Saturday, July 4, 2015

Almond trees and chalkboards… from Heather

I would never starve on a diet of Haitian food, and Germaine, the cook, creates smells in the kitchen that put a smile on your insides! And I THOUGHT I didn't like mangoes, but it turns out I'm a bit of a princess and just need mangoes right from the tree! Lucky for me, there are several close by, not far from the coconut and almond trees at the school next door. Who knew almonds grew on trees?

The school and the church border the compound, and this year, the school accommodated children up to grade 10. In September, Karen said, they will add a grade 11, then grades 12 and 13 the subsequent years. Some of the kids who came with us couldn't wait to show us the classrooms, and then the kitchen where the women make the children's daily lunches over hot charcoal stoves. For some of these kids, the meals at the school are the only food they get for the day...

From the classrooms, we cross the rocky lawn that doubles as a soccer field and end up at the church, which is so welcoming with its warm yellow walls. On a previous trip, Beate made drums by tightly wrapping packing tape over wooden frames –I can’t wait to hear them in
Church on Sunday morning. I am already lifted by the voices and songs that fill the devotion room every morning. It’s a good cup of soul food to start each day.

We cross back through the property, and the 2 boys with us, Moise and J.J., run ahead to one of the beautiful trees in the corner of the property. Turns out it's an almond tree, and before we know it, J.J. was lost in the leaves and branches—tree climbing is a universal childhood skill.

Meanwhile, Leica found some ripe almonds on the ground and was hard at work opening one with a small rock. I didn't realize getting one small almond from its shell was so labor intensive--guess that's why they cost us a small fortune at home--but none will ever taste as good as the ones Leica proudly shared with me.

Time to make our way back to the compound--we can hear the chorus of little voices on the other side of the wall. There's still a little time for playing before darkness sets in.

As one more day disappears, I have been reminded of the importance of education, especially to these children, and they are SO happy and eager to learn. But from almond trees to chalkboards, if you keep your eyes open, learning will happen all around you!

HATS beauty parlour Heather is the daring customer

Beate again,

I’m getting to know how to do things around the compound more and more. For instance, I learned how to convert Gouds to Haitian dollars (1000 gouds is 200 Haitian dollars…a Haitian dollar is about ???? Haven’t got that one down yet!!!) I learned how to dispense the pay to the employees, update the payroll book for this month, prepare the new pay envelopes, change the power from generator to battery inverter, drive to the bank in St. Marc to pick up the money for the month…okay, I didn’t actually drive, but I acted as third in command to security (Ronald is our real security and went with us, and Ti Luc was our  second in command…notice the blog he wrote today and the pictures he chose to represent Mama, Beate and himself…too cute). Oh, did I mention that I am also being trained for massage therapy duty (Vivienne, where are you when I need you)?  Not bad for a start to my training to come back for a longer time next summer.

new secretary Beate

Ti Luc's st marc blog

massage therapists for the princess

We went to Luckner’s place again to pick up a few things that we needed for the orphanage, and look what Mama Karen found. What two precious faces. Too bad we couldn’t keep her, but her real mama (a neighbour of Luckner’s) wouldn’t hear of it.

Karen and beautiful baby at Luckner’s

On our return, we managed to get a short walk in before supper. It’s amazing to see how well the kids can climb those beautiful trees. I stayed safely on the bottom.

a break under our favourite tree

The mornings are busy and everyone pitches in to do their chores…well almost everyone!

Ti luc doing laundry

Karen hiding from doing work

In the evening, after super, I give Ti Luc a shower and get him dressed for bed. I’m so glad that he trusts me enough to do this. I have been bathing him for the past five years mind you, but each year he gets older, and I always discuss with him what he would like me to do for him. Unfortunately for me, he doesn’t  want to hold my hand anymore…hmmmpf…too much of a big boy for Beate!!!!! While I got Ti Luc ready for bed, the ladies set up 4 laptops for the computer club. Nothing is more exciting than kids discovering new tricks on the computer, and then sharing their new knowledge with each other. We adults, simply have to encourage them, and help out now and then, and more importantly, trust that these kids will learn their way around the computer faster than we ever will.

