"Parish the Thought" Blog
- Written by David Puckett
Well the trip to Jeremie went pretty much as anticipated. The only variation was when we arrived in Port au Prince. Roger the charter pilot had a client who needed a ride to Jacmel, so we flew from PauP across the peninsula to the south coast, landed in Jacmel (which had a nice paved runway). Lawrence jumped off, grabbed his bags and we were off again. Then we flew back over the mountain to the north side and on to Jeremie.
Fr Ernest was there with his heart warming smile to greet us. I must say that the road from the landing strip in to Jeremie is getting worse. We bounced a lot! Many grunts and groans! 20+ minutes of some sort of exercise that I can't recommend.
Today, Don and I headed to St Jean Bosco for the first Windows 10 upgrade effort. By 11:00 AM we were close to wrapping up 18 laptops. We were excited and relieved that things went as smoothly as they did. Some minor snags in the Windows update cycle prolonged things a bit, but by 1:30 or 2:00 we called it done.
This picture is of low interest, but it does show a classroom.
While we were waiting in PauP for Roger to get some more gas in his plane, I did weaken a bit. We're always accosted by vendors selling crafts of some sort. Here's my acquisition!
It is so good to see the people here that we work with. Hugs every time!
Sleep last night was not good. Heat is really oppressive. And then there are the barking dogs! May kill a few tonight!
Time to wrap it up.
- Written by David Puckett
Much has happened and many people have been in and out of Jeremie since my last trip last September. I'll not attempt to catch up ... just talk about this trip.
As usual, lots of planning and packing decisions, middle of the night alarm to get up and head for the airport. Don Kavanaugh drives from Jeffersonville to my house in the Highlands, I toss my bags in his car ... he's already got 4 Tek4Kids bags in the trunk that we loaded last week plus his stuff. Then we drive to Jack Lydon's house. Jack offered to take us to the airport where we'll meet up with Gary Boice. Then Jack will bring Don's car back to his place till we return. Jack goes beyond on everything. Quite a friend!
The primary focus Don and I have is to upgrade the classroom and teacher laptops to Windows 10. We've upgraded numerous computers in Louisville since last July. We've had a variety of experiences, none bad. We've done the on-line upgrade, we've used thumb drives loaded with Windows 10 and Don has a server configured to push the upgrade to clients. In Jeremie the on-line upgrade is last choice because Internet speed is not what we see in the US ... but we expect to use all 3 methods ... and maybe we'll come up with Plan D on the fly! Got to be creative in Ayiti.
Gary has at least a gazillion things on his list. As usual, there's more on the lists than we'll ever get to and things not on the list that we'll have to address.
We do plan to sit down with Fr Marc-Arthur, pastor of Cathedral St Louis, to see how things are going. Although most of our trips relate to Tek4Kids, we always find time to pay attention to our Sister Parish.
So bear with me ... I'll add things as time permits ... I hope to have pictures to share as we go along.
And ... many have said they will keep us in their prayers. It's hard to beat that!
- Written by David Puckett
Rita Owens was part of the Tek4Kids entourage in November. She shared with me her log in mid December. With her permission, I am posting it for all to enjoy.
NOVEMBER 2, 2015 JEREMIE, HAITI
Gary & Cathy Boice, Bob Glaser and I left Louisville at 6:05 am for Miami. We arrived in Miami at 8:40am. We were late leaving Miami because the load was too heavy and shifting. As the plane backed out, it hit the guide cart, so we had another delay. We arrived in Port Au Prince approximately 12:15 pm. We made it through security fine, but customs questioned us on what we had in our 14 suitcases: medicine? drugs? etc. According to Gary, this was the first time so many questions were asked. Finally, they just let us through without a scan of each suitcase.
We then met Roger, our pilot in a small plane to take us (Gary, Cathy, Bob, John from California, and myself) for an hour flight to Jeremie. The flight went well and the Caribbean Sea was beautiful as we flew over. We landed on a very small runway, a cow path with rocks, into a small airport. The landing was very smooth. Fr. DeLaSota picked us up at the airport in a truck. All of the suitcases would not fit on the small plane, so Roger will come back with them on Tuesday. It was a rough ride from the airport to the house. We saw goats, cows, donkeys, beautiful flowers, lots of motorcycles, women carrying their loads of fruits and vegetables on their heads. Very poor conditions. When we got to the city limits, the road was much better, but poor conditions all around.
When we arrived at the house, I was surprised at the largeness and beauty: three floors, six beds or more on the second floor, haven't been to the third floor but I know three people are sleeping up there now. There is a big dining area, kitchen, sitting room, office, a small room for storage, and a full restroom. The food was different: chicken legs and thighs, spicy pickling, and another vegetable of some kind but it was tasty, cake for dessert, coffee, apple juice, and water to drink. Rose called us the "invading aliens". She is teaching French for the entire school year, and Eric is teaching English until Dec.
