Thursday, July 26, 2007

Going to Bed With a Smile

It is 10:45 on Thursday, July 26th, and I will definitely be sleeping well tonight.

My family- it was so wonderful to hear everyone's voice... aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, sisters, friend... I miss you all SOOOO much. Hearing all of your supportive words and encouragement really made me realize how lucky I am to have family like you. Even though we are sitting in different countries, by different oceans, I know that you all are here for me. Have a great rest of your trip. I only ask one thing- Bring me home something cute from Jack's. :)

Happy Birthday Grandma! I love you all! See you in Park City at Christmas!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Friday, July 20: Ile- a- Vache

On Friday, July 20, the Fantastic Four took a day trip to an island located off Les Cayes called Ile a Vache. We ventured there to visit Sister Flora and her orphanage she runs on the island. These pictures are taken from the rickety water taxi that took us to the island.

(more pictures and info on the orphanage to follow)

Tipa And His Chickens

"Erin! Erin! Erin!"

"Gross! What does Tipa have in his hands?... is that?... Yuck!... TIPA IS CARRYING AROUND TWO DEAD CHICKENS!"

This is what I hear as I walk out of the kitchen after breakfast this morning. Yes, Tipa was, in fact, carrying around two dead chickens by their broken necks- first he de-feathered them one by one- and was then flailing them around attempting to get a rise out of Erin.

Erin, however, did not fall completely into Tipa's trap, unlike the younger children, with whom he was chasing around the large tree with his cryptic Tipa face on.

Moral of the story- Boys do gross things- no matter the age, no matter the location.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

In English and In Creole, Please!

One of my big projects is to label Castel Pere with signs in both English and Creole, so the children can see the written English word that matches the place. Erin, one of the Fabulous Four Volunteers, has so graciously offered to tackle this HUGE project.
Here she has one of her "helpers" working on a sign that will be posted outside the pigpen.
There are also going to be signs labeling both schools- primary and secondary- the kitchen, the lunch area, each home will be labeled with the written number (ex. ONE and YON), the little store, the restrooms, etc.
Like I said this is a BIG job, and I am SO thankful to be having the help of the Fabulous!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Working From my Room!

The day has finally come- I can work from my room! Yesterday we got Internet out at the quad. This means that I can now stay on the farm and coorespond with organizations, respond to e-mails, and update my blog... it is a happy day for me, Portia, and the rest of the Fantastic Four as well as the others living in the quad (aside from Father Charlie).
So this morning I was transferring projects and fundraising projects from Portia's computer to my own so that when she leaves I will be able to continue and hopefully wrap up projects such as the vocational school, when three little shadows waltzed into my room singing "Don't Matter" by Akon. (Don't you love it Jami?) Jean Robert, Fery, and Jeff distracted me for quite some time... making me realize that although the transportation thing will no longer be an issue when it comes to work, the smiling faces will be! I choose the latter of the two.



Claudia lives in the neighborhood by Castel Pere. She lives in one room of a three roomed house with her six family members. In this picture the constant sadness is masked by my sunglasses. Even without the sunglasses, Claudia is good at hiding her sorrow through her smile and hugs. Like a lot of our children, even though on the surface they appear happy, they have seen and experiences more than their little lives should ever endure.

Portia's blog has a beautiful picture of Claudia.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Our Horses

Here is Jean Robert riding one of our 2 1/2 horses. We have them so the security guards can ride them... however, only one security guard rides... sometimes. I think part of the reason is because the horses are so small. I The rest of the time they hang out, or the kids ride them.

Why I am Here

Why am I here? This question has been asked of me over and over again. By my family, my friends, my colleagues, and even myself. The answer is in the eyes of all the children you've met through my blog, and the hundreds that you will never see.

I am here to teach English. I am here to help the Artisans. I am here to raise money for the Project. I am here for the children.

