Eyleen Chou's blog

Travel team back in Madison

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Sat, 01/16/2010 - 12:08

Hello everyone,
Our travel team got back to Madison late last night. Thank you all for your support and concern.

Travelers Safe. Earthquake effects minimal in Bayonnais.

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Tue, 01/12/2010 - 17:34

We are ok! Don't worry, it was a mere tremor here.  But please do keep an eye on the news for PAP airport as our travel plans may be affected.

Lots to talk about!

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Mon, 01/11/2010 - 21:50

After finally getting a full nights' sleep last night at OFCB, everyone was ready for church early on Sunday morning. We've had some fantastic conversations with the 5 gentlemen from North Carolina: Kevin Wright, Jim Blain, Allen, Eddy, and Dow (from now on we'll refer to them as the NC5). They are heading up an effort to reorganize the missionary effort from North Carolina. They are very forward thinking about how to approach helping the community of Bayonnais, with the hopes of Bayonnais becoming a self-sustaining community one day.
We had a fantastic breakfast of eggs, bread, peanut butter, and fresh juice to start the day. Then we headed next door for the church service. Like always, we had trouble following because the majority of the service was in Creole, with smatterings of French. Representatives from the NC5 spoke. Dow read a passage in (broken) French, Allen spoke about their efforts to unify the child sponsorship program, and Kevin gave a sermon. Kevin's main message is certainly something any individual of any religion could take away: Share your talents and abilities with others, work together for everyone's success. Tyler gave a short speech to the congregation with Actionnel translating. Though it was longer than EWB speeches I've seen in the past, it was really fantastic. I will try to repeat what he said, "I see the bridge of Bayonnais, that was built by the people of Bayonnais, after many many hurricaines, standing firm and strong, and I see you all in front of me, after many many hurricaines standing firm and strong. It is the strength of you that makes the community here strong...It is inspiring."
After church, we saw many of our friends and met many new friends. There were several people from the surveying class a year ago who approached us. One student in particular, Yvolene Sylvestre, and I talked for a very long time. Like old friends. When you're in Bayonnais, in the bubble of OFCB, it's sometimes hard to realize the real hardships people go through. Their clothes may be tattered and torn, but you do not realize what they go through every day. My friend Yvolene (25 years old ish) told me that her 17 year-old brother passed away last January. He had epilepsy and his health was declining since his episodes started. Families here have 6, 7, 8, 9, and sometimes more children. How do you feed that many mouths with no means of income? Yvolene also told me she wishes to study computers at the University. But with lack of total access to computers and complete lack of funds to go to University, she does not have much hope.
Another friend, Sidson (7 or 8 years old), brought me to his house yesterday. I met his mother and more siblings. His mother is 46 years old. She has 8 children (she had her first child at 26 years old). Her husband died a year ago and she tends to the small plots of land surrounding her house. A young neighbor of theirs told me of his work in the Dominican. He leaves for about three weeks at a time and returning 1 week a month. There is not much work in Haiti. Last night, we also had a long conversation with Actionnel. (the NC5 facilitated this primarily).
After dinner, everyone divvy'd up the tasks for a game plan for Monday. Tyler, Michael, and I would be going to the pipe crossing to figure out what was going on with the construction.
(Earlier in the day we walked to the pipe crossing. We found it under construction!! The saggy PVC had been replaced with steel pipe. Two pillars stood between the anchor blocks to support the pipe. The pillars stand at the river bank on one side and atop the bank on the other. Marilus talked with people who lived nearby. We learned that a foreman, Adrien, was heading up the construction crew, and that him and his workers would likely be back on Monday. The construction of the construction was...good...enough. The pipes did not align quite right, but it looked like it would work in the end)
The plan for John was to check out electrical loads and the solar shack. Alysen and Randi were going to head up the surveying effort.
Today was our first work day. It started off a little shaky. We had to get the key to the shed from Amilor (Assistant Pastor). Unfortunately, he left to Gonaives in the morning! Through happenstance to us (and probably calculated communication from Amilor), a groundskeeper handed us a key before breakfast! We easily found the surveying equipment (to our disappointment, our students have not had access to the equipment over the past year). And some frisbees! The theodolites were in ok condition. The T2 was missing some screws on one of the main bubble levels, so we used the other theodolite.
Alysen, Randi, Tyler and I were all working on getting the instrument to work. Everyone except John set off for the pipe crossing in hopes of meeting the people doing construction. Sure enough there were plenty of people there, and construction was underway. Lengths of pipe had been removed and later we learned that the crew was adapting and connecting PVC to the steel pipe. We learned that the EU was heading up the project.
Tyler and I talked for a long time with a plumber named Paul Henri Aristide. He told me that there were 4 technicians, and 6 workers at the site. (There were many more than 10 people around watching and hanging around). All of these men were from primarily Gonaives and Bayonnais. However, there is a mystery man in the picture. Paul Henri informed me that though this is certainly an EU funded project, the mystery man who contacts all the technicians and workers, and he pays them. Seems to be a top-down type communication, but there is no way to contact said mystery man. Paul Henri could not even spell his name; our best guess is that his name is Cyceron (according to Eddy of the NC5, who is Haitian).
Alysen, Randi, and Michael (Rodman), got a ton of surveying done. We'll have a lot to do tomorrow as well. John checked loads of OFCB and the solar shack and reported back to SF. Everyone came back for lunch around 2:30 pm and we had lunch. Sandwiches! Ham, cheese and lettuce triple deckers. It started raining so more surveying was out of the picture.
Tyler and I caught up with Jacques-Elie about Agronomy projects. He told us about his projects. Elvage is the name of the first project and he plans on working with the two other agronomists in Bayonnais (Wallace and Villate) to create a chicken program. The second project would be working on the environment, planting different types of trees. Jacques-Elie currently attends UCNH (Universite Chretienne du Nord d'Haiti). He and the two other agronomists attended a two week workshop in Lousiana at LSU learning about agronomy in general. He said it was VERY different from Haiti. At 4 pm, the NC5 coordinated a meeting with Actionnel and the majority of the OFCB board.
After a bit of shuffling, all EWB'ers were participating in the meeting as well. The following people were present:
-Yolande Fleurisma (Actionnel's wife)
-Actionnel Fleurisma (OFCB Pastor)
-Violette? (Kindergarten teacher) -? didn't catch the name of another teacher)
-Charles Villate (Agronomist)
-Wallace Manasse (Agronomist)
-Alphone Frisnel (teaccher at ICB, responsible for the primary school)
-Firmin St. Louis (responsible for the advancement of OFCB)
-Jim Blain (NC5)
-Vital Fleurisma (tech dept of OFCB and teacher, brother of Actionnel)
-Kevin Wright (Director of Outreach/Missions, NC5)
-Amilor Fils-Aime (Asst Pastor)
-Dimilsaint Mondulus (OFCB Finances/Accounting)
-Eyleen, Tyler, Michael, Randi, Alysen and John (EWB-UW)
-Jesula (Business and finance manager)
-Eddie Ledger (NC5)
-Dow F. (NC5)
Actionnel and Eddie did much translating and the overall message was that the American groups working with OFCB are trying to improve how they function and how they work with OFCB. That we're striving for Bayonnais to be self-sustaining. The other evening, Actionnel made a great analogy. For a country that has been independent so long...Haiti is still very dependent, and thus still enslaved.
By the time the meeting was over, it was nearly time for dinner. It was great to finally meet Villate and Wallace (agronomists) since I'd be emailing them for a whole semester! Dinner was fantastic, beef, bbq chicken, rice, salad, corn, peas; we eat so well here! Both the NC5 and EWB'ers shared what they'd done for the day.
After dinner, Alysen was working hard on entering the surveying points in the data sheet. We will get lots of great surveying data after this trip. (Randi has been very enthusiastic about surveying; she was on the scope all morning). I caught up with Yvolene and her brother Emmano again. It was difficult to figure out where to draw the line on telling too much. I did not realize how her curiosity would direct her questions about me and the US. At first, I naively thought that we were just conversing as any two students at UW would. She asked me if I'd visited any other countries...and I started listing them all off: Taiwan, Japan, Senegal, Nicaragua, Canada, Germany, France, and of course Haiti. Her response was reserved, "wow, and all this time I've been in Bayonnais, not even to Cap Haitien! But remained in Bayonnais." It certainly puts perspective on how priveledged we are as Americans.
More NC5 and EWB conversations continued in the night. Later, Tyler tracked down Amilor, and I was able to finally tell him our plan about health education. I showed him the resources we brought (books in French and Creole about sanitation and health). I emphasized that he would know much better than I who to put in charge of these resources to spread the knowledge about health. I also showed him the GloGerm and Blacklight! Glo Germ is an oily orange substance that when rubbed into your hands, you cannot see, except under a blacklight. Many health educators in the US use this to demonstrate germs (something you can't see, but exists). Amilor and I competed on who could wash hands better!
He was very delighted by the blacklight and orange glow of the GloGerm. We will plan to have a small workshop after night fall tomorrow of kids (Creole- timoun). I'm eager to get started! Thanks so much Cathy and Abby for all your hard work this semester! I'll take lots of pictures. Our night wound down with several games of dominos. Still none of us have played at the table in the main yard! We have a few more days... Sorry for such a long entry! I think I may have started going in and out of journaling with blogging. I hope you all find it interesting...feel free to comment or email me :)
A pi tar (see you later! in Creole),

