As you may have previously heard, I(Denny) along with 6 awesome people from Fort Collins arrived in Haiti a few days ago. One common thing you hear from Haitians or you find out if you visit, is that life in Haiti is hard. Actually, hard would be a massive understatement. Every. single. task. is more difficult in Haiti.
Here is one simple example from last night’s “Movie Night” we tried to put on for the kids:
It went like this…
We go into the pastors truck to drive down the road to another missionary’s house to borrow one of their movies in French, drove home, hooked up our laptop to the projector(that was donated 4 years ago), got a projector screen up, popped some popcorn(we brought from the U.S.) gathered the kids, and were ready to go. Then we quickly realized we had no computer speakers. The 40-ish kids could barely hear the movie and were quietly listing trying to make out words. I quickly asked Francois if he had any speakers and he said, “No.” So Grant and I decided to venture out into the dark town to our dear Haitian friend Pido’s, to see if he has any we can borrow. He does, have one, but it is broken. He thinks for a while then says he will be right back. About 20 minutes go by and he comes back. There is no place/store in Pignon to buy computer speakers, most people don’t even have a TV, let alone a computer or electricity! Pido ended up finding one friend willing to loan us his, so we hurry back with an old, loaned, pair of computer speakers, 40 minutes since the movie started.
That is a small, simple example which of course has nothing to do with the more important things in life like food, shelter, water, security or health. But really, everything is so much more difficult here!
One of the benefits of being here, and one of the main reasons I come down, is to assess current needs. I evaluate current systems and situations and then find ways Loving Haiti can partner with Francois to help provide relief, rehabilitation and development. In being here only 3 days so far one need is very apparent, finishing the front section of the wall/fence.
About 1.5 years ago the Haitian government started to pave the roads in Pignon. This was great news for the community. However, in order to pave the roads, the roads were first widened, so many buildings/fences and homes were torn down, without any compensation from the government.
Prior to the paving of the roads, the front of Francois’s compound was protected by a fence, with two gates for entrances into the church and into the school/orphanage. Once the paving began, the fence and gates were town down as well as his school’s kindergarten and first grade classrooms.
Ever since his gate/fence was torn down people have been coming onto his property and vandalizing it. They come into the school on the front of the property, clipping the window screens in order to steal and damage the school property. Anyone can walk onto this open part of his property that contain both the church and the school. (The orphanage, sewing center and guest house is on the back part of the property and almost fully protected by a different fence/wall). The school has had desks, benches, doors, chalk boards, etc, all stolen and broken. Because the K/1st grade building is torn down, the kids are shoved into a small baptism room in the church for school everyday. Because of the small room size, he had to combine both the K/1st grade classes and cut the class sizes in half.
Francois has already started to work on one section of the fence. It is an urgent need for him. He is making this section extra strong, so it will serve not only as a fence, but also the back wall to a new kindergarten/1st grade classroom when we have money. This section is not completed yet, Francois has done all that he can afford to do right now.
If you think back to how complicated it is to obtain computer speakers and then you try to imagine the process of obtaining the cinder blocks, cement, foundation rocks, metal posts, and the gates, it is very HARD.
When we talk with Francois about the fence, he gets sadden by the fact that people come in to steal/break his things and he worries about his other facilities. This is a very important project to get completed quickly. As a team we have decided that helping him raise the funds to finish this fence is a top priority. We can see firsthand the need to protect the school and church, for the benefit of the whole community.
Because part of the new fence will also serve as the back part of the new K/1st classrooms, this project is not cheap. We had a contractor come out and give a bid for all the materials (including the gates) and labor. And we are confident we can get the whole project completed for $5,000. This covers the people who supply us with the rock, metal, blocks etc, the gate makers and of course the manual labor to build the fence. Another wonderful aspect of this project is that it will employ 20-30 Haitians! (Francois also provides coffee and lunch for his workers). In addition, the older boys at the orphanage will be able to help with this project! They get to learn new skills and build a strong work ethic(in the words of Francois!).
Would you consider partnering with us, Francois and the children as we attempt to get this fence and gate project completed WHILE we are here? We would love to be here for the completion of the fence and would love to update you as the money comes in and the projects gets rolling!
If you’d like to give, please hit the donate button on the TOP right side of this website!
*** UPDATE: A generous donor has offered to match every donation up to $2,500 for this project! The offer is good through Friday, July 21st. If we can raise $2,500 by this Friday, then the donor will match it and the team can start the project and finish(hopefully!) by the time they leave!***