Whether my mission is completed in a day, a year, two years, or never- I am here. I am here and I am giving myself to Southern Haiti with all of my heart and soul.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This is Chub. He is three weeks old. He is the fattest of all the seven puppies born in his litter. He is my puppy. I put a red sequinced ribbon around his neck. I am going to raise him to live in the quad.

The Fantastic Four

This post is dedicated to us- the Fantastic Four. When these three amigos leave in a month, I don't know what I will do. I love you guys!

Here we are just being Fantastic.

Here we are contemplating the wonder of ankle deep water in a second story bathroom. Feet pictured from top to bottom- Daniel (or Blood), Erin, Paige (check out the flip flop tan!), and Portia.

The Flood

Last night the skies opened up and dumped all of its contents on Les Cayes. The Fantastic Four, Dan, Eddie, Kate (our new visitor here for a month), Johnny and Bermin went out for dinner to welcome Kate. Halfway through dinner it started to drizzle. After dinner we were literally dancing in the rain. On the ride home we were feeling as though we were in the Jurassic Park movie, complete with raptor noises (care of me).

When we reached our humble abode, this is what we found- a waterfall in our bathroom. Our upstairs bathroom. Cockroaches were floating to their death around the bathroom floor. We were soaked head to toe within three steps, and walking ankle deep on the second floor of our home.

Daniel- being the Mr. Fix It that he is, wanted to find out why there was a waterfall in the bathroom. Here he is going up the ladder to the roof to see. Diagnosis: too much rain.

Aftermath- this is the road. Yes, the road. NOT a river. The road.

Artist Update

Here is Sammy with his latest work of art- a free standing angel candlestick holder. I am truly amazed every time they bring me something new. This is made purely of metal- no welding required. Unbelieveable.

Here is Raymond, our hammock maker. He just finished making three hammocks for us, and will continue with those, as well as woven purses. Biondy is testing out the finished project...doesn't he look relaxed? While I was taking pictures I was commenting on how relaxing the hammock looked.

Here I am testing out the new "hang out". (Man I crack myself up.) Yeah, I could definitely get used to this.

These are our shoemakers. I hired them on from the outside to make sandals for all of our kids. Aunt Dee was also able to bring back some womens sandals to sell in the states. After they finish with sandals for all our children, they are going to teach our kids how to make them so we can be self sustaining, as well as profit from our talents. These two boys are so great to work with. They have such great work ethics, are kind to our kids, and always have smiles on their faces. Don't the shoes look great?!

My Shadows

Fery is turning into my shadow. I love him for it. When I wake up in the morning, he is below my window waiting to greet me. Yesterday I received a ring, bracelet, and necklace made of beads.

Jeff is sitting just to the left of me. He is my other shadow. I get a good morning and goodnight hug from both Fery and Jeff daily.

Today's Theme: Digging a Hole! (Saturday, July 14)

Once again- our day had a theme. The theme was, digging a hole. This mission that the "Fabulous Four" (pictured left) decided to partake upon involved driving the bright blue tractor. That morning, all ready to go at 8:30- dressed in full farmer garb mind you (cowboy hats and overalls included)- we set out to grab that tractor. Much to our avail, it was nowhere to be seen. "Maybe it is under a tree sleeping with the old guy," Daniel reasons. "WHY would it be there?" questions Portia. "That's where it always is when I need it. It makes it look like he is working." "Oh..." the three girls reply.
After searching for the tractor for an unreasonably long time-how hard can it be to find a bright blue tractor?- we gave up. Feeling a large amount of defeat, we figured that we would send some children off later to do our dirty work and find that tractor.
Around 4:00 that afternoon, Tipa (gotta love the little devil) comes running to us exclaiming that the tractor has made mysteriously made it back to the shed. "Let's go!" we all shouted raising our right arm into the air (as Fantastic Four groups usually do) and ran off to the tractor.
"Here, Paige! You should learn to work the back hoe," Daniel prompted Paige.
"Oh, I can do that!" she said enthusiastically.
After a large amount of video game like manuvering, Paige and the rest of the Four had made a large dent in the hole that must be dug for the drainage system.
"Well guys, it's all in a days waiting...and work!" they high fived each other and wiped their brows.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Have Paparazzi Following Me!

