Hello from Linda, a teacher from Fraser Lake, BC, Canada, who gets to do our team’s final daily blog! It is hard to believe that in less than 24 hours we will be on our various routes home, and the March 2015 HATS team will have come and gone…
We’ve taken lots of pictures, because Haiti is so different from Canada, so poverty stricken and heart-wrenching, yet beautiful and hopeful, and we need to be able to show our Canadian friends back home what we are experiencing.
Haiti’s statistics can be overwhelming: over 400,000 children have no parents, 1 out of 5 children die before they reach age five. One person can’t solve every problem, but one person can make a small dint in a big problem, and HATS Haiti, under the direction of Karen Huxter is doing just that. Today, her school educates and feeds over 400 children.
|A staff of 3 cooks a protein rich meal for 400 over charcoal fires in this small kitchen every school day.|
|This may be the only meal of the day for many students.|
A few facts and figures comparing Haiti and Canada might help you to even better understand Haiti. (This is my teacher bound duty…)
Haiti has a population density of 367 persons per square kilometer, while Canada’s population density is 3.5 people per square kilometer. There were large stretches of unpopulated fields as we drove through the countryside, so Haiti’s populated areas are REALLY densely populated!
|Crowds surrounded our van on the way from Port Au Prince, desperate to sell us something whenever the van stopped or even slowed in the traffic.|
As we neared Deschapelles, the landscape was greener, but the hills in the background are still barren.
The Gross National Income based on US$ in 2012, for Haiti was $708. For Canada, $51,347. The disparity in those numbers may help you envision all that Haiti does not have.
The 2012 Consumer Price Index, where US$ in 2000= $100, for Haiti is $432, and for Canada, $128. This means the cost of living more than quadrupled in 12 years in Haiti, while Canada’s cost of living rose about 12%. (And don’t we grumble about that!)
We are staying in a compound that can give hope to more than 400 school students and 16 orphans. The compound has running water and a generator for electricity that runs about 6 hours a day. There is protection provided by full time security and high walls. There is (barely) adequate food for all, although we have been fed like royalty in our short stay. On the outside of the compound wall is painted the sign “Village of Hope, Orphans today, Leaders Tomorrow.” This is Karen Huxter’s vision, and she has toiled mightily for the last twenty years to bring that vision to fruition. The country desperately needs honest, hardworking leaders to carry it into a viable, working future.
|The outside of the compound wall.|
|Waiting for work on the nearby bridge.|
The school has 420 students, from 3 year old pre-schoolers (prescolaires) to Grade 10 teenagers. We arrived during exam time and got to see students “cramming” for their exams outside their classroom walls, knowing full well that their futures are determined by how well they do in school. I got up at 5:30 Friday morning to see a busload of school children head off on a field trip. The bus, hired for the trip, drove into the compound with its red, green, blue and yellow lights flashing. We followed the bus out of the compound and I saw a large group of people standing on the nearby bridge. “Parents seeing the children off?” I asked. Karen was polite with my naivety. “Those are farm workers waiting to be hired for a day’s employment.” Closer inspection showed that each person was carrying their own hoe, ready for work.
Karen has taken on personal responsibility to raise 16 of the orphaned children. The children range in age from 2 – late teen aged. Two of her earlier children are now teachers at the school.
|By the way, we painted the inside of the church while we were here|
I have learned much about Haiti in my short stay here, much about generational, entrenched poverty, and much about hope. We can only be part of the bringing of hope if we become one small actor on the huge stage that is poverty. Thank you, Lynn Clark, for inviting me to share this life changing experience with you, and thank-you, Karen Huxter, for investing so much of your life in a work designed to bring hope to those who need it more than any Canadian could ever imagine.