I went to bed about 7:00 or 8:00. The double bed was quite firm. I got very little sleep because of barking dogs, crowing of roosters, and alarms going off. I heard two mosquitos buzz by my ear and something crawling on my arm so I brushed it off, jumped up and turned on the light but I saw nothing. I turned the ceiling fan on to hopefully keep the bugs away, and cool down because of the heat.
NOVEMBER 3, 2015
Up and showered at 6:15!
Breakfast, thanks to Mia: bread, egg/ham pizza, papya fruit, coffee, cereal, and water.
We had a meeting with one of the Tech teachers at 9:00. Gary is so devoted to Tek4Kids, and he wants it to be successful. I really admire what he is doing.
After the meeting, we were off to see the St. Louis School. The walk is a little challenging because of the narrow streets, fast moving motorcycles, and a few trucks-they all have the right away. The weather could be worse, but every stitch of me is wet with sweat. I have met Fr. Ernest and some of the teachers. The children are very friendly, asking questions about us. They speak pretty good English. They call the high school a college "College of St. Louis".
Baba has delivered the rest of our luggage to the school, so we will empty them and separate the contents to go to the Tech School, St. Ambrose, St. Louis and then go back to the house for a leftover lunch. These will also include some of the food that I brought, as well as a bar of soap, shampoo, and hairspray. I definitely need to wash my hair! The cold shower this morning wasn't too bad without hot water. They told me to keep my eyes and mouth closed so they don't take in any water.
It's about 1:10 when we take off to walk to the Tek4Kids school. The Tech School is on the top and the Sacred Heart School is on the first floor. It has taken us about 25 minutes to walk up and down the steep hills--much worse than in the morning. Baba has stopped to offer me a ride on his motorcycle going up the hill to the school. YEAH! The Tech school is on the third floor, again, steep steps. This is where we will spend most of our time to install two bathrooms, varnish tables for the laptops, etc. We will also put some of the tables in St. Louis, and take tables from St. Louis to the elementaries.
At St. Louis this morning, Gary showed me the water system that they have set up and how it works. Amazing! Gary is "Jack of all Trades": plumber, electrician, carpenter, technology, etc. Great Guy!
We are now leaving the Tech School for a 3:00 meeting at the house. The dread of walking back is not a good thought. It looks like it will be raining soon. Gary asked me if I wanted a taxi ride -- yes in deed! The taxi here is a motorcycle -- Gary, Cathy and I took the taxis, and Bob walked back. We all arrived at the same time.
Eric and Rose have been teaching and John has been out visiting most of the day. Joe from Canada is coming in tonight. He has a twelve hour drive from the other side of Haiti. Joe and John will be erecting the bathrooms at the Tech School.
The rain has come and the roosters are crowing.
The Tech School has a beautiful view of the Caribean Sea. The students walk home for a two hour lunch. We passed them on the way to and from, greeting them with bonjour and bonsqua. They are very friendly and greet us back. Each school has a different school uniform, they look so well dressed. Cathy said that the teachers don't have to have teaching degrees, just as no one has a drivers license. The Tech teachers do have degrees I believe.
It is 5:00 and we have gathered for prayer and supper: chicken, rice and beans, pickling, pantene, peas, carrots, papaya, and cake for dessert. The Geeks spend a lot of time on their Ipads. Bob shares the Louisville news with us. We really have some good discussions.
NOVEMBER 4, 2015
Early up! Breakfast: eggs w/vegetables, pineapple and papaya, cereal and spaghetti.
Off to the Tech School! Oh the hills, so treacherous, and the crazy drivers. We sanded, wiped down a black board and then used an epoxy paint to make the board into a dry erase board. This is going to be used in a computer room. It needs two coats today. Cathy, Gary, and Bob are off to a meeting. John Pierre and I painted the board again -- it looks good. Coat three and four will need to be painted tomorrow. I got a chance to do a little organizing the parts room as they are changing supplies to another room. Joe and John, with the help of some Haitians, will be starting the bathrooms for the girls and boys soon. This meeting is over, so we need to go back to the house for lunch and another meeting. Baba was my taxis home -- we stopped on the way to meet his father, who was sitting on the front porch. Nice gentleman -- a US citizen. We have leftovers from last night's supper and breakfast, for lunch.
After the meeting, we are off to St. Louis for another meeting. Gary wants to meet with each of the Tech teachers this trip. Cathy and I varnished six tables for the computer room. Bob drilled holes in the tables for the wires, and I sanded before painting. The kids at the school are very interested in what we are doing -- very curious. They are really cute and sociable.
The guys are back from the meeting and Cathy and I have completed the tables. The tables need to be carried to the computer room on the second floor-- the guys can do this. Cathy and I walked back to the house greeting as many people as we could. We got to the house all hot and sweaty, ready for a shower.
Supper is filled with interesting conversations. We had some very good beef, rice and beans, and some kind of vegetables. I liked this meal the best so for.