So... I am super duper famous now. Portia just loves me so much that she has devoted an entire post to me on her blog. Check it out. Unfortunately for me, like most celebrities, it is not the coolest picture. But, I guess I can't expect that much from a paparazzi. As far as the name thing, it is true... my name does sound like a certain English word. But let's ask Portia what the kids call her...

*I love you my paparazzi!*

What's New with the Artisans?

Here is Mackenson. He makes the necklaces you see below. If you look at the large bead in the center of the necklace you will see that it is actually the shell of a seed. The seed explodes, and those pieces are left. Mackenson sands them, drills a hole in them, varnishes them, and creates the most beautiful necklaces. Talk about true talent. Connie will be getting some soon. I sent about 20 home with Aunt Dee and Jami.

Today's Theme: Little Pests (Thursday, July 12)

Because we had no electricity and no Internet at the Quad today, Portia, Erin, and myself had an unwanted "vacation". We read, layed out on the roof, hung out with the Artisans, and were visited by a couple "pests". The overall vibe of the day was frustration. Portia and I both had quite a bit to accomplish, and yet, our hands were tied. Portia made an observation, "If there were a nuclear war right now, we would have no idea. We are on a island today." Now, this can be a good thing sometimes, however, when we had contacts to make, and reports to write, it was pure frustration.

Now, the best part of this day, to me, were the visits from the "pests". This is Denie. He is holding an American Airlines airplane. Aunt Dee and Jami left it for him, but didn't get to give it to him personally because he was always M.I.A. I was lucky enough to hand it over, and now, guess what...we are best buds. I told him it wasn't from me, that it was from Madame Dee and Jami, but it doesn't seem to matter to him. Oh well, they give a gift, I reap the benefits!

This is Ti Ti. He is three years old, and the most knock-kneed child I have ever seen. He is very easily amused, and when he laughs he sounds like Woody the Woodpecker. This is appropriate for him, being that he won't go anywhere without his Woodpecker stuffed animal. Here he is sleeping outside my room on a rug. I usually take catnaps here, but today, Ti Ti filled in for me. He fell asleep on my lap while I was at the Artisans, so I carried him back to the quad and let him rest. Doesn't he look like a little angel? He is.

So we didn't get our work done, oh well. We had a relaxing day with the reason we are all down here to begin with- to spend time with the children.

Today's Theme: Camp Perrin (Monday, July 9)

Today we took a road trip to Camp Perrin. Portia needed to take picture of Matante's house that was funded by Cross International. As you can see, Camp Perrin is a GORGEOUS part of Haiti. It is up in the mountains, and it feels like a million degrees cooler- although I am sure it is really on 90 instead of 98. It took us a little over an hour to get there, and the distance was about 30 kilometers. (Most of the trip was dirt roads and pot holes.) Needless to say, our backs were aching a bit when we got there. It was worth it though for the view and experience.

Matante is a vital part of Espwa. Her name is Denise, but everyone calls her Matante, or " My Aunt" in English. She has been with Father Marc since the beginning, and has been a mother to all the children of Pwoje Espwa. I just love her, and it was so great to be able to see the excitement on her face as we checked on the progress of her house she will one day retire to.

Here is our crew that took the trip. Jeanvie is not pictured because he took the picture. He was our skilled driver. From left to right- Erin (she is with us until August 2 and has been helping with the agricultural needs) Daniel (he is staying an extra month- yeah!) Kellie (she was a visitor that came with Aunt Dee and Jami and left earlier this week...we miss you Kellie!) Portia, myself, Matante, and Dan.

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Herrera Students!

