Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Soccer balls


During our trip to Haiti in February 2011, we were fortunate enough to meet a really great guy and soccer coach named Maurice at the guest house. He was so touched by news footage of kids kicking cans and empty bottles that he came all the way to Haiti with a suitcase full of deflated soccer balls which he gave to kids on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Maurice was kind enough to share some of the balls with us that we happily gave to the children at St. Vincent's.

When we came back to visit in March, we were able to snap a few pics of St. Vincent's students enjoying the balls!

This young man was particularly good with his feet and photogenic to boot!

Some friends getting into the action

Monday, March 21, 2011

NOLA Fashion Week benefits The Red Thread / Japan

For those of you familiar with events in New Orleans, The Red Thread Promise has been named the beneficiary for NOLA Fashion Week!

$1 of every ticket sold to NOLA Fashion Week events will be donated to The Red Thread Promise for Japan Quake/Tsunami relief to directly help those communities devastated by the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

The Red Thread Promise is accepting donations on behalf of the Association for Aid & Relief, Japan (AAR Japan), an organization it has worked with since the earthquake in Haiti. Both organizations were instrumental in re-opening and supplying needed items to St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Haiti. AAR Japan has also donated millions to various other projects throughout Port-au-Prince. They did so in a respectful responsible way, using Haitian materials which had the added benefit of helping to rebuild the economy.

Details about the week can be found at: http://www.nola-fashionweek.com/index.php.

Japan Relief

Dr. Eric and Yugi Takahashi

We have excellent news to share! The Red Thread Promise is now accepting donations on behalf of the Association for Aid & Relief, Japan (AAR Japan), an organization that we have worked with in Haiti. Donations will DIRECTLY help those communities devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

AAR Japan was instrumental in re-opening and providing supplies to St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children over the past year. During our trip to Haiti in February 2011, we were privileged to meet Yuji Takahashi, AAR Japan's Country Director, while we were working at St. Vincent's. Speaking with him and hearing about the programs they have reinforced our sense that AAR Japan is very responsible and judicious in the use of their funds.

In addition to their work at St. Vincent's, AAR Japan has also donated millions to various other projects throughout Port-au-Prince and did so in a respectful & responsible way, using Haitian materials and labor to help rebuild its economy. We are proud to partner with them in this capacity, providing a direct link to aid in Japan. (For more information on AAR Japan, please visit www.aarjapan.gr.jp/english)

Donations can be made by using the PayPal link (in the sidebar on the right) OR by sending a check directly to:

The Red Thread Promise
4027 Dauphine Street
New Orleans, LA 70117

Please be sure to indicate "Japan" on the memo line so we allocate your funds toward the project of your choice. As always, all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

JoJo's Artwork - Day 2 (part 3)

Still life with melon - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Mountain stream - small (10 x 12ish) - $40

Women & plantains - large (24 x 36ish) - $300

Boats 1 - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Boats 2 - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Earthquake 3 - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Earthquake 4 - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Again, if you are interested in purchasing one of JoJo's paintings, please leave us a message on Facebook or email sonya@ydesignstudio.com. We need to hear from you by end of day on Thursday in order to purchase a painting from this trip.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

JoJo's Artwork - Day 2 (part 2)

Two women 1 - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Black and white village - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Waterfall - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Still life with pineapple - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Boats & houses 2 - small (10 x 12ish) - $50

Village road - small (10 x 12ish) - $50

Cows 1 - small (10 x 12ish) - $50

Boats & Houses 3 - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Two women 2 - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Fruit market - large (24 x 36ish) - $300

Flamingos - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Earthquake 2 - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Please email sonya@ydesignstudio.com or message The Red Thread Promise on Facebook if you are interested in any of the paintings by JoJo.

There is one additional blog post with 8 more paintings. See part 3.

JoJo's Artwork - Day 2 (part 1)

JoJo holding one of his many paintings

Our first day at St. Vincent's held so many memorable moments. Included in that long list was the opportunity to see all of JoJo's unsold artwork. Due to the overwhelming interest in his paintings, we'd like to share them with you.