The elections just took place and they are fearing for quite a demonstration because there is a big turn over. So tomorrow we will wait for a phone call to see if it is safe for us to leave the house. As I'm sitting here, a big flying roach flies by me. Bob jumps up, but Gary saved the day!
NOVEMBER 5, 2015
Very little sleep again last night because of so many barking dogs. I don't know what was happening, but they were out of control. I showered last night, so it was simple to get dressed and ready to go. Bob and John were already downstairs and Mia had egg pizza and toast ready for us. A bowl of cherrios tasted mighty good too. Cathy, Gary, and Eric joined us.
Everything was a go, so we left for St. Louis at 7:50. We wanted to get there to see the opening ceremonies. They said their anthem, sang their school song, and had a few announcements in Creole. Students were lined up according to their classes to participate--a lot of students, and a lot of enthusiasm.
As students went to their classes, Gary, Cathy, Bob and I visited the parts room and then headed to the auditorium to get eight tables wired for the tablets. There will be three tablets on each table. This will be a big improvement to the classroom. After doing all that we could do, Cathy and I went back to the parts room and sorted the plumbing, electrical, and paint supplies so we could find things faster. Bob stayed up in the auditorium with Max to drill more holes in the tables for the cords. They really have a great idea for their tables to keep the wires off of the floor.
After organizing the parts room, Bob, Gary, and Cathy went back to the house for lunch. I had packed my lunch, so I decided to stay at St. Louis because we still had work to do.
Bob and Gary went to the Tech School and Cathy came back to St. Louis with the T4K stencils. We stencil painted about 80 chairs, with the help of Max and Franklin. Gary wanted the eight 4 x 2 x 16 varnished so Cathy and I took care of the job before leaving for the house. There is still a little fear of being out with the election results, so Gary wanted everyone back by 4:00.
When we got back to the house, Rose, Eric, John and Joe had already made it back. John and Joe decided to leave on an adventure. I needed a shower, and the others sat and visited. Needless to say, I was tired, so I took a nap after showering.
Supper was served at 5:30: chicken, beet salad, picklies (like slaw and really hot), rice, and peas. Cathy, John, and I did the dishes. More visiting time with the group -- just fun stories. Phillip, one of the teachers stopped to visit with us.
NOVEMBER 6, 2015
It is 6:15 am and Bob, John and I are having some breakfast of cereal and an orange (not as sweet as ours, but it is ok. Mia just brought in more food: chicken turnovers and bananas. John made some strong coffee, but that's not for me! We are waiting on the others, but they will need to eat first. Gary was planning on taking me to the soup kitchen, but plans have changed, maybe tomorrow. Cathy, Gary, and Eric have come down, it is 7:30 -- late for them. Baba called and said that there had been trouble in Port au Prince, some got killed, but Jeremie is calm. After much discussion, we leave for St. Louis H.S. once again.
We are in the parts room again. The guys discuss putting boards up to hang empty gallon jugs to get them off of the floor. The plan is to have the students fill them with water and take them home for the family. Cathy and I varnished the boards again, Gary wanted a second coat. We did nine in all. The guys have figured out how they are hanging the boards -- they have to go through concrete on most of any construction. Cathy and Gary go back for lunch, but Bob and I stay behind to hang the boards while Max, Baba, and another guy do the drilling. Bob added screws to the boards for hangers. One is up and it looks great. As Baba and the others are washing their hands before leaving for lunch, the entire board and jugs came crashing down. All of that work!! Bob and I decided to eat some lunch that we had brought while we think of a different strategy. I believe we have the answer, but Gary calls us back to the house for a 1:00 meeting. They are still meeting with the Tech teachers to find out if they have any issues or needs. Another meeting at 2:00. Gary and I have a meeting scheduled with Fr. Marc-Arthur at 3:00, across frchom the Cathedral. They tell me it is the same distance as to the H.S., but it is downhill. I'm thinking, that means an uphill walk back. Yes! Gary has called for taxis, he's on one and I'm on the other. We took a look at the outside of the canteen (soup kitchen), but everything was locked up. The rectory is across the road from the back of the Cathedral. Fr. Marc-Arthur is the main Vicar of the Cathedral, only speaks French, but seemed very willing to talk with us. Baba interpreted the conversation with us. The Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville sends money to the St. Louis Cathedral. Father said that they serve meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11:00 - 12:00: rice and beans one day, spaghetti another, and corn meal on another. A drink is included in the meal. There are no take outs. Hopefully we can visit one day when they are serving, either Monday or Wednesday. He told us that St. Therese Montessori has 176 boys and 156 girls - preschool through 6th grade. Our Cathedral also helps with St. Terese's lunch program. They just added the 6th grade this year. They have 14 on staff. They are very greatful for all the assistance that we give them. He wishes that we could do more, but explained that we are falling on hard times too. The Cathedral itself needs a lot of repairs inside and out. The government of Haiti is no longer paying their priests. When we got ready to leave, it started to rain, so Father gave us a ride to the house in his car.
