Fall, 2012

by admin on October 25, 2012

Dear Friends of Borgne,

Another glorious summer! I hope you have been having a great one. August is here now, and
my thoughts turn to the start of the school year in Borgne. We all know how important it was
in our lives to have the gift of a good education. How blessed we are to be able to help others
who would never ever have a chance to go to school without our help.

You certainly are the BEST of friends! How I wish you had been with us on our trip to Borgne
this past winter. It had been several years since I had been there. We had to pretty much
ignore the travel warnings, get all kinds of immunizations and just do it! I went with two other
people — Friends of Borgne board member Florence Lissade, originally from Haiti who served
as our interpreter and guide in every way and Bill Nies who has a business in Honeoye Falls
and is a founding member of our new Sister Cities group. It was a thrill for me to share this
experience with these two dedicated and enthusiastic people who were visiting Borgne for the
first time. It is life-changing in a wonderful way.

We got up early and went over to the Foundation building which we rent. At 6:30 AM our
scholarship children arrive for their one meal of the day. Like children everywhere they are full
of energy and laughter. They are perfectly dressed in their uniforms with their backpacks ready
for the school day. They have a big breakfast of rice with sauce and a glass of juice. The three
women in charge of the food program have been up since 3:00 AM making the fire to cook the
rice, making the sauce which they said is different each day, and getting the tables set. They
are like mothers to these children. By now they know them well. As I was taking photos of each
child, they would straighten a collar or a pleated skirt. The children are very serious looking
when getting their pictures taken. Then I would show them their photo on the digital camera
and they would break into a smile. Those are the pictures I should have taken!

In the early afternoon forty young adults showed up for their sewing class. We had sent money
for two teachers. When so many were interested, the two teachers added a third and split the
money three ways. The students are doing great! They did a display of all the things they
had learned to make — skirts, blouses, macrame belts, and more. There’s one man in the class
and he walks two hours each way to be there. They all sang some beautiful songs for us and
we had time to visit with them while they worked. I watched one young woman threading the
sewing machine knowing exactly what to do. They were so proud of their accomplishments
and we were so happy to be there to share that joy.

On one afternoon we were asked to attend a meeting of a new group that has formed called
Women Against Violence. This is a group of sixty women who are helping each other in an
environment where there is little to no police protection. They have a small room which is used
as a shelter. They help with prevention by talking to girls and women in the area. If a woman is
violated, they help her to press charges by going to Cap Haitian, the nearest city. They shared
that since their group has formed and posters have been put up in many sites, there have been

fewer incidents of violence. They meet in our Foundation building on a regular basis and do
their own kind of education. They asked for a donation to celebrate the International Day of
Women where they had a special Mass followed by light refreshments and a time to share
what they do with the community.

We visited a food program for the elderly and infirm that our friend Sarah had started.
This is a group of approximately fifty people who have no money or means of earning any
and as a result, no food. They show up three days a week and midst happy visiting and
conversation, they receive a big dish of rice and sauce. They each bring a container to take
some home for the day in between when they have no food. The workers cook on a broken
down grill. One of the tiny, elderly women hugged Bill for the longest time and all our eyes filled
with tears.

We visited the Wesleyan School which was able to open a few years ago because we paid
the teachers. It reminded me of my childhood in a way. When we walked in, all the children
stood up and greeted us. We were able to visit with them during a little recess, too. We met
with the teachers who manage large groups of children sitting on benches with practically no
materials. They had all chipped in from their salaries to hire a director. I saw a poster that my
friend Maureen and I had taken there ten years ago about the planets. It is truly humbling to
be in the presence of people who have such persistence. They, too, love the children and see
them as the hope of Haiti.

On our visit to the little hospital there, we learned that there were no patients with cholera. .
They had received help from the Red Cross, HOPE, and our group as well. I remember
sending money for megaphones and workers who went around the countryside letting people
know that they had to purify the water they drank. Two mothers and their babies were there.
The babies were malnourished. There was a young girl suffering from malaria

One afternoon we had an official tour of Borgne. Our town of Honeoye Falls and Borgne have
become sister cities with Sister Cities International. We visited the town hall and met the two
judges. We met with the village workers who told us what they do to keep the village as clean
as possible. We had little pins from our village here and flags to give them. We went to the
police station and met the one policeman and saw the two jail cells. We said a prayer with a
woman who was in one of the cells.

Our biggest adventure was our trip to the new school that we had funded. We originally thought
we would have to walk to it — probably a six hour walk. Thankfully, Johnny, the Assistant
Mayor and our host, borrowed a Land Rover and a driver for us. It was the most amazing
trip ever — it took almost three hours. We drove through rivers, through markets, up rocky
hills, next to cliffs — I can’t even tell you what a riot this was. We laughed, stopped breathing,
covered our eyes and survived! It certainly helped us understand why the people asked for a
school in this location. The children had to wade through those rivers to get to school. There
had even been a drowning. Parents would walk their children to school. Every time it rained,
school would be canceled because the kids couldn’t walk through the rushing rivers.

