Monday, October 24, 2016

Updates from Les Cayes Haiti

Updates on the work ongoing in Les Cayes

1. First our hearts go out to the region. It was devastated by Hurricane Matthew and then when hit with a second round of flooding and heavy rains again this past Thursday-Saturday. Life is not fair sometimes.

2. The work is still going. The area has been our main focus since Matthew. We are working with Tout Moun Se Moun (All people are people) a group we have worked with on microloans and HaitiScholarships before. It is a group many of you are familiar with as Pierre Alex Dorziere was on campus as part of the BonasandBeyond program.

3. Work has been on such things as reroofing, street clean ups, cleaning out storm gutters, and of course house clean ups.

4. This (from Jean Emmanuel Verdier) - The best thing is that Tout Moun Se Moun/ BonaResponds is working in the most difficult area . It is an area where the government and most NGOs will never go; a forgotten area. We know the field very well and that is why a lot of young people want to join us.

We are still working to implement a Tout Moun Se Moun/BonaResponds team in each borough of Les Cayes. I will come with another plan too and will explain it to you so that you can explain it to the BR committee. For now so far we are doing great. We are the only youth group working [That we know of that has been working] since after the second day of the hurricane until now. Congratulations to the BonaResponds staff. Your work is paying off.

5. There are several large jobs this week. The week starts with cleaning the soccer fields (I will include pictures later). Then the biggest job: cleaning the flooded hospital area. Then back to the storm channel. Work will be going on other jobs as well.

This week's work schedule:
Monday (10-24-16)
Cleaning the soccer field.( Park Mr Henry Isaac)
Tuesday (10-25-16)
Cleaning the Hospital.
Wednesday (10-25-16)
Cleaning and create path in a dangerous canal.
Thursday (10-26-16)
Possible food and water distribution for the HaitiScholarships Parents.
Meeting with some community leader to listen to their needs and complaints.

6. Rochelin reports a great need for seeds and trees. He and his group are looking to open a nursery to get the area's farmers back on their feet. (The NY Times said recently that Matthew will put the agricultural community around Les Cayes back a decade). He reports shortages of seeds and tens of thousands of trees destroyed. We hope to partially fund this.

7. Access to clean water is a growing problem with several reports of increased case of cholera. Purification tablets are costing about $25 for 600 gallons (expensive). A longer-term solution is of a community well costs roughly $3500-$4000 USD.

8. Reginald Rosembert reports that things are awful in the Lacorriere area (10 minutes by moto) from Les Cayes. He and another friend distributed food kits last week. They are looking to do more.

9. The Tout Moun Se Moun/BR tee shirts are in hot demand. 60 more ordered. I THINK that takes the number to above 200 now.

10. With obvious exceptions, things in Leogane are getting back to normal. Indeed, Wesly reports the hiring of an English teacher and we have gone back to planning tutoring and class connections there.

11. The class connection with Robinson DixyBand PollyannaChris Michelot and Carrie Howland Grace (St. Francis School in Cleveland) is this week I THINK. The conversation with a class from Olean was postponed until things settle down some there.

12. So many people to thank. Alex (Dorziere), Manno, the volunteers, the BR leaders, and of course the donors to PositiveRipples who are making this response possible. It is a bad situation, but without your help, it would be much worse.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Bonas and the bigger world

St. Bonaventure University Logo
St. Bonaventure University Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bonas is no longer just a small campus in Western New York (indeed, I question whether it ever really was "just" that but I digress).

We are everywhere. You know that. You have worn a Bona shirt and been stopped all around the world by alumni, by parents of current students, by friends, and even by former co-workers who wanted to say hi to a fellow Bonnie. Indeed we pride ourselves on being a big family.

It is one of the things I like about #Bonas. We are at once welcoming, trusting, and "one".

As the world changes and the grows more interconnected, the so-called BonaBubble (a term I have never liked) becomes more permeable. Online classes, service programs around the world, and study abroad programs have put Bonas in the center of everything. Put another way, the family aspect of Bonas has remained, but the isolation that comes from being on a small campus 90 minutes from a major airport has largely disappeared.