I had enough time to take a shower before supper. Our plan is also to wash a load of dark clothes. It takes about 30 minutes for the washer to fill, and then it takes another hour for the washing to get finished. But, before we could start, we had to wait for the city water to kick on. There is no dryer, so we will hang the clothes outside on a line. They say the clothes will be dry in two days because of high humidity.
NOVEMBER 7, 2015
Up at 6:15! We are spending the entire day at the H.S. The #1 computer room needs to be completed. We are taking out the metal tables to go to the elementary. They are screwed into the concrete floor, and they are a "bear" to get loose. After they are out, we bring in wooden tables (8 feet long x 22" wide) and putting two of them together. The tables are being anchored to the 2 x 4 x 16 boards that Cathy and I varnished. There will be 4 rows, with 3 tablets on each table, for a total of 24 tablets and 8 tables. They also get brand new chairs that Cathy and I stenciled. Franklin put in all of the electrical wiring with the help of Jean Pierre. Cathy, Gary, and Bob made sure that all of the tablets are all programmed correctly and set to go. The entire group of Tech teachers showed up to help - they are very excited to see the progress. The room looks great! While we were busy with this, Baba and Max finished hanging the boards and gallon jugs in the parts room.
Cathy and Gary went back to the house at lunch time, but Bob and I stayed at the H.S. We ate a bite and then continued working. We worked the entire day and got back to the house about 4:30, with supper already on the table: picklies, tomatoes, spaghetti with chopped beef maybe. Barbecue sauce was offered. It seemed that we all went to bed early tonight.
NOVEMBER 8, 2015
Sunday morning, and Mass is at 7:00 am at the Cathedral. We skipped breakfast until we came back. We walked down hill after hill -- so steep your toes were pushing against the front of your shoes. I had brought sandels to wear with my skirt and blouse but they had rubbed blisters on my toes days before, so I just wore my tennis shoes. Mass was from 7:00 - 9:00. There were many school children in their uniforms attending. The church was filled with music, but everything was in Creole, so we could not understand what was being sung or what Father was saying. I did understand the Amen! There was no formal way to go to Communion, you just went when you wanted to, so that took quite a while. It is a very large and beautiful Cathedral -- larger than ours. It definitely needed repairs.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack on the way back up the hill to the house. Gary offered to stop and rest, but I thought if I did, I would never get up and go again. The hills were unbelievable!! Bob was quite the trooper, always far ahead of us. He was at the top yelling down at Gary to take his picture. (Cathy and I plan to go to the canteen tomorrow, so I hope to remember the camera). It was about 9:30 when we reached the house.
We had chicken noodle soup for breakfast (large pasta, bigger than macaroni or our big shells). The chicken still had the bone in. We also had bagels with Laughing Cow cheese and jelly. Gary brought Rose and Eric their special request of apricot and blackberry jelly, so we took advantage of it. Rose and Eric had gone to another church for Mass.
After breakfast we took off for the Tech school to work. Gary and the guys (Baba, Max, Jean Pierre, and Franklin) worked on the water system. Cathy and Bob started building shelves for a teacher's supply closet. I got stuff out of suitcases to sort the plumbing, electrical, painting, and the hardware: wood and metal screws, washers, etc. When I got finished, I went to help with the shelves. This is when Bob accused me of asking lots of questions!!! The shelving got completed, but we couldn't attach it because the bathrooms were not completed. Joe and John are starting them tomorrow. They and Eric are down at the beach, and Rose went to the market with someone for the first time. Franklin gave me a "taxi" ride home....yeah!!
It is 4:15 and supper is already on the table. Great supper tonight: white rice, fried chicken, pasta salad, plantain, and tomato slices. Delicious!!! Bob and I finished washing the dishes, Rose reported on her market trip, and Eric enjoyed the beach and was surprised how clean it was. Bob started working on 3 alarms, but he dropped one of the screws, so I swept the floor for it, without any success. I assured him that there would be a screw at the Tech school that would fit.
It is 6:35 and the others are once again on their computers. We will probably go to bed early again tonight because Rose and Eric are teaching French and English, and Gary and Bob are planning to be at the Tech school by 7:30. Cathy and I can sleep in because the canteen doesn't open until 11:00. If we go early, it will give me a chance to take pictures of the hills.
NOVEMBER 9, 2015
Up at 6:30, breakfast is already on the table: eggs and bread. I still have my cereal in addition to what is being served. It is always the same: John, Bob, Eric and I. Gary came down at 7:15, grabbed a spoon of peanut butter and a piece of bread. Rose came down about an hour later, and Cathy really slept in until 9:30 or 10:00.
Bob and Gary ran over to the Tech School to finish up on the watering system and to saw some boards for another project.
