Archive for 04-2012Good News to share
Posted by Kathi on Thursday, April 26, 2012 | 0
The shipping container is officially open and ready for unloading. As you know (assuming you have been following the saga of our container) we had hoped for an inspection by customs on Monday of this week. Unfortunately the container curse continued and most of PAP was barricaded on Monday due to rioting. So the container continued to sit…. but as of today (Thursday) the inspector has given us the go ahead to start unloading. Halleluiah! Prayers don’t always get answered in our timing, but prayers were answered.
So, one major hurdle is now accomplished. We are still waiting on our van, but I personally inspected it a few days ago and it is almost ready. Just waiting for a detailed test drive and quality check. But the roads have been so bad, due to some torrential rains, the mechanic hasn’t been able to take it out and really test it. So hopefully, by the end of the week we will be in good shape and be able to say that after 2 months we have both the van and container problems resolved.
But speaking of rain – have I mentioned the new appreciation I have for MUD. Since I didn’t have visitors or appointments on Monday and Tuesday – I was able to join Rome and her crew at the construction site. I chose to work alongside the Haitian laborers who were digging the clay/mud/yuck out of the first floor so we can begin to pour the cement floor. It was back breaking work and humbling to see how strong the Haitian people are. Lifting a wheelbarrow of that stuff was the equivalent of a 200 pound bench press.
Seeing the progress at the community center is a testimony to the brilliance of Rome Ventura and God’s grace. She is one amazing woman, and I am grateful for her partnership. The building is remarkable and it is a great joy to work alongside her, The Lake Union volunteers, the Haitian laborers and the boys from the Kenscoff orphanage. The boys work every day after school, just to earn an afterschool snack and soda. We had a great team last week and a lot was accomplished as evidenced from these photos. Yesterday was the airport day (killer long days for me) where I drop off and pick up all the arriving volunteers and run errands in town. I left the house at 5:45 am and returned at 7:30 pm. Always glad when Wednesdays are over.
Keep us in your thoughts, prayers and conversations. We would love to get more people involved in our project. Our sustainable community program in Kenscoff is well under way. We are anxious to live out our mission of providing hope to children in Haiti through through orphan care, education, faith, community and women’s programs.
You couldn’t make this stuff up…...
Posted by Kathi on Friday, April 20, 2012 | 0
I thought my 2 week Hiatus from Haiti would give me a new perspective and that by some miracle all the obstacles would be gone (I certainly had lots of prayer warriors working on that). Anyway, the container obstacle did go away – well almost. I am happy to report that during my last few days at home, we got the news that the final signature from customs had been obtained! We were ready to roll – well almost. Before my jubilation could even sink in (thank goodness I hadn’t popped the Champaign) I was informed that we couldn’t actually take the container, we had to meet with a department called DESCA (a new obstacle).
DESCA is the equivalent of the Port Authority here in the states. They are the government organization that controls/manages/bullies the port. And since containers arrive in port, and in our case, then sit in port for 109 days, we owed them some storage fees. When the broker and Pastor Maxime went to meet with DESCA they were asked to pay $2,800 in storage fees. After spending over $3,500 to ship the container and another $3,000 in taxes, broker fees, payoffs, etc., I was not too excited about this latest ransom. So I stalled and prayed and made lots more phone calls (another obstacle $$$$).
After 3 days of intense haggling – we got DESCA to reduce their fee by 30% - we had hoped for a 50% reduction, but they knew we were desperate – we didn’t want to keep drawing out the negotiation and incurring more daily fees – so we settled. The next step was to arrange for transport of the container. Well, for those of you who have been to Kenscoff, you know it’s a bit of a drive and it’s not like you are on a major highway. So that too presented a problem – not many interested truckers and the ones that could take the container were very expensive.
So after negotiating the transport fee (still much more than we had budgeted) we were “ready to roll”. One slight problem, local authorities don’t want big trucks on the road to Kenscoff until after 7:00 p.m. So Pastor had to hang out at the customs office all day while they waited for night fall to start the trek to Kenscoff. And here is the part that even the most creative bloggers couldn’t make up…. the truck made it all the way up, but right as it got in front of the police station in Kenscoff it HIT something! (Probably, because it was midnight and pitch black). That something was a low hanging, high tension power line!!!!!! Serious, this is the story of “container gone bad”. Drama ensued – police rushed out, arrested the driver, neighbors poured into the street saying their electronics were destroyed, Pastor was nearly electrocuted driving behind the truck…. It was a nightmare. By 3:00 am order was restored, power line was tacked up and our container is now parked outside the site. (obstacle, still waiting to hear how many Kenscoff residents will be waiting for me with invoices for their ruined electronic equipment).
So our container is now parked on the road, waiting for a customs agent to inspect it. We have our inspection scheduled for Monday and the good news is that once that is done, we should be able to start unloading and complete the orphanage! Well, unless there are some more surprises/obstacles on the horizon. But all in all, it’s progress. And it is good to be back in Haiti, because I never have this much excitement in the states
Adoptive Families in Haiti
Posted by Kathi on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | 2
Four adoptive families were on C4C's adoptive parent trip this week. Hailing from Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, and Minnesota, the parents visited with their adoptive children living in the Chances for Children crèche in Haiti.
