Monday, November 24, 2008

On A Lighter Note

My butterfly & reindeer - they loved getting their faces painted.

I took lots of photos as a comprise to get them to wash their face to go to bed. :)

I thought at first he was an alien, but I should have known by the red nose who he was.

Kids with their friend Noah.

Dieunelson admiring Christolla's art.

Saturday was the Christmas Party for the IAFA - International Adoptive Families Association that we attended. The kids had lots of fun & it was nice to meet some of the other families of children adopted from all over.

I stayed home from work today sick - this is week number two of this illness. Last week all four kids were sick for four days & I managed to avoid getting ill. Friday I started to get a little sick which escalated all weekend. Everyone else is feeling better but still not 100%. Hopefully by the end of this week everyone will be back to normal.

It's 8:30 & the little kids are in bed & I am heading there too. Night.

UN Haiti appeal: British agencies call for more support for Haitian farmers

Saturday, November 22, 2008

UN Haiti appeal: British agencies call for more support for Haitian farmers -British Haiti Advocacy Platform

For immediate release. 21 November 2008

A platform of British development agencies and solidarity organizations has today written to the United Nations to express its concern about the poor international response to the joint UN/Government of Haiti Flash Appeal to help Haiti recover from the devastating series of hurricanes that hit the country in August and September.

In a letter to John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, the British Haiti Advocacy Platform notes that, as of 21 November 2008, only 33% of the total appeal amount of US$108m had been raised. (The Flash Appeal was launched on 9 September.)

More worrying still for the Platform is the very poor response to the part of the Flash Appeal concerning the rehabilitation of Haiti's vital agricultural sector. Around two-thirds of the Haitian population derives its livelihood from agriculture.

As part of the total requested by the UN and Haiti's government, an allocation of US $10.5m was requested by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to:
- help rebuild the livelihoods of the farmers most affected by natural disasters,
- rehabilitate the irrigation network in the main areas affected by flooding, and
- help prevent the spread of disease among surviving livestock.

In the letter to the UN's John Holmes, the Platform deplores the fact that, so far, only US$828,000 - just 8% of the amount originally requested for agriculture - has been provided.

The letter states: "If Haiti is to avoid the prospect of wide spread famine in the near future, there needs to be a major effort to support Haitian farmers so that they can grow the crops and rear the animals to provide food for the population."

It continues: "The fact that the response to the agriculture section of the Flash Appeal has been so disappointing suggests that once again that the international aid machine remains wedded to the short-term and has scant regard for lasting solutions to Haiti's problems.

"The Platform appealed to John Holmes to raise the issue of international donor support for Haitian farmers as a matter of the highest priority.

Anne McConnell, co-ordinator of the British Haiti Advocacy Platform, said,"While it is great that the Flash Appeal recognized the importance of repairing the damage to the agricultural sector, these good intentions are rendered meaningless if the rich donor nations decline to support this part of the Appeal."

The Haiti Support Group solidarity organization is a member of the Platform, and its director, Charles Arthur, added, "Six or nine months from now, when the images of starving Haitian children are broadcast on North American and European television, people will ask how the situation in Haiti was allowed toget so bad. If Haitian farmers don't get help, we are looking at the strong possibility of a terrible famine."


Decades of under-investment and the reduction of import tariffs have left Haiti's agricultural sector in a dire state. As a result, Haiti has moved from a situation where local farmers could provide most of the country's food requirements to the the current position of reliance of food imports. Recent increases in international food prices have pushed the cost of many everyday food staples out of the reach of country's poor.

This precarious situation has been compounded by the damage caused by the recent series of hurricanes and floods which destroyed crops, washed away fields and livestock, and obliterated the rudimentary irrigation network.

Haiti's peasant farmers - tens of thousands of them united in regional and national peasant organizations - are now trying to rebuild and rehabilitate the agricultural sector.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

People Who Do Make a Difference

This is a note from the creche (COTP - Children of the Promise) Christolla & Dieunelson lived for several years:

We are seeing worse and worse situations. We had a little boy abandoned at the local hospital severely malnourished. Last week they thought he would die, this week he has more hope. When he gets better he will come to live with us. We, Americans, are starting to get hit with "hard times" and this in turn is effecting the children and people all around the world, but in particular, Haiti. Our wallets are getting tighter and its getting harder to give, but this is a time we need to give more. I won't hide that we are out of funds to feed these children. We want to continue giving them the quality of care we have been and what we desire for these children. No orphanage is the best option for a child to grow up in, but we sure want to make it the best place for them to be in transition to their family, whether that is back to their biological families or adoptive. Please pray for the children of Haiti and please consider helping in any way you can.