I will be updating my blog with more happenings probably tomorrow because I don't have the time today. However, I am hearing that I am missed by my old students from Herrera... this is news to me because they never post! Now, Herrera kids, I know you all have computer skills...especially those involving communicating with friends... because of that, I am very disappointed in the fact that you have not posted any comments on my blog! Keep in touch my children- I think about all of you all the time, and want to know how you are doing. Angel, Fernando, Noemi, Niki, Miriam, Jesus, Peter, Rosemary, Maya, guys especially since I have heard from you, or someone has heard from you since I have been here...rally together all my Herrera clan and give me a shout out! Miss you all!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Today's Theme: Welcome Family!

So, it is Friday morning, and yesterday Jami and Aunt Dee came into town with Erin, Angie, and Kellie. I was SO excited to see them. The first thing I thought when I woke up in the morning was, "Aunt Dee and Jami come today." At breakfast, Frankell, Dino and Father Charlie reminded me, "Aunt Dee and Jami come today." When we got to the office and I was checking my mail, "Aunt Dee and Jami come today."

When it was finally time to drive to the airport to pick them up, we couldn't get there fast enough. I was so excited! It was so good to see them and hug them. Know what else was really good? The bag of M&M's Jami handed me as we walked to the car...mmm, I miss chocolate!

We had a nice rice dinner, and afterwards some of the children, Jean Robert, Jeff, Fery, sang and danced with us under the stars. Being that it was a long day of travel, however, bedtime was relatively early.

Today we have been walking around the farm, and now Jami and I catch up on e-mails while Aunt Dee goes to the market.

It is going to be a great week with my family.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Today's Theme: Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July! Portia and I decided that even though we wouldn’t be celebrating Independence Day the traditional way…we would still show our love for the U.S.A. by wearing the colors! Oh yeah, and having hot dogs, the All American Food, for lunch.

After some coaxing, pouty faces, and begging, we were able to get Father Charlie to snap a shot with us. God Bless America!

Theme of the Day: Diversions

As most of you know, it is sometimes difficult to update my blog due to lack of transportation, weather, and Internet connection. Well, recently, a new diversion has come upon me… no, three new diversions. Here are Jeff, Litan, and Beto (Look really close and you can see Litan's eye). They have been hanging out at La Madonne, and love to stop by the office for a “short” visit. All three are absolute dolls. They have a funny little skipping dance they do. They look a lot like Wilbur in the Charlotte’s Web movie. They are very good natured children.

Tuesday, July 3- Theme of the Day: Find String

So, it has been discussed, debated upon, and decided that it makes sense to label each day here in Haiti by theme, and not day of the week. Today’s theme- find the string.

Before further expanding on this themed day, there is pertinent background information that must be clarified. A few days ago, Father Marc approached me with an object he wanted the artisans to attempt to make- a rosary made entirely of string, with a wooden crucifix at the bottom. “Sure, no problem. Our kids have oober talent- this will be a breeze. All we need to do is find the string.” Find the string- three words that turned Tuesday into a jaunt to be remembered.

(Per author discretion, the remainder of this entry will be written in the third person.)

After a morning of detours and roadblocks, Paige, Portia and Sammy arrive at La Madonne, ready to complete their mission.

As they step out of the gates of La Madonne, all three realize how hungry they are, and agree that in order to successfully complete this task, lunch is vital. They walk through the busy lunchtime traffic to Les Cayes Inn for a chicken sandwich and papaya smoothie. (Being the smoothie lover that she is, Paige is very happy about this treat and vows to make detours here as often as possible.)

Close to an hour later, tummies satisfied, the three begin their journey west, towards the central market. “Cho,” complains Sammy of the shining sun, as the sweat drips down his face. Portia and Paige both remind him of the slightly relieving breeze and roll their eyes at one another.

After approximately three blocks, two tricky maneuvers around trucks in the middle of the road, and a giant leap over a bacteria infested puddle, the trio makes it to the outer limits of the market. To the left they see rice bags emptied on the ground displaying the contents in need of purchasing, to the right they see women carrying small tubs filled with treasures on their heads. Through the center of it all are motos and machins, all fighting to be at the top of the food chain and get out first.

