Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Welcome, Sandra!

Sandra and fiance Abdias
We are excited to welcome a new member of our PID team! Meet Sandra Sonley, our new Haiti Field Director.

Hometown:​ I grew up in Warrenton, VA. But I've been around the Beverly, MA, area since college and that has felt like home for the past few years.

Education:​ Bachelors degrees in Biblical Studies and French from Gordon College. Master of Social Work from Salem State University.

Family: My parents, sister (Beka) and extended family are all in Virginia and Maryland.​ My fiance, Abdias, and his family are in Haiti. My church family is in the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Hobbies:​ I used to knit and I brought knitting supplies with me to Haiti to try and get back into it. I like a good story to read or listen to. My mom gave me a copy of Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. It takes place in Haiti in the 18th century. I started it a long time ago but I'm just now getting into it. Also, the past four months I was doing (or attempting - haha!) CrossFit where I was living in Beverly. Really tough, but really kicked me into shape!

How did you first get involved with PID?
​I always had hesitations about short-term service trips, but my friend from Gordon convinced me to volunteer on a service trip in May of 2010. Gale was there at the same time as our team, and I was sold on their model of partnership and their transparency as a service organization. A few years after that​, I ended up intern​ing​ for about 11 months for PID in Haiti.

What were you doing before you became the field director?
I just finished my MSW degree at Salem State University at the end of August. It was a long ride, but I learned a lot.​ I also worked as a case manager for a social service organization, which taught me a lot about what low income families face in the US.

Why did you decide to come on board full-time with PID, and what are you most excited about in your new role?

If you've ever been to PID in Haiti, or spent any length of time there, you know it’s pretty easy to fall in love with the people and their mentality and resilience. The work PID does can get complicated and there are some very hard aspects (at least it seemed to me as an intern), but I see the fruit of their commitment and I know it is all really, really worth it! ​I am most excited about working with the same people and lots of new staff as well. I was there for the better part of a year for my internship, so I know a lot of the people who work there. The laughter among staff and the culture of the clinic is pretty irresistible. I know that the relational aspect of how Haitians approach work will make the harder parts of the job worth it.

You're now about a week in to your new position. What has surprised and/or challenged you so far?
So far so good! The hardest part and most surprising part has been driving here; it takes all my concentration and I feel like the roads are a maze. But it hasn't been as hard as I've though. ​

What is your greatest hope for Haiti?
Since Haiti receives so much help from so many thousands of organizations, it’s possible to feel like they are all coming in to try and “fix” Haiti. When you come down here the airplane is full of volunteers and workers from dozens of charities and NGO's, which is great on the one hand. Sometimes, though, it’s possible to forget that despite the good intentions we can bring in, people and communities are transformed when they make things happen for themselves. Outside help can simply provide encouragement, tools and other resources for that. My hope is that progress for the country really will be a partnership between people of Haiti and the outside organizations that come in, and will take Haiti to a place that the people of Haiti want to see it go. I also have a hope for us who are “outsiders” coming in, that we will be open to how much we gain from partnerships like this, and let that inform the nature of our service.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Transformation Through Education

In the spirit of back-to-school season, here’s a little quiz for you: How many years will a typical child in Haiti or Guatemala spend in school during their lifetime?

Before you answer, let’s first consider how many years most of our children spend in school. For many, we’re looking at 13-14 years to start, plus another four for college and potentially more after that. Some of our kids will spend upwards of 20 years in school.

How many years do kids in Haiti and Guatemala spend?


And those four years come at a cost, too. In Haiti, families must pay tuition for each child in school; in Guatemala, tuition is charged after 6th grade.

At 40% primary school completion rate, Guatemala is ranked lowest in Central America. 10% of students complete lower secondary school and only 8.5% pursue higher education. There are further disparities between genders and in rural areas.

In Haiti, approximately 35% of youth are unable to read. The government has little to no involvement in closing this gap.