These two ladies are amazing - one sister runs the rescue centre & the other is an RN - they do amazing things for the people; as well as work community projects rebuilding roads & planting trees to help the flooding & soil erosion problems. Go back & read their old posts they are making a difference in the lives of so many.

Heartline Ministries run several projects to help the people of Haiti.

One is their Womens Program, there they teach the women:

1. Prenatal Class
2. Early Childhood Development Class
3. Literacy Class
4. Sewing Class (help women create & then sell items to support their families)

They also run an orphanage

& recently started a Talapia Project a fish farming endeavor to feed the children in the orphanage & the women program.

The fellow also has a blog & is pretty humorous. You can find his blog on one of the tabs on their home site below.

There are many many NGO's working in Haiti trying to make a difference. These are just ordinary folks who couldn't turn their back to people in need & have been working tirelessly to help one person at a time. Not everyone could live in a third world country for years on end in difficult, dangerous regions but these folks have all been in Haiti saving lives for years. I just believe that for those of us that can't; we should at least financially support those that can & are.

Gloomy posts but this is reality & if everyone gave just a little it would make a huge difference & save many lives.

I have several more links of other reputable organizations that I will post another time.

Another news article:

Hunger Plagues Haiti After Storm Wipes Out Crops, Livestock

This is reality, it makes people uncomfortable to talk about & to see the photos (see the link) but we have to pull our heads out of butts & do something - many people are dying everyday. Most of the deaths are between 2 - 5 years, that is the age of my little ones. There are so many great organizations that help the people of Haiti please support them in anyway that you can. I'll post some links of organizations / missionaries that I follow that do great things & rely on donations to perform their work. It may only be a drop in the bucket in the big scheme of things & will never eradicate the poverty & hardship Haiti is facing but they save many. Post to follow soon.

Thursday , November 20, 2008,2933,455584,00.html

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The 5-year-old teetered on broomstick legs — he weighed less than 20 pounds, even after days of drinking enriched milk. Nearby, a 4-year-old girl hung from a strap attached to a scale, her wide eyes lifeless, her emaciated arms dangling weakly.

In pockets of Haiti accessible only by donkey or foot, children are dying of malnutrition — their already meager food supply cut by a series of devastating storms that destroyed crops, wiped out livestock and sent food prices spiraling.,4644,5741,00.html (Warning: Graphic Material)

At least 26 severely malnourished children have died in the past four weeks in the remote region of Baie d'Orange in Haiti's southeast, aid workers said Thursday, and there are fears the toll will rise much higher if help does not come quickly to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Another 65 severely malnourished children are being treated in makeshift tent clinics in the mountainous area, or at hospitals where they were evacuated in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, said Max Cosci, who heads the Belgian contingent of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

One evacuee, a 7-year-old girl, died while being treated, Cosci said, adding: "The situation is extremely, extremely fragile and dangerous."

At a makeshift malnutrition ward at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the capital, 10 emaciated children were under emergency care Thursday, their stomachs swollen and hair faded by pigmentation loss caused by malnutrition. Several had the puffy faces typical of kwashiorkor, a protein-deficiency disorder.

Five-year-old Mackenson Duclair, his ribs protruding and his legs little more than skin stretched over bones, weighed in at 19.8 pounds, even after days of drinking milk enriched with potassium and salt. Doctors said he needed to gain another five pounds before he could go home.

Dangling from a scale mounted from the ceiling, 4-year-old Venecia Lonis looked as limp as a rag doll as doctors weighed her, her huge brown eyes expressionless, her hair tied with bright yellow bows.

Mackenson's grandmother, who has raised him since his mother died, said she barely has a can of corn grits to feed herself, the boy and her 8-year-old granddaughter each day.

"These things did not happen when I was growing up," 72-year-old Ticouloute Fortune said.

