Ailish O’Reilly is Haven’s Programme Manager in Haiti, living on the island of Île à Vache. Here, in her monthly blog, she shares the latest developments from the various ongoing projects and gives a valuable perspective from the ground.
As our many supporters and friends complete the Dublin to Galway Cycle 4 Haiti, we are back on Île à Vache, implementing a programme that is very close to all our hearts.
The volunteers taking part in the Volunteer Programme have raised money to help children and adults with special needs. We have been helping families on a case-by-case basis for the past year. With the volunteer donation, we will set up a six-month Community Outreach Program (CEP).
Local organisation FONTEN, based in Les Cayes, will provide therapy services and co-ordinate the work. Their director Consuelo Alzamora visits Île à Vache to meet three local people who will act as community liaison for 15 benefitting families. We also visit some of the families to launch the programme, conduct evaluations and work out how the programme can be implemented.
By the end of day two, we have added three more families to the programme: we will set a limit at 20 for this first phase. Each family will get two visits per month. FONTEN will visit every two months to review therapy requirements and what other assistance we can provide, such as registering to receive assistance from the Ministry of Health, or inclusion in other programmes to help the families to develop livelihoods, to improve their standard of living and to reach their full potential.
In Chache Lavi, the Transformation Phase with Group 4 continues, and we are working on the Orientation Phase for business ideas. We are working hard on this phase to encourage production, transformation of products, and partnerships. We are evaluating frozen fruit juices, making sweets, an agent for bulk buying and resell of local products to mainland markets, peanut butter, and planting of gardens.
Each beneficiary receives a home visit as part of the evaluation to allow us to see what resources they already have and where they are situated in terms of potential clients. New business ideas are often formulated in the front garden!
May is review time with our partners Fondation Enfant Jesus (FEJ) so it is a trip to Port-au-Prince for me. FEJ are happy with the adherence to the Chache Lavi programme guidelines and the implementation of the core ethos. The transfer activity is challenging the programme quite well, and we have some improvements to suggest; we will work together to revise the documentation and submit changes for review. The trip includes a day visit to Lamardelle, where FEJ’s programme is based. These visits are important to reinforce the co-ordination of the programme over the two sites. While there, I meet a Canadian group who are installing water treatment systems; they offer to come and carry out an evaluation on Île à Vache, once their work with FEJ is complete.
At the orphanage, the Haven team continues to support the orphanage on administrative issues. It is slow progress for many reasons, including trying to co-ordinate activities between Haiti and Canada. Terre Sans Frontières continue with the fumigation programme: they expect it may take three months in total to treat all areas. Their doctors help out with a local boy in our Outreach Programme who is suffering from malnourishment. We are helping the family by providing food at the moment and looking for a longer sustainable plan for them.
Ecologist, Jake Allgeier, is on his annual visit to Île à Vache to review an artificial reef programme. Working with local fishermen, they construct cluster reefs or kay pwason [fish houses], as they are called locally. The kay pwason provide a habitat for fish to breed and grow, and it is hoped they can regenerate fish stocks through good marine management. So far, the results of the research are positive, and the training with local fishermen and schools is well received. We help out with translation for an educational video for schools and community groups: the most popular translation is pipi pwason for fish pee!
It is approaching the end of the school year here in Haiti, and summertime usually brings visitors to Île à Vache. Josh, a student intern from Germany working with FEJ, pays us a visit. Towards the end of the month, we will have a return visit from photographer Jenny Barker, and the spare beds are fully booked for June and July too!