Baba brought Gary back about 11:10 with some money for Cathy and I to go to the store downtown to get some things. Cathy and I took off for downtown, close to the Cathedral, to visit the canteen (soup kitchen). Some people were there, about 20, and these gentlemen carried in two pots of what looked like spam. I took some pictures before the serving started. We did not stay long because we did not speak Creole and they did not understand us. We walked about a block and a half to a store that Cathy had never been, it was air-conditioned: not big, but had what we needed. We left there for the usual store that they go to and bought some cookies for Gary. I was not as impressed with this store.
Now for the trip back up the hill! I took pictures of the hills on the way down and on the way up. A UN officer noticed I had a camera and approached me. I think I got it across that I was taking pictures of the steep roads and he just smiled. When we were coming back there was an extra 20+ pounds so it made it even harder. We stopped a couple of times. I ran into the same UN officer and we waved at each other and smiled. He asked if I was ok. We were not far from the house at this point, but dripping with sweat.
Gary and Bob came home early, about 1:00, and since he had a meeting again he did not plan to go back to work again. While he was having the meeting, I just took a nap. It was about 4:00 when I awoke -- the meeting was ending, and Rose and Eric were home.
Supper was on the table by 4:30: pickling with tomatoes, french fries, beef, beans and rice. Gary has a meeting with the Bishop at 5:30, so he told us to go ahead and eat. We sat around the table and talked and then the others got on their computers. I went to bed early, but slept very little because of the barking dogs and roosters!
NOVEMBER 10, 2015
We were out the door by 7:00 to get to Bro. Paulin School which is down that "bear" hill again. We had to be out of there by 11:00 because of class starting. We put up a screen, but it caused some problems. I sanded down the chalk board so we could prep it for becoming a white board. They tested the angle of the screen with a projector but discovered there was no cord to it, so we had to wait for that to be delivered. A lot of electric has to be added. Before we knew it, it was 11:00 and we had to go.
We walked back up this enormous hill for the house to have lunch. We couldn't get back into Bro. Paulin School until 3:00. Bob and I went to St. Louis H.S. to solve 3 computer problems, which Bob solved in 2 minutes. Bob worked on some shelves in a cabinet, but couldn't finish because we didn't have the right screws. So we went to the parts room to build a workbench and do more organizing. We inventoried tablets. It looks fantastic! Cathy and Gary had a meeting down at St. Therese School at 1:00.
We all met at Bro. Paulin School at 3:00. Cathy and I put 2 coats on the white board after all of the drilling for the electricity. It takes about an hour to paint, but it still needs 2 more coats. Bob and Baba put joiners on the table legs to sorta tie the tables together. Max, Franklin and Gary worked on the electricity. It was 4:30 when the painting was finished, and the daylight was leaving us.
It was now 5:30 and we really didn't want to be in the dark in this part of town. We left Baba, Max and Franklin with flashlights to finish as much as they could. We were exhausted! My slacks were soaking wet for the second time today. Bob and I felt that we had accomplished alot.
We arrived at the house about 5:50, after climbing that dreaded hill. Rose and Eric were sitting at the table waiting for us. Supper had been on the table since 4:30 they said. I really didn't care, I was starving: chicken, beans and rice, pickling, and mangos.
It is 7:10, and three have already gone to bed. I'll be there soon. We are leaving the house at 6:45 in the morning to return to Bro Paulin School and then to St. Teresse.
NOVEMBER 11, 2015
Breakfast early: cereal, eggs, buns. Out the door by 6:45 to go back to Bro. Paulin to finish painting the white board, leveling the tables, and odds and ends. Baba gave me a ride on his motorcycle to St. Therese -- much appreciated. Max carried an 8 foot ladder on his motorcycle - unbelievable to see what they carry. Many times women are carrying fruits and vegetables on their heads. How they do it on the hills is beyond me!
By 9:00, we were at St. Therese, a VERY poor school. We added a computer table with tablets and chairs, put up a pull down screen, and had to rearrange the wiring for some of the tables. The original plan was to erect a white board and screen at an angle, but I suggested facing two sets of tables toward the center and turning the other two sets to the center too. Then we could erect the screen and the white board on the center of the front wall. Gary went with the idea and Laura liked it too. Laura is in charge of all the Tech Schools. We assist with technology in 5 schools, all technology on the top floor of Sacred Heart, which we call the Tech School, and take care of the water system at the orphanage, and all of the other schools. (Water, electric, and technology at all of the schools). It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to paint all the coats on the plywood to turn into a white board. Bob finished his drawings as to where all the computers are located to send to David Puckett while I painted. Max has been a big help to us, drilling holes for the board and screen. Gary, Cathy, and Baba had a meeting to go to, so they had left about 10:30 or 11:00. Baba always attends the meetings to interpret. Bob, Max and I got finished about 3:00. We had a longer walk home, but we couldn't avoid the dreaded hill. Both of us had backpacks but I was slowing Bob down so much he took my backpack. Even at that, I still had to stop and rest half-way up the hill.
