The Advance Party – Week Three – 26th November 2012

This week Ailish explores foster/sponsorship programmes and prepares for the Christmas concert and children’s party.
‘Well my first venture with the choral group went well. I only played one song very quietly in the background. I had a second outing with the choir on Monday as we had a mass for Sr Yvonne and her brother. Sr Yvonne had retired and had been living at the orphanage for the past two years. She died the week of Hurricane Sandy. Her brother was the man who originally founded the orphanage in the 1970s. After mass we went to visit her grave and I found it very emotional.
With the stores fairly well sorted I took a break from the manual labour and worked on a Needs Assessment and Project Plan for the rest of the week. When it is all put into one document it makes for some block of work and that was just my first draft – before Damien’s input. I am also looking at some potential funding organisations that we could apply to and the idea is to devise a joint strategy to maximise the funding we can get for the area.
We also got an interesting piece of work this week from some visitors we had here on Sunday who are looking to set up a fostering/sponsor program. There needs to be a proper structure so I am working on that.
While a sponsorship program could be a great idea it actually can cause a lot of issues for the child and/or family being supported. Badly structured programs run the risk of creating dependency, undermining the family structure or causing resentment with the community. We are carrying out a family assessment for one child at the orphanage who came to us when his mother died. We had a meeting with the father this week as he visits his son regularly which is a good sign. We plan to visit the family next week to see what conditions are like with a preference that with the right support the child could return to live with his family.
We have had more rain this weekend and December started off with six new cases of cholera. We had 45 confirmed cases in November, most from the same area. We have been sending out the information and aqua tabs but Sr Flora doesn’t think it is having an effect. There were a few cases of stomach bugs at the orphanage this week and we have been restricting visitors and improving controls to ensure we don’t have a bigger issue.
Music lessons and crafts with the children is pandemonium and we clashed with homework group so this week we had singing 2-3 and crafts or singing from 4-5. Attendance for concert practice was way down on Wednesday but a packet of sweets meant we were back to full attendance by Thursday! On Saturday morning Chavane and I went to visit Grande Plaine where he teaches. We could call it a road but I would use the term very loosely, I took some photographs and we will have to chat about it as the tractor will have to travel some of this route. The area around Grande Plaine is mainly agricultural and there is plenty of land for training on operating the tractor so I will make enquiries. We saw some good houses although we passed through one area along the waterfront that is far worse than anything in Madame Bernard. There is a small orphanage in Grande Plaine which looks in good condition and is funded by a group in the US, I will try to meet them before I leave. We also visited Sable Blan (White sands) beach and I think I’ll never see a poor day again, it is the most gorgeous place and that is saying something on this island.
With a busy week coming up I’m due a break so I am spending Saturday and Sunday night at Abaka bay. Then it is full steam ahead for the football festival, the Christmas concert and the party all happening next weekend. We have some special guests lined up so I am really looking forward to the children’s reaction. I will tell you all about it in next week’s report.’

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