Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hello my name is Magdala.

I am the new kid on the block so to speak - a beautiful addition to the HATS family.  I am wondering if one of the men of HATS, called Keith, might recognize me.  I will be here with the other children waiting for you to return , with your wife this time, in October.

I am the new kid in the HATS family

Magdala, trying to figure out who Luckner is

Magdala did not had access to 'mother's milk' or to regular good nutrition.  She is little and not yet walking on her own.  Mama Karen believes with the nutrition that is available here at the mission, along with lots of love, prayer, affection, and stimulation, that before long Magdala will be toddling around after her new sisters and brothers.

As soon as the temperature dropped a little in late afternoon the children dug out our two old strollers to see if one was in good enough condition to take their new little sister on our regular afternoon walk along the canal.

Everybody look at our 'new little sister'

Big sister kisses for Magdala

All of a sudden Jonathan is a 'big' brother

Sandra loves the walk back home with big sister Leica

Jonathan likes to return home with big brother JJ

A regular early evening play time in the yard before bed

Go to the top Sandra. I am coming too

Sandra, Jonathan, Jofky

Ti Luc says anything Jofky and Anne can do I can do too

The blog written Wednesday evening reported the employees were much better and back at work with no new cases of Chikungunya at HATS.  That quickly changed.  Germaine now is suffering with it.  She is in a lot of pain and unable to use the right side of her body.  Three of our employees were in flareups of it yesterday as well and unable to move around easily.  We, however, limped along here onsite and the important things managed to get taken care of.

Thank you for all your support for the HATS children.  Thank you for your support too now for our newest little one.  Without you Magdale would not be able to become a part of our family.      

I T    I S     A L L     A B O U T     T H E     C H I L D R E N

Blessings everyone.
Karen and kids

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Greetings from the sauna a.k.a. Haitian steam bath

It is hot.  It is humid.  It is hot.  It is humid.  From 9:30 am until late afternoon we are too hot, too wet, sweating profusely, showering again and again whenever we have water enough to do so.

I know some of you in Canada are finding it too hot this summer and I certainly do understand.  It is not the heat that kills us here but the intense humidity along with it.  It saps our energy and at times we resemble zombies.  Yesterday I decided to check our temperatures.  In my house with cement walls 36 degrees.  Outside in the shade 47 and in the sun 58.  Put that together with high humidity and it makes for moving around like zombies for sure.  One stays out of the sun as much as possible.

Late afternoon every day I take the children for a walk along the canal and play time underneath the six huge mango trees by the canal.  When leaving the compound yesterday Anne told me the back of my blouse was dirty.  I thought I must have touched it against something, and since we were only going out to walk and play I did not check it.  When I returned I discovered that my black blouse was more white than black - white almost all over with salt rings from sweating.  Not a lovely sight.

One of our every afternoon walks

Judel 6, Dieunel 8

Jonathan - Look at me Mama

Sandra - Look at me too Mama

checking out a just born baby mouse

Photo taken by Djemima

As I sit typing this my fingers are wet and sliding all over the keys.  I have to constantly check for typos.   I seem to have water running everywhere over my body.  I am very thankful for the fan to push a little air around in my office when I have charge in my inverter batteries.  Our generator is running again, but since the damage to it caused by lightening, it does not run as it used to. It often shuts itself down, but we are learning what to do to restart it.  Needing to restart it often is not a problem at all, but it is the times when we are not able to restart it that turns into a big problem.

Despite the heat and humidity for which the valley is infamous we at the HATS Mission are doing okay.  The  employees and children are doing better.  We have had no new cases of Chikungunya for which we are extremely thankful.  Employees are all back at work albeit not completely recovered.  Cifila, Yolande, Eugene, Magalie, and Luckner still suffering pain in feet, legs, knees or hands, but can work now.   Djemima is still not completely well, but doing much better, and the other children are as right as rain as the saying goes.

I try to keep them occupied inside one of our buildings during the highest heat of the day and let them run and ride bikes early morning and after 4:00 p.m.  Then our play walks along the canal followed by games in the yard before bed, after it cools down.

I still have not received the passport for Ti Luc.  We wait and 'try' to do so patiently.  'Try' is the important word in that sentence for me.  I need the passport so I can send the application for a visitors visa so I can take him to Canada with me.  I do believe it will come eventually but often struggle with patience waiting.

Ti Luc continues to amaze us with his determination and drive.  He is one gutsy little boy who wants to do and accomplish everything the other children can.  Lately he has taken to trying to feed himself by using spoons and gagets people have given him.  He is determined that eventually he will feed himself.  We believe with him and encourage him.