NOVEMBER 12, 2015
Last work day! We have cereal, eggs, toasted buns and fresh pineapple for breakfast. Gary and Cathy are going to St. John Bosco, Bob is going to the Tech school, H.S., St. Therese, and St. John Bosco, and I'm going to the Tech school to inventory the plumbing supplies. Gary called Jessica in Indiana to send us an inventory list, but it didn't arrive until about 2:30. I had already written down everything, but not the way they had it listed on the inventory sheet. Gary said that Baba could do it later. I had already separated everything so it really shouldn't take him very long. I was sorry I was unable to finish the job. We then surprised Mazx with a birthday cake - he turned 40 today. He was so surprised. Cathy had picked up a cake from the new store that we had visited - very well decorated. Since there was nothing else to do, Cathy, Bob, and I walked back to the house from the Tech School. This was my first walk from there -- about 3 different "bear" hills. Where was Baba and his motorcycle??? I was glad to be back at the house to take a shower. You get so hot and sweaty. It is 3:20, so we have time to relax and pack for tomorrow.
Gary went back to the Tech School to check on some things, so we waited on him for supper. Rose treated us to apples, peanut butter, cheese and wine before supper at 6:30. Mia had fixed us a feast: chicken, beans and rice, plantains, pasta salad, french fries, and cake for dessert. Everything was delicious! It seemed too hot in the house even with the fans on, so I decided to go upstairs and lay in bed under the fan to cool off. The others stayed up and talked.
NOVEMBER 13, 2015
I'm up early today, 5:45! I got a good shower and make sure everything is packed. All the bedding, towels, and trash are taken downstairs, as well as the luggage. John and I were the only ones up at the time, but Bob showed up shortly. The plan for the luggage is to put our carry-ons into larger empty suitcases so we can get them back to fill with more materials for the next trip. Bob and I are all set, waiting for the others. John will stay for another couple of weeks to help Joe and some Haitians finish bathrooms for the Tech School. Mia fixed us chicken fritters for breakfast. After Cathy, Gary, Eric and Rose came down, we sat down to eat our last meal together. After breakfast, Gary had last minute things to do - like paying for all the Prestige from the store! Rose is coming home for a visit at Thanksgiving, but Eric will be leaving Jeremi Dec. 11 -- he is really looking forward to it. He has done a great job teaching the teachers English. All of us are packed and ready for Fr. DeLaSota to take us to the Jeremi Airport.
Father arrived about 8:30. We were to meet Roger and the plane by 9:00. Only a good Toyota truck could make it over these roads! Cathy got more than a 1000 steps because of all the bumps in the road. We made it 3 minutes after Roger did. We had to unpack some of the suitcases to balance the weight of the plane, so it took us a while to get on our way. Then, off we flew to Port au Prince!
Looking out the window, you can visibly see all of the poor conditions throughout Haiti. So many shacks after shacks. We are so blessed back home! We had a perfect flight, with a perfect landing. Roger unloaded our bags and he was off to his next flight. A very nice guy.
Lazar loaded us into is van and took us to Port au Prince airport. We arrived there about 11:15 or so, but our flight to Miami wasn't until 2:10. We went through security fine, and then sat upstairs in the kios, where Bob and I split a cheese sandwich and fries, and Gary and Cathy ended up sharing one too. The lights went out once, but Gary spoke and they came back on!!!! What a guy!!!
Our plane arrived on time, but when it came for us to leave, it developed a mechanical problem - one of the doors wouldn't close. We sat on the plane for about 45 minutes before taking off. We arrived in Miami about 15 minutes late.
At Miami, we had to go through customs and security, claim our luggage, get our luggage onto the flight to Louisville, and then go through security again. At least I was able to get my passport stamped this time. We went to a Scottish Pub and had some sandwiches for supper, while waiting for our flight. This was a neat airport, you walked outside to your plane. Bob was nice enough to stay back with me so I could take pictures. We didn't realize it, but they closed the security gate to get to the plane. My "buddy" told me he wasn't waiting for me ever again!! They allowed us to get on the plane, after checking our boarding passes a couple of times. Louisville, here we come!
This was a good trip, and I'm glad I went. I felt I was able to help out, but wonder if I could have done more. The group was great and a lot of fun. Gary goes through a lot of planning ofr this, and has helped Jeremi so much with the water system and technology. He and all involved should really be blessed for all that they have done. What I really like is that we are teaching the Haitian how to do the work, we are not just doing it for them. They are learning too. I was really impressed with the enthusiasm that the teachers have in teaching the technology, they are really super: word, office, data base, etc. All of the schools are so greatful for all that is being done. They are beautiful people: carrying, loving, friendly, thankful, etc. Such a hard working people, living under such hard conditions. I saw some really sad sites, and yet, people greeted us with smiles. It was worth every minute.
- Written by David Puckett
Bob Glaser is a key volunteer with Tek4Kids. Bob’s recent trip to Haiti isn’t related to the Cathedral, but it parallels so much of what those of us who have visited Haiti have experienced. I asked his permission to publish the following commentary.
