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Day 3

March 1, 2011

Up in plenty of time for start of day prayer with workers.  Another lesson learned:  when you have a solar water heater, first thing in the morning is not the best time to shower unless you like your water cold.  Format of prayer meeting is different; everybody prays aloud whatever he or she chooses, everyone at once.

Chris and Leslie are preparing for a board meeting.  I helped Chris count the cash on hand.  I don’t think I have ever seen so much at one time.  Since business here is almost always done on a cash basis, it is necessary to keep enough money on hand to meet operational needs.  The problem is compounded by the fact that some businesses deal in Haitian currency and others in US.  So it is necessary to keep a supply of both on hand.  This situation makes missions an obvious robbery target and is another reason for our security guards.

Chris asked me to help train Annie, their young Rottweiler.  She is quite good with me, but she is after all still a puppy.  She likes to play and that often involves mouthing and jumping, and she hasn’t quite got the picture that these things are not acceptable.  She heels well and sits immediately on command.   “Down,” the command for her to lie down, is confusing for her as the natural response for most when she jumps up on then is to say, “Down!”

Chris had me look at the wheelbarrows they use to move the filters to see if I could come up with suggestions for modifications to make them more effective.  I immediately came up with some ideas, but it became evident that I did not completely understand under what conditions they are used, so I suggested we defer further input from me until I have seen the wheelbarrows in use.  We are going on a delivery run tomorrow, so I will get a clear picture.

I am very aware that I am seeing things that most of you have only seen on the news, and other things that you will never see, and I recognize the responsibility that places on me to inform my readers of some of the issues. One of the things that are becoming clear to me is that missionaries often feel unsupported, isolated and misunderstood.  I would ask that those of you who support Clean Water for Haiti (or any other overseas missionaries for that matter) make a real effort to let those who work in the field know that you are behind them, and that you believe in their ability to make sound decisions.  It has not taken me long to realize that criticisms are most often based on incomplete information.  Another issue is people trying to apply Canadian ideas, values, ways of doing things and solutions to problems to Haiti.  It simply does not work.

Before lunch Leslie and I went to visit Canaan Christian Community.  [To learn more about Canaan click on the link to their website in the blogroll along the right side of this blog.]  They are about to open their new clinic on April 4.  The new building will be a HUGE improvement over the existing clinic – many times the size, brighter, cleaner.   The current clinic is about 12’x20’ with two rooms separated by a sheet.   Despite this they have done an outstanding job of caring for the medical needs of the community.  The new building has a procedure room, a pharmacy, offices, treatment rooms, bathrooms, and much more. A clinic in the States was doing a total reno and donated all their existing equipment and furniture, so the new clinic will be equipped with many things they have never had.

One of the things I immediately noticed at Canaan is that they have a great deal of “stuff” – vehicles, building materials – but that in general the community is poorly maintained.  Leslie told me that they are very well funded but have been unable to attract people with building and maintenance skills to Haiti.  I see here an opportunity for someone with those skills to serve in a much needed way.

While at Canaan one of my personal concerns was addressed.  I have glaucoma, and it has been kept stable for years with good monitoring and eye care.  I had spoken to my ophthalmologist and he stressed the need for regular care and told me it was available in the Dominican Republic but he knew of no one in Haiti who he could recommend.  The first person I met at Canaan was visiting from New Vision Ministries just a quarter of a mile or so down the road.  [To find out more click on their link in the blogroll on the right.]  She had brought one of the babies they care for to be assessed for malnutrition and treated at the Manba Clinic.  She told me her husband is an ophthalmologist and that he would be happy to care for me without charge.  I trust God to provide and He always does.

Manba is Kreyol for peanut butter.  In Cap Haitian peanut butter is fortified with vitamins to produce the “treatment.”  Malnourished children are fed this manba exclusively for a couple of weeks.  The results are amazing.  Weight gain is rapid and sustainable.  This is another simple solution appropriate for this country.

The Rollings and I went for a long walk in the afternoon at Club Indigo.  This was formerly Club Med, but they pulled out in 1994 – too many guests contracting malaria and the inability to reliably get guest to their flights on time.  The property is enormous and once featured a driving range, tennis courts, sports club, extensive lighted walks, private beach and pool as well as the club.  It is now run on a reduced scale by Haitians.  We walked past ponds inhabited by egrets, fishponds, and a banana plantation.  Part of the walk is paved and imprinted with enormous leaves.  As is common here we were met by guards with shotguns.

I had written that on my first evening here we dined at Club Med.  I had my facts confused.  We in fact were at Kaliko, one of the other resorts.

It was my intention to include photos on my blog, but Haiti is a low tech country.  Bandwidth limitations make that impractical.  If CWH exceeds its daily allocation their connection is throttled for 24 hours making it almost unusable.  To have this happen severely interferes with operations.

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