Ben: A lot pf people are afraid of entering into their houses to do their work. They are all sitting outside. A lot of teachers at other schools feel that they are too distrubed to work with the children so schools are still closed. There are other teachers who believe that the children are not yet ready to learn again. Some Lagonavians see us as non patriotic, that we are not showing enough remorse for all the people that have perished. They feel we should stay closed for a month or two instead of opening so quickly. A few people in Matènwa feel this too, but most of this criticsm comes from people outside of our community. Parents are sending their children to school because they believe in us. Others are sending them because they have nothing to give their kids and know that the kids will be fed at by us. We have been teaching about volcanoes and earthquakes in all of our classes. Each child was asked to explain their experience of the quake and several of our children drew and wrote about their experiences. We will try to send those to you. We feel that we should be open so that families do not feel like this is the end of the world.
Abner and I have also been going around to some of the churches, explaining what an earthquake is and why some places were more damaged than others. We are spreading information that we heard on the radio, on the internet and from books that are in our library. We also went to the churches to head off rumors, because several people said that Americans and China were shooting bombs under Haiti so they could take control of Haiti. They were the ones shooting things under the ocean so they could come in mass to Haiti, so that they could make it appear that Haiti had a problem and then come in and control it better. We had to talk to the people so they could believe it was a real earthquake and that they did not need to believe that people created this. Other people explained it as something that God was doing to punish sinners, and that it was fulfilling a prophecy, another portion felt it was truly a natural disaster.
Chris: It is clear that people need time to discuss and process the earthquakes and all the after shocks. They need a venue for sharing their stories and knowledge with each other. We are informally spreading information and presently forming a plan to have children share their stories with other children across the island and on the mainland.
The irony of it all. The MCLC is a model community that encourages people to grow their own food and buy local food, avoiding imported rice. Yesterday, one of our staff brought back 8 large sacks of Haitian rice and some cooking oil from St Marc. The staff was content and I too was pleased to hear this. This can cover the school breakfast program for both Matènwa elementary schools for a month. What was distressing was that this is all he found in the large port town of St Marc on the mainland. There was no corn meal nor millet to buy. The depots on Lagonav did not have any sacks of food to buy either. There was more food in the market than last week, but still not enough given the amount of people. Benaja states, “Even though the eastern half of the island was hit harder by the quake than the western half in terms of physical damage, it is always the western half (referred to as “anba lagonav”) that suffers more in terms of food. They have manioc and sweet potatoes in the ground. That might last two weeks.” In the face of starvation, never say never. (more…)
The Matènwa Community Learning Center held preschool through ninth grade classes in the courtyards and around the outside of our round building this week. The central pillars of the round building are cracked so no one is taking the risk of holding classes inside. The Breakfast program is running smoothly and our community is organizing to receive food shipments as well as begin to harvest and sell local grains. There are over a hundred schools on the island of Lagonav. MCLC IS THE ONLY SCHOOL UP AND RUNNING ON LAGONAV. Our Local Arts Center is also functioning, holding weaving and embroidery classes, safely in my yard. We are encouraging other schools to also open their doors to start to bring education and hope back into to the lives of all of our children and families of Lagonav.
We thank you for your donations and hope that you will continue to send them so that our local initiatives can succeed in these hardest of times. Because of you, our partners, we can feel hopeful, because of you we are going to rebuild. Every voice makes a difference. Please keep Matènwa in your conversations circles.
I just talked to Feronel who was crossing from St Marc with food. He said that there was no corn meal or millet to buy there, it was bought up on Friday but that he did get rice and cooking oil. People from the port town of Ansagale are coming to buy food from the market ladies in the mountains. They are in great fear that food is running out in Anse a galets.
The USS Bunker Hill went to Anse-a-Galets yesterday and did meet with a group which included several mayors in Anse a galets. They are seeking a needs assessment and people that they can partner with. MCLC is trying to connect them with key leaders on Lagonav including the Civil Protection Director, AAPLAG and Concern staff. MCLC wants aid to get to the people of Lagonav with the advice of local leaders on how to do it without starting fights. Apparently there was a food drop by helicopter on the other side of the island the day before that resulted in causing a large crowd to scramble and fight over what was dropped.