Project K.I.D. News
Project K.I.D. will meet and help support CJ's Bus
Project K.I.D. will meet and help support CJ's Bus when it arrives in Tuscaloosa at Canterbury Chapel tomorrow, April 30. CJ's Bus, a mobile recreational unit for children in disasters was started by Kathryn Martin after her little boy was killed in a tornado in Indiana. In the immediate aftermath of her personal loss and her community's devastation, Kathryn saw the need for children to have recreational activities to engage in while adults begin recovering.
Children needing a play break amidst the disaster are welcomed to come play at CJ's Bus!
LOCATION: Canterbury Chapel
812 5th Avenue
Phone Contact: Kathryn Martin, 1-812-604-1290
It had been over four months since my last trip when I returned to Port au Prince on Saturday. There is a tremendous amount of progress all around. First, the orphanage where I'm staying (New Life Children's Home) has been spruced up nicely--buildings freshly painted, tents gone, grass on the soccer field, garden in almost full growth. Most importantly, the children's developmental programming is vastly improved. Wonderful volunteers are working and staying here and they have brought great skills to the Haitian nannies that care for these orphans. Many orphans here have sever disabilities and require 24 hour highly skilled care. It is true in all the orphanages throughout Haiti that providing training to the unskilled workers makes a great difference in the quality of life of all the orphaned children. As far as I've been able to determine, Haiti has no formal training programs in birth-preschool education/caregiving. One nice addition at this orphanage is that the daughter and son-in-law of founder Miriam Frederick have relocated to here and are providing excellent oversight, especially while Miriam is away for a short time.
Yesterday was filled with administrative tasks so I was in many parts of Port au Prince. Commerce has certainly resumed throughout the city--vendors and stores open for business and folks shopping everywhere. The amount of rubble removal and clean-up is truly remarkable. Construction can be seen in almost every city sector. And the morale of the Haitians seems positive overall. I have seen no violence or demonstrations in the three days thus far but I am talking to folks here to better understand this aspect of Haiti and Port au Prince specifically, so that I can feel better prepared to coordinate work teams to come here.
Most uplifting is the news from the Haitian Project K.I.D. team. They are taking increasing ownership and responsibility for our work here. They had a "to do" list ready for me when I arrived on Saturday! Fito, my driver/security, has been able to purchase a nice, air-conditioned, reliable 15 passenger van and is providing transport services. Waldeck, a trainer for us, married "up" :-) in August and moved from a tent to a lovely house (with flowers in front) and has a car, Bellinda has enrolled at the university to complete her remaining three years in management. Angelique's daughter Angie is going to the Catholic school and Angelique is enrolling in an administrative post high school licensing program. Haitian Project K.I.D. workers and volunteers AnnRose, Paulina, Artigrace, Charles, and Gloria (Fito's daughter) all visited the orphanage here on Sunday to do art therapy with the orphans using supplies and training that US volunteer Alyson Jackson prepared and sent with me on this trip. The art therapy was a huge success! Project K.I.D. uses a train-the-trainer model in Haiti and now we have six well trained Haitians in these therapeutic art activities who will go on to train others, largely through their church families. (This approach is working well and it is how we hope to work with UNICEF in the future.)
Yesterday, I was able to begin to open our official Project K.I.D. bank account in Haiti. This has become necessary because the team here is now writing their own project proposals and have even had one funded (0) by the French Red Cross. What this represents is almost beyond words--none of these individuals had ever seen a request for funding prior to the earthquake and now they are gaining confidence to approach the large aid organizations directly! It also shows how well they are putting to use the laptops Sarah Smith sent here.
Today is very important. We will pick up Chad Coil, Lazarian World Homes, at the airport this morning and travel to Kenscoff to look at the property for construction of the new International Helping Hearts orphanage. While in Kenscoff, we will ensure the that the donated supplies in the two containers at the port have secure storage available. Then at 4:00 we meet with Virginia Perez at UNICEF regarding our project focused on improving the lives of children in the tent settlements.