The reason for my trip to Haiti this time was to accompany a group from my parish, St. Bernadette, to visit our sister parish St Louis de Gonzague in Bonbon, Haiti. We have been sending money to them to help support their parish for many years and no one had ever visited to see how the money was being used and what problems they may have. Fr. Bill Fichteman, the interim pastor for St Bernadette, and two ladies on the parish committee (Carolyn Hoskins and Carla Rauen) along with Theresa Patterson from the Parish Twinning Program went directly to Bonbon from the Jeremie landing strip when we arrived on Thursday. I went on to Jeremie to do some Tek4Kids work. On Saturday afternoon I took a motorcycle taxi to Bonbon to join the group.
The ride to Bonbon took about 45 minutes and the road is as bad as any passable road could be. I think the trip may on be about 20 miles but it is bone jarring. I arrived about 3:00 PM. The group was relaxing on the porch of the rectory and said they were being treated great and eating well. The accommodations were not nearly as nice as we have at our house in Jeremy. There were no fans for cooling and 4 of us shared a single bathroom. I was taken on a tour of the rectory, the churches elementary school and the public high school which the church helps run. Bonbon is a small fishing village and very poor. It sits right on the ocean so there are nice breezes to cool the air. The town has no city electric and all electric power is provided by solar panels on the roofs of a few buildings. One of them is the church rectory where we were staying.
The schools are very run down and in need for much more support than they have been receiving. They have no drinking water and their toilets consist of a hole in the ground and a walled area where the children can urinate on the ground. The children have no food during the school hours. Their primary needs are drinkable water, sanitary restrooms and a lunch program. I am sure they could use books and school supplies as well. The teachers are paid poverty level wages.
I was told we were going to attend a show that was planned for early evening. We were escorted into an old building next to the rectory that was once a convent but no longer used as that since the nuns were no longer in Bonbon. They had left and the medical clinic they helped support was shut down and in poor condition. The children put on a show consisting of singing, dancing, a play, and poetry lasting about an hour and a half. The convent was decorated in many signs welcoming us to their city. We were fed 3 meals a day and the food was very good. The people could not have been nicer and we were given the red carpet treatment the whole time we were there.
Sunday morning after breakfast we went to church services at the church next door. We were escorted to sit in the front alter area across from the choir. The mass was very nice and Fr. Bill gave the homily which was translated for the church members. At the end of mass Fr. Bernadine, pastor in Bonbon, gave a nice talk thanking us for our visit and the help we provide. They then presented us with a beautiful painting of the fishing village to take back to St. Bernadette. Fr. Bernadine then blessed us and invited the parishioners to come up and take pictures with us.
Once the service was over we went back to the rectory and relaxed until lunch. At lunch a celebration spread was put out. We had chicken, goat, fish and lobster along with other dishes. This is the first time I have had lobster in Haiti but this is a fishing village. Fr. Bernadine opened a bottle of champagne and we drank a toast to celebrate our visit. We completed the meal with a chocolate cake made in the shape of a heart. When the meal was done we were all given a personal gift to thank us for our support and the visit.
The point is, these are very poor people that are in need of many things and a church whose average collection on Sunday is about $5. They put themselves out to make us feel loved and appreciated. It is hard to express how appreciated they made us feel. All of us were moved in many ways and will remember this experience the rest of our lives. I am so thankful that I was able to get to Bonbon to participate in this wonderful event.
My love for the Haitian people continues to grow.
- Written by David Puckett
Saturday - Sept 26
We are safe at home now. I'll comment later about Day 15 and travel.
But first I wanted to tie a few loose ends together. I mentioned last Monday about the open house and Max daughter. Tonisha is 7 and a very confident little lady, dressed to the nines. When you see her and most of the kids going to the various schools dressed in clean uniforms every day, you tend to lose sight of the actual living conditions most of them deal with at home. Tonisha was not at all uncomfortable milling around the crowd. Here's a picture of her with Cathy.
Travel to and from Jeremie is an intricate mesh of things that only Gary can manage. It's one thing to call a travel agent to book flights from Louisville to Port au Prince and back. Simple, easy, no big deal. From there it takes multiple people to be in the right place at the right time. So here's a typical return agenda. Gary calls Roger the charter pilot the day before to make sure things are still on track for him and weather report is good, then he calls Fr Ernest, the principal of College St Louis the night before to bargain for a ride from the house to the Jeremie International landing strip, followed by a call to Lazar to make sure he can meet us in Port au Prince.
So Gary, Cathy, Bob and I are ready to be picked up by Fr Ernest at 8:30 AM. Eric and Rose look happy to see us leave here, but there has to be some trepidation on their part as they begin fending for themselves for the next few months.
So the ride to the landing strip is about 10 miles... 8 1/2 of which are basically on a hard dirt road which has suffered from erosion and lack of grading on a periodic basis. So a 20-30 minute ride is bone jarring.