Rural families already struggling with soaring food prices in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, lost their safety nets when fields were destroyed and livestock wiped out by the storms, which killed nearly 800 people and caused $1 billion worth of damage in August and September.

U.N. World Food Program country director Myrta Kaulard said she fears more deaths from malnutrition in other isolated parts of Haiti, and search and medical teams were fanning out in the northwest and along the southwestern peninsula to check.

The World Food Program has sent more than 30 tons of food aid — enough to feed 5,800 people for two weeks — into the remote southeastern region since September, and other groups funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development have sent food as well, she said.

But the steep, narrow paths and poor visibility make it difficult to deliver the food to the mountain communities where hunger is worsening. In one case, a WFP truck flipped over while struggling up a hill and slid into a ravine, killing an aid worker.

"There is always a bottleneck. The same situation that the people are facing is the same situation we're also facing," Kaulard told The Associated Press Thursday.

The mountain villages have long suffered from chronic hunger, growing only enough staples to feed themselves less than seven months out of the year, she said.

But families normally have enough to last through December. This year, Haiti's agriculture ministry estimates 60 percent of the harvest was lost in the storms nationwide. Land quality is already poor and farmers lost seeds for next year when the storms hit, Kaulard said.

Effects of the storms vary widely from village to village and even family to family. In some places, food supplies seem intact. In others, Doctors Without Borders has found rates of severe malnutrition as high as 5 percent.

Aid shortages may soon compound the problem. Donor countries have funded only a third of the U.N.'s $105 million aid appeal for Haiti following the storms, and resources could run out in January, Kaulard said.

At the hospital Thursday, Enock Augustin sat beside the bed where his 5-year-old daughter Bertha was sleeping. The fragile-looking child was evacuated by helicopter Nov. 8 with vomiting and diarrhea. When she arrived, nearly a quarter of her body weight was due to fluid retention, a sign of severe protein deficiency.

The swelling gradually receded as she was fed nutrient-enriched milk and treated with antibiotics and anti-worm medicine; she shrank to just 21 pounds.

She has since gained about two pounds but can't go home until she reaches 26 pounds, doctors said.

For months, the Augustin family had gotten by despite the soaring prices of corn grits and imported rice because they grew potatoes, which they could eat or barter for plantains, yams and breadfruit that did not fluctuate with the world market.

But then, in August, Tropical Storm Fay hit, followed by Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike.

"Every time a hurricane came through, it killed our animals and plants," said Augustin, a father of six. The road was washed out, markets became unreachable and "the price of everything went sky high."

The entire family subsisted on two cups of corn grits, and Bertha began shrinking — and then swelling — before his eyes.

"She was really bad. We put her in the helicopter and they brought her here," Augustin said. "I hope the government will hear about us and bring more support."

Monday, November 17, 2008

ENVIRONMENT: Haiti Can't Face More Defeats

Haiti has been hit hard with the storms this year & has made life for the poor of Haiti even more difficult since it ruined their crops. My heart goes out to the people of Haiti. Laur
ENVIRONMENT: Haiti Can't Face More Defeats By Stephen Leahy*

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 13 (Tierramérica) - The worst natural disaster that Haiti has suffered requires far-reaching solutions in order to reduce this Caribbean country's environmental fragility, say officials and humanitarian workers.

Four major storms pounded Haiti in August and September, leaving nearly 1,000 dead and a million people homeless. International relief efforts are keeping people alive and sheltered, but the already degraded landscape has been badly battered, washing away crops, soil and the few remaining trees in many areas.

"I'm not sure if things could get worse here. Haiti must be the most desperate environmental crisis on the planet," Joel Boutroue, resident humanitarian coordinator and head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Port-au-Prince, told Tierramérica.

Boutroue was referring to the future of the poorest country in the Americas, where U.N. peace-keepers have been stationed since 2004. But he added that "the international response to the disaster is quite good."

While pockets of severe malnutrition still exist, there is access to clean water and only about 3,000 families were without shelter as of the end of October, he said.

However, it is not possible to feed an entire country of 9.5 million people with international aid for long. Haiti cannot feed itself, and even growing 50 percent of its own food is years away, Boutroue fears.

In cutting down 98 percent of its forests for fuel, Haiti has lost much of its topsoil to erosion. Ordinary storms often result in devastating floods because there is little to hold the water back.