Ti Luc trying to feed himself with spoons from Dickie & Kathleen. Not easy for him.

Putting in good effort

Jonathan has become a little helper with those doing the laundry for the children's homes.  He likes to help carry the full laundry baskets to the room with the washing machine.  He especially likes to carry the empty baskets back to the boy's and girl's homes.

Laundry baskets walking back to the kid's homes

I will never be able to stop saying thank you to one and all for your support of the work of the HATS-Haiti mission with children.  Thank you so very much.

I T    I S     A L L     A B O U T     T H E     C H I L D R E N

God bless you all.
Karen and gang

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Beate, your being here this month was different than all your other times.  It was not as comfortable for sure, but you were a trooper.  Thank you for bringing Vivianne with you.  You both accepted everything here - no electricity, no water, and all that goes with that, in the midst of temperatures in the forties with very high humidity.  I thank you both from the bottom of my heart for coming and helping, and accepting all of us and everything as you did. 

Thank you, too, for your willingness to be a part of the message at church Sunday morning on 'not judging by  outward appearance'.  Thank you for going to our service in torn and dirty shorts and t-shirts, with dirt on your faces, arms and legs, and Vivianne with nothing on her feet.  

My kids did not know quite what to think when they came and saw how you were dressed for church.  They were more than a little surprised for sure.  
My children ready for church but surprised at the way Beate and Vivianne were dressed for church

Off we go to church

The older children figured Mama was 'up to something' and perhaps I was going to use you in the message.  The younger ones thought you were not dressed properly for church, but accepted it because Mama Karen did.  They, however, told me many times before we made it to the service that I was beautiful.  Meaning my clothes looked a lot better to them than yours.  Looks like I have more teaching to do on this subject with the younger ones as they grow up. 

The message Sunday was clear and well received thanks to you two. You willingly left for church looking like you had just come from a garden in our area after planting rice.  You not only sat through the service everyone could see you thoroughly enjoyed the service.  
Two clean and beautifully attired ladies at church this morning

Sitting in church

Instead of looking for some clothes you thought were decent to put on for church, you had to come home after the service and look for something decent to change into.  Thank you for being a willing part of the message.
Church is finished. May we go home and put on decent clothes now

You are both missed by all of us.  We will be waiting for your return.


Karen and children

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our last day has crept up on us so fast.

It’s 8:45 p.m. and the day is winding down. We just said bye to all the sweet, beautiful, incredible happy and loving children. It was when Dieunel said “I love you,” to us that the flood gates opened and both Vivienne and I were crying our hearts out. However, I know that the year will fly by so fast and then I’ll be back again…or should I say “we’ll” be back again. From the moment that Vivienne arrived at HATS, she was already talking about coming back with this and that for Karen and the kids. I know that Vivienne was truly touched by the wonderful children, and she instantly became Karen's friend. I am so happy and blessed to have met that woman, and that she was willing to come with me and is wanting to come back with me next year.

Tonight, I’m not going to give you a run-down of the day. You’ll see what we did in the following pictures. I just want to tell everyone what many of you already know. HATS is Karen’s and Luckner’s life. It is their combined teamwork and passion to help the people of Haiti that makes HATS such an incredible place. I had a chance to see Luckner’s smiling face a few times during the hustle and bustle of the week, and that really lifted my heart. I just want to let him and the world know that I think he is an incredible, remarkable person. He does so, so much for Karen and the children; for the organization of HATS, for the school children, for his own family and for this community.  I don’t know how I would ever be able to describe my sincere gratitude for all you do Luckner. Thank you so very much, and I leave here always at peace knowing that you are a part of all of this…Thank you a thousand times over.

Good night all With love, Beate and Vivienne

p.s. It just dawned on me...We forgot to THANK Karen...soooooooo thannnnnnkkkkkkk you (we did in private).

Treat time after church

Our young men drumming group

Sitting in palace at Ti Riviere

Overlooking the Artibonite Valley

Water play on an extremely hot day

Play time with the children

Jonathan is going to miss Vivianne's arms

Germaine did not realize both ladies were soaking wet

These two are going to miss each other

Ti Luc's new friend and therapist

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hi from Beate and Vivienne,

It was soooooooooooooooooo hot today. Luckily we got up super early to take a walk along the canal. 6:30 a.m. is a beautiful time in Haiti. Some of the older kids joined us, and we enjoyed the quiet stroll and greeting locals.

Early morning walk

Our Judel knows how to tie his laces, but is not letting on. He wants attention from Beate.