JoJo was kind enough to pose for a photo with each piece. So, if anyone purchases one, it will include a photo of JoJo with the painting.
Please email sonya@ydesignstudio.com or message The Red Thread Promise on Facebook if you are interested in any of the paintings by JoJo.
We need to hear from you by end of day on Thursday in order to purchase a painting from this trip.
A portion of the purchase price goes to JoJo and a portion directly to St. Vincent's for food.

(Please note that shipping is not included. All sizes are approximate - we did not have a ruler or tape measure to take true measurements.)

We hope you enjoy his artwork as much as we do!

Boats & Houses 1 - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Women at market - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Women with baskets - small (10 x 12ish) - $50 - SOLD

Workers in the tomato field - medium (16 x 20ish) - $200

Houses and cotton fields - medium (16 x 20ish) - $200

Cap Haitien architecture - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Workers harvesting fruit - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Women with chairs - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Earthquake 1 - large (24 x 36ish) - $400 - SOLD

Ox cart with plantains - large (24 x 36ish) - $400

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Medical team in Haiti - day 1

Sienna and 3 of her buddies from the neighborhood

We all arrived safe and sound in Haiti late this afternoon. The team, consisting of folks from New Orleans, Memphis and Columbus, met at the airport gate in Miami and then traveled the final leg of the route to Port-au-Prince together. We have doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists, paramedics, deacons, sign language translators, student volunteers and a communications person. Our diverse skills will complement each other well during our work at St. Vincent's.

Sadly, we were delayed at the PAP airport because a 50 lb bag full of supplies for St. Vincent's was lost. After at least an hour of searching, we finally filed a claim with the airline and went on to the guest house. We are hopeful that it will show up but who knows.

Two cars came to pick us up from the airport. We were only able to fit 9 of the 12 of us and our luggage in the vehicles, so 2 trips had to be made. Eventually, we all made it to the guest house and began organizing suitcase after suitcase after suitcase of medicine, medical equipment and supplies, toothpaste, soap, granola bars, books, toys, and various other things for the children and clinic at St. Vincent's.

After we were all settled in, ate dinner and showered to cool off, we planned to take a quick walk up to the corner bodega to chat with the local folks. Before we could go, business called. One of the other teams at the guest house brought a 2-year-old from the orphanage where they work in search of a doctor to see him. How could we possibly refuse? So we put our walk on hold and Dr. Susan examined him privately after the caregivers announced that they thought he might be contagious. Thankfully, he was diagnosed with bronchitis and was given treatment. All in a day's work in Haiti.

Eventually, we did get to go on our walk where we enjoyed our first dose of the Haitian heat punctuated with a cold drink. As soon as we got there, the kids swarmed Sienna, one of the volunteers from Memphis. She was like a magnet, drawing the kids out of their shells to talk, joke and play hand games. She has an amazing rapport with the kids and her Creole is admirable. (Author's note: I hope to learn some new words and phrases from her this week!)

We are all looking forward to our first task tomorrow, adding the new meds to the pharmacy, both physically and on our newly created inventory. Who knows what else the day will hold. Visiting with the kids, seeing JoJo and his latest artwork—it's all good.

What we do know is that many of us have been up since 3:00am and it is time to call it a day. More to report tomorrow as the work truly begins.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creative donation ideas

Print off one of our Penny Blessings labels for collecting loose change

For those looking for creative ways to support The Red Thread and our various programs, here are a few tips from our donors:

IDEA #1 :: for every dollar you spend going out to eat for a certain time period (week, month, lent), give the equivalent dollar amount to help purchase food for St. Vincent's.

IDEA #2 :: organize a "dress down" day at your child's school. Kids pay $1 per day to wear something other than their school uniform for a certain period of time (day, week, every Friday). Donate the proceeds to purchase school supplies for St. Vincent's.

IDEA #3 :: each time you treat yourself to your favorite fancy coffee, set aside the same dollar amount to donate toward one of TRTP's trips to Haiti. We all pay our own way each time we travel and rely on the generosity of our friends and family to continue this work. You can energize our volunteers while you enjoy the caffeine!