Please keep our work and our team in your thoughts and prayers!
With much love,
Update from Haiti
From Jim--A quick report from Haiti. It's Friday night and Paige has ended another productive day by going to bed with the chickens at the guest house at New Life Childrens' Home orphanage in Port au Prince. We started the day very early in Santo Domingo, where Bellinda had joined us late Wednesday. Amber Ramsey from Mobile had gone with us to Santo Domingo. There Barbara, a friend of Bob and Ellen Snow (Episcopal missionaries who had been Paige's lifeline on the island when she first went down two weeks after the earthquake in Port au Prince), introduced us to Natasha, who directs a "micro factory" operation at a local rehabilitation center. Natasha's shop employs teen and young adults at the rehab center to produce hand-crafted child development and teaching products -- puzzles, blocks and other manipulative wooden items that are purchased by schools and childcare centers. That visit raised some interesting prospects on programs of this type that could dovetail very nicely with Project KID initiatives.
That thought-provoking and instructive visit was followed by a chance to talk at some length with Bob and Ellen over dinner Thursday night. They shared some valuable insights on similarities and differences between Haiti and the DR, as well as their thoughts, born of their 15 years in the DR, about the effectiveness of faith-based and other NGOs in developing countries.
Which brought us to a Friday morning early flight from Santo Domingo to Port au Piince. We had come for what we thought might be the last trip for some time, given the seeming inability to conclude the process with the UN Child Protection subcluster with which Project KID has worked for months in a effort to become an "implementation partner" to this UN group. Paige, Bellinda and Amber had an excellent meeting with Virginia Perez, the head of that group in PaP, the upshot of which was Virginia's assurance that she was confident that the only obstacle to Project KID's getting a contract in that capacity with the UN was Project KID's obtaining evidence of its submission of appropriate documents to apply for registration as a NGO in Haiti. Project KID Haitian staff has been working its way through that process for the past month, assembling the required documents and having them translated into French as is required, and there doesn't seem to be much reason to think the required application receipt shouldn't be in hand shortly. Virginia's advice is that contracting would move quickly after that, and she encouraged the Project KID team to be thinking of how to mobilize once funding was made available.
All in all, a lot of learning and a lot of encouragement. Tomorrow we will help Project KID staffer Waldeck celebrate his wedding in Port au Prince, and so get to share in his climb onward and upward. That seems quite fitting, as there are signs everywhere that Port au Prince is slowly but surely digging its way out of the rubble and starting to rebuild. Say a prayer that all these things will come together in their
Updates from Haiti - Day two and day three from Meg Wallace
Haiti - Day 2
Haiti Day Two - I just realized that only two small paragraphs of my journal was sent out and the other four or five have been lost forever in cyber space. I will attempt to complete day two at this time (Thursday morning)
My day began by falling down the last two steps of the stairs leading down from our room. I was so lucky and only managed to get a large bruise on my right shin. My shoes are big - hiking shoes and the stairs are a bit narrow.
Today we went to a desperate tent city on the outskirts of Port au Prince. In front of their settlement was another tent city that is well organized and has funding through World Vision. This camp has virtually nothing material, but you could feel their spirit filled with hope and gratitude for our visit. We went with the group from New Life Mission (where we are staying). They brought two nurses who were providing medical checks on all of the children. Some of the children appeared lifeless in the small tent used to "doctor" them, but when we brought out balls, and other toys, most everyone began playing. We were blowing up and giving out small beach balls and everyone wanted one - not just the children- they were actually desperate to receive one and I thought it is just wrong to know that kind of desperation.
I also spent some very valuable time in the tent with three moms and their infants. I had no doubt that they loved their babies, but I saw no interaction between them. I asked if I could hold one baby and the mother said no. I understood completely - would I want some stranger holding my baby? A second mom with an infant and two year old said yes I could hold her infant. I began to talk and coo with the baby and was able to get a little chuckle and smile out of him before I had to give him away - what a joy to see a baby smile in this desolate area. I was told that little interaction happens between adults and babies in this culture so I continued to model this appropriate practice with this baby and was delighted when a second mom said I could hold her baby too! So I had another wonderful opportunity to show others the joy of "making a baby smile and stimulating their brains"!