When we arrived at what we thought was a deserted area where the school was, people
appeared from everywhere. They had a group of Boy Scouts who did a drill with singing and
drums. There was a parade as we walked up the trail to the school with children and adults
singing. When we arrived, we were ushered through a little hall made of curtains on either
side hung by ropes from trees. We were invited to sit in the new school which to us looked like
a huge pavilion. It wasn’t quite finished, but it was being used already. There were literally
hundreds of people there including lots of little children — even government education officials
from Cap Haitian and surrounding villages. They all entertained us with beautiful songs,
dances, and even a little play about a child who wanted to go to school so badly.

The emcee introduced the teachers who had been working without pay — which they had
offered to do if we helped build the school. He said, “Now we must ask you to help pay the
teachers. They really need to earn money because they have families to house and feed. Will
you pay them?” Florence who was also our interpreter translated this for me. I was planning
to say, “WE will certainly try to do that and we will talk with our group when we return home.”
Well, I started to say that and they all hear “Oui”
not “we” — the crowd went wild thinking I had said “yes”…and so there it is. We will
find a way to pay the teachers….which we were going to do anyway.

Our librarian was there with his horse and guide. He had all the books laid out for us to see.
He is just a great guy. He travels from school to school and often stays overnight so that the
kids can take the books home. He asked for a food allowance and for class size copies of two
books — Clara Barton and Haitian proverbs. We just sent 50 copies of Clara Barton (in creole)
— his first choice — with our friend Sarah who is visiting Borgne this week with 4 of her college
students.

We were so surprised at the size of the celebration and the parade. We were feeling very
unworthy. The only way we could even handle that was to remember that we were representing
all of you! This was their way of thanking all of us. They are truly so grateful for our help.

It was wonderful to see with our own eyes, that all of the programs we fund are truly happening
and flourishing….the scholarship children, the food program, the sewing center, the schools.
We met after this with the Boy Scouts who asked us for musical instruments. They only have
two drums. They are present at every celebration (and there are many!) in Borgne. They said
that if they had musical instruments, they could form a band that plays at all these events. They
also said that they could earn money by playing at weddings and funerals. We are making
that dream come true finally. People have donated saxophones, flutes, clarinets, trombones,
trumpets, drums, cymbals, a guitar, and more. We have people going to Borgne next week who
will deliver them. We are considering hiring a music teacher. Dick sold his bass and used the
money to get instruments repaired, buy books and CD’s to help with the learning, and pay for
extra luggage packed with instruments. The instruments will be hand-delivered to Borgne this
week.

The scholarship children just took a field trip on a bus to the Dominican Republic. Most of
them had never ridden in a vehicle before. They had a great time and expanded their horizons
in many ways. They saw the city of Cap Haitian and they went to a different country! It was
a long day, but I’m sure well worth it. The dreams continue. I’m hoping that we can get a
computer lab going soon. We have a contact person who has a plan that I think will work well.

The setbacks continue, too. We have had flooding in our building. They are building roads in
Borgne now and one went right in front of our building. We had to hire a mason to remove part
of the front so that the building wouldn’t be ruined. A few weeks ago there was a big storm
and parts of the roof blew off. That’s being repaired now. Always something!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this effort. It’s all about the relationships that we have with
the people in Borgne. They are deep in our hearts. I met with my friend Rosie there. She
and I were born in the same year. She takes care of her mother, cleans the church, has four
gardens, and teaches the children how to weave baskets. She came in with her arms open
wide saying, “Joan, we’re still alive!” How true that is….we are still alive and we still have the
chance to do some good in this world. The people of Borgne say God is all good all the time.
Their faith is strong. Everyone thinks Haiti is so poor. I don’t. They are rich in the things that
really matter. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share and it goes both ways. We came back
feeling very enriched.

God bless each of you who help when you haven’t even had the chance to meet these beautiful
people in person. Know that all the money donated goes to help the people in Borgne. We pay
our own travel expenses, postage, brochures, etc.

School starts soon. Please help! Education is such a great gift and a great investment!

Tax deductible contributions can be sent to:

Friends of Borgne, Inc.
PO Box 486
Honeoye Falls, NY 14472

This comes with gratitude and love,

Joan Haviland
President, Friends of Borgne, Inc.

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Trip to Borgne, Haiti

by admin on January 31, 2012

From People and Places of Borgne

Bill Nies, Florence Lissade, and Joan Haviland will be leaving for Borgne, Haiti, on Sunday, Feb. 5th! We will keep you posted about our adventure. We are looking forward to meeting the people of Borgne and celebrating our Sister City relationship. We will be taking a flag from the Honeoye Falls-Mendon Rotary Club.

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