After a great nights sleep, (in an air conditioned bunk house!) we were up early and on the road by 8am to visit some local orphanages. Dr. Scott Nelson and the orthopedic team will not arrive until this evening so Andrew, Leah, Jeff, Jonathan, Roosevelt and I were off to play with some kids. Earlier this year Summer and I started the Margaret Friar Haiti Children's Fund to support the basic needs of these orphans. We are trying to feed four orphanages and over 130 kids, thanks to donations from many of you we have raised over $7,000 and have sent down about $1,000-$1,500 since early this year to buy bulk food and other basic needs like beds and mattresses. We visited three of the four orphanages today and distributed our "Gerke Nutrition Packs", clothes and shoes donated all the way from Germany (Thanks Becky and Markus) and Toothbrushes donated by Michaelynn Paul.
Our first visit was to Frantz's orphanage. He has 54 children living in a space about 1,500 sq feet. There are four wooden bunkhouses with bunk beds. The place was a little unkempt, dirty and smelly, which was sad to see. In visits past this orphanage has always been clean but today the conditions looked worse than our other visits. The kids were very happy to see us, taking pictures with the cameras and showing each other. We gave them all nutriton packs and they spent about 30 minutes enjoying them. Most kids only each rice, beans and cornmeal here so these nutriton packs (filled with walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit and jelly beans) are sometimes their only source of the vitamins and minerals they need for healthy bone growth and development. We also gave out some clothes and shoes to the kids.
Our next visit was to Mr. Wilson's orphanage. There about about 25 kids here ranging from age 3 to 16. They took us to their rooftop play area and we had a great time playing with all the children. Mr. Wilson runs a good orphanage, the kids are all well cared for and clean. They were just getting back from church and they all attend school. Mr. Wilson is low on food this week and his kids have only been fed twice a day until more food arrives. We plan to fix that problem this week. More toothbrushes, clothes and shoes were handed out. They have plans to enclose the top floor with a roof however Jonathan and I tried to talk them out of it. The roof is the only space the kids have to run and play under the sun, enjoy the fresh air and have the opportunity to plant veggies in pots. We'll see if we can talk him out of it later this week and use the money to build some planters on the roof to grow corn and tomatoes. Thanks to Bill and Sue Shawler (who went to Haiti with me in January) the kids now all have mattresses. The 12 mattresses we bought then are all being used!
Our final stop was Dorvil's orphanage. I'd had not been here so it was great to meet him and the kids there. Dorvil has 17 kids from age 4 to 16. They were all at church when we arrived so were toured the area while waiting. They have one wooden building for girls and a tent for boys. The girls all have beds with mattresses. They sleep 2 or 3 girls per bed. However it is a nice space and adequate for them. The boys share a large tent which was close to 120 degrees inside. Outside it is likely pushing 90 degrees and I the heat of the tent took my breath away upon entering. There is little ventilation here and only an uneven dirt floor. There are enough bunk beds they each bed only has to hold 2 boys. The only problem is that six of the bunks don't have mattresses. Imagine a grid of metal rods spaced about 6 inches apart then 1 (yes that's only 1) layer of tarp to cover them. That is what these boys sleep on. Check out the attached image. Mattresses are $30 each so we are going to try to buy 6 of them for the boys. Jonathan spent several minutes trying to talk Dorvil into planting some veggies around the buildings. Of all the orphanages this one has the most space to grow veggies, currently they have some shrubs and flowers and they are hesitant to dig them up as they don't own the land. They have enough room to grow some corn, tomatoes and peppers, maybe enough room to have excess to sell at the market.
Many Haitians are so used to getting support and handouts that they often don't utilize the full potential of their space to help themselves. We are trying to assist them but also push them to find was to provide for themselves. Dorvil also has two broken sewing machines we are trying to get fixed so he can make some money mending clothes, again we'll have to keep trying because they were not too keen on doing the work. But the more they can do for themselves, the more independent they can become, the better they will be able to provide for the kids.
Well, Scott should be here soon, looks like we already have a big case planned for tomorrow. It's a spinal surgery and sounds pretty complex. More to come, thanks for the updates from home.
And here is the link to the Haiti Children's Fund
|A common sight in Haiti-- colorful tap-taps, Haitian cabs/buses|
|We started at Frantz's orphanage, he has 54 kids living in a space about 1500 sq feet. Here are some of the guys playing outside their bedroom|
|Natasha (far left) and her girls.|
— with Summer Dietrich Gerke at Haiti Port-au-price.
|Tim with one of the girls|
Here are some of the girl bunks, 2 or 3 girls per bed.
|Leah Herr handing out nutrition packs to the kids. Each pack is full of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, rasins, crasins, dried bananas, and jelly beans|
|Enjoying nutrition packs.|
Rebecca Brandau and her students donated these shoes and Leah Herr is helping this 3 year old try them on. They were a good fit!
Thanks to Michaelynn Paul for sending these toothbrushes down.
This is the kitchen Mr. Wilson uses to cook for 25 kids. And you thought your kitchen was a tight squeeze
Next it was off to Dorvil's orphanage.
He has a few wooden houses and a large tent
A few beds at Dorvil's don't have mattresses so they sleep on just the metal frame.
Three girls share this bed
Almost all the boys at Dorvil's orphanage don't have mattresses,
instead they have one (yes that is just one) layer of green tarp
as padding over the metal rods on the frame.
Their tent was about 120 degrees inside too.
We plan to buy them 6 mattresses for their bunk beds,
a mattress in Haiti is only $30
|Here is the play/craft/dinning area|
|Here is his "kitchen", I'd say it lacks of few modern amenities.|
— at Haiti Port-au-price.
|At least the have a toilet, it feeds into a sewer line (aka a stream under the toilet). They don't have toilet paper so they are using pages from this old book, that will be fixed this week|
we left all of Dorvil's kids sang us three songs, one of thanks and two
worship songs. He has 17 kids and he said he can feed them three meals a
day, plus send them to school and pay a local mom to help raise them
for only $500 a month. Total. That is only $29 per child per month or
less than a dollar a day. If you want to help better these kids' lives
visit our Haiti Children's Fund website and make a donation today:|