This is the location where I left most of all the donations given to me by my wonderful CSC family. I know every item was gold! I selfishly wanted to hand out everything to the people and make my own decisions about who to give the things to, but was told this was inappropriate. I am so glad I listened because I would have been mobbed and things would not have been distributed by need. The one in charge would make those decisions after we left. And I realized when we left that it was not the material that we brought that was the most important, but the experiences we had together.
The people in this camp were taking the rocks that are EVERYWHERE and make it hard to walk and decorating around trees and actually performing a landscaping task with the rocks. It was very pretty and an outright symbol that they cared about their homes.
After we left there we went to a pizza/bakery place called Epi-dor. The pizza was amazing and they had Diet Coke! It was warm, and had expired two weeks previously, but I drank it down anyway! Yummy! This restaurant in Port au Prince was completely unharmed by the earthquake while most things around it were destroyed.
My last full day is tomorrow and I am looking forward to it. We are going to see an orphanage up in Kenscoff.
Haiti - Day 3
Day Three started out with a feeling of hope and joy. A group came into New Life Mission who were providing prothesis for the first time and repairing some for children who were growing and needed new lengths for their arms and legs. Paige (Project KID) delivered a large crate of amputeed stuff animals. She has a group that amputates stuffed animals and sews them back up so the children can understand that the stuffed animals are just as precious with one leg or arm as they are with two. It was a beautiful sight as I saw a young girl maybe 4 or 5 get her "leg" repaired so that it was the same length as her other leg. She was bright and smiley and walking around proudly. What a blessing!
We began our long journey up to Kenscoff, but before we arrived at the orphanage, we stopped at the Baptist Mission run by a Pastor Wallace - they even had a sandwich named after ME - no, him! This was a lovely stop with the most beautiful view you can imagine - can't wait to show everyone the pictures. I was even able to pick up a few trinkets!
We left there and finished our journey up the mountain to the Kenscoff orphanage. Upon first arrival I was optimistic because the air was cool and the mountains were gorgeous. This nice tranquil state soon left me as we walked the rocky path up to the small house that immediately smelled of garbage. We were greeted by the Pastor as he walked us inti the house where we saw 31 children all sitting a round two tables waiting for us. They were all holding a stuffed animal, obviously for our sakes, as the toys had been delivered by Project KID on an earlier visit. Although they were holding a toy, there was no play, there were no smiles, there was no happiness, they was only emptiness - a dark hole with no way out. New Life's (where we are staying) leader, Miriam, did a health assessment on all of the children. She found all the children to have distended bellies which are caused by worms and other parasites, some children had fever, coughs, and many had unattended infected wounds. Later Miriam shared with me that she was concerned that one or two of the children may have TB or AIDS. All the children were given a pill to begin ridding them of the parasites and a vitamin lollipop. The Pastor said the children all had appointments with the doctor on August 4th. I hope this happens but have no real sense that it will.
I took two little children out of the big group and engaged them in building blocks. The little girl became active with them and I could see a little joy eeking out of her! The little boy had none. He appeared lifeless to me as I could not engage him. I took him out to show him leaves and trees and talk to him, but I could see nothing going in and no life coming out. He fell asleep in my arms and normally all this would make sense because you would have just thought he was tired earlier - but no, I was told all he does is sleep. I guess if I had the ability to tune it all out I might just do the same...
This was the most emotionally difficult for me. After playing with the children, blowing bubbles and bringing a little joy to an otherwise hopeless place, Miriam gathered the Pastor and his staff and began talking to them about the reality of their conditions. She said she would give them an A for their hearts, and an F for everything else. She said it all in a Christian way and ended in an uplifting prayer that we can only have hope that it will cause them to clean up the orphanage. There are so many adults living there that it just doesn't make sense that the place is so dirty, smelling of sewage. It is no wonder the children are so ill and have no motivation to even play.