With online classes, University sponsored programs in the UK, Italy, and Brazil, and Bona people working in Haiti, the Bahamas, Liberia, Costa Rica, Uganda, and in so many other places in the world, the Bona Bubble and the Bona Family has grown to encompass much of the world. Something that happens anywhere really affects us all. There is no longer an us and a them, but just us.
While it is sunny and dry in Western New York, #HurricaneMatthew is already hitting Bonas.

Three stories. Each with Bonaventure ties.

1. Let me start with last night. I had an online class (MBA 517 for those of you keeping score), and a student had to miss class because he was in process of evacuating his family. He lives on the SE coast of Florida. (oh and he is a SBU alum too...class of '99). At times like that an MBA class sort of loses its importance. (BTW Thanks to Mike Hoffman it was recorded so he will not actually miss the class assuming power is not lost for long.)

2. Next story: The Bahamas. For what will be 14 years this coming January,Todd Palmer and his St. Bonaventure University Enactus crew have done great work there. This past January, I was fortunate enough to be a very small part of their program (basically I was a driver and a person who made all the others appear to be on time by my tardiness).
I have heard from a few people from that trip: Tony ( St. Bonaventure Alumni) and from some we helped and from those that have worked with the Bonaventure students for over a decade. They are hunkered down hoping their homes do not flood. Praying for #Matthew to leave. They are family.

3. My last story for now. As most of you know, for the past few weeks we have had Haitian friends on campus as part of BonasandBeyond. I am biased, but they were a great group. A wonderful group. People who are leaders in Haiti. People who are out helping others.
In the world view of some, bad things only happen to bad people. I completely and totally disagree. Bad things happen to all people at some time. If you ever doubt that, here is exhibit A. The people of Haiti. They are some of the best people I have ever met. Some of the most giving people I have seen. And yet they were hit hard by disaster after disaster. Not due to any fault of their own but that they were born in a country whose past violence and corruption have created an impoverished nation that is unable to withstand repeated natural disasters.
As I promised a story and not an economics lesson, let me tell you of Pierre Alex Dorziere He is pictured below while on campus. Indeed, he may have sold you a shirt if you were at Bonagany or he may have worked at your home (when the Haitians were here they worked at 4 homes in the local area as part of BonaResponds). He is a great guy. He heads our efforts in Microloans in Haiti and is the Les Cayes head ofHaitiScholarships. He left me his size nine boots as they were too heavy to carry on the plane when he left. He told me to give them to someone who needed them.
He almost didn't come to SBU because his wife is 8 months pregnant. Below are pictures of both Pierre and his wife. Look closely, you might notice the roof of their home is missing. He is family. The shirt he is wearing? Says that all people are people. Tout Moun Se Moun.
We can not help everyone that is affected by the hurricane. We can not help all who are affected by poverty. But we can help some. With your help we can help more people.
Let me end this post with a quote from Stephany Desgranges. She should have been on campus, but was unable to get a visa. Next year I hope she is on campus. She is a very smart woman from Petit Goave Haiti. This morning she sent some pictures and this quote that is says it better than I can:
"We're coming back from this thing. Hurricanes come and go.But the Haitian fighting spirit can never be defeated, No rains hard enough, no winds strong enough, no thunder loud enough. We rise again and again every time... with a wink and a smile. I am so proud of my people."
(note: we are also collecting school supplies, Tools, gardening tools, and soccer equipment for Haiti so if you do not want to donate money (first choice since easy to send and it helps the Haitian economy), please get involved in some way).
Don't want to give short term needs? Donate to HaitiScholarships and get more people in school so they can prevent future disasters.
It is too early to know if we can do a larger group trip to #Haiti. I expect to be going personally. Also remember the storm is not over yet. We still have the US coast line to worry about. Right now it is all too much uncertainty to know what the future holds.