Hurricane Matthew's Impact
A December update for everyone of our activity, thank you for your support!
Initial Thoughts Post-Hurricane
Dear Friends and supporters of Haitian Connection,
In order to give you a better idea of the needs of Haitian Connection at this time I want to let you know as best as possible where we are with our projects, and if you are moved to contribute you can do so by using the paypal link on the right below or mail a check made out to Haitian Connection to 5300 S South Shore Drive #27, Chicago, IL 60615
To those of you who have already donated - many, many thanks. You will all receive your tax exempt letter in due time.
Here is a letter I wrote shortly after the hurricane to let you know my first impressions.
Haitian Connection Projects
Kay Pou Fanm Ayisyen (Houses for Haitian Women)
Many of the 95 houses we have built have lost their roof, some of them have walls that have fallen in. We need $5,000.00 minimum for repairs. The last 3 houses we built have held up and are serving as shelter for people in the community. This is urgent because unfortunately it continues to be the rainy season in Haiti and especially in the evening it is difficult for people to stay dry.
Breadfruit Flower Business and Plant Nursery
The workshop for the breadfruit flour business has been severely damaged, the roof flew off the facility. We will try to recover that and make sure our equipment is still functioning. Thanks to a tremendous support from Trees That Feed Foundation we will concentrate on getting seeds to get our plant nursery up and running and distributing the seeds to farmers in our network so they can begin planning. We are looking for crops that can be harvested in 3 to 5 months so people have something to eat and farmers have something to sell. We are happy to let you know that thanks to the support of Trees That Feed Foundation our 2 agronomists can keep their employees so that they all can support their families and some economic activity in the community. This is something that is extremely important. Any access you have to seeds will be more than welcome, as well as monetary contributions of any amount.
Haitian Connection Office, Meeting Center and Tutoring Center
Miraculously the Center survived the hurricane. The second floor roof flew off completely since it was made out of tin but the first floor is intact, except for some water damage. We decided to use the center as a transitional or interim school together with Partners in Parenting Haiti so that the children in our foster care program have a place to go during the day and not lose all of their learning. In addition this allows us to retain our tutors as employees so that they have an income and money goes back into the community. Both staff and kids are excited about this interim measure. We do need money for basic school supplies since all was lost during the hurricane. Some school buildings that our kids attend survived but some did not. Even those schools that are intact will not open until the State declares they can open. We need 500.00 Dollars a month for 21 kids, 4 staff members and supplies.
The women in our microcredit project lost all their inventory during the hurricane and many also experienced severe damage to their houses. We would like to provide them with seed money so they can get restart their businesses with some inventory and supplies. Some of these women also need to obtain basic supplies from food to things like soap to get back on their feet. A donation to this project will help the women help themselves. $500.00 to 1,000.00 would be a good amount for a minimum inventory for many of their businesses.
The school where we held our literacy classes has been destroyed. While we are not able to begin immediately we are looking towards January to start up again. Our literacy program gives women a lot of self esteem, exercises their intelligence and is useful in their daily lives. We need basic school supplies, books, as well as money to pay our teachers. Again as we retain our teachers with pay we also add to economic activity in the community. It takes 150.00 Dollars a month to pay our 3 literacy teachers.
Mental Health Program
This program will be very useful in a month or so. With our mental health workers that we have developed in the past, we will hold community workshops to provide the population with basic tools for stress reduction. Again to keep this program alive we need funds so we can pay our community mental health workers, creating economic activity that will help all of the community. An additional $1,000.00 would be most helpful.
Poor Relief Fund
In these times of extreme distress people often need just a little money to make it through the day. Our poor fund is set up for that. With a very little bit of money we can make a difference in someone's life. No donation is too small.
The University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse
Into our seventh year the university suffered immense losses. After a great start with some very dedicated people and being in the middle of our first semester hurricane Matthew ravaged the university. The campus itself was under 4 feet of water due to the swollen river behind the campus. The relatively new classrooms are not usable at this point since the roofs simply blew off. Our computer lab is a total loss. The yellow building is standing but mud even reached the 2nd floor. The greenhouse is flattened and of course any agricultural programs are decimated. The guest house that accommodated so many of our visiting professors no longer exists. Actually 2 of our professors, one Haitian and one American escaped thanks to the heroic rescue effort of one of our UNOGA students 10 minutes before the house collapsed.