Desperate situation - Please pray for these children.
Meg Wallace joins Paige Ellison-Smith and son Thomas on their July 19th trip to Haiti
First off I will tell you that I am incredibly hot and seem to sweat more than anyone I have met here... OK, now I am through complaining.
First day we drove to Caange to bring a Project KID kit. Paige and her workers taught and demonstrated how to work with the items with the children. The hospital began with Dr. Paul Farmer (Harvard grad) building roads up the mountain back in the 1970's.. Not an easy task. The ride takes about 1.5 hours and it is back breaking most of the way. We had a great time stopping along the way and bringing smiles to the faces of many children. We handed out candy, small beach balls and kids jewelry and hair clips.
On the way home, we did not stop to hand anything out, but I was carefully watching all of the sites as we went down the road. Many things surprised me, but none more than seeing the lack of modesty that the people had. Children were often seen naked or without pants or underwear. Many were taking baths in tubs outside for anhone to see - even some adolescents. What I saw in their faces was powerful to me. I saw a kind of "want" that is hard to describe. Just that they knew we had something they wanted - can't explain it.
Their houses are nothing more than a tent or some of the more fortunate have some wood put together to cover a roof.. They have almost nothing by American standards, but yet are a gentle, polite group of people. Inside Port au Prince, things seem more desperate, but out of the city people seem more laid back and not as frantic.
There are dogs roaming the street - many with all their ribs showing and all looking for food... there is none for them. On the way to Caange we saw many animals tied up in the fields including cows, horses, donkeys, goats chickens, and pigs. I was surprised to see so many animals, but glad to see they had them for eggs, milk, and transportation.
One surprising site to me, but not to the people with me was the work of dragging a truck up from the bottom of a deep ravine. They were still working on it when we returned many hours later. We were told that the man driving the truck was not injured - hard to imagine. I can certainly understand how easy it is to fall of the side of the road. The roads are not well maintained, narrow, and the evidence of many rocks that have fallen down the sides. I had to close my eyes a lot of the way and get my mind somewhere else.
Today we are going to a tent city that is said to be desperate. We are going with the New Life group (where we are staying) to pass out supplies. I imagine this will be my first real experience with extreme nothingness. I have been told there are infants with mothers who have no shelter- not even a tent. I hope my story about today will not be as heart wrenching as I expect it to be.
I love you all very much. Remember to be grateful and to love your fellow person.
Meg, Mama, Wallace
Updates from Paige and Pat in Haiti - Week of June 20th
June 21st post
Today has been a very long day. It was very interesting, but really rather stressful. We spent 6 hours driving on mostly rocky bad roads. We saw some beautiful sites but also hundreds of the saddest sites you could ever expect to see. We went to 2 of Dr. Paul Farmers hospitals and one of his farms where they are teaching the poorest of the poor how to farm. They give them seeds and supplies and then buy their crops. Partners in Health now has 5000 Haitians on the payroll. The extremely dedicated staff with 13 doctors at the first hospital see about 400 free patients each day. The staff who met with us were very interested in PROJECT K.I.D. They really want to work with Paige in some capacity. The rain started as we left the last hospital, so it is cool. Paige and I will be glad to get to our nice, safe house tonight, eat our protein bars and go to bed. Tomorrow morning we start at 7 to set up a new play site.
Love from Haiti
June 22nd post
Dear Family and Friends, We just arrived back at the place where we are staying. It is 9 PM and once again we are exhausted. One of the reasons we are so late is that traffic is always terrible and yet everyone drives like crazy. Of course, this makes me very nervous. It has rained some today, but we only had to drive in it. Most of the roads are terrible and when it rains they just become one big rough puddle. We put a play care site in a building that was mostly destroyed by the quake, but it worked well for a play site and the kids loved it. After that we visited 2 sites that we had put up on other trips. Even though it was getting late we dropped in on an orphanage, NEW LIFE CHIlDREN S HOME, that we were told about, to meet the founder\director, who began this mission in 1977. They now have 115 children. Many have severe handicaps. We spent almost 2 hours with this very remarkable woman. I really wish that I could find a way to help her. She gets no help from either government. She does have rooms for mission groups who come to work with her. Tomorrow we go back up the mountain to take items to an orphanage that really has nothing. Once again it will be the poorest of the poor.
