Timeline / Journal has been moved to main home page / what’s new page on Dec 18th, 2011.
Following is a synopsis of Helping Hands Noramise activity to date:
Last month we reported that Ryan Delaney, co-director of Carbon Roots International would be visiting our Limbé Center. Ryan recently received his Master of Science degree from the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, where he researched technology adoption as a development tool at the community level in Haiti. He and one of his team member stayed at the center for several days, spending time introducing the staff to the process of making bio-char. This rich soil amendment will add to the productivity of our Permaculture garden and will provide a demonstration site for area farmers. Ryan may return to Limbé as early as December bringing with him the bio-char unit developed by him and his team.
We are happy to report that the wonderful jams made by Gwen Stamm on behalf of HHN were all sold online. Sadly, nothing left for our local holiday fairs, but you clearly know a good thing when you read about it. Thanks for your enthusiastic response. Gwen is contributing all proceeds to us. We are filled with gratitude, but unfortunately not with jam, as we did not get our orders in soon enough. If she is kind enough to do this next year we’ll know better!
We are about to begin an incubator preserving project (*see quote below) at the Limbé center. This project is consistent with Rosedanie’s original vision of preserving food and providing employment. The two caretakers at the center will start the business, using abundant fruit available that often rots on the ground while people go hungry. This project meshes with our permaculture garden efforts, our interest in micro-lending to assist start-up businesses, our work to encourage innovation, and our desire to begin making the center self-supporting.
Board news: It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Taylor Diepenbrock to our board at our October 20th meeting. Taylor is an Orcas islander currently studying at William & Mary College in Virginia. Taylor’s interest in Haiti predates the founding of Helping Hands Noramise. As a senior at Orcas Island High School he chose to focus on Haiti for his senior project. He traveled with the first Orcas group to Limbé in February 2010 and returned with a group of Orcas students in July 2010. Please refer to “Notes from volunteers and observers” on our website (www.noramise.org) for a firsthand account of his motivation and travels. We believe that young people like Taylor have so much to contribute, both at home and abroad, and we greatly appreciate his stepping up to further his commitment to service.
*”Haiti has not yet achieved the status of an underdeveloped nation. It is just un-developed. No infrastructure and no structure, either. You see plenty of limes in the market, but couldn’t get enough together to manufacture lime jelly. Can you imagine this country which grows oranges and we import marmalade.” Jean Weiner from “Haiti Best Nightmare on Earth” by Herbert Gold.
This was a month of connections, both new and renewed. With Rosedanie in the U.S., teleconferencing has enabled her to stay current with the activities of the Haiti Committee. There have been some shifting alliances, with Tambour Creole Artist’s Collective moving out from under our umbrella. We wish them the very best as their group grows and changes. We are happy to have had the benefit of their creativity at the HHN Center.
Meanwhile, a connection with one of Bio-char’s (www.carbon-roots.org) founders, Ryan Delaney has been renewed. He will be at the HHN Limbe’ Center next month and will assess the suitability of adding a bio-char system to our growing resource recovery efforts in the garden area.
Dr. Richemond Jean Baptiste has been in touch with us regarding progress on our plan to begin a public health education initiative in the Limbé area. Dr. Tiffany Keenan of Haiti Village Health, headquartered in Bas Limbé will be joining with us on this project.
We mentioned in an earlier post that local supporter Gwen Stamm was making and canning preserves to be sold in support of HHN at an Artisan’s Faire in December. Rosedanie’s original vision for HHN was to build a food processing facility which would employ local people, preserve fruit that often goes to waste, provide nourishment to an under-nourished population, and help sustain programs in health, nutrition, and literacy at the center. We have held onto this vision and continue to move closer to it in a variety of ways including establishing permaculture gardens, exploring various low tech ways of drying fruit, and looking to other organizations in Haiti for successful food processing models. We are learning patience as we take one step at a time.
Board News: It was with great reluctance and regret that on September 11th we accepted the resignation of board member Nathan Yoffa. Nathan brought to us clear thinking, straight forward problem solving, a remarkable level of organization and efficiency, and a very big heart. We thank him for a year of committed, active service and wish him the very best. He is missed.
