Flag Day celebration
Yesterday The Red Thread team embarked on our second trip of the year to visit and work with our friends in Haiti. Following a redeye flight for Kathy and Tom, the two met up in Miami and flew in to Port-au-Prince together. After settling into the hotel, a meeting and dinner, they went their separate ways to rest up and prepare for the busyness of today, when the real work began.
Tom and a St. Vincent's student
First on the agenda was visiting St. Vincent's where we found out that Tom is quite the kid-magnet! Students of all ages were coming out of the woodwork to greet and hug him, happily posing for pictures, especially those from Camp Jake. To our surprise the kids were preparing for Flag Day. Each had made his or her own Haitian flag and was proudly displaying it in the classrooms, around the grounds and during a ceremony in the courtyard which the team happily observed.
Then Kathy and Tom got down to work, meeting with Fr. Sadoni, Director of St. Vincent's, for a long meeting covering a multitude of topics including:
- the rebuilding of the school
- creation of a much-needed computer lab
- setting up routine All Terrain Wheelchairs (ATWs) maintenance and repair
- computer accessibility in the pharmacy
- the release of the handicap-accessible van from customs
- the soon to be unveiled St. Vincent's logo (designed by TRTP's Vice President, Sonya)
- the upcoming session of Camp Jake, the campers and the caregivers
Fr. Sadoni was very excited to hear that The Red Thread is working to secure 20 computers to be sent to St. Vincent's in order to set up a much-needed computer lab for students! To top it off, we were excited to learn that our main concern—that of consistent power to run the computers—has already been addressed. A new electrical breaker has been installed on the grounds that provides uninterrupted power in the classrooms and offices. A dedicated, secure space will be prepared to set up a fully functioning computer lab in the school. The Red Thread team will then travel to St. Vincent's to help set up the lab and do some of the initial training of lab workers and older students who will mentor the younger ones as they learn to use the computers. What a blessing!
All Terrain Wheelchairs (ATWs)
One of the things that makes The Red Thread stand out from the "drop it and run" relief organizations is our commitment to the people we serve and the supplies that we send. With each trip, we check on those using our wheelchairs as well as the chairs themselves, looking for signs of wear and tear, making sure they are in good working order, talking to the people using the chairs to provide input, always on the lookout for areas of improvement.
Kathy surrounded by workers from the prosthetics shop
Inserting the new tubes
Testing out the tire pumps
Making sure everything is in good order!
During our trip in January 2012, we noted that some of the tires weren't holding air as well as anticipated. After much research, Kathy secured alternate tubes as well as several different kinds of pumps for the St. Vincent's crew to try. Kathy and Tom worked hand-in-hand with the St. Vincent's team to change out many of the tubes with the new ones and tested all of the air pumps. Scheduled maintenance has been set up and will be done on the chairs every 2 weeks to ensure that they are always in top working order for their owners. After determining if these tubes hold air better than the originals, we will order new tubes for all of the wheelchairs.
Camp JakeTomorrow is the big day for Camp Jake. The team will scout 2 new locations to see if there is another facility with better accessibility for those in wheelchairs. They will also be spending time looking for Haitian markets where more of the camp supplies can be purchased in-country, instead of purchasing everything in the US and carrying it in. We are always looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality.
As details were ironed out and plans discussed for all of these projects, that red thread of destiny was revealed again. Our team felt a spine-tingling connection to the administration, staff and students of St. Vincent's. We know we are in this for the long haul. We hope you are too. Join us during this journey of providing hope and healing to some of Haiti's most vulnerable children. Through your financial support and volunteerism we can and are making a difference in the lives of these kids.
Fr. Sadoni and Tom