. Rotarians and the staff at Erna's Elderberry House volunteer their time, energy and passion to make this an unforgettable evening. 

This donation and the continuing support of Rotarians throughout District 5220 (Central California) supports educational opportunities and clean water projects in developing communities.

Rotarians' motto of "Service Above Self" is exemplified by the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club.