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.

Haiti Here We Come !!

We had our last organizational meeting yesterday in prep for next week's trip to Haiti. We are so looking forward to seeing our friends, sharing some activities at the school, visiting Jean-Ronel and Chedlin Michel's Kids Club of Pignon, talking with the folks at Haiti Outreach about another well project, touring the hospital and maybe even getting in some sightseeing. Very busy, very rewarding trip. 

We will have three first-time Haiti travelers with us; Melissa, a local business women, Roberta, a retired teacher and Rachel, a medical professional. We are excited about sharing our experiences and hearing their impressions of this life changing adventure. 

This will be a short trip so we are forgoing long car rides on the wicked rural Haiti roads and flying on a five passenger plane from Port-au-Prince to Pignon. The charter operations are run by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). With their weight restrictions we may not be able to take all of our school supplies with us on the flight. MAF has graciously agreed to store this excess luggage and deliver it on a future flight. We all plan to diet so we'll be allowed to bring more school supplies and soccer balls. 

So many people have stepped up to make this trip a success. They include: Mountain Area Soccer League, Drs. Brosi and Horasanian for toothbrushes and toothpaste, Rev. Sandy West for more toothbrushes (These are a huge hit with the kids at school), Mandy and Kris at Oakhurst Office Outlet, Oakhurst Rotary Clubs, Bob and Cathy Wood, Jesse Chadwick, Trudy Shields, Fran Bruner, Lauren Madden, Maggie Butterfield and so many others. 

More info and pictures later…..