Our Programmes Manager, Ailish O’Reilly, shares the latest news from the ground in Haiti in her regular blog. Here, she tells us all the news and developments from the island in February 2017.
I’m making a short month even shorter as I’m taking a quick trip to Ireland.
Before that though, on Île à Vache, we still have time to host an Outreach Clinic in Madame Bernard on Valentine’s Day. Consuelo Alzamora of FONTEN, a charity which offers rehabilitation services to people in south Haiti, has family and friends visiting for her wedding on 18 February. Most of them are therapists by training or former volunteers with FONTEN, and they volunteer to come for the clinic. It is a happy reunion of many of our children and therapists to add to the excitement of our first mobile clinic on Île à Vache.
Jean Nexon, a young man living with disability who we support through the outreach programme, makes two visits to hospital as he bravely fights infection. The hospital discharges him earlier than we would like and, after a few days trying to manage at home, we bring him for respite care in Sr Flora’s orphanage. The intention is that he will return home when he is stronger.
At Chache Lavi, for Valentine’s Day, we also run a special production with one of the participating women, Brunia, to make heart-shaped lollipops. It is an early morning start for us all as we are making them over open fire for the first time. It works well and Brunia – in a strategic marketing ploy – passes by the mobile clinic. She sells to all our visitors and makes a nice profit, with her produce ending up ‘exported’ to Les Cayes. Clearly, we would have a market for a local product, but not in the local market; to compete locally, we need to try to make chocolate… maybe I should have taken home economics in school.
I took construction studies instead, and it helps me in managing and understanding our house repairs programme. We pass 300 houses repaired by the end of February. Work is hampered towards the end of the month as the rains start, closing the roads and making it impossible to get material out to the zones. We have over 1,100 tarpaulins distributed, which will go some way to protecting people’s homes and possessions.
Added to the housing, we also start school repairs for eight schools on Île à Vache that were badly impacted by the hurricane. Some of the schools were in poor condition to begin with, so we might be able to bring them further along if they are willing to help out. Instead of a monetary donation, Haven asks that they help with the transport and labour, thereby minimising costs and allowing us to achieve more.
We receive a consignment of eye drops for the patients that attended the eye clinic, run by Dr Kevin Tempany and his colleagues, last September. More medications are on the way with an American group, and the team is trying to get prescription glasses down to us.
After all this, I head back to Ireland for two weeks and, before returning to Haiti, am treated to an evening in the Convention Centre Dublin. Riverdance director John McColgan, his brother Gerry, and the Riverdance team are putting on a Gala Concert for Haven.
There is video footage of the McColgans’ trip to Haiti last November, which we have not seen, and photos from our projects in Haiti posted prominently. It’s a merging of our two homes: Ireland and Haiti.
Suffice to say, it is very motivational to see the work carried out on our behalf by the Dublin office and our supporters in Ireland.