View on our 6 30 a.m. walk

Thank you everyone for your encouraging comments, both on the blog and on Facebook. I want to  repeat a Haitian saying that Dickie quoted on yesterday’s blog comment: "A rich Haitian is one who knows where his next meal is coming from.” I really don’t know how to explain life here. We see people in tatters, with no shoes, and clearly no energy to move in this heat or from hunger. Yet many, many people who look so very poor have a cell phone (Karen explained that they may have come from a relative living abroad who got the phone for them so they can stay in touch, but most can't afford to use their phones much locally.)

I’ve also noticed that the daily routines of life may not be all that different from ours, except that the tools or conditions are different. I mean, we hail a taxi which is a 4 door vehicle…Haitians hail a motor cycle and cram 4 people on it, plus goods. Both get people from A to B. Same with the bus system…crazy different types of transportation, yet the job gets done. Then there’s the wee pharmacy we visited today. It sold some familiar products such as diapers, right guard deodorant, colgate toothpaste, hair gel, cosmetics. However, the building of the Haitian pharmacy is in shambles compared to let’s say a nice new air conditioned Shoppers Drug Mart. We have Tim Horton drive through and other such food places, and Haitians  cook at the side of the road and sell to passer-bys that way. Once you begin to get over the shock of seeing the “chaos, rubble and dirt,” it’s incredible to really  “see” that life in Haiti is actually “same, same, but different” (they say that in Thailand all the time).

It seems that the only way people can get ahead in this part of the country is to open up a wee business. This could be something like making a pot of food and selling it on the side of the road, or selling a few bags of chips and some candy. We have talked a bit about what our HATS kids will be doing when they reach an age to move on. Karen would like them to learn a trade or two and/or get their teaching qualifications. One thing is for sure, these kids will most certainly have a chance in life... And they do know where their next meal will come from thanks to everyone’s generous support.

We had to run some errands today and trying to get gas was one of them. We needed to fill up three 65 gallon drums to keep the generator going since our power is currently out again. Guess what? They wouldn’t do it! We checked at 2 gas stations. You see, the government made an announcement a few days ago that gas prices will be going up Monday. So the gas stations hoard their gas in order to sell it at the higher price to make a greater profit. This tactic is exactly what they did right after the earthquake. People were desperate for gas, and no one would sell it because they knew the prices would skyrocket.

Did I mention that today was HOT? Okay, even Vivienne said she was feeling hot today (this woman wears full pj pants to bed with a light jacket, whereas I am trying my best to be decent with the minimal clothes!!!).  I have never felt a heat such as here…oh wait, yes I have…in a sauna!!!!

We stayed indoors a lot today. Vivienne had a great time with Ti Luc and showed him a few new Apps on her Ipad, including Instagram. She taught him to take some really cool shots, and we are posting them here. Yes, he took these all by himself by maneuvering the Ipad and pressing the button all with his very own 2 feet.

Ti Luc Composition # 1

Ti Luc Composition # 2

We ended up whipping over to Vierettes to show Vivienne the market. Ah, the familiar smells of the market were greatly enhanced by the heat of the afternoon. I felt so sorry for the people there who had to sit or stand crammed into their tiny spots with plastic or cloth pinned up for shade which stifled the air even more. Some vendors have a decent 5 x 5 foot spot, others sell their wares from their baskets. I can’t imagine a life like this. Getting up at 3 in the morning to trudge my goods to a market, setting up my little patch, with my make-shift  tent made from tarp and sticks that I had to lug in. then staying there till well past 4 p.m. in the thick of the heat or having the torrential rains douse me and what I own. I admire the Haitians. They are remarkable people, and we do have a lot to learn from them too.

Children spend all day in the heat at the market with family members

Late afternoon. Market parking lot almost empty

We got back and tried to cool off with an unsuccessful nap. So we gave up and watched a movie with the kids. Now it’s time to get ready for bed, as tomorrow will be a very big day…an emotional one as we say good-bye to those precious kids tomorrow night :-(

Hugs Beate and Vivienne

Two Days in One Post - July 3 and 4

Here we are again, Beate and Vivienne
You have not heard from us for two days as HATS has been without internet.  

July 3rd.   Another full day at HATS.  

We had visitors at our “clinic” today as well. Poor Djemima, who had just gotten over the Chikungunya virus, was down again with what we feel is a typical flu. So she was laid up on our hospital bed and nurse Beate took care of her, while Ti Luc had Osteo treatment with Dr. Vivienne.
Djemima ill with fever, etc.  Ti Luc getting treatment from our Osteopath therapist
Although school is officially out for the summer, this hasn’t stopped Monsier JJ. So we snuck up on the “teacher” and his obedient students. Sooooooo cute.
School math.  Will JJ someday be a teacher perhaps
We had some chores to do today. First on the list was to spray bomb the nasty bees that start their nests just under the eaves of the houses. If we don’t get them early, they build these humungous nests and these bees are nasty and painful. So who do we hire? Why Beate of course, representing PCO of Haiti (pest control org). With Karen and Vivienne there to cheer me on, I blasted those things right off the roof, and JJ and Moise were there at the bottom waiting to stomp them DEAD! Go team PCO-Haiti.
Our own wasp killer
Next on the list was cleaning the walls of the entire school, since we don’t have the money to paint this year. Leica and Vivienne started at one end, and I, with my team of JJ and Moise, started at the other end. Hmmmm…. No surprise to those who know me… eventually my cleaning team became a mini-school session with an impromptu lesson on how the smallest creatures of our planet can be the most deadliest. “Really?” said the boys. “of course,” Miss Rufft explained “blah blah blah….”
Cleaning the school walls has started

Two hard working happy campers
The teacher in Beate comes out even they are supposed to be working
After all that hard work, the kids each got a special treat from Vivienne’s friends and clients. Can you see where Ti Luc’s surprise is???
We are going to get a ball each
Ti Luc found out why he had not gotten a ball
Next on the list: a quick trip to Costco (AKA Luckner’s store) to get supplies like laundry soap and special cookies for the children in the community who will be at Sunday’s church service. We had a chance to pop up and see Luckner’s radio station. It is an amazing endeavour. With make-shift equipment, he has a professional radio set-up and for the avid FIFA fans, this has been a wonderful treat as the games are played over the radio with play-by-play coverage done by Luckner and some helpers. What is so much more important, is that the radio station is a venue for sending positive messages and teachings to the community.  So, Vivienne and I have also added that to our list to bring next time…radio station equipment (microphones, wires…etc). Anyone have some to spare???????

Okay, we’re signing off for today. Lots more happened of course, but way too much to put in a blog. You will have to just come and experience the wonderful world of HATS for yourself sometime :)

Hugs, Beate and Vivienne

July 4

Big plans today…big excitement today…can you guess? Germany versus France (that’s for Beate)….and Brasil versus Colombia (that’s for the rest of this country)…but we’ll get to that later, as I like to write in chronological order.

Back to the school to finish cleaning the pre-school (the little children have very smudgy fingers and the walls were beautifully decorated with their fingerprints), and the office.
Sitting down on the job
We watched with fascination as Eugene and Merise made this fantastic meal of coconut, tomatoes, cornmeal and oil…oh, and the main spice: rat poison…hmmmmm yummy. Karen never told us about rats! Only tarantulas (haven’t seen one yet, but the boys found a big one the other day and security squashed it). 
Tonight's dinner
The men also chopped down some sugar cane for the kids to suck on. Vivienne, who has had it before, tried it again…me…nah…
Sugarcane from our garden
The kids were super excited to watch a video this afternoon since it was way too hot to be outside. By the way, have you noticed that we have not once complained about the heat this time around? Or the music that’s played nightly (roosters, horns, dogs???). Okay so today, Vivienne checked the temperature: 38 degrees inside the house and 46 degrees outside. As we write this blog (8:00 pm) it’s 30 degrees inside YIKES.

The craziest time today though was watching the Brasil vs Colombia game. Luckner has a t.v. set up in an open room (second floor of his business and outside Radio Creole). We guessed that about 200 Haitians and 3 Canadians were there to see the action. HOT…oh boy, it was like a sauna. But, wow, the energy was amazing. People cheering and chanting and banging. We had Ti Luc, JJ, Moise and Vladimy with us. We have never sweat so much by just standing still. Anyway, Brasil won and the crown spilled into the little street (more like a laneway) and no riots, just singing and yelling.
Two white faces among the mass of chocolate ones
Brasil, Brasil, Brasil
We got home in time to eat a quick delicious meal prepared by the wonderful Germaine, bathe Ti Luc and now whip up this blog so we can all have showers…man, we need them bad J It’s pouring rain at the moment which is such a blessing.

We want to run down to see the kids before bed too. Good Night one and all…

So, Vivienne and i shared too many scary stories. We heard creepy noises and asked "momma" Karen if we could bunk with her. Vivienne wanted a knife for protection, not reailzing a Haitian knife is a wee bit bigger!
No fear - For protection machette, knife and iPad
Vivienne and Beate