A lot has happened on Île à Vache since the May 2013 Build It Week.
During the week-long trip, 25 volunteers did an enormous amount of work on the small island. Volunteers built a much-needed pathway from the local market up the hill to the orphanage, installed 3 computer rooms, painted the local schools, and restored local community areas. By day three, we had lost count of the amount of shelves, desks and railings that the carpentry team had made! Everyone worked their socks off to get as much done as possible during the short week.
Since the May trip, life has been ticking away on the small island. The Haven volunteers left a lasting impression and the local people are still telling stories of the friendships that were made that week. Staffs at the orphanage sing the praises of the volunteers. John Moore, Haven’s Country Director in Haiti, has said that they are “ecstatic about the footpath”. Children with severe disabilities are now able to access the local market. The path was too treacherous before the renovation and, for many of the children, this was their first time to visit the local market area for a number of years.
Computer classes are underway at two of the three schools where Haven volunteers installed computer rooms. The kids have started introductory sessions playing educational games and learning basic word processing skills. These computers were foreign objects to many of the kids before Haven Volunteers purchased them from Camara.
Haven volunteers saw firsthand how fast the kids took to the computers- within minutes of turning them on, they were all eager to learn and, by the time, we left the island, many had already mastered ‘Pac Man’.
Unfortunately, classes had to be suspended at the third school, L’Ecole St. Antoine de Padou. The power supply was reliant on an inverter which was stolen some weeks ago. A new inverter is being sourced and computer classes will be back up and running by the start of the new school year in September 2013.
Electricity on the island is a huge problem. To combat this, Haven has piloted a solar power project to supply power to L’Ecole Bon Samaritan (the school up the hill from the orphanage). This programme is in partnership with Electric Aid and the Digicel Foundation. Currently, the school is powered by a generator which costs the school $10 per day to operate. This is a huge cost to the school and means that students partaking in computer classes have to be kept to an absolute minimum. The new solar power will enable the school to operate the computer classes at full capacity. The school also hopes to open the classes up to the wider community in the future after the installation of the solar panels.
Due to the success of the computer programme on Île à Vache, Haven has teamed up with Camara to install a further 10 computer centres across Haiti in schools and women’s centres. Phase one of the project, due to last 5 years, will reach a minimum of 10,500 women and children. After the fifth year, the computers will be replaced free of charge impacting a further 10,500 users. Haven is very excited about this project and is looking forward to working with Camara again.
Until next time,
The Haven Team
P.S. The Donegal flag is still flying in the local market area!