We got to the strip shortly before 9. Roger didn't land till about 9:15 because of a head wind. Then we loaded our bags and selves for the 1 hour or so flight to Port au Prince. Gary asked Roger to swing in toward town a bit to see if we could get a picture of the College du Sacre Coeur site where the technical school is located. Roger initially swung in so we were over the site, so he circled around for a better view. And here it is.
After the photo session, we rose to cruising altitude and picked up the tail wind that Roger had dealt with as a head wind.
We landed in Port au Prince about 10:30. Bags out of plane, lug bags with Lazar to his SUV, then make the ride to the other end of airport where commercial jets come in ... Traffic not too bad, two weeks ago, going the other way it was really chaotic. Bags out of Lazar's car, then thru immigration where you must have the green card that you ended up with upon arrival in Haiti. Don't know what happens if that card is lost ... don't want to find out! Next we check in and get baggage checked. Always a certain amount of chaos with the crowd. Finally got our 4 bags checked ... each bag had one of our personal smaller bags inside, along with several laptops we are bringing back to the states for repair, and most importantly, my yellow tool bag.
My tool bag has something of a reputation of its own. I usually do the network cable work (among many other things) and need several tools and test equipment. Gary swears he has all that I need, but we can never find everything or if we do the batteries in a tester have been known to be dead. So I insist on bringing my own. Also have a measuring tape inside ... never enough tapes around, 2 good screw drivers, wire cutters, a couple of rolls of black electrical tape, tags for marking wires. Guys know I've got things, so many times I'm the supplier of something they can't find. Earlier on Yemi borrowed my best screwdriver ... threatened to follow him to the ends of the earth if he didn't get it back into my hands. He laughed thinking I was kidding, but he did very ceremoniously return it when he was done!
Now, on to airport security, kick off shoes, go through X-ray. Gary's back pack set off something, so his backpack got searched ... a finger nail clipper was dug out. Security agent looks at it, swivels out the file, breaks the file off and tosses it in a trash barrel. Gary swears the clippers have been in his back pack going through security for years! On to American Airlines section, go through their security. And finally up to a waiting lounge ... well that's a bit of a stretch, but some tables, chairs and some places where you can get a bite to eat and wait. About 1:30 the surge begins for boarding .. no one seems to understand lines, but eventually we're on board.
Take off and landing in Miami smooth ... about 4:30. Then it's the US Immigration process with automated kiosks where you put your passport into a slot and look into a camera for a picture. Receipt prints out ... OMG, is that really me? Hike to next phase of Immigration, tell agent you are happy to return and answer a few more questions. Next it's to the baggage carousel, get checked bags, hike to next phase of Customs Control, answer more questions, take bags to handlers where bags magically get to your flight (you hope), then US TSA security check ... kick off shoes, etc, go thru X-ray. Finally into main terminal. Feels good to be in air conditioning and walk by all the overpriced shops that cater to those who really need a suit, shoes, pedicure, jewelry for someone, books or most anything else. Must be 5:30 or so ... not too bad this time. Now we can find a restaurant for some real eats and a beer other than Prestige!
About 7:45 PM our flight to Louisville begins boarding. I lost the lottery and had to sit next to Gary. Cathy a few rows in front, Bob a few rows behind. I holler to Bob asking if he wants to swap seats ... no deal ... I'm always giving Gary grief about something, but we do enjoy each other. Talked quite a bit, dozed some.
Landed on good old Louisville about 10:30, a few minutes early, kiss the carpet in Standiford Field (aka Louisville International Airport). Bags show up at carousel and loved ones meet us at curb. Nothing like getting back to the Watterson Expressway and on to home. Great to see Mary Ann at the door along with our dogs to greet me. This morning I emptied my bag and tossed all the clothes I had into the washing machine ... I'm sure the salt content from all my seating did something to the drain.
As I write this, I'm decompressing, adrenalin is easing back, I've dozed a few times and life is moving back toward some decree of normality. Got a call from Paul Olliges. He was going to return my recorders that he used in my absence to record homilies for web site. His car had died at PNC a block from our house, so I walked up to meet him while he was waiting for AAA to arrive. Just got note saying his battery was dead and needed a new one.
All in all, the trip was a very good one. We got a lot done, the Technical School opened as planned, no one got sick or hurt. An interesting side note, Gary and Cathy visited several of the elementary schools on Thursday. At one of the newer ones, the principal told them that parents were asking about the water their kids were getting. When they were assured it was safe water, one of the parents asked "is it Tek4Kids water?" Word is out! The people of Jeremie know we are there on a regular basis. Their kids get pure water and in the schools where we have teachers enhancing the rote Haitian teaching with things like typing instruction, use of word processing, spreadsheet manipulation. Feedback we get is positive, just need more. If you are so inclined, visit www.Tek4Kids.org to learn more. We can use donations any time. If you are interested in helping in other ways, there is information.
So I'll close this little journey of tidbits about our activities with a blessing ...
Rejoice in the unconditional love and mercy that God has offered us. Amen!