Computer Club with Leica showing the boys
LaRee here

It is day 2 of sewing classes & I have five students…Leica, Djemima, JJ, Moise & Dieunel.  Typically, in Canada, my classes are filled with girls.  Teaching boys is a whole different ballgame.  They are interested in the foot peddle (and SPEED!), making designs on paper, hand sewing…which really surprised me!  At home, I can hardly keep the attention to learn handsewing…we are just too interested in the “quick fix” & getting a project done.  Here in Haiti, the kids are soaking it all in.  Their stitches are straight, their interest in how a sewing machine is put together is incredible & they were really shocked that a sewing machine needs OIL!  This had JJ smiling…so he is now the honorary sewing mechanic dude if anything goes wrong once I leave HATS  They are making shorts this week, and being able to choose their OWN fabric & become their own designer, brought out the creative juices.  We had to improvise if there wasn’t enough fabric & JJ had no problem creating a working plan to fashionably have 2 quarter sections of printed fabric & 2 opposing sections with matching solids.  Moise had his eyes on a cool lime green & brown geometric pattern, Dieunel picked a sports theme, Djemima picked florals & Leica…of course CUPCAKES!  After this it was go time & off to work they went to learn how to thread the machines, and begin their time sewing the first part of their shorts.

JJ pinning his waist band

Ronaele showing Leica how to  hand sew

What did I get out of this?  Well, Leica stepped on the gas peddle & a smile erupted immediately…I was a puddle of tears, trying to keep in my emotions.  These kids one by one stole my heart with their expressive faces, their focus & enthusiasm.  They did not want to stop for a break!  It was 38 degrees in that room & TEACHER LAREE needed to find a cloth to wipe down her face.  Life changing experience.  This skill will hopefully blossom into something that they can use later in life.  By the way…some of the world’s top fashion designers are MEN (ie. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein), so lets not underestimate the power of boys in sewing!! The children are so appreciative and welcoming. This experience will be with me forever.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Beate and Heather here…
I want to send out a big thank you to all of you Canadians who help support our Mission. Actually, a humungous thank you to our international supporters too. I can assure you that each and every dollar you send is spent taking care of these beautiful Haitian children,  supporting those who would otherwise never be able to go to school, and providing food and clothing for the very poor in our community.

Ronaele is impressed

As I, Heather, quickly write this blog, we are all praying for the continued support.

Ti Luc came to the house to do some computer work, and Dieunel came to help him.  It is amazing to see how well he uses his feet to move across the keyboard on his Ipad.  I’m almost certain his feet move quicker than my fingers!

Ti Luc’s homework

Canada Day at HATS was one of the most amazing celebrations I’ve ever been part of, from the singing of O Canada, to the relay races and water balloons.

Anne you goooo says Beate

Djemima inching the ball over the finish line

Ti Fi is the wet sponge master

 Everyone wore their Canada red, and the decorations on the compound would make any Canadian feel like this was their home away from home on this July 1st celebration. We even had the pleasure of having Luckner’s boys celebrate with us.

Happy Canada Day

Even Mama Karen put on her running shoes and her game face!

Run Mama and Jonathan

LaRee that feels great says Magdala

The water games were enjoyed by everyone, seeing as our thermometer showed a temperature of 42 degrees in the sun and 35 degrees in the shade!

Sandra squeeze that sponge

Sandra gets Beate

After the races, we all took a break for a little snack, then broke open the bottles of bubbles to finish off our  Canada Day fun.

enjoying bubbles…thanks, Heather

The day is not coming to a quiet end, as we sit and listen to the sounds of the thunder rolling across the sky.  Some of the children have come up for a short computer lesson before bed, and we’re praying for rain to cool us off after a hard day’s work of having such fun!
Okay…so our prayers were answered…it feels like a hurricane coming down on us right now ha ha ha.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hi Ronaele here,

It’s been a whirlwind of heat & hugs since arriving here at HATS in Haiti.  I’m a Calgary girl, so there was no way to anticipate the heat in July & a wet towel has become a constant companion.  But…nothing, and I do mean nothing), can take away from the gratitude I feel when I hear the laughter & get the constant cuddles from these beautiful children.  A trip like this has allowed me to see love, in its basic form; without the frills & spoils of material goods we THINK we need to give our children in Canada.  To watch learning, the LOVE  & eagerness of learning to sew tells me we have too much excess “stuff”.  It tells me that just maybe some of the money we spend at the dollar store on junk, the endless clothes, stuffed Christmas trees & the latest ipads or computer  is simply not justified.  I do think we need to see beyond our own eyes & reach further into what “feeds the soul”, because lets face it…all the extra STUFF is bought on impulse.