We also had the opportunity to stay at Le Bon Sejour, Chances for Children's new and amazing guest house in Fernathe. Le Bon Sejour allowed families and children space to explore, privacy to be together as a family, while the kids still had the support of their friends and the parents the support of their fellow adoptive parents. The babies enjoyed playing with toys and books that their parents had brought as well as spending tummy time on a blanket with each other. The bigger boys loved running laps around the house, playing catch and kicking a soccer ball around, blowing bubbles, and climbing structures they hadn't seen before. They also really enjoyed eating off their parents' plates.
The highlight was seeing the children spend time with their new families. Getting to be a part of their bedtime routine, waking up to their child smiling at them, and being able to meet their children's needs for a prolonged period of time made the visit memorable. On Thursday, we visited the new site where the Children's Home will be and the creche kids will be moving. The children enjoyed seeing the construction site and seeing where they will be living with their friends soon. A few of the parents had seen the space several months ago and were able to tell the group about the progress that has been made. Construction on the space has been slowed down by the fact that our container is still stuck in customs in Haiti. We are hopeful that it will be released in the very near future, but the trip also reminded us about how in Haiti sometimes all you CAN do is wait. This is a difficult thing to accept for those of us who are used to taking control of things and making them happen (i.e. everyone on the trip).
The most sobering experience for all of us, was visiting the orphanage in Kenscoff, which was compounded by the fact that for two of the boys, it meant visiting a space they had once lived under far worse conditions.. We got a tour of the orphanage and the spaces that were built after the earthquake to replace the tents the children had been living in. There is no electricity at the orphanage, so the tour was by tiny flashlight, which made it even more difficult to truly process the living situation they are in every day. In contrast, the new space will be such a blessing for these children and staff, with electricity, running water, and space to play.
Because we were leaving very early the next morning, that night before bed we sat down with the children and explained what would be happening the next day. Kelitta translated for the parents. There was not a dry eye in the room as the children began to absorb that the visit (which they had been prepared for, of course) was coming to an end and they would not be with their parents—whom they've grown to love so much—for a long time.
Written by Vivian Aguilera - Adoptions Director - Chances for Children
Feeling out of place
Posted by Kathi on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 | 0
As we landed in Phoenix a few days ago, my daughter, Esperancia, made an interesting observation, “Mom, I feel out of place now that we are home”. I have felt that exact same way many times after returning home from Haiti, but never could articulate it quite as effortlessly as she did. She’s right – it is not an easy thing to shuttle between Haiti and Scottsdale, AZ. It is like we are caught between two worlds, each with their own beauty and problems. One isn’t better, one isn’t preferred - it is just hard to come to terms with the chasm that exists between the two worlds. Life just seems so much easier here and it is hard to reconcile the extravagances, but it also is a reminder of why God called us to this work.
As I sat in church on Easter, the passage “to live life abundantly” was one of the main themes. And that is the awakening (thank you Highlands Church) for me. That is my call – to live life abundantly by reaching out to children and families who find themselves stuck in a world that merely offers existence. To help children who are shackled to a life of survivial, to find a way to bring them joy, laughter, love and maybe even a family to love them forever. What a great way to live an abundant life.
So while Espie and I will go through our own private “re-entry” phase, we won’t let it slow us down. It will be a challenge for her to walk back into school on Monday just as it will be a challenge for me to enter my gym to hear friends discuss their latest shopping trip. But I will smile and remember that I am the lucky one to have stumbled upon this path. A path that will forever keep me grounded and humble.
I already miss my Haitian team: Rome, Pastor Maxime, the staff at the crèche, the staff at the Guesthouse and most of all – The Kids! Even though I have 3 of my own, there is something about the kids in Kenscoff that have pierced my heart. Maybe it’s the way they smile at me, or the way they call my name “Kati” or just the endearing way they hold my hand and hug me whenever they can – but they have my heart. Tonight after dinner, I played 4 square with my kids until dark and it was so much fun, but again I was caught between my worlds – loving every minute of my time with my children, but knowing my other children were doing the exact same thing they have done every evening at dusk – hanging out in a dark plywood hut, alone, with no one to love or laugh with them. And it’s that kind of thing that makes it hard to exist living in both worlds, because just when you start to let yourself enjoy - the memory of those faces crashes down and joy feels a bit fleeting.
I am so grateful for my family, my husband, my kids and the GIANT sacrifices they are making to support me in my work. I could not be doing this alone. I am also grateful for friends and acquaintances that help us financially. We are hoping to complete the Children’s Home in the next 30 days and are making 1 last push to raise the much needed funds to get the house done and the children moved. So again, I must humbly ask for your financial help to achieve this goal. I am grateful for any support that you are able to provide to Chances for Children.
Thank you for your love, support, donations and your prayers.
Rome's Retaining Wall - genius!!!! Two Story Community Center under construction!
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