It is my time for the cold shower so goodnight and love from Haiti.
Preparing to Take the PKID Reins
Tonight Project K.I.D.'s Angelique, Ann Rose and Waldeck came into my tent as soon as I arrived back at their church tent settlement in Canape Vert. They we're so excited to tell me about their day. This morning for the first time since our work together in Haiti began, they headed out at 5:30 with our driver Fito to Kenscoff. They went without Bellinda or me, to set-up PlayCare at a second Angels of Light location. Bellinda and I had to be at a meeting. Yesterday, all of us traveled to take the kit up to Kenscoff but the actual setting up process was rained out. It is somewhat complicated to set-up PlayCare, as some of you know first-hand; to put up a rather elaborate but very functional tent with drop-down sides, run the orange fencing, and create the developmental activity spaces. Then you must train the caregivers on how to use PlayCare with the children. Well, all three of them wore such expressions of pride from knowing what a successful day they had. They told me how they had gotten the tent erected with the tarp "floor" offering protection from the oft muddy ground. They were so happy about the quality of the tent--one of several left over from China's gift to the Gulf Coast after Katrina. They enthusiastically talked about the young men, who are former child orphans themselves, that will work with the children at this site. They described how truly interested the men were in learning about PlayCare and early childhood programming. They told about the 50 children that came to PlayCare today at Kenscoff. And last, they described what additional materials are needed to make the site even better, saying specifically that the one tent space is perfect for the children aged six and under, but a second tent space is needed for the older children. Just over four months ago not one of us standing in my tent tonight in Haiti could have imagined this moment.
Tomorrow, again Bellinda and I will head to a UN funding meeting (this must be our 20th one, at least), and Waldeck, Ann Rose, Angelique and Paulina will leave on an Angels of Light truck loaded with two kits headed to Carrefour. One kit (created by Jacob Baldwin) will go to their sister church community in Carrefour and the other to a third Angels of Light program, also run by former orphans. Tonight and for the first time since arriving in Haiti, I have peaceful certainty that the seeds planted by PKID's work in Haiti, can and likely will grow and affect many Haitian children and others--even if I must return home in July. I am deeply grateful to you for your part in making our work happen here.
New Friends in Haiti - April 12 - 15, 2010
Paige Ellison-Smith is in Haiti this week meeting with key contacts to promote the work of Project K.I.D. Pat Edington of Mobile is also accompanying Paige for the trip.
Alonzo Mourning of the Miami Heat was also visiting Haiti with Dr. Green from Project MediShare and Cheryl Mills, Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Paige had opportunity to meet with them. There are proposals to expand Project MediShare's work establishing 13 Trauma 1 units in the departments (states) of Haiti. Paige reiterated her desire to have PlayCare co-located at each of those planned sites!
Seeing is believing and there was a warm response to Project K.I.D.'s PlayCare site at MediShare. We are hopeful that funding proposals will be received favorably to allow more children to receive services there.
Paige also met with folks from the Angels of Light at Tabarre. There are needs to establish four PlayCare sites in collaboration with them. Project K.I.D. is seeking funding to get the kits there and to pay stipends for Haitian workers to staff PlayCare sites. Volunteers interested in traveling down to help set up PlayCare should contact Project K.I.D. or visit the website at: http://www.project-kid.org
Stay tuned! Keep those prayers and good thoughts flowing...
Project K.I.D. c/o The Children's Forum
2807 Remington Green Circle
Tallahassee, FL 32308
Telephone (850) 681-7002
Fax (850) 922-8699