Angela’s intense interest and care for Haiti came before the current day crisis that has brought the poverty stricken country to our nightly news for about one week last January. Angela wrote about Haiti, Democracy and Class Conflicts for her Master’s dissertation in 2007 while in graduate school in Belgium. Angela was the recipient of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship sponsored by Modesto Rotary Club which led her to graduate school in Belgium.
The culture and history of Haiti is what Angela wishes to raise awareness of as she announces her trip to the country. “Not only is Haiti the poorest country in the western hemisphere, the country’s history has never given the people who live there a chance to rise above their history that includes slavery, a bloody war of liberation against the French, a 20 year occupation by the USA, political corruption, social class conflicts, which must be included when any analysis is made of the reasons for Haiti’s abject poverty.” said Angela Raeburn.
So rather than send “just money,” Angela is going to Haiti by volunteering with an organization called Mercy League International. Mercy League International is a small grass roots humanitarian organization based in Oregon. “It is an opportunity to have an up close and personal view of what we see on the news and the chance to tell their stories.” I want to connect real people in Turlock with real people in Haiti and to build a bridge to share their stories”.
“It is a window into a world of opportunity for people who want to be involved in grass roots movements around the world,” states their website www.mercyleague.org.
The organization also makes clear that they do not claim to take responsibility for anyone’s personal welfare. The website says that “We all take a risk by working and volunteering in Haiti.”
Mercy League International charges $440 per week to feed, house, and transport volunteers such as Angela. A plane ticket of around $1,000 and other additional costs are borne by the volunteer.
Angela Raeburn will be involved in several aspects of relief and humanitarian work. She will be going to schools, caring for people who come to the organization’s field medical clinic, assisting with painting and rebuilding homes, and working with children who aren’t going to school. Her desire is to get support from her local Turlock community by way of donations in the form of money and/or supplies for children. The cost of supplies there makes it reasonable to gather items here such as pencils, paper, crayons, books, etc and take them over to Haiti with her.
Turlockers have a chance to personally contribute to an international cause by sending needed items with Angela before she leaves on March 22, 2010. Angela will blog through TurlockCityNews.com to share Haitian stories and how your contributions have helped the life of someone in that country.
BBVA Compus has opened a checking account under Angela Raeburn Haiti Project and is open for public viewing in an effort to be totally transparent in her efforts.
Questions about Haiti and about volunteering in this country can be addressed by calling Angela Raeburn at Rapid Refill at 668-2217 or her residence phone at 664-9962.
I said in the last update that the rains had come to Haiti. Last Saturday night, it rained so heavily that it washed our driveway completely away. I wondered about the people sleeping in the tents.
I wanted to comment on the successes and the failures that our volunteer group had to deal with this last week. We took all the school supplies that were donated from kind people who have supported me in Turlock. I felt during my school supply shopping spree that the items were too expensive but we went ahead. I bought paper, notebooks, pens, crayons, colored pencils, geometry kits and a big classroom sharpener. Lorraine (the Canadian volunteer) and I went up the mountain to deliver the supplies to the class. I was struck by the good behavior of the children who sat quietly as the teacher explained who we were and what we had done for their class. Honestly, I did not feel like I had done anything as I knew that we were not making even a ripple.
I had also brought the remaining balance of the flip flops donated to me by Walnut Elementary School children and families. As were matching children to the flip flops I handed a pair of silver sandals to a 6 year old girl who was one of a triplet sibling group in the classroom. She looked at the sandals and said to me- ” je n’avais pas des sandales. Merci Dieu”.( I did not have any sandals -Thank you God.) Then I thought we had made a ripple in this child’s life and I reminded myself to keep things in perspective.
As we descended the mountain I thought about the vast and somewhat hopeless situation that we were facing in this country. Haitians themselves however, are not hopeless and continue to wake up everyday with some purpose. I think this is what I like most about this country. Even though they have nothing they continue. I contrasted this with the hatefulness of life in America today and I realized that our abundance has made some of us less charitable and angry.
I was disappointed that a mis-communication with the doctors prevented the medical team from going up the mountain on Monday. This incident reinforced what I already knew – everything in Haiti is work and nothing is ever accomplished until it is actually accomplished. I was determined to reschedule this meeting so we went back to the medical offices to get on the schedule again. The doctors are confirmed for Monday April 19. 2010. I will email on Monday night to actually confirm the event.
I have not spent all the money that was donated to me. My thought was to find someone who could build some benches to replace the really shoddy ones in the classroom. So, I received a “bid” which was just a carpenter giving me some estimates about the materials and the labor. I think that I will add more funds to it and have him build some benches.
On the last day, we went to downtown Port of Prince where all the national buildings including the palace had collapsed. As I stood looking at the Palace – which incidentally has a very large tent city opposite its grounds- it struck me that the fallen Palace was emblematic of the ills of this island nation. I wondered about how we in America would react to a fallen White House. The Palace in ruins, the Supreme Court, the Treasury – all laying in a pile of debris. However, Haitians have already reconstructed their lives around the rubble. Three months after the earthquake all the rubble remains, the garbage remains, the tent cities remain and now they are normal and many would say – the tent cities will become permanent fixtures.
Last night I packed my bags and I wondered what I missed most about life in the US. I think that I missed running water and ice.