Michael and Anne Karp joined us for this gathering at the Orcas Library. Michael is the founder and CEO of A W.I.S.H. (www.awish.net) our fiscal sponsor. Both he and Anne are dedicated to positive change in our world and provide for us, and others, a wealth of information and support. They hosted us at a small al fresco dinner following the gathering which gave us a chance to talk further with Dr. Richemond exchanging ideas and possibilities for funding and training.
Through a series of happy coincidences, Rosedanie met Dudney Silla, a young Haitian-born man studying for his master’s degree at the University of Washington who was spending the summer working on the leadership project at YMCA Camp Orkila. Dudney has expressed an interest in joining with us for some leadership training classes in Limbé. We are eager to connect with other young Haitians willing to share their knowledge with their countrymen. You can reach us through the “contact” button on our home page.
By the end of the first week of August, the three hardy troopers ,who had traveled to Limbé in July to teach English, were back on home turf with stories to tell. Please visit the blog and photographs on the home page for some of their impressions. The consensus was the the ESL classes, for both children and adults, were well attended and that progress was made. They noted that our resident Haiti Committee was straining to collaborate and stalled in moving forward on projects. Rosedanie has been focused on helping them gain collaborative skills, but this is difficult to accomplish at a distance and will have to wait until she or another HHN representative is in Limbé. We have learned that, in Haiti, the path to progress begins at the ground level and must be built stone-by-stone and brick-by-brick. We’re doing it.
One of our Orcas supporters, Gwen Stamm, spent hours over a hot stove this month making delicious jams from local fruits and honey which she’ll sell on behalf of HHN at the Orcas Artisan’s Faire the first week of December. This is the second year of her “project preserve”, so we are doubly grateful. Thank you, Gwen.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Plan, packed, and away. The three volunteer ESL teachers did just that in July when they headed for Limbé where they taught English at the HHN Center to both children and adults. (see blog) This was Nicole’s third trip to Limbé with HHN where she worked on her film making in between times. For Dave and Jen it was a first and an experience they have each said was worthwhile. Our volunteers bring energy, new ideas, and a different perspective to the people of Limbe’, and it is an enriching experience for all.
The demonstration Permaculture garden at the center, tended by Lunise and Merlin, is a source of pride and inspiration for all who see it. Merlin has plans to develop a larger plot to which he has access. Sending the two to the Permaculture course in Cap Haitien was a good investment which is literally bearing fruit.
Orcas Island supporters, and one young man from Olympia, provided us with three laptop computers which the travelers took to Limbé. These will be used at the center for both education and communication. Another step forward.
In August we’ll host Limbé Public Health Doctor Richemond Jean-Baptiste. More about that then.
June was a month of mixed success for Noramise. Our report to the Orcas Island Community, June 2nd, drew a small group of loyal supporters and enabled some good exchanges. However, a printing mix-up yielded no flyers to advertise the event which, when coupled with other community activities, meant many of our friends did not join us. Also, the promise of a video presentation fell through leaving Rosedanie to attempt putting something together in the wee hours. Finally, there was a reluctance on the part of the board to ask the community for contributions, knowing that so many are struggling. Lessons learned, and we carry on.
The primary focus for the rest of the month was on organizing volunteers for the July 18th trip to Limbe’. Three Northwest residents, Jen Nichol, Dave Parish, and Nicole Vulcan, will join with in-country volunteer, Olivia Jeanne, in conducting an intensive three-week English as a Second Language (ESL) workshop for the Noramise Haiti Committee and other members of our Limbe’ family. Our efforts at obtaining at least three laptop computers for the workshop, and beyond, are ongoing. Both the ability to speak English and the access to computers will help to end the isolation of so many Haitians.
Rosedanie has been traveling to Seattle and Portland helping organize fund-raising events in support of the volunteers’ trip and also to sell the art of Tambour Creole. One of the goals of these travels has been to connect with other Haitians living in the area and to engage them in our mission. Each step is a building block toward an ever widening circle of community support.
We were so happy to welcome a visit to Limbe’ by Bill and Dorie Mebane. Bill is the superintendent of Aquaculture Engineering at the Woods Hole Institute in Massachusetts and has been providing us with assistance in moving forward on the project we are supporting in conjunction with the Masabiel Farmers’ Association. This visit resulted in specifics as to equipment and supplies needed. The HHN Center will be the location for incubator ponds for the Tilapia fry. We’ll soon be posting on the site a report from Bill including the list of what we need to take the next steps on this project. Go to: www.tedxwoodshole.org for more information.
A second welcome visitor was Patrick Cummings of World Water Partners (www.worldwaterpartners.org) who was in Limbe’ to determine suitability of water purifications units he and his organization had committed to donating to two local clinics. Sadly, he concluded that there is neither adequate power nor sufficient water pressure to accommodate these high capacity units so has instead recommended our pursuing the wider use of ceramic filters.
We are so grateful to these visitors for their time and their commitment to the people of Haiti.
The sound of extreme poverty is an overwhelming silence, for the world’s very poor are unable to speak for themselves. They are unaware that their situation is even the subject of ongoing discussion. Their lives are so different from ours that a behavioral scientist might be tempted to ask whether we are all members of the same species. Our diets, reproductive rates and methods of transportation are entirely diverse. For the absolute poor, education is an unfamiliar abstraction. Their thoughts circle around survival, not of the human species in the future, but of the individual in the next hour. Somehow they have become passive objects of fate, awaiting the next blow: a killer cyclone, a flood, drought, or the advance of this or that army. Those who do endure will flow into cities, filling the spaces between buildings, trying somehow to stay out of harm’s way. Watching, waiting, in silence. Jim Cousteau – Calypso Log 1992
May was a month of catch up for the U.S. contingent of HHN as we continue to stand side-by-side with the people of Haiti. Rosedanie returned following six months spent in Haiti and, later, on St. Croix where she took an intensive course in Permaculture in a climate closely related to that of Limbe’. While there she made a number of helpful contacts with professionals working in various aspects of agriculture, including aquaculture.
These contacts and the cooperation they engender help to reinforce our goal of cooperation among the many ngo’s working in Haiti. This, too, is a side-by-side effort and one that will make the best possible use of the resources we all have available to us. One example of this has been a contact Rosedanie made with World Water Partners, a group within Engineers Without Borders. They are donating two high capacity water filtration systems, including shipping and supplies for one year. One of these will go to a Haitian owned and operated clinic in Limbe’ where HHN has a connection forged prior to the cholera outbreak and reinforced during joint efforts to stop the spread of the disease.
We had to acknowledge that the cholera outbreak had slowed progress on projects which have been underway since our beginnings in January 2010. However, work at the HHN Center continued. As the all important base of our operations in Haiti, the center became the hub for volunteers working on cholera education outreach and a place to teach such things as the making of chlorine and of rehydration solutions. It hosted after school snacks liberally sprinkled with nutrition education (malnutrition was a key factor in the Haitians’ susceptibility to cholera) and the opportunity to speak the English they are learning in school. It continued to provide a venue for the work of the Tambour Creole Collective whose art classes, poetry readings, and performances were a welcome respite from the suffering just outside the door. It hosted a Haitian Independence celebration January 1st which helped to lift spirits and to inspire change.
The center is, of course, the home of the HHN Haiti Committee who are the local driving force behind all we are doing. In addition to staffing and overseeing operation of the center, they are currently working on a plan to establish a badly needed internet café on the premises. Although these are all volunteers, a significant portion of our resources in this first 17 months has gone toward the establishment and maintenance of the center which is a leased facility. There were repairs to be made, the perimeter to be secured, an alternative power supply to be arranged, drains to be cleared, clean water source to be supplied, a food garden to be established (The garden will soon be home to the fry ponds which will supply tilapia stock for the Masabiel Farmers Cooperative Aquaculture project. Professor Wm. Mebane of Woods Hole, MA recently visited the site and provided valuable information on the next steps to be taken on this project), and on, and on. Of course, without the center there is no HHN. It is well situated and very adequate for our needs. Our long range goal is to purchase the property.