a view of Haiti

Some of the wonderful donations

Put a coin jar out in the kitchen & forego the Starbucks…see how much you can collect.  You see, this is what I plan on doing for HATS.  One cannot comprehend what it takes to run a place like this & how every penny is used to its highest capacity.  I SEE now…but I wasn’t able to see it firsthand prior to the trip,  but put some names to these little faces & giving to a place like this is going to be a no-brainer.  AMAZING PLACE.  My cup is most definitely FULL this week.  My soul is aching with joy & humility.  Xoxo

Hi All…Beate here,
I’m so happy to be home again. I’m thrilled to get hugs and more hugs from the kids, and boy they have grown up in the last year.  This year, we have been blessed by some new members of the Beate Team…Heather  from Cape Breton, and LaRee and Ronaele from Calgary (mom and daughter duo). There was an instant connection between us via email, and I felt that this was going to be an awesome team…I was 100% correct! The only person missing is Vivieene who had to cancel her trip last minute.  The kids and Karen miss you Vivienne.

A wonderful welcome

Yesterday was a scorcher, and the “newbies” did super well even though they were melting away. You see, NO ONE gets it when we say it is HOT in Haiti until they actually get here. Thank goodness it poured rain for about 30 minutes which happened to be on our way to see Luckner at his radio station. Heather and I decided to jump in the back of the truck for the ride home and got pretty wet…it was glorious.

This morning was so very exciting to see everyone at devotions. I know I will always leave devotions uplifted and happy to start the day. I need to do this at home in my condo…wonder what the neighbours would say if I belted out “Sevi l, Sevi l, Sevi li nan matin, Sevi li nan midi…?” After yummy Hatian oatmeal made by the ever famous, wish she could come home with me, Germaine.

We started something  super exciting with our older kids.  You see, LaRee teaches sewing to young people, and wow, they brought 3 sewing machines with them and all the fixins to teach our kids to sew.  We were all so very proud of JJ, Moise, Djemima, Leica and little Dieunel who all listened so well, and quickly got started on sewing a pair of shorts for themselves. They had to pin the patterns, mark them, cut them out, and sew them. Can’t wait to have a fashion show.

cutting out the material for shorts

Heather showing Leica a trick to cutting

Mama, are you paying attention

Big brother JJ helping Dieunel

Then this afternoon was spent on the new computers that had been donated to us. Again, such quick learners. And all this teaching is done in English…these kids are soooooo smart!

Using the Internet

Learning how to work the mouse pad

Well, I’m signing off as we have a big day ahead of us.  Canada Day will be celebrated here at HATS in a fun filled way, with lots of games that involve WATER!!!!! YIPPEEEEEE….

One last note: Words simply can’t express how happy I am. My heart is truly, deeply filled with joy again. It is such a joy to see these children being loved so much and taken care of by Karen and the house mothers. It is such a joy for this to be my fifth visit to HATS…and yes, it does feel like home. I know I just got here, but Karen and I are already planning my next year’s visit.

P.S. Ronaele is still with us...we haven't lost her...however, she is the one behind the wonderful pics. We promise to take some of her as proof that we still have her...hee hee

The arrival by Heather
We arrive just before 9am in the blistering hot 38 degree Haitian sun--a slight change in temperature for this Nova Scotia girl who just left frost warnings in the forecast only a few days ago! Interestingly enough, the girl I sat beside was also making her way to Deschapelles, as she works for Sean Penn's reforestation efforts in Haiti. Turns out she was here to see the planting of their 2 millionth tree! The number is staggering and hard to imagine when it comes to trees, but even more surprising was the fact that this reforestation effort is solely concentrated in the area of Deschapelles! No sign of Sean Penn, though!

After making our way through the airport and yet another customs' line, we join the hundreds of people in the relatively small baggage area--3 flights have landed within 15 minutes of each other, including a mission team all the way from South Korea, easily identified by their neon green vests. I am pleasantly surprised to see so many young people in the airport, and they are all identified with a mission group of some sort.

Just exiting the airport with our 8 suitcases, carry ons, and 3 sewing machines was no small feat either. We wound our way up the incline of the parking lot to our air conditioned black van, Identified by the windshield full of cracks, and began the white knuckle drive through the streets of Port au Prince,  and continued onward to the orphanage!

