Update - May 19, 2009
Dear Friends of Lagonav,
Hello! I hope this email message finds all of you doing well and enjoying the spring.
A few items have landed in my email Inbox that I thought you might want to see if you haven't already. One is a notice that former president Bill Clinton has been named a special envoy to Haiti (see the article below). Before telling you about the other, please make note that my wonderful student assistant, Marissa, has created a new Gmail account for our Haiti work. The email address is "firstname.lastname@example.org". In the future, I will be sending updates from that address.
The second article of interest is from Pax Christi concerning Fr. Geread Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest from Haiti who is now in a hospital in Florida. The article is written by Bob DellaValle-Rauth. Many of you know Bob and his wife, Adele, and maybe have met Fr. Jean-Juste. Here is the link to Bob's article: http://www.paxchristiusa.org/news_Events_more.asp?id=1645.
Other La Gonave news...
Fr. Roosevelt Leriche, the pastor of St. Louis Parish in Pointe-a-Raquette is now visiting friends in Michigan. He will return to La Gonave at the end of this week in order to prepare for the visit of Dr. Linda Kofeldt and Colette Petitt of St. Francis Parish in Staunton, Steve Metzler, an engineer friend of La Gonave from North Carolina, and Dr. Leo Mulcahy, an engineer from Clifton Forge, Virginia. They will be arriving in Haiti on May 25th and will spend about a week on La Gonave.
One of their goals is to install the solar pump on a well that was recently drilled in Terre Seche ("Dry Land"). The people of Terre Sech have been walking three hours down from the mountains and four hours back up in order to bring water from Pointe-a-Raquette. An operational source of water in Terre Seche will greatly improve the lives of the people. If I am not mistaken, this project is funded by Rotary International. It is happening because of the hard work and persistance (an understatement) on the part of Linda Kofeldt.
On another topic...
As some of you have heard, Fr. Antilus from Anse-a-Galets on the other side of the island, had an accident on Easter Sunday. The brakes on his 4-wheel drive truck failed and the vehicle went off the road and down the side of a mountain. One woman died at the scene of the accident. Three persons were taken to the hospital in Anse-a-Galets and four were flown off the island to Port-au-Prince. Two of the persons taken to Port-au-Prince later passed away. One of the persons who died left behind five children. Fr. Antilus is looking for money to pay for their tuition for the next school year. All of this has, of course, been very traumatic for Fr. Antilus.
When I travel to La Gonave in early June, I will be visiting with those impacted by the accident and taking money that some JMU students have raised for the victims. My plan at this point is to spend five days on La Gonave. I hope to spend an entire day in the little coastal town of Nan Boukan where the food situation has been extreme. I want to learn in great detail how people earn money, if any, and how they manage to acquire food. In addition, I want to talk to them about the idea of a food co-op. Finally, I will be checking on the library and other projects and paving the way for the visit of Dr. Tom Syre. Tom is a former JMU professor of Health Sciences who is planning a six-month stay on La Gonave beginning in August 2009. It will be great to have him on the island. He will help us with existing projects, work with the staff at the clinic in Pointe-a-Raquette, and find ways to conduct health education.
That's all for now! Hope all of you are doing well.
Bill Clinton Named As Envoy for Haiti
Washington Post - Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Bill Clinton has been appointed U.N. special envoy for Haiti, a part-time position in which the former U.S. president will aim to attract private and government investment and aid for the poor Caribbean island nation, according to Clinton's office and a senior U.N. official.
Clinton has long shown an interest in Haiti, where he played a role in restoring ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994. Aristide was forced out of office again a decade later.
Monday's appointment comes more than two months after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Clinton and a delegation of business leaders traveled to Haiti to highlight the importance of restoring economic security there. The country has been buffeted over the past year by soaring oil and food prices and a series of devastating hurricanes.
A U.N. official said that Clinton would act as a "cheerleader" for the economically distressed country, cajoling government and business leaders into pouring fresh money into a place that is largely dependent on foreign assistance. It is similar to a role he played, alongside former president George H.W. Bush, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
U.N. officials said they planned to announce the appointment Tuesday, but Clinton jumped the gun, issuing a statement Monday that he was honored to accept Ban's offer. "Last year's natural disasters took a great toll, but Haiti's government and people have the determination to build back better," he said in the statement, which was published in the Miami Herald.