Yet we are not giving up.
We continue to finish out our courses in temporary classrooms to encourage and support the students so they do not feel abandoned. We also want our 4th year students to finish with their thesis, to finish so they can hopefully find gainful employment and help their families and communities. We will need to re-think how we can be more innovative in instruction and coursework. All that will take some time. But nothing is impossible. We do need funds and are looking to find spaces for some of the students with other universities. Scholarships for our current students will be most helpful, because this is not the time that we can ask them to pay. They have little to no funds, and before the storm hit UNOGA had all of 2000.00 dollars in our account. So if we can get scholarships that will help the students as well as fill the operational budget of the university. A year scholarship is 500.00 Dollars for one student. We will also approach Google at a later time to see if we can refurbish our computer lab. At this point we have not ascertained the loss of laptops. The electrical infrastructure on campus is in total disarray. We had to house 3 professors in a hotel, and while we got an excellent rate for 55.00 Dollars per person, we will need to pay a debt of $825.00. The hotel owner is not pressuring us but will need the money at some time. We need to pay our ancillary staff who cooked and washed for the professors since the hotel was unable to provide food service. In addition the professors who are finishing courses will also need to be paid at some point. Since we are without a guest house now, we will eventually need to look for a different place to accommodate the professors. How much all this will cost is difficult to estimate but an initial $20,000.00 will be necessary just to get the minimum repairs of infrastructure done.
The Parish of St. Bernard de Clairvaux in Jean Belun
The vice president of Haitian Connection, Fr. Jean-Rony, has just taken over the parish of St. Bernard de Clairvaux as pastor. Even before the hurricane the parish in a remote area outside of Jeremie has had a lot of needs. Now the needs are even greater. The church is ruined but being cleaned up. The school for 409 kids is standing and currently is housing people from the community who lost their houses. Once it is ready to start up again, the situation will be similar to the one at the university. We need about a $100.00 scholarship for each student. If your church, parish, or organization could commit to 10 scholarships that would be really helpful because it is with these scholarships that the teachers are being paid. It is extremely important that employees are being retained and so they have money for their families and their communities. If you know of a parish who is interested in entering in a collaborative relationship with St.Bernard de Clairvaux, that would be wonderful. We fully understand that they cannot meet all the needs but just some small portion would be a tremendous relief.
Haitian Connection really needs a vehicle to get around and service all these different projects, speak with people, support and encourage them. A car has been ordered and half of it is paid. We need another $5,000.00 to complete the purchase. St. Bernard to Clairvaux needs a pick up truck. Right now Fr. Jean-Rony is using a motorcycle to get around on very treacherous roads. A pick-up truck would allow him to transport goods to the parish, pick up food from Food for the Poor, and be of service to his parishioners. A used 5 year old Ford pick up is 15,000.00 Dollars.
I am telling you all this so that you have a better idea of what the needs are. No donation is too small to be appreciated.
Renate Schneider, President Haitian Connection
Vice Rectrice UNOGA
95 houses built
27 community mental health workers trained
23 schools identify themselves as Child-to-Child Schools
12 women enrolled in a microcredit program
24 hour electricity and internet installation at the University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse
90 professors recruited to teach over the last two years
The Haitian Connection - Koneksyon Ayiti has been established as a compassionate response to the poverty and misery that so many Haitians face. We are committed to the creative energy and inherent worth of each individual. We foster self help and grassroots development by building shelter for the most vulnerable in society - women and children, by promoting mental health and by strengthening the educational infrastructure.
Haitian Connection is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation registered in Illinois and your gifts are tax deductible. To support our projects financially you can donate online:
Find out more about what we are working on and ways you can help to support it.
Fondation Nouvelle Grand'Anse
Board of Advisors
Kevin V, Meehan
Rev. Jamalyn Peigh Williamson
Rev. Brian G. Walker
Nou etabli Koneksyon Ayiti paske nou konnen byen pwoblèm yo nan Ayiti. Nou vle reponn jan nou kapab avèk anpil kompasyon. Nou kwè chak moun se moun. Nou vle bay kout men nan devlopman. N ap konstwi kay pou moun yo ki pi vilnerab - fanm ak timoun yo, n ap etabli yon pwogram sante mantal, e n ap soutni e devlope enfwastrikti edikasyon an.