We arrived!

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Sun, 01/10/2010 - 11:03

We arrived safely in Bayonnais last night! We're well rested and ready for the day!

Fort Lauderdale Fun

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Sat, 01/09/2010 - 04:23

Without hope of a airport shuttle, we decided in Chicago to opt out of our hotel and finding another once we arrived. Our flight was delayed about an hour, so it was midnight before we got our bags...and all the hotels within our price range were full!
With some discussion our group of 6 decided to stay in the airport for the evening. Our flight to Haiti is on time and we'll report back as soon as we can.

Jan 2010 Rwanda Trip begins!

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Sat, 01/02/2010 - 15:19

The travel team departed on Dec 30, 2009 for Muramba!

El Salvador Jan 2010 Winter Break Trip begins!

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Sat, 01/02/2010 - 15:18

The travel team is on their way to Nejapa!

January 2010 Trip

Submitted by Eyleen Chou on Tue, 12/29/2009 - 11:06

Hello Everyone!
Our Jan 2010 Trip will be taking place Jan 8-14, 2010 to Bayonnais, Haiti. We will be traveling at the same time as some people from the NC churches that fund OFCB. Travelers:
-Eyleen Chou (me)
-Mike Hoeger
-Alysen Kohlnhofer (mentor)
-Tyler Lark
-Jonathan Lee
-Randi Schieber

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