Non-functioning government, health or education system. Hunger, lack of drinking water and the annual occurrence of hurricanes. That is Haiti. Klára Lőffelmannová from the Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc worked in this hard-life country in September and October 2017. She visited students who’re involved in the Child Sponsorship Programme, Haitian communities and the Caritas co-workers. She also got to visit some places which have been affected by the hurricane Matthew and where the money from the Czech donors has helped. The mission’s been finished on 31 October 2017. Check below how Klára was doing.
Sunday – October 29 2017
Port au Prince/ Departure time is here. By the end of the week I’m visiting the residency of local Nuncio Eugen Martin Nugent in Pétion-Ville. I’m pre-announced so; I’m pleasantly surprised when the Nuncio invites me for a lunch. Nugent has lot of experiences from different countries. He worked in Madagascar for example. He’s been living in Haiti since 2015. He was intrigued by the work of the Archdiocese Caritas Olomouc in Haiti and he wishes us all good for our future projects. What a nice end of this year’s mission.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to our partners and friends. We’ve managed to handle all the necessary tasks which we’ve planned to finish. There is a several hour flight in front of me, back to the Czech Republic. Thank you all who’ve accompanied us during the mission, and I look forward to see you soon! J
Wednesday – October 25 2017
Port au Prince/ Jakub and Vít are leaving for the Dominican Republic and I’m staying for the last four days of my Haitian mission in Port au Prince. I’m dealing with the last pre-arranged meetings with our colleagues and with other organizations. One of them is Deux Main Design – American NGO working in Haiti since 2010.
Tires as shoe soles
Deux Main Design focuses on the production of jewellery and shoes made of local material even from garbage such as tires. They’re using it to make shoe soles for the sandals and slippers. They’re selling their products in the shop in Port au Prince and in the USA as well. The local workshop has 33 employees. It’s very needed to create new jobs in Haiti. Deux Main Design also provides the afternoon courses for the secondary school children so they can learn a craft and then get a job. The visit of this organization also inspired Sisters of St. Joseph to found a new workshop in Gonaives.
Tuesday – October 24 2017
Port au Prince/ In cooperation with the Slovak Catholic Caritas (SKCH) we’re headed today to the School of St. Theresia which is run by local Sisters. The school is attended by 495 children from the 1st to the 7th grade. It also has 3 classes of pre-school. A part of the building’s been built thanks to the SKCH after the devastating earthquake in 2010 and now they’re supporting local children through the Child Sponsorship Programme.
Sisters of St. Therese of Jesus keep their entire campus and school in order. Even though nowadays there are only 4 Sisters, they handle all the work with the smile on their faces and they always find some individual time for every kid. Once again we’re feeling enriched and satisfied that what we do really makes sense. The visit of the last school in our mission is behind us. Tomorrow the journey of our team splits.
Sunday October 22 – Monday October 23 2017
Port au Prince/ On Sunday we’re going to Port au Prince to visit Sisters of St. Therese of Jesus in Cazeau. The next day morning we have a meeting with our agent. We’re discussing the shipment of the container with the humanitarian aid to Haiti. The Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc should send it on November 2017. Inside the container there will be the equipment for the sewing workshop, furniture, school supplies and sport equipment for the students, medical material, clothes etc. All those things will serve to the local communities in Gonaives and Baie de Henne.
We thank to all generous donors who contributed with their gifts to the container collection in the summer. During the meeting with the representative of the shipping company we talk about the administrative and plan all the future steps. The container should arrive to the port in Port au Prince at the beginning of January 2018.
Searching for a wounded girl
Friday – October 20 2017
Gonaïves/ In the morning we’re writing the letters with the children for their adoptive parents. In the afternoon we’re heading to a local hospital where we plan to visit one student from the 5th grade that didn’t come to school. She’s been hit by a motorbike while crossing the street. In the hospital the doctor told us that the girl had only an X-ray and now she’s probably back home. So, we are going to look for her house. She’s an orphan and she’s living with her cousin. At home they told us that the girl’s been sent to the Saint Marc’s Hospital because she had a badly broken leg and this hospital has better equipment. So the girl is, Thanks to God, in good hands and we hope that she’ll get better soon.
