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Monday, April 15, 2013

Student Interact Club--Haiti Project

I am pleased to blog that our 2013 Haiti team returned safely and accomplished much good work in the past week. The Vantage Student Interact Club, affiliated with the Van Wert Rotary Club, sponsors a carpentry program in the mountain village of Borde, Haiti. Our students raise funds throughout each school year to pay the carpentry teacher's salary ($100 per month) and furnish supplies and hand tools for the students. The furniture made by the carpentry program is sold in Cap Haitien, Haiti, and the funds are returned to the customer service account to buy more supplies.

Social studies teacher Peg Bollenbacher, our club's advisor, has traveled to Haiti annually for 10 years. She will retire this year, and is turning over the Interact Club to science teacher Matthew Miller. Ms. Bollenbacher will continue to return to Haiti annually on her own, as she has a deep bond with the local Haitians involved in our project. This was my first trip to Haiti, as it was for Mr. Miller also. Seeing the carpentry school and surrounding facilities, which include another school building for multiple grade levels, a church, and a small kitchen building and small administration building, was beneficial. We can better target our resources to meet their needs, one of which is some form of power and clean water. I hope to succeed in completing a green structure, or Earthship, (google Earthship Haiti) to supply solar power and sanitized water to some degree.

The addition of any power at all will allow our Haitian students to use some power tools vs. strictly hand tools, and also have better lighting in the classroom/workshop. The cinder block walls include open spaces for "windows" to allow air and light into the building. That is the only light source. All of the buildings are built in this manner, including the church, which again, has absolutely no power. Our solar project could also be routed to the church or the grade school as well to improve learning conditions.

As I expected prior to going to Haiti, words cannot express what I saw and experienced during the seven days I was there. I have memories for a lifetime, a lot of photos of the culture and people, and a renewed commitment to our Interact Club's project in Haiti. In future blogs, I will post photos taken while in Haiti. Here is one of my favorites: this small cooking fire area feeds over 120 school children. Only a wooden table and a pile of starter timber are in this small building which we call our "kitchen". There is obviously no power and the structure is lit by the holes in the cinder block wall.