Another excellent and productive trip to Haiti. Despite the early start and the long day of travelling, despite long working days and short nights, despite the heat and skipping meals, despite witnessing the poverty and need, I always come back from Haiti energized and optimistic. It's the people. Facing far greater challenges than I, they not only persevere but they do so with admirable dignity, determination and humour.
As with my other trips, these last 5 days were extremely productive. We got a great deal of work done at our group meeting Saturday morning with all the students. Plenty of reasons and excuses for not being there could have been invoked but none were. All but one or two of our students were present. Some came after attending the funeral of Myrtho Bonhomme, a great friend to KCH and the founder and president of l'Académie Nationale Diplomatique et Consulaire (attended by 3 KCH students). Another woke at 5:30 in the morning to ensure she was on time for our 10:00 meeting. The full-day meeting passed quickly with a great deal being accomplished including letters having been written by every student to their sponsors, updates and clarifications about their circumstances being logged, and identification of 5 students for the micro-business mentorship program in partnership with Micro Mentor.
On Sunday and Monday, we visited many students at home. Most often single room dwellings without running water and using charcoal and an iron grill for cooking, these homes and their meagre contents further confirmed what we already felt – not only do these students need our help but they are succeeding at school against great odds. Seeing where the students had come from Saturday morning, having somehow arrive at our meeting largely on time, well dressed and prepared despite their housing circumstances, confirmed too that our students are doing their very best in exceptionally difficult circumstances.
KCH is running well. Administrative costs in Haiti are exceptionally low at about 6% of funds spent in Haiti. This is owed in large part to the decision to do away with an office and living space for the Coordinator and visiting volunteers. It does however make the Coordinator, Roland's, job a little more difficult. Using public transportation to meet students and school directors, he works from a laptop and cell phone from his house and, once a week, from rented office space provided by Haiti Communitere. I promise you, your financial contributions are very well tracked and very well used.
None of the successes KCH and our students have realized over the past school year would have been possible if it weren't for the efforts of our Coordinator, our volunteers in Haiti, Washington and Ottawa, or our donors. My sincere and humble thanks to all of you. The financial future of donors in Europe and North America is perhaps more uncertain than at any time during the past three decades. We are keenly aware of this at KCH so we thank you for your ongoing generosity.
Much, however, remains to be done and so I would like to ask each donor this: Who among your friends, family and colleagues might be interested to learn more about KCH? We're grateful for your help and we could really use theirs. We need your help growing our volunteer base and our donor base. Please spread the word! Please mention www.kidsconnectionhaiti.org whenever you can and please help us to find new volunteers and especially new donors.