Ninety percent of Haiti’s children suffer from waterborne diseases and intestinal parasites, mainly because there is no forest or vegetation-covered areas to serve as natural filters for the water.

Haiti has been in a state of environmental crisis for many years, according to numerous experts, but efforts to improve the situation have been slow in coming. The key components to improving the country's barren and infertile landscapes are reforestation, terracing, and channelling water flows.

Collectively known as watershed restoration, it is a top priority, but little work has been done on the ground. It has taken three years of preparation to get one restoration project started, laments Boutroue.

About two percent of the watershed around the northern city of Gonaïves had been restored at a cost of two to three million dollars, he said. Unfortunately that region was hardest hit by this year's storms and much of the work was destroyed.

Other regions suffered the same fate.

"Four storms in a row would devastate any region, even in the United States," said Brad Lewis, a development officer at Floresta, a U.S.-based Christian aid group working in Haiti for more than a decade. "

Imagine if New Orleans had been hit by three more storms in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina swamped the city" in 2005, Lewis told Tierramérica.

Floresta has worked with local Haitian communities to plant 124,000 trees and construct almost 300 kilometres of soil conservation barriers. But much of that effort was destroyed when tropical storm Fay was followed by hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike. "

The reforestation and barriers held up after the first storm, proving that they work in reducing soil erosion and preventing flooding," Lewis pointed out.

His hopes are centred on the fact that some of their efforts worked, including a novel concept of "living terraces" where pineapple trees or sugar cane replace rock walls as barriers to contain the soil and water. "They're just as effective a barrier and they yield a crop," he said.

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, remains trapped in a cycle of poverty in which farmers are struggling and often can only grow enough food to feed their families, using practices that sacrifice the long-term health of their land.

This also makes it difficult for farmers to adopt new practices, particularly in a country where well-meaning relief agencies provide help and support for new ideas, and then leave after six months or two years when their funding runs out, Lewis said.

Breaking these cycles and developing the capacity to feed its own people while building resilience to the future impacts of climate change are enormous challenges, acknowledges Boutroue.

Last month, World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick toured the country and announced 25 million dollars in additional emergency grants to rebuild major bridges and expand existing programmes to help reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters. That was in addition to the bank's 240 million dollars in interest-free loans and grants through the International Development Agency (IDA) since 2005. "

That level of support is just enough to keep the country's nose above water," said Boutroue.

The U.N., World Bank and others are developing a "Haitian Recovery Framework" -- a three-year, multi-billion dollar plan to be released before the end of the year. The plan is intended to "jump-start the country, put it back on its feet," by putting unprecedented effort and money into watershed restoration, basic services and food security, Boutroue said. "

We know how to restore watersheds. We know they can work and we have the people and capacity to do the work. All we need is more cash," said the U.N. official.

(*This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.) (END/2008)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christolla at the Climbing Wall

Getting started.......
Christolla getting higher, Nelson bouldering along the bottom.

Big step over.
Almost at the top.
First time Christolla has ever made it to the top of the climbing wall. YEAH!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eight Months Home

Kiddo's, November 2 down by the river

Unbelievable, the kids have been in our life & home for 8 months already. We arrived in Canada on March 5, 2008 but it feels like a life time ago. It is hard to remember life before they joined our family.

Things I have learned the last 8 months:

1. It wasn't easy to parent my newest children.

2. Children who have never had material possessions don't take care of things they are given.

3. Children don't naturally/ instictively know how to play & pretend.

4. Kids thrive on a strict routine, I don't.

5. My theory that I would be way more tolerant & patient parent this time around was a misconception.

6. Orphanage behaviors - screaming, tantrums, spitting, sassiness are not condusive to a harmonious family life.

7. Orphanages are a poor replacement for family, but sadly perhaps better than they had.

8. I have questioned my sanity / decision to raise a second family on more than one occasion.

9. Little kids have a lot of energy & make a ton of noise.

10. I didn't know that a child had to be taught how to live, love & function in a family.

11. At the six month mark, life began to settle into a new normal.

12. By the 7 month mark; they were a joy & my time off from work was up so I didn't get to enjoy the easy times with them as much as I would have liked.