IDEA #4 :: encourage your children to help out by running a lemonade stand, babysitting, gardening, or doing extra chores around the house. Ask them to consider donating a portion of their profits so that we can provide supplies for St. Vincent's dormitory. Instilling a spirit of philanthropy at a young age is a gift from you to your children that they will use their entire life.

IDEA #5 :: snag one of our nifty Penny Blessing coffee can labels and collect your loose change. This is a great way to get children involved and foster their spirit of giving. Send in a check at the end of each month to go toward school supplies for the blind at St. Vincent's. (Right click on the image at the top of the page to download the .jpg to your computer. Print out, afix to a coffee can and be part of the change!)

IDEA #6 :: host your own ice cream social. Invite family and friends to enjoy America's favorite sweet indulgence. Serve all of your favorite flavors and tasty toppings (candy pieces, fruit, chocolate syrup, caramel, whipped cream and nuts). Set out a large donation jar and let the lip-smacking begin. Send in a check to purchase an all-terrain wheelchair to be given to someone in need.

Of course, we welcome good, old fashioned checks and handy PayPal payments as well. Your gifts, combined with others, certainly help us make a difference in these children's lives.;

Thank you!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

TRAVELER'S THOUGHTS - Rebuilding lives

Dieumene, one of St. Vincent's graduating students
who is going on to university this year, and Canon Squire

During our trip in February, we met too many fascinating people to list. One that comes to mind is The Rev. Canon Bill Squire, a retired Episcopal priest and former director of St. Vincent’s. His kind spirit emanated through Fr. Sadoni’s office as we spoke and he gave us the uncanny feeling that we were long-time friends. Canon Squire shared some brief historical information about St. Vincent’s while our group ventured outside the present facility’s walls and walked to the location of the former compound.

Temporary signage greeting visitors

A street view of the old property, behind the gray wall

Behind a long, and obviously new wall, was a large piece of property strewn with rocks and trash. Some workers sat underneath a single tree in the midst of this wide-open space.

Canon Squire showing our team the lay of the land

St. Vincent's property

In the meantime, the only building left standing—the former brace shop and dental clinic—is being rehabilitated. Walls are being repaired, equipment is being installed and preparations are being made to clean and paint.

If the building we toured is any indication of the former facility, it was quite impressive before the earthquake. To enter, we attempted to open the metal door but it wouldn’t budge. One of the workers came to our aid, putting his hand through a hole in the wall and managed to open the door.

The former dental clinic

Inside were the remnants of St. Vincent’s dental clinic that housed the skeletons of two dental chairs and a broken dental x-ray machine. Paperwork was scattered across the dusty floor, some of the only things left after the extensive looting that followed the earthquake.

The physical therapy space

In the same building was the brace shop, a series of rooms, which boasted multiple drill presses, ban saws and industrial ovens for the manufacturing of custom prostheses. A separate room held a set of parallel bars for physical therapy. This once very productive space is now silent, waiting for creative hands to be there once again, making their mechanical miracles for Haiti’s disabled.

Outside the building, under a set of stairs, was a pile of rubble. Centered atop a heap of casters was a classic black-corded opthalmoscope lying in the debris, one of the few indicators of the eye clinic that no longer existed. We imagined that this clinic was just as impressive as the brace shop and dental clinic.

The former surgical suite was inaccessible. It was explained that a door had yet to be cut into the side of the building that would allow access to the surgery area. (Maybe during our March trip we will be able to see this area.)

It was through this brief visit that we were given some bit of perspective as to how much was lost in the quake. Years and years had been spent building and furnishing these rooms that housed the medical professionals who would work so hard to for the health and well-being of the children of St. Vincent’s. This same area housed the school and the girl’s dormitory as well. And, in less than one minute, everything was lost.

This is why The Red Thread Promise is here: to help rebuild lives.

In order to do so, we rely on your generous spirits and are grateful for the funds you entrust us with to complete our projects, all for the sake of the children.