Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hurricane Matthew Update - THANK YOU supporters!

Post Hurricane Matthew sleeping quarters of sisters
For two years Reiser Relief has partnered with Catholic sisters in the little town of Marfranc, in far southwest Haiti. The sisters provide refuge and housing for the vulnerable and elderly, education for children and basic health care.

Convent under construction
Last October, Hurricane Matthew pounded western Haiti. Marfranc was blasted for 2 days with category 5 winds and torrential downpours.  After the hurricane, the community looked like it had been hit by an atomic bomb. Leaves, trees, roofs, walls were stripped, toppled, twisted and blown away.

Just 5 months later, Marfranc looks lush again. Some trees survived and new leaves have grown. Plants and shrubs have sprung back to live.  Some damaged buildings are repaired and many are under repair.

At Asile Marfranc, because of your support and generosity:

Lunch at school

  •        34 elderly are in sleeping on new beds in a temporary shelter, receiving food and care daily. A permanent structure will be built this fall after the rainy season ends.
  •        60 children have returned to school in temporary structures. The children receive a hearty lunch each day supplemented by emergency relief food that you made possible.
  •        The main school is being repaired by Haitians with a concrete roof that is better suited to withstand hurricanes. It will be completed in May, and ready to receive children this fall as we expand to another grade. The workers are receiving a living wage for their labors.
  •        The medical dispensary is up and running, providing for the health needs of the community
  •        A second storage container is on site, providing a safe and dry place to stash construction materials
  •        A solar suitcase is in place allowing the sisters to charge lights and phones providing critical security and safety at night.
  •        The convent for the sisters is being repaired by Haitians. This will allow the 3 sisters to move from cramped quarters on their front porch and to live in a more comfortable and secure environment. The repairs include an expansion of the kitchen to allow for an improved community gathering space

New beds for elderly
Fixing front of school
Challenges remain. The area is just coming out of a two-month drought. Unfortunately, many gardens planted right after the hurricane withered. Construction materials remain difficult to find and expensive to buy. Food is still in short supply, especially in remote mountain areas that are difficult to reach.  When it does rain, roads are exceedingly muddy and in some places nearly impassable. Many homes still lack roofs.
School repairs underway
Inside new storage container...concrete and rebar

The community of Marfranc is so blessed by your love and generosity.  We thank God for our supporters. Please continue to lift the people of Marfranc and southwest Haiti up in prayer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tap Tap

Day # 5 – Another busy day for Team Reiser.  We traveled to the Home for Sick and Dying Adults and volunteered our services by applying lotion to the residents as well as polishing the ladies’ nails. Then it was onto Leogane where we visited the Guardian Angels School.  We were given a tour of the school and spent time playing with the students.  Finally, we arrived at The Village of Jesus, a home for elderly women.  We polished nails, washed feet, applied lotion, and gave a concert for the women.

While we spend most of our day serving, we also spend much of our time traveling to the locations in our Tap-Tap.  What is a Tap-Tap you ask?  Tap-Taps are gaily-painted, converted trucks that serve as share taxis in Haiti.  Passengers ride in the bed of a truck, often in a “cage,” similar to circus animals.  Who needs amusement park rides when you can ride in a Tap-Tap?  The constant jerking and bouncing of the body would truly rival Valley Fair’s Wild Thing any day.  Pavement in Haiti is almost non-existent as most roads consist of rocks, cement chunks, and pot holes the size of a small Volkswagen. While bumping along the streets of Haiti, we are bombarded with the local sights, sounds, and smells:
Sights:  Street vendors selling their wares; Haitian people in their colorful attire; motorcycles darting in and out of traffic; buildings in various stages of construction as well as demise; wandering goats, dogs, chickens, and the occasional pig; the ever-present piles of garbage lining the streets, contrasted by the beauty of the flowering bougainvillea’s.

Smells:  Diesel exhaust billowing from the thousands of vehicles on the road; the unpleasant odor of decay; the pungent smell of burning garbage mixed with the aromatic smell of food vendors cooking.

Sounds:  The roaring engines of large trucks; Haitians greeting one another in their native Creole; radio music blaring from Tap-Taps, and non-stop horn honking.

Commuting in Haiti is a rush of trucks, cars, motorcycles, and Tap-Taps using any space on the road available (even the sidewalk if necessary), without adherence to your typical lane direction. Passing, turning, approaching, ‘hellos’ and other needs are communicated to other drivers by a series of specific horn honks. Driving in New York might seem like a boring walk in the park to a driver in Haiti. Yet, despite the absence of stop lights or road signs, the Haitian people seem to have a system. They understand the unwritten rules and remain calm in any situation.  It’s organized chaos.
Over the past week, we’ve gotten used to traveling the streets of Haiti and life in the Tap-Tap.  Fortunately, we’ve been blessed with an extremely competent driver, Maxime. While he safely navigates through the streets of Haiti, our team is able to enjoy each other’s company, making our time in the Tap-Tap a memorable part of our mission trip.

Marie Brau & Colleen Trebelhorn

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Father Stanley

“Our parish is deprived of everything. Especially after Hurricane Matthew who left us with empty hands. I share what I have with the people. When I have no more things to share, I talk with them, pray with them, sing with them, and am present in their lives.”

Ste Anne's Church, Basse Voldrogue, Haiti
Father Stanley was not what I was expecting. The joyful man who bounded out to greet us at the dispensary / rectory / community center / parish office / food distribution center was so…. young. He made us hand printed welcome signs and offered us coca cola. Shouldn’t he be an associate pastor or a youth minister? How could he have responsibility for one of the poorest parishes in the Jeremie, Haiti, diocese where sadly the 130-year-old church AND the rectory were ruined by Hurricane Matthew in October, 2016?

The main occupation of his parishioners? Charcoal making and subsistence farming
Do you get support from the diocese? Sometimes
Do you get support from the government? Ha ha ha!

“I trust God, God will provide.”

Fr. Stanley's well tended garden
And God provides…through Fr. Stanley,
·      Education for over 200 kids ages 3-8th grade.
·      A thriving garden and chicken coop
·      Food for the community
·      Medical dispensary
·      Daily mass wherever they can find space (in classrooms or on the narrow school porch)
·      Visits when possible at 2 outreach chapels. One is only accessible by foot. It’s a 5-hour round trip for Father Stanley. The other is accessible by moto – not car
·      Saturday afternoon choir rehearsals and community gathering time complete with candy for the kids (I really want to visit sometime on a Saturday!)
·      A place for the community to gather and watch futbol – via Fr. Stanley’s technological expertise with antennas and Natcom internet stick

We brought gifts – vestments and a Holy Water sprinkler. Baby blankets and rosaries. We promised to share his story, do what we can, pray.

My sister Ann and I told Fr. Stanley that his name was special to us because he shares the same name as our dad, Stanley Leger. Smiles, connections, relationship building and finding ways that we can walk together in service to our amazing God….

Bless you, Father Stanley Fleuriot!


Joyce Getchell