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New Start in a "Dead-End Town”
March 7, 2011

Thanks to our supporters, UPLIFT Haiti carried out activities at two project locations in Haiti during the week of February 17-24.

You can find out more about these and other UPLIFT Haiti projects at our March 26 buffet dinner and fundraiser. Please visit uplifthaiti.org/savethedate.htm for details and to RSVP.

This news update focuses on our team's visit to a home-economics program in Baradères, a village that some local youths call the "Dead End Town." The next update will describe major progress at our computer center in Kay Mak, a few miles south of Baradères. The town is literally a dead end—the terminus of the region's potholed dirt road—and figuratively it offers few reasons why young people would imagine a bright future here.

One of those reasons, however, is a home-economics vocational program to which UPLIFT Haiti has begun supplying material and technical support. Our team, consisting of UPLIFT Haiti chair Judith Nestor and volunteers John Spencer and Fr. Doug Koesel, arrived there February 18.

The home economics program is operated by Sr. Denise Desil of the Little Sisters of St. Therèse. Sr. Denise leads a small group of dedicated sisters who staff the small government-owned medical clinic in Baradères. The clinic grounds today are crowded with tents. Inside the tents are people laid low with cholera. Over 900 people have been treated in the tents during the current epidemic. At least 60 people have died. The numbers of sick are declining, but the sisters remain vigilant.

The home-economics classes are held in a multipurpose room on the clinic grounds. The 2-year, tuition-free program provides marketable skills in sewing, embroidery and cooking. Currently, 36 women are enrolled, ranging in age from 23 to 46, and there are three instructors. Most of the women have not completed high school. They have little or no financial means but are motivated to better their lives.  They hope the program will teach them the skills they need to work in or start a restaurant or catering business, or to become entrepreneurs by manufacturing clothing and other sewn or embroidered goods.

The team spent almost a full day with the women on Feb. 19.

"We met energetic and highly motivated young women who really need our help," Judith said. "I explained to them the premises of our organization. I emphasized that, while UPLIFT Haiti wants to help them get a start, it is up to them to continue on the path. It is up to them to take advantage of the opportunity that the home economics program and UPLIFT Haiti are giving them. They agreed. I also told them that we are volunteers and that I want them to do the same for their people upon graduation in 2 years."

Material support delivered by our team included an electric sewing machine, 25 yards of fabric, 350 packets of cotton and silk embroidery floss, and ribbon and other accessories.

To further support the project we are fundraising to provide a stove, kitchen utensils, additional sewing machines (preferably manually operated), an embroidery machine, small portable solar-power units, and sewing and embroidery supplies (fabric, thread, floss, and tools such as scissors, measuring tape, fabric markers, thimbles).

Many of these items can be purchased from our Amazon and Target wish lists. Links to these lists are on the "Save the Date" web page here.

Embroidery classwork
Above, embroidery class projects. Below, two of the three instructors, Sr. Welone (second from left) and Ms. Nadege (fourth from left), examine the students' projects.
home-economics class


Sr. Denise with instructors
Sr. Denise (left) with instructors Sr. Welone and Mr. Amazon.


Cholera tents
UNICEF tents where cholera patients are cared for.


Unite People to Learn, Inspire and Form Together."

© UPLIFT Haiti