Category Archives: Haiti

Lovely’s Goats

Melinda, John, Helene, Peter, Caitlin

The team made it back from Haiti!

Tired, but encouraged.

The goat program is really making a difference for the students. They are growing their herds, selling the males in the market to buy more females, taking pride in their work. It is such a wonderful sight to see a student walking 3 or 4 or 5 goats to us for their checkup.

This is a mama goat with her daughter and granddaughters

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“You look like you’re coming off an international flight”

Goat Team (minus Melinda)

As the four of us followed the long line of people heading to airport security, a TSA agent said “Where are you coming from?” When we responded “South Jersey,” she looked surprised and said “you look like you’re coming off an international flight.” We knew we were tired (we all had an hour or less sleep) but we didn’t realize HOW bad we actually looked ūüėČ 

Our morning started just after midnight and by the time we saw the TSA agent, we had already driven up to JFK, parked off-site, took a shuttle and stumbled through tagging our checked bags properly. 

Honestly, I am really too tired to head out again. I only had three full days Stateside since Panama and a lot of that time was just unpacking Panama and packing Haiti. It will be a quick trip though, so it will all be fine. I just feel a little “old” on these back-to-back projects. 

We are heading back to Haiti for the goat program (finally!). We really feel like this is a bit of a “re-start” of the program. We lost two dozen-ish goats in Hurricane Matthew (the reports are not clear so we will know for sure when we arrive in Marbial). We are also having trouble purchasing goats now because of the hurricane – no one has goats for sale since so many died in the region. We are supplementing the program with offspring from our former student’s goats. 

I’m glad to be back and glad to get some information about the students and the goats. We want to evaluate how the program is doing and see what changes, if any, we can make for the future. 

Our team is a mix of old and new. We have a new trainer, Melinda, from GA. Melinda will join Helene in teaching the goat care lecture and evaluating the goats. We also have a new helper- Helene’s husband, Peter. Peter will work with John in goat care and construction. 

We will be completely off-grid up in the mountains, so this will be our only post until we return home.

We can still send a receive messages via our satellite messenger. Just click here to send us a message.

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Home for the Holidays 

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go home!

I’m home from Haiti. 

In short, the borehole well is still a work-in-progress. We partnered with an organization, Water4Haiti, that has an LS200 rotary drill, however the drill needed a part repaired Stateside. One of our teammates, Edward, took the part for repair in Texas (his home State) while the rest of us also returned to our homes. Once the part is repaired and shipped back to Haiti, Water4Haiti will finish the well in La Croix. 

I’m really happy to be home for Christmas! I have a lot of friends out in the field who won’t be with family over the holidays which makes me all the more grateful to be home. 

These past few months of projects have been challenging on many levels. Technical challenges are often not the most difficult. Sure, manual drilling is tough, but it is tougher to face the emotional challenges of working in impoverished communities. I want the message of Christ’s love to be apparent in my communication with the community leaders, volunteers and everyone else I interact with daily. 

My verses for this latest run of projects (4 countries over 10 weeks) have been Isaiah 40:29 & 31

29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
 they will run and not grow weary,
 they will walk and not be faint.

My prayer for this upcoming year is for wisdom in how I can serve these communities in the best way possible and the strength to be able to do it ūüôā 

I am happy to be home. I am happy to be with my family. I am happy to be serving a God that loves the people in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Haiti (and everywhere else) far better then I ever could. 

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Filed under Haiti, Hydromissions

One step forward, two steps back 

La Croix, Haiti

I’ve mentioned before that for manual drilling, Haiti is extremely difficult. Even though it is hard (and has a history of blocking my efforts with the rocks that make up most of the country’s subsurface), it doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying different methods and supporting different teams with drilling here in Haiti.

Percussion drilling involved pulling and dropping a 50+lb drilling hammer into the borehole to break apart soil and rock

This time, the team is mostly volunteers from Trinidad and two from the US. This team of 13 people have really worked well together. Prior to my arrival, I only had email contact with the leader, Natasha, and didn’t know anything about the others. It didn’t take long for us all to connect as a family. Perhaps it was 13 people sharing two rooms and one bathroom that helped us connect quickly ¬†ūüėČ

(Update: we now have TWO bathrooms)

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I should be in Haiti right now, but I’m in chilly NJ!