Our work in Gonaïves is coming to an end. Tomorrow we’ll pack our things and say goodbye to the Sisters. On Sunday we’re going to Port au Prince.
Thursday – October 19 2017
Gonaïves/ Yesterday, after a long journey we rested, planned the next day’s schedule and we met with some other students. This morning – what an unpleasant surprise: The battery in the car is empty. Luckily, it didn’t happen on our way to Baie de Henne. It’d be very difficult to search for a repairman in the wasteland. Fortunately we can repair our car in Gonaives and we hope that it’ll serve well for the last week. After all we still have quite a lot of work in Port au Prince where we’re going this Sunday. Today we’ll take a look at the sewing workshop and also at a new clinic for the leprous which is in the same building. This clinic is the second of this type that works in entire Haiti. The first one is in Leogan. A consultation and an entire examination are free for the patients. The clinic has been built by local priest P. John who’s originally from the USA and who’s living in Haiti for several decades.
Monday October 16 – Tuesday October 17 2017
Baie de Henne/ We’re going back to Baie de Henne where we take care about the last administrative things with the local priest. The next day – on 17th October is a national holiday in Haiti – the anniversary of the death of Jean Jacques Dessalines – the man who contributed to the declaration of the first Negro Republic in Haiti in 1804. The schools and other institutions are closed. We spend almost entire day in a car on a rocky and broken road to Gonaïves.
Saturday October 14 – Sunday October 15 2017
Mole St. Nicolas – The place where Christopher Columbus landed for the first time with his Spanish fleet because he believed that they’ve sailed to India. Only few people know that Haiti has such a significant connection with the discovery of America. We take a look at several historical remains from the Spanish colonization. We meet with the high school students who’re studying here thanks to the Child Sponsorship Programme.
Friday – October 13 2017
Baie de Henne/ In the morning we’re going to the local high school where the students of 7th, 8th, 9th grade of grammar school and also first and second grades of high school are studying. We also visit the local Health Centre in Baie de Henne to monitor the situation of healthcare in this particular village. We meet with the administrator and he describes us the current situation. There are two nurses in the centre who can help people in emergency situations. There are also two GPs who aren’t constantly present. Right now neither of them is there. One is in Port au Prince and the second one is on training in Port de Paix. The equipment of the whole centre is very modest and you can’t do any major surgery here. The patients have to travel for such to the nearest hospitals in Bombardopolis or Gonaïves. Also the availability of the necessary medicaments isn’t secure in here. Most of the medicaments aren’t available in Haiti and there is a problem with the short expiration date as we have already experienced while providing medicaments for our medical camp. So, to avoid that, the local pharmacist buys the minimal amount of medicaments in Port de Paix and delivers them in here. The patients can buy the medicaments in here but a lot of them can’t afford it anyway, the price is too high. During the morning we move more to the south-west of the country, to Mole St. Nicolas.
Thursday – October 12 2017
Baie de Henne/ In the morning we are finishing the letters with the children for their adoptive parents. Together with the headmaster and teachers we choose new children for the Child Sponsorship Programme. There are still a lot of children who need help. The education is quite expensive and the student’s book and school uniforms last in most cases for only one year. The money from the adoptive parents pays all of those things, including the school supplies and a warm lunch. Neither for teachers is the situation in school easy. Their salary is often not enough to feed their numerous families. Today is our last day in school therefore we say goodbye to the students by singing together and we look forward to see them again the next year.
We thank to all sponsors who help with us to provide the basic education to the children.
In the afternoon we pay a visit to several known families in the village. We also meet the local craftsmen and fishermen.
Tuesday – October 10 2017
Baie de Henne/ This morning we start the 3rd year of the Medical Camp with the Sisters of St. Joseph. It takes place at the school of St. Maria Goretti. We want to say big thanks to all donors who’ve financially contributed to the campaign “For the Health of Haiti” („Na zdraví Haiti“) and helped us buy the needed medicaments and the equipment for organizing this aid in such remoted area where aren’t any doctors and there are not enough medicaments. During the first day we treat almost 70 students and tomorrow we continue with the physical examinations. We also visited small school in Petite Anse today, where the “adoptive parents“ from the Czech Republic help with the student’s basic education.