Slowly, step-by-step and side-by-side we move forward. Please walk with us.
February through April 2011
These were quiet months for the Orcas team. Some of us took advantage of the time for personal travel while Rosedanie completed the Permaculture course in Fredriksted and began weaving her way back to this island. Enroute she connected with a number of people and organizations whose commitment to sustainability in Haiti mirrors ours.
Among those were Dori and Bill Mebane of Woods Hole, MA. Steve has been collaborating with Bill regarding the furthering of the Masabiel Farmers’ Cooperative aquaculture project. The Mebanes were enroute to Haiti where they met with members of the HHN Limbe’ Committee and toured the site of the ponds. Bill was able to provide some very helpful information and suggestions as to size and development of the ponds, which the cooperative will now put to use. In addition, the Mebanes carried with them a parcel of toys and games purchased with funds raised in Massachusetts by Rosedanie. She exchanges these with the ubiquitous plastic guns and weapons carried by children on the streets throughout Limbe’. Another small step toward changing minds.
While in New York, Rosedanie met with Scott Cullen of the Grace Foundation to request funding for the aquaculture project. Mr. Cullen will present our proposal at the next board meeting of the foundation. We are keeping our fingers crossed! The importance of this project cannot be overstated in that it will not only provide a badly needed source of protein but will also create jobs and be a model for other places in the community.
Seattle-based members of Engineers Without Borders have donated to HHN a high capacity water purification unit. This is a very generous gesture on their part and a very exciting development for residents of Limbe’. Currently it is proposed that the unit will be installed at a small hospital near the HHN Center. That is subject to negotiations in progress with the founder. In addition to the unit, Engineers Without Borders will pay for shipping and for supplies for the first year. Thanks to the generosity of Orcas Islanders, we have a small fund dedicated to water purification which will enable us to pay for ancillary costs.
Rosedanie has returned to Orcas, so the pace quickens! The first item on the calendar is our second annual report to the Orcas Island community on June 2nd at the Emmanuel Parish Hall in Eastsound. Rosedanie will report on her time in both Haiti and on St. Croix. We are hopeful that Lahini Pierre, an HHN supporter of Haitian birth and a writer who is soon to take up residence in Port au Prince, will join us for the evening. We’ll be raising funds for an ESL and COMPUTER SKILLS day camp to take place in Limbe’ in July for 3 weeks. Rosedanie has arranged for ESL teachers to travel with her to Haiti where they’ll conduct classes for children and young adults who are already studying English but who have little opportunity to speak it. There will be various fundraising events for this project throughout the Northwest. Please watch the calendar for an event near you!!
The journal entry for May will have more detail. But a final word for this one: We are both aware and concerned about recent revelations about Greg Mortenson, about “Pennies for Peace”, and about The Grameen Bank. These revelations are both disconcerting and cautionary. In each case you have a visionary who, it would appear, has paid insufficient attention to the great responsibility associated with accepting public funds. We wish to assure you that our vision is backed up with detailed bookkeeping which enables us to account for every penny received. To do less than this would be an insult to the mission.
Although the Helping Hands Noramise organization was formalized in July 2010, it began to coalesce around the vision of Rosedanie 6 months earlier, in January 2010. As we move forward into 2011, this month has been devoted to reconfirming that vision and to planning activities for 2011.
Rosedanie is in the midst of taking a Permaculture course in Fredriksted on the island of St. Croix. The information and skills gained from this course will be applied to both the permaculture gardens currently underway in Limbe’ and to the further development of the aquaculture project undertaken by the Masabiel Farmers Association.
We are struggling with both a calendar for 2011 and a corresponding budget in that there are so many unknowns inherent in working in Haiti. For example, Rosedanie’s weeks in Limbe’ at the end of 2010 were consumed by organizing volunteers for outreach in cholera prevention education when, in fact, the plan had been for her to work to move forward on various HHN projects. We had to stretch our budget in order to pay for emergency shipments in support of that outreach and learned that our budgeting plan will have to be flexible.