I bet if I looked back at all my blog posts, a high percentage would start out with some variation of “sorry it has taken me so long to write…” ūüôā

I did not intend to be Stateside so long after the holidays, but our project to Haiti, originally slated for January, was postponed to February and finally cancelled last week.

It feels odd to be home right now because my schedule (which I had been working on for months) was to be in Haiti with a team of animal science and agriculture trainers. Our team of 6 women was supposed to arrive in Port Au Prince on Saturday, but due to political unrest and riots, we had to cancel our trip. The goats have already been purchased and will be distributed to the students in Marbial by our local contacts in Haiti this week.

Last year, I wrote a blog post about how much research and planning goes into my projects before I leave the States. It can take up to a year from when we get the project application until we have a team in the community. One of the hardest events to follow/predict are elections. I generally try to avoid countries during elections, but sometimes it is inevitable. In the case of Haiti, a new president should have been selected months ago, but votes were cancelled indefinitely after allegations of fraud and distrust led to protests and riots.

I wrote a 2-page letter that donors to the Goat project received last week. It details what is going on in Haiti and how our program will continue even though we are not there physically. If interested, read it here: Letter about the Gift a Goat program.

Special thanks¬†to Oregon Girl Scout Troop 10143 and Saint Mary’s CCD students. Troop 10143 sent me an awesome care package with supplies for the students in Haiti. The package included important hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrushes and soaps. Saint Mary’s CCD students raised enough money for a little over 3 goats and each student made¬†a card for me to bring to the kids in Haiti. I am keeping all those items packed and ready to go as soon as we reschedule our flights to Haiti ūüôā

In addition to raising funds for Haiti, the “Gift a Goat & More!”¬†campaign also raised enough money to build a water tower and latrines in San Antonio, Guatemala and latrines in La Cumbre, El Salvador. I am heading to Guatemala on February 23rd to work in San Antonio.¬†I am excited to be working with the same community I worked with back in 2009 (see post “Then and Now” to read about San Antonio).

Lastly,¬†I will take a couple weeks to study Spanish while I am in Guatemala¬†to improve my communication skills (wahoo!.. maybe I will learn how to say “wahoo!” in Spanish ūüėČ )

Thank you for your support of these projects!

p.s. There are some pros to being home in February – the last time I was home for my birthday was back in 2012. Now I can take advantage of all those coupons that come in only for your “birthday month” ūüėČ

Building a snowman for Schmitty is another plus to being home for some extra time this winter :)

Building a snowman for Schmitty is another plus to being home for some extra time this winter ūüôā

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2015 Review

I am so excited to announce that WE REACHED OUR FUNDING GOAL for the “Gift a Goat & More” campaign! Thank you all for supporting and sharing the fundraiser with your friends and family!

As I am preparing for my 2016 projects, I realized that I almost forgot to highlight what we have accomplished together in 2015!

See the video below for a recap of some of my main projects.

Thank you all so much for your ongoing support of these water, sanitation, hygiene and livestock programs.

I consider you all part of my team as I would not be able to be working in the field without you all supporting me in many different ways!

Have a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

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December 24, 2015 · 12:41 pm

Better grades for goats

I got home early yesterday morning from a short (productive) project in Haiti!

This was Phase 2 of the Gift a Goat program started last year by me and my sister, Helene.

We had Dana and John return with us for their second time in Marbial and Chelsey joined us for her first time volunteering abroad. Our team worked together well and we were able to split up to work on different aspects of the project.  Dana and Helene focused on training the new students who will be recipients of the Phase 2 goats (35 goats) while also checking on the Phase 1 goats.  Chelsey, John and I worked on the Phase 2 goats by checking, tagging and deworming them.

We were all so excited to see the students from our December trip bringing us their goats to check and showing off some babies that were born while we were gone. ¬†The students took really good care of their goats and they were very healthy. We did lose one goat out of the 32 given to students, but we expected that might happen. There was an illness killing goats all over the mountain. Ours survived while most others did not.¬†The loss of goats from larger herds increased the price we paid for our Phase 2 goats at the market. We were only able to purchase 30 goats with the money that should have bought us 37 goats. “Supply and demand” even in the most remote places. The good news is that another organization donated 7 goats so our number of goats for students stayed the same!

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