As they get deeper into the market, music is heard on a distorted radio, second hand clothing is displayed as if at a fashion expo, and children approach with small items such as gum and mangos in hopes their patrons will oblige.

Sammy is obviously the expert of this excursion as he pulls the rosary from his pocket, explains his need to the merchants, examines the prospective string, and moves on. “This one’s too big…this one’s too small…this one’s too thick…too thin…too coarse…too short…” The search goes on. Just as the three are beginning to feel defeated, something catches Sammy’s eye. With the grace of a gazelle, and the speed of a well tuned sports car, Sammy leaves the two girls struggling to keep up with him.

When the girls finally catch up, Sammy is staring starry eyed at a spool of thread that appears too good to be true. “It’s perfect!” Paige exclaims as she fingers the thread in her hands and steps back.

Too focused on the perfection that is string, she does not realize a tap-tap is plowing down the road in desperate need to conquer the market. Just as his horn begins to blow, Sammy grabs Paige by the arm and pulls her back to safety.

“Thanks, Sammy. That was close,” was all Paige says as she hands over the money to pay for the material.

All in good spirits, the three make their way back towards La Madonne. “Do you think I would be able to check a machete when I go home?” Portia asks the other two as they pass a man with a basket full on either side of him.

“hmm…” contemplates Paige as she side steps yet another moto at the last second.

As it so happens, the driver of the moto is one of Sammy’s friends. He laughs, asks for a dollar from Portia, hands it to his friend, hops on the back and takes off. As he disappears into the crowd, he turns, laughing and waving…leaving the two girls to walk the distance back on their own.

“Well…” says Paige, “That’s Haiti.”

Mission: Find the string. Complete.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Places of Importance

If you notice, in the top right corner of my blog, there is a "Places of Importance" section. Here, I have posted Father Marc's Blog, the official Theos Work Website, Portia's Blog (one of the volunteers), and Connie's Blog. Connie handles the arts and crafts in the states. If you go here, you can order! I will be sending new pieces home with Aunt Dee next week!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Father Marc's Blog

If you have not yet checked out Father Marc's blog, you should do it. There is a very disturbing post today. One that is the reality of Haiti. Tell me your thoughts.

click on Father Marc's Messages on the main page.

Choupy's Art Class

I thought that since I spoke so highly of Choupy and his drawing class with the younger children, I would show everyone what his class looks like. Here he is, with all his pupils crowded around him, in one of the classrooms at the primary school. Don't they look eager?! Kisha, I KNOW you can relate to Choupy and all his little ones in his face.

This is Fery, one of the older boys. (He is 14). He is working really hard on a drawing of a tree branch. That was the lesson on this particular day. Choupy brought a branch into the classroom, showed the students how the leaves and smaller branches connect, and then drew a picture of the branch on the board. He circled important areas for them to focus on copying, and then gave them each a piece of paper and crayon to try to duplicate. It was really an impressive lesson. He is working very hard.

Daniel is so impressed with him that he is generously donating some money to help fund Choupy's class. We will be buying more paper and crayons this week so the children don't have to share, and maybe they will even get two colors to work with instead of just one! Thank you, Daniel.

A New Artist

The very first time I came to Haiti I met and fell in love with Maxim. He is a boy who is 100% deaf, and has a hard time communicating. He is only with us on summer vacation and breaks. The rest of the year, he goes to a school in Port au Prince- the capital- where his needs will be better met. When I was here in March, I did not get to see Maxim because he was away at school. When I was back home, he and Father Marc sent me a picture of him doing a silly dance. Just this June, when I returned, Maxim still was not back. Well, a couple days ago, Maxim returned, and it made my day! He is now going to be the newest member to our artist staff. He started on Friday. Sammy and Mac took him under their wings and got him right into painting. I am so excited to have him on our team for the summer, and can't wait to see what he can do!
(pictured from left to right: sammy, maxim, mac)