Please stay with us as we move and grow in fostering the HHN mission to empower the Haitian people in developing and sustaining intentional local industries.
The HHN work to prevent the spread of cholera continued in the region of Limbe’, with Rosedanie and volunteers becoming educated in how to make chlorine, how to assemble simple water filtration units, and how to get these supplies to the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time. Along the way they made a connection with Haiti Village Health and its founder, Dr. Tiffany Keenan who proved to be a valuable resource. On two Saturdays in December, Orcas Island resident, Irene Eckberg took it upon herself to raise funds for water filtration units. This very successful effort brought in $1243 which is going toward the purchase of the components of these systems. A heartfelt thank you to Irene and the generous people of Orcas Island.
At the same time, a program in nutrition education was begun at the HHN Center. Malnutrition is one of the factors making the Haitian people so susceptible to the disease. Finally, Rosedanie began oversight of a formerly unemployed and now budding teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) at The Bethesda School. We were able to send a few books for beginners as well as a manual for teachers. It was gratifying to initiate these projects amidst the work to contain cholera.
Please stay tuned for more details on specific projects and how you, too, can be involved.
Best laid plans. Rosedanie arrived in Haiti November 2nd just as the cholera epidemic was rapidly overtaking the people of Limbe’. All plans for work on projects were set aside, and she began to regroup in an effort to do all possible to prevent the further spread of disease. Following some very frustrating attempts at obtaining supplies and information, she simply elected to take it upon herself to organize an every-changing group of volunteers and begin door-to-door canvassing to educate residents in prevention of the disease. It would seem obvious that with major international ngos working there, Helping Hands Noramise (HHN) could obtain prevention supplies such as bleach, soap, and rehydration packets for distribution. That has not proven to be the case, and has afforded HHN the opportunity to experience first hand the difficulty of accessing aid. Cholera will be a fact of life in Haiti for the foreseeable future. Access to clean water and adequate sanitation, scarce in the country, are the key to survival. This is where our efforts are now focused.
Another group of fine artists, The Orcas Palettes, graciously invited us to give a presentation at their October 8th meeting in Jacqueline Kempfer’s Eastsound studio. As a result, they are collecting badly needed supplies for Tambour Creole and will soon begin a dialogue with the artists. Another boost of recognition.
On October 13th, Rosedanie and Robin traveled to Friday Harbor to give a presentation to the Soroptimists group. They treated us to a lovely lunch and lent us their ears as we talked about HHN and the projects underway. An outpouring of checks and cash marked our departure. We thank Liz Illg of Non-Profits Unlimited for arranging this opportunity and for the many ways in which she is lending us a “helping hand.”
Throughout the month, the Orcas Grandmothers have been working behind the scenes looking after Rosedanie (they even did her laundry), purchasing wind-up flashlights for distribution to the women in the camps in Port au Prince and providing food and rest for our director as she readies herself for a five month sojourn in Limbe’.
On September 12th, Rosedanie and Robin met with a group of Northwest Washington women who support the concept of micro-lending. As a result of that meeting we received our first grant for this program. We are very grateful for their generosity which will enable us to move forward with the program in Limbe’.
The Fine Arts Committee at The Orcas Center graciously allowed us some space in their gallery where, on September 29th, we hung the balance of the art of Tambour Creole Collective. It was on display throughout October, giving a big boost of recognition for these fine artists.
This was a month devoted primarily to organizational work with the board of trustees. We began long range planning, worked to solidify our base of volunteers, worked closely with our bookkeeper, Janna Gingras, to create systems for receiving/dispensing funds and meaningful financial reports, and generally focused on building a solid foundation for HHN.
A call for office equipment for the HHN Limbe’ Center resulted in the donation of a new multi-purpose printer by Orcas computer whiz, Tony Ghazel. Thank you, Tony!
On August 23rd we opened a show of Haitian art, primarily from the Tambour Creole Collective with whom we work, at Millie’s Antiques and Collectibles in Eastsound, WA (Orcas Island). Millie cleared out her space and very generously accommodated the show, adding a few fine Haitian paintings of her own. A group of wonderfully supportive local “grandmothers” worked with Rosedanie to mount and hang the various pieces. The show was well received by the community. It ended August 29th with a celebration in the adjacent Cottage Company garden, highlighted by food, music, and a benefit auction including works donated by Orcas artists.
