Bien Amie Souvnel volunteered to be my representative in Aquin. Peace Corps asks the community to provide a contact person to help the volunteer to integrate into the community. He took his job very seriously and we had an ongoing relationship for two years. He worked with me diligently on the Briket project (A work study program where we made fuel for school kitchens from paper and wood chips). I loaned him money to put a roof on his house, which he repaid. He was a teacher in the local church school and tried a variety of farming projects. For a number of years he managed the money that I sent to Haiti and made sure it got to where it was supposed to go. After he left for Mexico to work his wife Yolette has been managing the money distribution. They have been very honest and the money has always been delivered. He has three kids. Two are in the 9th grade and one in the 8th. The youngest seems to be the most academically motivated. The teenagers are, well, teenagers. Hard to read where they want to put their energies. They are wonderful kids. I stayed at their house for two weeks in 2004 and 2012. Bien Amie is now in the states working in Boston. One thought I have is to hire him to manage the on-the-ground work for the nonprofit so he can go back home. He has been gone for four years and really wants to go back.
This family lived a few yards from my home in Aquin. Souvline, Naline and Roseline adopted me and practiced being mom. When we greet it is mama mwen, My Mama or Petiti mwen, my child. Benel, their older brother, hung out on my porch. He worked hard on the project I managed, which gave him tuition for school. A bright kid and an artist. He eventually apprenticed as a woodworker (Ebinis) and is working on his own making furniture. He needs help with buying tools and, of all the kids, is the most likely at this point to be able to make a good living. Souvline is in Nursing school and Naline has graduated and wants to start Nursing school. Roseline is two years from graduation and wants to become a Nurse. Their younger sister Naline is in 9th grade and says she wants to be a Nurse. Their youngest brother was killed by a car not far from their house last year.
This family lived in back of my house. Michelle the father is a laborer and seemed to be able to find work. He makes cement blocks and does other odd jobs. A very kind man and hard worker. His wife was a teacher and now works as a cook at the school. Two of her boys worked on the Briket project to earn tuition and they are both professional schools. (Engineering and Law). Their sister Suzanne is in Nursing. Oldest brother Mano is not in school but would like to go. Junior is in 10th grade and wants to go in Journalism. And the youngest Amos is now in 9th grade. They also have several other children that they usually help support. A wonderful family. They were in the process of building a house to replace the ram shackled home they had and is now almost complete. A poor proud and lively group.
Marlene Bontemps lived in shouting distance from my home. She had three children. He husband died in a boating accident just after I arrived. He was a teacher. I never met him. In the span of two years she lost her father, mother and husband. Nancy Burch, a friend, was sending her money for her daughter to attend school. A beautiful young woman who died mysteriously in 2003. I have help Marlene since with putting a roof on her house and providing seed money for her to start a road side business. Her oldest son has a mechanic shop partly in her home. He seems to have work. There is a ton of motor cycles in Aquin now. He and his brother are now enrolled in a class to learn construction that is part of a Professional school I worked with in Aquin.
Admarie lived in front of my house. She had seven kids 5 girls and 2 boys. They were an integral part of my everyday life. John the husband was intermittently present as he would leave to go fishing. He sailed me once to an outer island.. After the earthquake their home was destroyed by flooding from the hurricane. Three of the girls live in Port au Prince and all are in school. Cassandra is in a Nursing program, Nataline and Cataline are in HS both headed into Nursing, Ruth dropped out of school last year to have a baby. She told me she wanted to be a Doctor. Fafoun is married with a three year old.
Wederson and Jon are in Middle School. (they went back to school this year because of EHF’s financial input.
Madam Fred proved to be the greatest teacher for me in Haiti. When I visited Aquin for the first time I stayed at her home which was a trial. 10 kids, father gone, no real visible means of support and they wanted me to live with them. I could not. It was too hard. They eventually lost their house and moved into a shack close to the water. I hired her as my cook and for 2 years visited two times a day and got to know her and her family. Fred was a mystery man. In hiding from the law he would show up after 6 months but not be present. Eventually he was arrested but got out. He now has a successful business with some trucking. I do not know the whole story.
Madam Fred is a Merchant now. I helped them buy a house just before I left and it has proven to be a wonderful home which had a store front that she and her family have made into a business. All the family participates, but Madam Fred and her daughter Manuska are the movers and shakers.
The kids have all attended school. Manuska is the Merchant (Madam Sarah). Egans, who worked on the Briket project re-entered school this year. He was in an auto accident and in a comma for 4 days. I am helping him get his license and hope he may be able to find work driving. Fredline graduated and was in her second year of Nursing school when the earthquake collapsed the building killing every one including the Directors, but she was not in school that day. She did get pulled out of a building but thankfully is fine. I am trying to get her back into a Nursing school in Okay. Dina lives in Port au Prince in a room with a great aunt I believe. I did not get a chance to find out where she is in the schooling process. I know she is not attending now. Fredo is in High School and wants to go into Law, Mechanics or Farming. Fredrick is in High School. I am not sure of his desire. Francis is in 10th grade probable interested in Nursing. Berlando is in 9th grade is learning English. Jefta who I think is alive because I helped find medical attention when she was 11/2 is now in 8th grade and doing well in school. Sese, who was born after I left, is in 1st grade.