Another Memorable Rotary Journey

Trip to and Project in Haiti

Jan. 7th, 2009 We were notified our Matching Grant #67285 was approved!

Haiti Water/Literacy Project - The last week of March 2008, District Governor Marlene Brown and District 7150 eClub NY1 Rotarians Earl Lewis & Brad Brown traveled to Haiti at their own expense to attend their District Assembly and meet with Haitian Rotarians. After several meetings with the D-7020 Governor, their Task Force, and Club Rotarians, the team was able to agree upon a Matching Grant project in Thibeau, Haiti area. Join us as we help achieve sustainable long term success. View pictures & blog of our journey below.

Above: Wednesday, Arrival on the tarmac at Port au Prince, Haiti, and the journey in Haiti begins. Haiti is the third poorest country in the world. The average per capita income is $1 per day. 60% of the people go to bed hungry every night; 70% are illiterate. Our goal is to try to make a difference. View slideshow of arrival at Port au Prince airport in Haiti.

Above: Checking in at Hotel Montana in Port au Prince, which is guarded by U.N. armed troops and local police. The main Capital City has no power much of the time. All big businesses have generators that they run more often than not, importing water by the tanker. View slideshow of Hotel Montana in Port au Prince, Haiti.

Above: Thursday, After months of email & cell phone communiation, first in-person meeting between Marlene & her team of Brad & Earl with District 7020's DG Dick, wife Carla, and DG Nathan from D-6910. We discussed the Matching Grant we had proposed for Cap Haitien and how we should proceed. View slideshow of our first meeting.

Above: Friday, flying via TortugAir's 14-seater propeller plane to Jeremie, Haiti, to take part in their District Assembly. While tickets were reserved, they were oversold so it was a relief to get boarding passes in hand. Upon arrival, we were met by ADG Robert & his wife Rotarian Rosa. View slideshow of airport and travel.

Above: Views of the poor conditions in the countryside as we drove to our hotel, set high on a hill with a great view of the ocean. Haitien's have one chance in ten of dying beforetheir first birthday, one chance in five of dying before their fifth birthday, from diseases which cost pennies to treat. View slideshow of drive through Haiti countryside & meetings at our hillside hotel.

Above: The entire team traveled over rough roads in a four-wheeler to a private bar a half hour away. There we enjoyed an evening of local talent and fun. The band from Port au Prince that was due to play did not arrive so Haitien Rotarians improvised by singing, telling stories, and reciting poetry. Despite shortcomings in development, Haiti has the basics of true social art and culture. View slideshow of this enjoyable evening.

Saturday: 7:00am, we traveled to the Club Assembly held at the Mormon church. As they arrived, we met other Haitien Rotarians from around the country, and began our discussion with the Cap-Haitien Rotary Club's Raoul, through interpreter Dr. Guy. A city of 130,000 on the north coast, Cap Haitien operates with practically no water. The little it has is contaminated. View slideshow of traveling to the Assembly.

Assembly: AG Dr. Robert and DG Dick opened the Assembly with Dr. Guy, Haiti Water Task Chair, and PDG Amos. While well attended, it wasn't easy for Haitien Rotarians around the country to attend. Two Clubs left by car at 3:00am and arrived 10:00am after a rough trip due to rain and a flat tire. Bottom right, while Brad speaks some French, we were pleased to have a Rotarian interpret the French and Creole for Earl & Brad & Governor Marlene.

Above left: continuing our conversation with the Cap Haitien Rotarians. Above right: first in person meeting with AG Caleb, part of the Haitien team we had been corresponding with via email for months. Bottom, lunch break. In the afternoon, our team sat in a room with the Cap Haitien team and an interpretor, while Marlene worked on her laptop to modify our proposal with a Matching Grant the Cap Haitien Club had submitted. Agreement was reached at 5:50pm.

Above: just before the Assembly 6:00pm conclusion, we joined the Haitien Rotarians in receiving our Certificates of attendance from Jeremie area AG Dr. Robert and President Gaiten. Top left, our team of Brad & Earl with the Cap Haitien team of Raoul & Davilmar. Bottom, one last picture. View slideshow of Haiti's District Assembly.

Above: back for our last night in Haiti. Top row: Much fellowship and fun during dinner, while DG Dick & DG Marlene worked on their laptops, finalizing our Matching Grant application. A torrential downfall of rain took down the wireless connection, so signatures weren't exchanged by email until 5:00am the next morning. Following that, our convoy bid farewell to each other and set out for the local airport. View slideshow of our last day in Haiti and our journey to the airport.

Above: Sunday, A weary but happy D-7150 & D-7020 team checking in at the Jeremie airport, prior to flying back to Port au Prince on the small propeller plane. After a crowded terminal check-in, a late arriving plane, and a long walk down the tarmac, the plane to carry us back to our respective homes in The Bahamas (Dick), Florida (Brad), and New York (Marlene & Earl) departed Haiti. My last act of Haiti kindness, for now, holding a Haitien baby on the airplane to NY so her Mom could take a break. View slideshow of flight from Jeremie, Haiti airport back to Port au Prince airport for final leg home.

Monday all day was spent getting additional signatures via email from D-7020 which were necessary to complete the Matching Grant and get it submitted to The Rotary Foundation by the midnight deadline. Our thanks to DG Dick, Grants Chair Dennis, Task Chair Guy, AG Caleb, Cap Haitien Rotarians, and my team of Earl & Brad for the roles they played in making this happen. Mission accomplished at 11:50pm. Donate to our project.

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