Team Noramise, comprised of six Orcas Island High School students and two former graduates, together with Rosedanie and Steve Diepenbrock, began their trip to Haiti via Brooklyn, NY where Susan Daily of Chestnut Restaurant hosted a benefit. Ms. Daily donated 50 backpacks for the children of Limbe’, and her children and their classmates filled them with school supplies. These were entrusted to the Orcas students who would deliver them. On arrival in Limbe’ the team hosted the first 2-day art and sports camp for the youth of the town. A second visit was made to Bethesda School where, with the help of Mrs. Batat’s sons and several community members aged 8 to 30, they cleaned up the back yard and built beds for a vegetable garden which the school will maintain. Building and stocking a chicken coop is scheduled for the next Team Noramise trip. Team Noramise also worked with a Haitian school group to clean the grounds of the local museum.
Helping Hands Noramise now has a local Haitian committee which will oversee projects when the U.S. team is not present. Mrs. Grimard will act as Directrice, and Mr. Desronvil as Secretary of this committee. A house was found to use as a headquarters, and through the generous support of an Orcas Islander, it was leased for one year. This will be the place where the local committee will meet with project leaders. It will also house the U.S. team and provide a home for a burgeoning local artists’ cooperative, Tambour Arts. The house is three doors from the childhood home of Rosedanie.
The trash pile in the marketplace has been removed due to the influence of the Minister of Agriculture. On the final day of the trip Rosedanie, Mrs. Grimard, and Mr. Desronvil met with Mayor Celicourt Monpremier to discuss continued cleanup of the town. Team Noramise has offered to help by providing community outreach and education on the subject. We trust this is the beginning of a long and beneficial partnership with the local government.
On return to Orcas Island, Team Noramise made a presentation to the community at Emmanual Parish Hall on July 27th. The team members spoke about their experiences in Haiti and what they had gained from the trip. They presented a 30 minute slide show which received a standing ovation. A “Golden Shoestrings” auction capped the evening and helped to defray some expenses of the trip and to support the ongoing projects. It was concluded that the exchange between the youth of Orcas Island and the youth of Limbe’ was priceless.
Team Noramise returns to Limbe’ to survey gardens and continue work on projects begun. A rally on trash removal was held in the marketplace with town residents voicing their opinions and support for the project. Both the Chief of Police and the town Public Defender offered their support. Large drums will be placed to serve as trash receptacles, and fines will be levied for littering. One step forward. The team visited a nearby aquaculture project in order to see what models were locally available for the Camp Cop Farmers’ Association. A search was begun for a permanent home as headquarters for HHN in Limbe’.
The team continued its community outreach and fund-raising at various places in the U.S., including a presentation on April 14th to the Orcas Island community. Mimi Anderson and Steve Diepenbrock of Morningstar Farm on Orcas, together with Rosedanie, gave a presentation on the project on Whidbey Island which was hosted by the Sister Island Project whose work is focused on Santo Domingo. Sister Island has generously hosted the team on arrival in Santo Domingo enroute to Limbe’. Benefits for HHN were hosted in Bellingham by Julie Connell and in Seattle by Yoon’s Yoga Bliss. Although the gatherings were small, those attending seemed truly committed to helping the work in Haiti move forward.
Rosedanie and a group of 9 volunteers, which included permaculture farmers from 2 countries and a team of documentary filmmakers installed several gardens in Limbe’ and Camp Cop, Haiti. The group also participated in the cleanup of the town marketplace, which was encumbered with trash, and donated funds to the First Baptist Church to purchase a water pump for a new sanitary bathroom. They also visited with the Camp Cop Farmers’ Association and started preliminary talks regarding help from HHN for an aquaculture project. On returning, the Orcas Island members of the team gave a presentation on the trip to the Emmanuel Episcopal Church which has been very supportive of the project.