Last night we sustained heavy winds that did not died until midday today. We cannot stop thinking about all the people living in those makeshift tents we saw along the road. They must have been blown away during the night.
In the morning we have another shift at the clinic. Cases of arthritis, bronchitis, fever, a man with a bad genital laceration, a child with a big and old abscess on his leg that has to be opened and drained. Several cases of hypertension and diabetes that came for their scheduled follow up treatment. S, a psychotic regular patient, comes to get her shot. This patient has made a remarkable recovery as to the quality of her life since before of receiving medication she had been ostracized by her community. Xavier treats more cases of severe skin problems.
In the afternoon we have a meeting at the school with parents, administrators and teachers. The meeting was intense and well attended by over 100 people we explain to the parents the effort behind Kakok Foundation for the purpose of helping their community through health and education. We stress the concept that, even thought they do not have to pay for their children to attend, the school is not “free”. We share with them the total annual cost and the breakdown per child. This helps them comprehend the effort needed to run the school.
We explain that there is a lot of solidarity towards Haiti and that we understand how poor their community is, hence our effort to make the school and clinic 100% free of charge. But we ask them to contribute to their community as a means of paying for the free education and health care they receive. We ask for every parent with children attending the school to volunteer community hours to clean up the village and its beaches. Every child whose parent participates in the community effort will receive a voucher to attend the school. We also ask them to be responsible for the good keeping of the school books given to their children so that we can create a book bank in order to lower the yearly cost of books.
The meeting runs for more than 2 hours and we think that it has been quite successful. Among the people asking questions and offering suggestions is Jean Huge Pierre. He is a young and bright man from Ile a Vache who Xavier and I had been helping pay for his studies in Port Au Prince. We came to know him through his brother Yvenel, a boy with a natural talent for painting. In the past years we had commissioned him to paint many signs for the school and the clinic. Few years ago we offered him to help paying for his art studies in Les Cayes if he ever considered seriously following a career.
A couple of years ago Yvenel started working at Port Morgan, the hotel where we always stay in Ile a Vache, and one day he reminded us of our offer. But instead of asking for himself he asked us to consider helping his younger brother Jean Hughe, a very dedicated and bright student, to pursue University studies at PAP to become a teacher.
We were moved by Yvenel's generosity and we committed to pay for Jean Hughe's studies at PAP's University. Jean Hughe was at PAP when the earthquake did strike on January 12th. He was trapped for one day under the rubble of his cousin's house where he was living. He lost everything and many of his fellow students. His college has been destroyed, he is psychologically affected and he does not know when, or if, he can resume his career.At the school meeting Jean Hughe asked what could be done to help those students who show top qualities. He offered to teach an advanced seminar in order to help the brightest students to improve their opportunities. He explained that he felt obliged to give something back to the community because the way he had been helped. This left us thinking about starting a program to finance higher education at Les Cayes for one student every year who turns out as the best of the last year school class.