Because Haiti and Guatemala are some of the poorest places in the world, families need “all hands on deck” to make a living and keep food on the table. A child in school means one less set of hands to help run the family business or till the fields. After just a few short years of schooling, children are often forced to drop out in order to work and relieve the family of school expenses (such as tuition, books, supplies and uniforms), which present a significant financial burden.

Children who leave school to work become trapped in the cycle of poverty that has shackled their family and community for so long. Education is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming individuals, families and communities. Children who receive a quality education open their world to immense possibilities.

PID’s child sponsorship program helps kids stay in school well beyond the average completion time by covering the cost of school expenses and providing medical and nutrition care, which are essential to fostering learning. Once they reach high school age, our higher education program jumps in to help them complete their education and even go on to college. These programs are changing lives and transforming families by making education accessible.

  • Learn more about our child sponsorship programs in Haiti and Guatemala
  • Learn more about our higher education programs in Haiti and Guatemala

As the school year kicks off, you’ll probably find yourself waiting in the school pick-up line or sitting in traffic behind a frequently-stopping school bus. In those moments, image what it would mean to have only four years of schooling in your entire life. And, maybe, as you gather last minute back-to-school supplies this year, consider throwing a few extra items onto your cart. Our list of needed supplies includes everything from medical supplies and clothes to soap and peanut butter, and helps PID continue serving the poorest of the poor through educational support and many other programs.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Team arrived safely and is working hard

Team all arrived safely on Weds. We are currently having electrical issues so please forgive us for not reporting sooner. 

The construction people are working hard to finish the floor of the administration so we can paint and move in. 

The Antioch group is working hard counseling and running a study in the afternoon. 

The yoga group is running a kids program. 

Gena is working hard in the clinic and loving it. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Update from Haiti

The last few weeks have been super busy with travel for me. I guess I had to expect I would have to make up for time lost in travel during my hip replacement recovery. So I have been to Haiti, Guatemala and now back to Haiti in the last four weeks. Today I am arriving in Haiti with a counseling group. They have been studying the effects of natural disaster on children. Haitian children tend to be some of the most resilient in the world.

Monday, July 21, 2014

One day of work left

Today the team continued to work on the house. A few stayed back to continue helping with stocking the shelves, shadowing in the clinic and bagging vitamins. Mrs Parvulus shared her political story of Haiti . We had cake to celebrate a team members 50 birthday. 
This night I was grateful for these young men and women who gave up their time 
To work in Haiti. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1/2 day and then off to sightsee

The team all worked up the mountain today. Sonia , the woman, who's house they are building came for a visit in Blanchard. She was so excited. 

The team went downtown and to the national museum . They finished with dinner at Epidor . 

Today we went to church in Archai and then spent the rest of the day at the beach. Many in the group went snorkeling. 
Returned home to a nice dinner of lasagna and spinach. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Heat continues

Today three ladies stayed back and spent the day cleaning the pharmacy depot and bagging meds and vitamins. The clinic saw quite a few people, a lot of the kids had fevers. 

The team returned a little early because the heat and dust was so intense. 

They went to a Haitian movie tonight at a tiny "theatre" down one block. 

I am checking in early tonight as we had many meetings today. More tomorrow from team members. 

Hot, sunny and more hot

The team went to work
This morning at Canaan. It was very hot. Tom had to stay back and help with the bagging of vitamins because he hurt his foot and couldn't do construction, tonight he shared that although he didn't get to
Do anything spectacular today it made him realize that each job was important. 

Most of the rest of the team did a great job even in the heat . It was a great first day.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Team Arrives in Guatemala

The team from Hamilton Congregational arrived this evening after a long day of travelling. They had a delicious dinner followed by a quick orientation meeting. Then it was off to bed!

Tomorrow they will split into three groups to do construction, VBS and painting.

Team in Haiti arrives

The team from Maine arrived in Haiti . They have been traveling since 1:30AM. 
Tomorrow they will travel to Canaan to start a foundation for house number 13 in that area. Today we counted up all the houses we built since 2001, added on to or fixed up after the earthquake and we had 121!