After nearly 2.5 hours of twists and turns, and one 'near miss' with a truck, we finally cross the last bridge spanning the canal that runs outside the orphanage. To say the drive was hair raising would be an understatement, but I came to realize that was the Haitian way! No yellow highway lines seems to mean that whoever gets in the passing lane first gets the right of way!

We are swarmed with happiness when the big blue gates open to the compound, revealing our welcome sign and 16 beautiful Haitian boys and girls singing a song in the Haitian language of Creole. The children immediately stole our hearts, from 2 1/2 year old Magdali, the smallest and youngest, to 13 year old G.G., one of the oldest and tallest. They weren't long taking our hands in theirs, showing us to the swing set. I eventually was overwhelmed with trying to keep up with requests for pushes on the swings, and piggy back rides around the yard! 2 kids on one lap quickly became the norm, and they clung to my legs when I tried to get up to leave.

To be here and see these children, you can't help but be drawn in by their big smiles and their beautiful brown eyes which seem to truly sparkle, just like their personalities.   But I have found out that if I spend too much time thinking about why they're here, it's impossible not to feel sad inside. Instead, though, I have to remember that they are well taken care of, they go to school, they are loved, and they are happy here--their giggles and laughter are proof of that!

So, after a day of sewing lessons, some computer lessons, and our ride to the grocery store, I had time to play with the kids at their playground. It turned into more pushes on swings and more piggybacks, and ended with 3 sets of little hands braiding my hair in the dark, while one of the boys sat on my lap to hold the flashlight  for the girls to work! It was a real team effort!

Now we're off to bed, listening to the chorus of roosters who seem to do their best 'cock-a-doodle doing' between 11-7 am, along with their 'back up' band of neighborhood dogs, horses, and billy goats, and our own snorer.  Haiti, here I am...gimme all you got!

Ok, so you do snore.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ti Luc returned to Haiti

Our return trip to Haiti was uneventful.  Going through Immigration in Canada was so easy compared to in Haiti when we were leaving.  We were treated with respect there which was awesome and greatly appreciated.

Papa Luckner, Daniel and Vladimy were waiting for us outside the airport in Port au Prince.  Luckner had picked up Vladimy at the hospital a couple of hours earlier.  It was good to be able to return home to the mission with Vladimy as well.

Ti Luc returning to Port Au Prince

Ti Luc was very warmly welcomed back home by children and the employees that were on duty.

Just arrived home from Canada

Germaine and Ti Luc happy to be together again

The next morning all the employees gave him a royal welcome home.

Reunited with HATS family

We arrived home to no internet for Mama Karen.  No contact with Canada is not fun.  Yesterday, Monday, Beate and group arrived for a week.  This afternoon our internet service was restored.  Thank you God.

We arrived home just in time for Father's Day in Haiti.

Father's Day.

Father's Day 2

JJ, Moise, Djemima and Leica made a cake for Papa Luckner for Father's Day on Sunday as well as a birthday cake for our friend, Veronique, who celebrated a birthday on the weekend and visited us again along with Valerie.

Baking for Papa Luckner and for Veronique

ready to enjoy birthday cake.

Veronique's birthday

birthday water fight

All the children were glad to have Ti Luc and Mama back home.  Magdala kept wanting to show that she could ride 'the moto'.  Ti Fi was looking great with her new hair do and kept wanting more photos taken with her siblings.

Motorcycle mama

Ti Fi with her two big brothers

We had a very enjoyable two weeks in Canada.  It was difficult to leave but it was good to be back with all the children.   Thank you to everyone who helped make our time there fun and memorable.

Karen and Ti Luc

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ti Luc went to Calaway Amusement Park in Calgary.

He was one amused and delighted boy.  Such joy on a beautiful face.

Tomorrow morning we start our journey back home to Haiti.

Thank you to everyone for the many ways you blessed us both since
Ti Luc stepped off the plane in Canada.

May God bless all of you.

Arrival. Ti Luc is ready for fun.

Amusement part fun

Strapped in for the fast up, then drop

Ready to drop quickly.

Please may I do this ride again.
I really really liked that.

Ti Luc having a blast

Ti Luc up high with Ariane. Yelling with excitement

Around and around.

Coming in for a landing
Driving his car with his feet

Such fun.