Anne's Haiti Education Fund
I am going to a very remote area of Haiti where electricity, internet and all the things we take for granted here are only very very slowly getting to the people who live there.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries of the world, and over 75 % of the people live on less than $1 dollar a day.
I am going to help out there for a year.
As they are slowly harnessing the sun for electricity it is a luxury they have intermittently and only now are those who have been working in this remote area (Jean Rabel) North West Haiti since 2002 able to install electricity in their schools.
My job when I get there will be to train the teachers in basic computer skills so that they can pass these skills on to the children in the schools. I will also train some women who are working in a workshop; this should help their income generation projects. I have been asked to raise some money as part of my volunteer year, so I hope you can help me out here. I will leave this offer up for the year so you can donate at any time and also it will allow me to post here from time to time to give you details of what I am actually doing and how your funds are helping the project and the people who are living in Jean Rabel, Haiti.
As some of you know I have been struggling for a while myself here and I could stay at home and keep complaining that I cannot get a job here, or do something useful somewhere, so I decided to take the plunge and help others less fortunate than me. I hope my efforts will be good for the people I meet and work with in Haiti. If you can help out at any time, I will be very happy and really thankful to you. Every euro helps.
In the meantime if you can make it to a coffee/tea afternoon this coming Sat. 23rd April from 3.30 to 6pm or so in the Community Centre in Rathcoole, Co. Dublin (beside the Church of the Holy Family, Behind Scoil Cronain, beside Muldowney's pub)
I would love to see you there!
Thank you so much, I appreciate it!
Anne Heffernan (nee Mc Donnell)
I heard someone refer to the woman of Haiti as 'slaves' the other day and it sure made me think. Many women are very much under the thumb of their menfolk and from the outside looking in it might seem that yes they are at the beck and call of their men a lot of the time.
Its a hard life for Haitian women; often they have their first child while still very young themselves and more follow quickly afterwards, often one every year of so. But who takes care of the children, who looks out for them and ensures they are well provided for? Often no one, simply because most people don't have enough money to survive in this plagued country with huge unemployment, renowned corruption and no state handouts regardless of the situation.
Time moves on and with it also the menfolk who have had their basic sexual desires met over many years but now they feel its time to move on, time for pastures new - either location-wise or woman-wise! Oftentimes new families come along, more and more children are born and the cycle of caring for the children falls once again to the woman who continue day after day to try to provide for their family. They must carry heavy loads of clothes to the rivers for washing. They must carry water home from the rivers for personal washing and other necessities and they must carry treated water home from the depots for drinking and cooking. Very young children are also often engaged in such activities.
On top of that many women begin 'petite commerce' to earn extra gourds to provide for the many many needs of their offspring. This may be conducted outside of their homes, depending on the location, with a simple wooden stall and a few basic groceries for sale. Otherwise they trek at dawn to their local market-place carrying their produce on their heads or borne by a donkey, if they are lucky enough to have one.
The market goes on from dawn till dusk and often woman have tiny children alongside them as they sit beneath the hot sun all day hoping to sell enough to keep them going till the next day. Then they must trudge home again before dark and in Jean Rabel many must climb hills around the town to reach their humble home.
Meanwhile, what about the menfolk? What are they doing? What contribution do they make? Well, in Jean Rabel a few have jobs, maybe as teachers, drivers, taxi men or shop-keepers. But many have no work so you see them sitting around outside their homes, chatting together or eyeing up the women as they pass. Few are burdened with looking after their children, although you do see a small number caring for children and bringing them along when they move about.
Men congregate outside their homes with a simple table and play cards or other board games (though I've yet to see a woman similarly engaged) they don't have the time, I reckon. Although you do see women and young girls 'doing' each others hairs regularly. This is a common past time and the hairstyles are often works of art with a wide variety of designs on show. Similarly the head-scarf comes into its own when you see the creativity they engineer when wearing them.
So are they slaves or are they free? The educated women have more options certainly. Some are teachers but for the most part the woman around the NW of Haiti struggle daily to survive, to tend to their families and to be there for their menfolk. The trouble, as far as I can see is that simply too many young girls become pregnant when they are still only children themselves. Thus begins the seemingly never-ending responsibility of caring for children. Men have an easier time, I feel; they aren't tied down with children at such a young age, even if they have fathered them!
So whatever state you wish to call their status, women are generally the caregivers, the stalwarts, the committed, the courageous who stay put and do the needful. Slave or not, they are heroes.
Everyone hers was delighted to receive the benefits of this when I returned in the middle of January.
Just getting used to being back now and getting down to work after a longish break over Christmas. Thank you all so much for being so kind and generous towards my efforts here in Haiti.
This is just a quick reminder about the mulled wine and craft afternoon we are having in Chris's house on Sunday 11th in Clondalkin. Hope to see some of you here as we raise a glass to friends old and new and perhaps raise a few funds for people in Haiti!
I will have some lovely craft items for sale - lovely pressies for Christmas.