Children's Hope Solidarity Team at MABE Orphanage -- Gressier, Haiti

Children's Hope Solidarity Team at MABE Orphanage -- Gressier, Haiti

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2014 Haiti Journal #4 "Oloffson's"

RAM, right off the bat.

Whisked from their gracious welcome at St. Joseph’s Home for boys, before our team could catch their breath, we bounced them down the mangled streets of Port au Prince, Haiti in the back of our pickup trucks to Hotel Oloffson to submerge themselves in ‘kompa” music by RAM, named after the lead singer, Richard Morse. RAM

The white mansion was built as a private home in the late 1800’s. Perched a bit uncomfortably on a steep hillside, the hotel has a storied past. It was home to two of Haiti’s presidents (the last one torn to pieces), but now plays host to diplomats, foreign aid workers, paramilitary attachés, former ton ton macoutes, artists, businessmen, and, for a few hours, the Children’s Hope Solidarity Team, 2014.

Oloffson’s packed and steaming dance floor lies at the core of an awkward yet intoxicating mix of ancient Taino artifacts, displays of rich cultural and Vodou heritage all tossed about with remnants of celebrities, dictators and torturous foreign domination. Unlike the Haitian constitution, the hotel survived the U.S. military occupation (1915 to 1934), by housing a military hospital. This seductive concoction set the heartbeat pace for our solidarity team. The music, grown from the roots of struggle and resistance, echoed in our ears through the long, stiflingly hot days of rapid-fire service.

Haiti is not just about abject poverty, though there is that. We come to serve, but also to listen and learn - of culture, music and tradition grown out of strength and survival.

Day two? The street market – to buy a month’s supply of food for MABE orphanage.

Peace, all ways and always,

Professor Leisa Faulkner, University of the Pacific; Folsom Lake College; Founder, Children’s Hope

Monday, August 4, 2014

2014 Haiti Journal #3 "No Skin"

“Port au Prince is a city so naked it has no skin,” warns Jonathan Katz. 

True. We saw its raw body shaken to the bone four years ago with the historic earthquake then watched, literally, as those bones were sifted and lifted out of the rubble for burial and so that very rubble could be sold for scrap.

Now, people want to know what shape PAP is in. One third of the country’s population was swept into the capital city by manipulated foreign policies, hunger and desperation; she reels under the weight. 

Sickened and with still thousands homeless, she searches for relief. There is still no clean water running through her pipes and no sewage sanitation, though now nearly nine thousand dead from that condition combined with UN introduced cholera. Electricity is still a random-hours-a-day luxury. Her children are still being abandoned (two were offered to our team this week by blank-eyed and hopeless parents) and her remaining children are too often dependent on random acts of charity for a warm meal a day and hope for a chance at education.

Three days after the quake we carried hundreds of pounds of medicine and supplies that even Doctors Without Borders had run out of. A dozen trips later, we stare into PAPs face again. She is trying to pull herself together a bit. Some big new buildings are going up; now you don’t see garbage being burned on every street corner; and there are fewer UN troops with automatic weapons pointed at anyone with a camera. 

The Royal Oasis (Clinton/Bush) Hotel found it rather distasteful to have to stare across the city cavern at a hillside of impoverished shanties, so the only business savvy thing to do was to squander elusive Haitian dollars not on water, electricity or education, but on a fresh coat of paint for those crumbling shanties. 

PAP stands still - although mutedly - as her face is painted.

This week we helped patch up her hungry, sick and homeless a bit – as the following journals will tell, and though there are still too many struggling, we found strength in the resiliency of her people. 

Like the corn stalks we saw growing in the gutter, 

Haiti will find a way.

Her women, in particular, showed us their heart, shared their music and taught us the real meaning of solidarity and strength. 

peace all ways and always, Leisa

Children's Hope
3025A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682

Professor Leisa Faulkner, University of the Pacific; Folsom Lake College; Founder, Children’s Hope

2014 Haiti Journal #2 "New Shoes"

I'm afraid I never learned to care much about my shoes, though my mother tried her best. I was most fond of rubber boots that could carry me out into the frog pond, if I had to wear something on my feet at all. Going barefoot for fun was the best part of summer.

‪Children in Cite Soleil are not so privileged. As I pack for our July trip, I am touched by the generosity of so many. In Haiti, children must have black leather shoes to be able to go to school. Impoverished parents simply cannot afford to buy the shoes their children need. Hundreds of pairs of leather shoes were donated this trip, making many children finally able to attend school.

Also donated were over 100 bottles of children's vitamins, and enough other medical supplies to fill 29 duffel bags!

Our intrepid team of mostly college students will paint and lug  their way through the most impoverished parts of Haiti, learning with each step how to walk in another person's shoes.

Please remember that you, too, can always be a part of our teams to Haiti. If not in person, you can join us in spirit. Please consider donating today (you can send a check to the address below). We will be meeting with two groups of women at two different tent cities (yes, they are still forced to live in tents even four years after the quake!), to meet and learn from them, and offer some support. We also hope to not only paint a free clinic and an orphanage (and buy paint), but we hope to have funds to leave a month's worth of food, propane and water. All these and other services need your support.

Thanks again for all you do...
Peace, all ways and always,

Children's Hope
3025A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682
Prof. Leisa Faulkner, University of the Pacific, Folsom Lake College
Founder, Children's Hope

2014 Haiti Journal #1 "Moonlight and Music"

Moonlight, music's afterglow, great conversation - some not-so-small-thrill at meeting some new, kind, souls...

The lead singer handed Luke 10 rolls of quarters for Children's Hope after Thursday night's concert. Our Lukey can't resist handing out his Children's Hope card and telling folks we are going to Haiti again - especially when we've started packing for our next trip. And, every quarter counts. That $100 donation should be enough to buy five black pairs of leather school shoes for the orphanage, if I can spot a good sale.

23,310 children's vitamins, 2,500 condoms, 10 new stethoscopes, one more slightly used...inventorying and packing 30 duffel bags haunts my dreams when I do sleep...but I wake smiling thinking of all of our generous supporters over the years and how dedicated our young Children's Hope Team members are. This year, thirteen college students have managed to raise all their own funds and then some to help us buy prescriptions, new rubber soccer balls, food and paint for the orphanage - things we can't beg or get donated. Still, we keep hearing about how much more is needed. So many more people dying from cholera - and while the UN warns of a new "surge in cholera deaths" (approaching 9,000 now)...our students will bravely tromp though mud in Cité Soleil  to get to the clinic there - you know the sort of places deemed "red zones" where the Red Cross won't go. Amazing.

So, here's to a new friendships, kind patrons and old friends who carry this life-saving work along. You who support this work are an inspiration, we just carry the bags. Thanks for your continued support.

Leisa, Paul, Lukey and Emma

P.S. As always, your checks are tax deductible, can be made out to Children's Hope and sent to the address below:

Children's Hope
3025A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682

Professor Leisa Faulkner
University of the Pacific, Sociology
Delta College, Folsom Lake College
Children's Hope, Founder