13. Kids can learn a new language extremely fast!

14. Kids grow at an amazing rate.

15. Hearts are knit together with shared experiences, laughter, tears & time.

16. I look forward to coming home at the end of the day & having the kids clamour for my attention, both telling me all their news within the first minute of being home.

17. Adopting Christolla & Dieunelson was the right thing to do for all of us :)

18. Seeing Ashley & Brandon loving & spoiling their little siblings warms my heart.

19. Observing Christolla & Dieunelson looking up to & idolizing their big brother & sister makes me remember why I am so proud of them too.

20. Experiencing all the firsts with the kids makes every new opportunity & holiday something to look forward to.

21. My love for my children grows stronger every day.

22. This is the hardest & most rewarding thing I have ever done.

23. This is NOT the easy way to have children - far from it.

24. Children cannot be counted on as your weight loss program.

25. My children wanted a family to love them, but at the same time tried to push me / us away.

26. Little kids can eat as much as an adult.

27. Too much stuff overwhelms children that have not had toys, presents or clothes.

28. Little kids wake up way to early in the mornings.

29. I am so lucky - my kids love to eat everything. Not having picky eaters is a added bonus.

30. My kids love to go to bed at nap & bed times. Just tuck them in & they go right to sleep.

31. We have been fortunate & never encountered anyone that has been rude, bigoted or intolerant in any way.

32. My heart will break when we do encounter discrimination. How do you explain that to children?

33. The sound of children's laughter can bring a smile to the face of the grumpiest Mommy.

34. I am so thankful for children who poop in the potty.

35. I am thankful that I don't have to miss another occasion waiting for the kids to come home.
36. I love that the computer doesn't consume all my evenings anymore as I checked email, blogs, adoption groups sometimes compulsively to keep updated in the adoption process & long for photos or updates.

37. I have no desire to adopt any more children, my family is complete (unless anyone knows a single eligible employed man who isn't scared away by a woman with four dependants). Oh no - now I will be checking my email compulsively waiting for all of your responses. ;)

It is way past my bedtime on a work night so just know these two little Haitians who have found their way into my heart & home have made me a better person. I am honored to be their Mom. They are not lucky children to have been adopted & given access to food, medical care & the opportunity for a education. They are two children who have experienced loss, rejection, poverty, lack of food & family, inferior medical care, who have finally been given a small break. No child anywhere should ever experience these things & all should have their basic needs met. It's so sad little ones have to deal with such complex issues that could bring an adult to their knees begging for mercy.

Yeah the People Have Spoken

Rosa sat so Martin could walk,
Martin walked so Barack could run,
Barack ran so our children can fly.

As a mother to visible minority children I couldn't be happier about the results of the US Election. Imagine the possibilities for ALL children now who grow up in a era where the color of your skin doesn't dictate how far you can be promoted within a company or who you could love or marry. That a person of any color can hold the highest office in the country.

As a Canadian I didn't have any right to vote but I am thrilled that Bush is OUT of office & someone as smart & articulate as Obama has been voted in. Personally I wouldn't want his new job. He has one hell of a mess to clean up after the years of Bush's administration. Time will tell if Obama is the change so desperately wanted & needed but I can say with complete confidence that he can't possibly do any worse than his predecessor.

I couldn' t be happier that Obama won by a large margin too; he didn't just squeak in. Now people can't imply that it was a miscount of ballots or some other contrived manipulation that has ushered other presidents into office. There are still many racial divisions in the US, much more so than in Canada (although they do exist here as well) so for the people to elect Obama as president makes me proud. This could be the shift to a whole new level of acceptance for all people, how exciting we are here to witness this change. One small stone thrown into a pond causes a ripple, this ripple may cause a tsunami. May all our children regardless of their skin pigment benefit from this effect. Change happens slowly, but change is indeed happening. One baby step closer to being the civilized society that we pretend to be.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Everyone Helped Out

The finished products

Halloween Night
Kids so excited waiting for it to get dark so they could go out.

They were still a little confused about was going to happen.

My finished product. A basic jack-o-latern.

Ashley's version, a little more finesse was required. This looked great lit up.

The Big Night

Dieunelson our friendly lion, he didn't want a scary costume. :)

Christolla as a dragon for her first halloween ever.

Ashley took the kids out trick or treating around the neighborhood.

They were so excited they couldn't wait to go.