Monday – October 9 2017
Baie de Henne/ After a year we meet again with the students from the St. Maria Goretti school. We take a picture of every class during the morning and we photograph individually every child from the Child Sponsorship Programme. The children can go to school, get a school uniform, student’s books and one warm meal a day, all thanks to this project. We talk with the teachers and we discuss the administrative affairs with the headmaster. In the afternoon we have a meeting with the high school students.
Today the medical team – four Sisters of St. Joseph from Gonaives paid us a visit in Baie de Henne. Tomorrow they’ll start a Medical Camp for the whole school.
Sunday – October 8 2017
Baier de Henne/ Yesterday we moved to Baie de Henne – a fisherman village in the north-west of Haiti. It was here where the cooperation of local people and the Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc has begun in 2005. We had a good weather on our way here. It was quite dry though. Last year we visited this place after the hurricane and the large part of a road was flooded and muddy. Now we’ve travelled for 5 hours on rocky and broken roads and which wasn’t really beer and skittles.
Today we are going to a holy mass to the local church of St. Michael. And especially today the mass was accompanied by the Children’s choir from the School Sante Marie Goretti which is supported by the ACHO and the Czech donors for 12 years now through the Child Sponsorship Programme. In the afternoon we met also with the parents of those children and we reminded them the rules of the programme. Tomorrow we are going to visit students at school…
In St. Michael’s church
Meeting with parents
Thursday – 5 October 2017
Gonaïves/ We’re visiting the bishop from Gonaïves, Mgr Yves-Marie Péan to discuss the take-over of the humanitarian aid container which should be leaving ACHO headquarters around November 2017 and the locals should receive it after the New Year. For 3 days we were trying to arrange an appointment. The Bishop is often very busy and we are pleased that he has made time for us. The appointment was carried out in a very friendly atmosphere and in the end we come to an agreement on all necessary administrative details. The bishop appreciates the work of the Archdiocesan Caritas Olomouc which operates in Haiti since 2005. He also sends a message to the people of good will in the Czech Republic, big thanks for their responsiveness to the needs of others and affectionate help towards this poor Caribbean country. Tomorrow a preparation for Saturday’s journey to Baie de Henne awaits us…
Wednesday – October 4 2017
Gonaïves/ Today we explore the surroundings of the Sisters of St Joseph’s Centre. We visited several families who receive Sisters’ help with the roof construction and paying the rent. They are mostly very poor families who had been living on a street before they received help from Sisters. Living in Haiti is very expensive and problems with land rights are very common. It is quite usual that more than one family lives in one house. Every family gets one room. The families have often six or more member. House furnishing is very simple in most cases there is only a bed. Most of the Haitian’s life takes place outside, on streets.
The little girl couldn’t walk due to starvation. Now she has a chance
Tuesday – October 3 2017
Gonaïves/ In the morning we visited the Orthopaedic Centre of Sisters of St. Joseph. Sister Pyari is just now taking care of patients – a mum with a little girl, who wasn’t able to walk due to starvation. Sisters helped with her nutrition in the Nutrition Centre and now the little girl does a lot of exercises to learn to walk properly. And there are more cases like this one. Local children are often delayed in their development and have a variety of different not just orthopaedic problems due to a lack of food and water. In the afternoon we meet with some of the high-school students who didn’t show up at the meeting yesterday.
Monday – October 2 2017
Gonaïves/ In the morning we are finishing the photographing of children from the Child Sponsorship Programme. Every class receives an extra group photo of the class with their teachers. We take a look at the school cantina where the children receive a warm meal every day – boiled rice with beans. For most of them this is the only meal for a day. In the afternoon we meet with the high-school students who study in Gonaives thanks to the Czech donors. We hand them gifts and help them write the letters for their Czech adoptive parents.
With the children we’re sending many thanks and warmest greetings to our home…
Sunday – October 1 2017
Gonaïves/ At half past 8 in the morning we celebrated with Sisters the holy mass in local church. We met here Sister Gerda who comes from Baie de Henne and now lives in the Dominican Republic. Sister Gerda decided to help in her village where she comes from. She got the necessary amount of medication and opened a weekly mobile clinic with a two-member team in Baie de Henne. We were very pleased by this action. It was for the first time something like this happened and it’s possible that if the Sisters will have more financial resources in the next year.
ACHO will organize the 3th year of Medical Week in Baie de Henne already. It will be focused on students from the Sainte Maria Goretti School which is attended also by the students from the Child Sponsorship Programme. It is possible that we’re going to cooperate for the next years with Sister Gerda so that we could treat as many people as possible. During the afternoon we go to the sea with the local fisherman who talks about his life. We even catch some fish for the lunch. Then, we visit one family living in the slum and to whom the Sisters of St. Joseph help with the providing of accommodation.
Saturday – September 30 2017
Gonaïves/ Even though it’s Saturday the school isn’t idle. You need to take an advantage of that there are no children at school. So, the school staff can begin with the concreting of the access roads towards the centre of the school campus where the children gather every morning for an assembly. Thanks to this, students will have a better and safer access road.
Friday – September 29 2017
Gonaïves/ We visit the school Emmanuel St. Joseph where 105 children are supported by ACHO through the Child Sponsorship Programme. Early before the class starts the children receive a glass of milk. Most of them come to school without breakfast and the lunch at school is often the only meal for the day. If the students receive the glass of milk in the morning they can better concentrate on their studies. At 8 o’clock we participate at the school assembly, we listen the singing of the anthem and see the hoisting of the flag. Then the students and teachers welcome us kindly and we interpret the greetings form the Czech Republic.
Next activity is a singing competition. There are 12 students who’ll be competing among themselves. Their performances will be judged by an expert jury which involves us as well. The performances of singers are almost professional so it is hard to choose a winner. Three most successful singers are rewarded with a huge applause. After the competition it’s time to start today’s lesson.
In addition to this school, which is run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, there is also an Orthopaedic Centre and a centre for mothers and children in this area. This centre is attended by over 60 women and children. Mothers can get a meal for themselves and their children, they sing together, pray and Sisters provide consultations about good childcare and they are willing to help with any problem. Because it’s Friday and the centre is closed for the weekend, mothers receive rice and beans for the weekend as well.
Thursday – September 28 2017
Gonaïves/ In the morning we’ve managed to get some more medicaments from the local distributor centre of the organization “Food for the Poor”. Medicaments are a scarce commodity in Haiti. If you manage to buy some there is another problem – early expiration date. So, we have to use most of these medicaments as soon as possible during our Medical Camp in Baie de Henne.
In the afternoon we visit Sisters of St. Joseph’s newly built house where the candidates prepare to enter the order. There are 3 candidates at the moment and Sisters of St. Joseph’s mission is growing every year.
Original handbags, pockets and jute baskets
Part of the house is a garden where we taste local cherries. There is also a sewing workshop which was opened in January 2018. The workshop is run by one Sister and now she teaches 10 women the tailoring craft. Women attend the centre every day from 2 till 5 P.M. We have a chance to see the first products. Apart from sewn clothes and a variety of original bags, handbags and pockets, women learn to knit small baskets and other containers made of jute. They are doing very well. For the next year they plan to expand the workshop so the women can also begin to sew the school uniforms for the students of Emmaus St. Joseph’s school. ACHO will also contribute to this type of activity by its container consignment which will contain among others the pedal sewing machines and other necessary sewing tools.
This is how you drive in Gonaïves:
Wednesday – Septembre 27 2017
Port au Prince/ In the morning we meet with the high-school students who study in Port au Prince. We hand them over the letters from their Czech donors and they write in return letters from Haiti to the Czech Republic. Afterwards we are heading to the Food for the Poor organization office where we have negotiated the medical supply shipment of needed medicaments for the Medical Camp in Baie de Henne the day before. A suitcase full of medicaments which we have brought to Haiti wasn’t enough for all the patients who needed it. Our request was accepted and today we have received several boxes of medicines and medical supplies from this organization.
In the afternoon we are warned by Sisters of St. Joseph that for the next 3 days there should be protests and manifestations on the road between Port au Prince and Gonaïves. So the road will be impassable. And because we need to slowly move to the North where we have other work which needs to be done we’ve decided to go to Gonaïves (which lies in the North of Haiti) today. Sisters drive over the way to meet us and in the end we all get safely to the centre. Well, after dark.
Monday – September 25 2017
Roche-a-Bateau/ We’re still in the south of Haiti. In the morning we go to school Saint Joseph de Rosier where we support 16 children through the Child Sponsorship Programme. School is attended by 2 278 children in total. This school was also hit by the hurricane in 2016. Half of the building lost a roof and some classes for the pre-school kids we devastated as well. The children from the school Saint Joseph de Rosier now have the roof above their heads thanks to the ACHO project for the school repairs. New classes for the pre-school children should be finished soon.
We interpret to children the greetings from their Czech donors and we hand them over some small gifts. Students then write to their adoptive parents. In the afternoon we say goodbye to our hosts and we’re going back to Port au Prince. We reach our destination safely after dark.
Sunday – September 24 2017
Roche-a-Bateau/ We are present for the Sunday holly mass in the St. Michael’s church. There is also one wedding and 4 baptisms of children going on during the ceremony. At the end there are also new local scouts making vows. You can see the local parish is living a varied life. We see that the repaired church is very important for the local people not only from the religious perspective but also from the social perspective. And what has changed in the village during the year? We go on a tour after a mass. Lot of houses is repaired and they have new metal roofs. There are still some unrepaired houses which have only tarps instead of roof. A great novelty here is the well, which was built with the help of the Sisters of St. Vincence of Paolo. Local gardens and fields are still in very bad conditions. The consequences of the hurricane from last year are also visible on broken palm trees. We meet with the locals who are telling us about their life. They say that there is still lot of things to improve in the village, and they particularly highlight the problem of the destroyed crop and the death of cattle. A lot of people lost their jobs because of this and many parents can’t afford to pay the school for their children.
Saturday – September 23 2017
Roche-a-Bateau/ Road to the Riviere Froide is blocked in the morning so it takes time before we can meet with our driver to go to the Roche-a-Bateau village in the South of Haiti. We have a moment to spare so we pay a friendly visit to a Priest’s house Société des Prêtres de Saint-Jacques where we make new contacts for the possible assistance with sending material aid to Haiti. After 5 hours of traveling we reach our today’s final destination, a parish in Roche-a-Bateau, by 7 P.M.
Friday – September 22 2017
Port au Prince/ Today we stay at the Sisters in Riviere Froide because of the last 3 days tensed situation in Port au Prince. People protest against the government regulations. Government wants to raise taxes which local people cannot afford to pay. In the morning we visited Sisters’ centre for the disabled children “Alta Visita”. This centre’s been built and is run by the Slovak Catholic Caritas. Sisters take a long-time care of 39 children with all sorts of mental and physical disabilities. In the afternoon we prepare ourselves for the tomorrow’s travel to South to Roche-a-Bateau. There we are going to monitor the situation after the last year’s hurricane Matthew and we are also going to visit a school which we support through the Child Sponsorship Programme.
Thursday – September 21 2017
Port au Prince/ Today we visited the school of St. Francis de Sales run by the Sisters of St. Theresa of Ávila. We checked the Child Sponsorship Programme managed by the Slovak Catholic Caritas. They’ve been helping at this school since 2011. Students and teachers welcomed us very kindly. And we thank to them and convey lots of greetings from our Slovak colleagues.
Sisters have a lot of work in here. The elementary school has 9 grades (every grade has 2 classrooms – A and B). There are also 3 classrooms of pre-school and 4 years’ high school. Exactly 1 360 students attend the school in total. Apart from the elementary school, Sisters run also a training/specialized school (agriculture, joinery and masonry). Outside of the school Sisters aren’t idle at all – they work with local poor people and they also manage meat and wine production.
Wednesday – September 20 2017, afternoon
Port au Prince/ Klára arrives in Haiti where she meets with 2 other travellers, Czech moviemakers. They will accompany her for most of time. “We’ve all landed safely together with our suitcases. After the arrival we needed to arrange the necessary things for our further work in this country such as exchange our money or buy local SIM card,” writes Klára.
Haitian children can look forward to the letters and small gifts from their adoptive parents. We’ve also brought the needed medicaments which are a scarce commodity here in Haiti. The three-member group is now in the capital city Port au Prince. The mission begins…