Dr. Raymond Ford
Grison-Garde, Haiti
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Robert Ford Foundation On-Line Newsletter

For some years, I have been writing a one page newsletter sent to all donors and friends of the Robert Ford Haitian Orphanage and School Foundation. This newsletter was, and will continue to be, mailed to each of you. However, we decided that in order to keep the maximum audience informed of our efforts and progress, we would place the newsletter - entitled "Pouki Pa" (Why Not?) on the Website as well. Given the energy, the newsletter will appear four times per year as usual. Read, enjoy and be thankful.

Some of you may have heard the Haitian proverb:

"even our dogs are so skinny they must lean against a tree to bark"
("chen nou yo si telman piti ke yo doue piye nan yon pyebwa pou jape")

Which is to say that "without some element of good humor we cannot survive."

Yes, it is true that the magnitude of the eartquake disaster is literally unimaginable. One of our interpreters, Julie, lost 22 members of her family, leaving only herself and her husband to go on. Just imagine that for a moment.....

    The good news for the north of Haiti, our orphanage/school included, is that no damage has occurred, although we experienced one aftershock two weeks ago that rang the cathedral bells in Cap Haitien.

    The very bad news is that a massive migration from Port-au-Prince to the north is underway. Haiti is a land of relationships going back centuries. Family ties abound throughout the country, so many people are simply returning to live with relatives. We will only begin to understand the enormity of this tragedy after many years have passed.

    Now imagine this: 7 people have been living in one very small house (or hut) and now there are 12 living in that home. Nutritional shortages, even more meager medical service, and more and more children unable to attend school will follow. All of this misfortune was not caused by these amazing people, it just happened. We have been down there twice since the disaster and once again have been nearly overwhelmed by the incredible strength and resilience of the Haitians. It is heartening to see our media beginning to pick up on the dignity that prevails here. You have to be among Haitians to fully comprehend their message.

    After nutrition (and perhaps medical care) nothing matters more than education. At long last the secondary school will be completed next month. Not only can enrollment be expanded, but the students will no longer be crunched into elementary desks. College is ahead for several of our students next year, should funding appear.

    Increased food distribution is a high priority now because of the influlx of "refugees" from the South. The clinic at Tovar where our medical teams work is also staffed daily by Haitians. They are providing food for the most needy each Thursday. Food being rice, oil and beans, doled out in significant quantities. These foundation funds were received as earthquake relief gifts or "use where most needed" from donors like you....a blessing.

    And meanwhile life goes on: the cottages for the homeless and hungry elderly "orphans" are now occupied! Each 20X20 ft. unit is divided into 2 living quarters each for either a single elder or a couple. There are now 4 cottages with another 4 under construction. This project was conceived and built by the orphanage Committee of Grison-Garde and is not paid for with orphanage/school funds, but as a separate grant. Our boss man, Bernard Gilles, smiled when he saw an ancient man in his little home - "I think it is his first bed". After such a life, why not have some food and comfort. It is very touching; the paradox of it seems to fit well with the mystery that is Haiti. To see photos of this project click here

    We have remained true to our promise, just as they have to theirs. We will not waste a penny of your gifts, all of which are still delivered without deductions of any sort. Your help has been a true blessing in the past but is even more important now. Just hang in there with them -- they are delivering on their promise.

Mesi ampil anpil, zamni nou yo!! (Thank you with greatest thanks, our friends!!)

And being Haitian, more complex than you might guess, is the expression: