Saturday, January 30, 2010

Leisa's Haiti Journal #6 -- "Survivor Camps"

2010 Haiti Journal #6 Survivor Camps January 27, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

On a good day, Port au Prince streets are dusty evidence of years of road neglect mixed with sidewalk-kitchen's charcoal smoke and plumes of unchecked diesel exhaust. Now death mixes with the dust, causing folks to reach anxious arms into the back of our truck when I pulled out my own face mask, a tactical error on my part. Another bounce of our pick-up truck forced more dust up from earthquake rubble kicking back. Our six bags of meds and supplies were safe. We all felt safe, maybe even more than any other time in Haiti. The people are numb, my friends are numb and in lucky moments I felt numb too.

It’s those other moments you have to watch out for. Those times when the death and agony take on faces and sounds you think you will never stop hearing and seeing.

Working at the Matthew 25 house field hospital brought many of those moments; the near ghost of a woman carried out post-surgery from our dining room table, who wouldn’t make it through the night; the young girl who took her place on the dining room table; the newly arrived doctor from the states who couldn’t stop muttering as we transferred one of his patients onto a dirty piece of cardboard in the dust…“this is post-op?…this is post-op?….this is post-op?”

But between them all was a special end to the day. After working with a local doctor in the make-shift pharmacy we heard something quite welcome and different rise up from the field out back. Sweet voices raised in prayer and song drew us again out into the soccer-field-turned-survivor-camp. Without electricity, running water or enough to eat, everyone in the survivor camp seemed to remember it was Sunday, and welcomed us into their circle. I could have as well been in any Californian congregation during the “peace-be-with-you-welcome”. A local Haitian priest presided over the sacrament. Someone found a drum to gently respond to the cadence. We shook hands and felt lifted for a moment out of the shared sorrow, or maybe lifted because we were all sharing the same sorrow. There was mostly and profoundly, calm.

Days later, we distributed all the medical supplies we carried and came home. We stock up, and in just one week will return on Thursday with a team of ten and over a thousand pounds of medicine and supplies. Please remember to keep pledging…or just encourage someone you know to make their own pledge. We are in this recovery for the long haul…there is much work to do…but as the Haitian saying goes, “many hands make the burden lighter.”

If you want to see some of the images from our January trip into Haiti, please take a moment to look over these images by Paul Taggart (for AARP). Thanks Paul, for staying in Haiti and helping even after your assignment finished.

peace, leisa

Leisa Faulkner, Executive Director
Children's Hope
3025 A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trumka on Obama and the State of the Union

Note the Sacramento Rally on Feb.11. See below.

Initiative campaign for majority rule in California

Join the campaign
The  California Majority Rule campaign  and the Progressive Alliance is presently circulating petitions to place an initiative on the  California ballot for majority rule- that is for democracy.  And, we invite you to join us. The Sacramento Progressive Alliance has decided upon this campaign as a priority. 
California is in deep trouble because it has a anti democratic limits on the legislature.  George Lakoff  sent to the Attorney General a ballot proposition for the 2010 ballot called The California Democracy Act,  which simply says,
All legislative action on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.
It’s just  this one sentence.  It would change two words in the Constitution, turning "two-thirds" to "majority" in two places.
Democracy is the main issue in  here.  More democracy  is required for progress on the budget.  The two-thirds rules have an anti-democratic effect. Our legislature is currently under minority rule. One-third plus one -- only 34% -- of either the Assembly or Senate can and do  block the will of the majority.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sacramento Jobs Rally

Jobs Rally 


Thursday, February 11th @ 12 PM
State Capitol – North Steps

California’s jobs crisis is severe.  The unemployment rate in California is among the highest in the nation.  Come hear Labor’s agenda to create new jobs in California and throughout the nation!

For more information, please contact Zak Ford at 916-927-9772 or

Monday, January 25, 2010

Haiti: news report

The Channel 10 news report of Paul and Leisa is up on the web.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

California students face class struggle

Sac State Students and Faculty protest Jan.25-26,2010.
News article.
At 2:29 p.m. on Jan. 12, Juan Macias, 19, a sophomore at San Francisco State University, sat in a cafe near the engineering firm where he works part time as an office assistant, staring at a laptop computer screen.

In one minute he would get a crucial opportunity to register for classes for the spring semester. “This is so nerve-wracking," he said as he waited for the clock to signal that his assigned registration period had begun.
Hours earlier, scrutinizing the class schedule, he considered about 30 courses — then had to rule all of them out. They were full. The last slot on the waiting list for a 146-seat introductory physics class he has been trying to join for a year had disappeared minutes before, taken by another student with an earlier registration period.
“You’re trying to compete with all the other students, when we all want education,” said Mr. Macias, a business major. “It really makes me angry.” His classes — the ones that had an opening — begin on Monday.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wake up call - Fight Back ! Richard Trumka

Marc Cooper on the Mass election

So there goes Mass of all places and, with it, perhaps health care. And maybe the Obama presidency. Or maybe not.
Here are a quick few conclusions I draw from this spectacle:
-- We knew all along that the Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 owed in great part to rejection of George W. Bush and a bankrupt Republican Party more than it did to a pro-active love for Democrats.
-- The election of Barack Obama did not heal the racial divide in America. He merely and temporarily bridged it because he was, indeed, an inspiring alternative to the crumb-bum Bushies (and that includes a dottering McCain and a wacky Palin).  But as soon as elected and the shine was off, the racial divide widened up again led by those strange creatures known as "independents" ( i.e. basically conservative white folks who look upon politics the way hotel guests view room service).
-- Once in power, the Democrats garishly demonstrated their inability not only to enact meaningful, swift and profound reform but also revealed a basic inability to provide leadership on any major issue.
-- The person of Barack Obama remains one of great integrity and intelligence but he has clearly erred in too closely following a Clintonista strategy embodied in such dubious characters as Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers.
-- Obama conceded way too much power to a feckless and literally corrupt Congress. He pandered to such dolts as Baucus and Lieberman instead of going to the Hill early on and sternly warning his delegation that he was elected on a mandate of real change and real change is what he wanted and wanted NOW.

Haiti Journal #5

2010 Haiti Journal #5 January 20, 2010 Carrying Babies Out
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (layover)

Dear Friends and Family,

There is so much to tell...latest news first:

We aren't sure we are coming home yet.

Not five minutes off the small plane last night from the Dominican Republic (story next time), we were asked to go back into Haiti to hand-carry out babies that need transport. Paul turned to me ans said, "I guess you want to go do that".

I nodded. He said he couldn't let me go back alone. We are waiting for details now.

We are emotionally on over-load. As Doctor Jim Morgan confided in me yesterday in Cite Soleil, the transition between depression and manic doesn't seem to happen in these conditions, they just exist together. He had seen between 45-50 amputations in two days at the bigger hospitals where he pulls two and three shifts. Dr Joey said that yesterday was the first 24 hour period without "after-shocks". Everything is a shock in Haiti, even for those of us who have been going in for years.

We stood still for a moment (rare for Dr.'s in Haiti) as we waited at the back of the "Lamp for Haiti" clinic for our traditional flat tire to be replaced (we have never gone a day in Haiti without a car breaking down - making schedule keeping a trick). We stood at the back of the “Lamp for Haiti” clinic in Cite Soleil. We had finished putting away piles of medical supplies that we had re-packed into four bulging bags. A flood of images flashed by.

On our way to the clinic yesterday morning we had passed the same neglected dead bodies on the road that we had the day before, photographed the same growing camps of people without shelter, watched small women with heavy loads pat other women in affection as they pass by other women friends who may be boiling plantain in hot oil, or dusting off used shoes they lay on the sidewalk for sale. Haitian women work every hour of the day...and usually can be seen by tiny oil lamp selling bits of candy or other treats at night. They seem to wake before dawn, because at daybreak I usually catch them scrubbing down a child or two with strong determined hands.

At the clinic yesterday I soothed and they sewed up a young man with a six day old gaping wound that wrapped his wrist and threatened to take his hand. Dr. Joey managed to do what I call a miracle. I only wish I had brought more lidocane...what I did bring wore off quickly as the teenage boy writhed in pain at each miraculous stitch (no one I know at the larger clinics would dare to sew a days-old wound) but he was determined. The teenage boy squeezed my hand tighter. Later, I told Mimi, the clinic manager, that it was a miracle, and she said, “Well, that's what we do here, we save things, we don't cut them off.”

While we waited for the tire, Paul and I followed the sound of a basketball into the next yard to watch a teenage boy play basketball without a net and re-committed to making a backboard happen, when we heard screams. I caught sight of a woman in full regal African dress wailing and running through the tight maze of crumbling homemade cinder block after rushing home to Haiti to discover the local priest was killed. Her friends couldn't contain her or her grief.

A few minutes later, two boys old enough to be in school, if there were one, had just given up teaching me the game they play with BB-size charcoal (as chalk) and 6 stones, and I followed a “baby” in to see Dr. Jim. Babies are so soothing to the soul...they make you stop thinking about yourself. I played my little hand game with him, but he didn't respond like most babies. After the mother and child stepped aside, he lowered his voice and confided...that is a 5 year old child she is carrying. I looked could I have missed it? Jim said he couldn't believe it at first either. Then I noticed in the “baby's” mouth were six year old rotten molars. His pencil legs lay resigned around his mother's hips. This time we had brought the medicine he needed...but I noticed only two bottles children's vitamins left in the chest of the dozens we brought in last doctor prescribed a weeks is the best we can do for now. The infection threatens him more right now.

Manic and depressed are blended...we cry and laugh and work all at the same time. Those who know me know that I am a pushover. I cry when I laugh, and when I see baby powder commercials. Yet, I find myself laughing at Mimi's or Paul's jokes, involuntarily sometimes. Then in a quiet moment the images comeback with the tears.

I will have to tell you the story of the Dominican Republic trip and the basketball hoop in another journal. We are waiting to hear if we go back in to carry babies out of Haiti. We had only stood on U.S. soil for a few minutes when we heard we may be needed to go back into Haiti. How can we say no?

My goal in the next few hours is to try to find medical supply donations in Ft Lauderdale to re-pack our bags with. I took a bath with my clothes last night so they would have most of the dirt off them.

Please know that your messages of support and pledges for Children's Hope really help, not only the work in Haiti, but my spirits. I am sorry I don't have time to respond personally to each of you. But I wish I could hug each one of you and give the traditional Haitian kiss.
peace, leisa

Last night we were again gifted by connection with “Clean The World” to have them arrange to have one of the few private planes donating free passage in and out of Haiti for emergency patients, aid going in, and for people like us who had delivered supplies. Thank you to Bob for giving us a seat on his plane last night. We have tickets to fly home from Florida tonight, so were trying to leave Port au Prince yesterday to make that connection. Don't really know where we are going now.

In Haiti, the need is everywhere...and it will be a very long recovery. Please know how very much every dollar counts. It is not that there is no food in Haiti, but that the people are so very poor, and now there is clearly no work. For folks that live on less than $2 a day, when costs are as high as the US, then to be grieving, injured and out of a desperate situation. We are staying in touch with donation pledges remotely, so please spread the word, share a journal or bit of story...every bit helps.

Also, I am sorry to be out of contact so often, but the conditions in Haiti did not allow for electricity for communication (don't worry Dr. Ben – the laptop held power). Many satellite towers are down, and without electricity then many routers won't work. peace.


Leisa Faulkner
Founder, Children's Hope
3025 A Cambridge Road, Cameron Park, CA 95682

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Democrats must stand for something

Subject: Massachusetts

Watching a conservative Republican replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate is devastating.

But as bad as the news is this morning, there's actually one reason to be hopeful.

For the last year, Democrats in Washington have let lobbyists and corporate interests run roughshod over the peoples' business. Wall Street got bailouts. Bankers got bonuses. Big Insurance rewrote the health care bill. Meanwhile, ordinary Americans struggled to make ends meet.

But now, finally, Democrats know they need to change course. The question is, will they learn exactly the wrong lesson? Will they give up on change altogether? Drop health care reform? Follow the lead of conservatives like Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh embrace "Republican-lite"?

I just signed MoveOn's petition to make sure Democrats don't get it wrong this time. It's time to demand that they start truly fighting for working families. Will you join me?

Duane Campbell

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Crisis, please help

Dear Friends,

Help us raise emergency funds for medical supplies to Haiti! Checks can be sent to CHILDREN's HOPE at the address below.
Please reply to this email with a pledge now...any little amount really adds up to saving lives.

As you probably have seen today, a huge earthquake (7.3) has hit Haiti just 10 miles southwest of the center of Port-au-Prince (PAP). Children's Hope needs your help. Three of the major centers of our humanitarian work in Haiti are centered in PAP, are still not responsive and we are very concerned for the children and families: the boys home (St. Josephs) is located on Delmas, PAP, Sopudep School (for street children) is in PAP, and "The Lamp" free clinic is in low lying Cite Soleil, PAP. Early reports have many structures down on Delmas, the presidential palace in collapse, and the large local hospital is down. Fear of rising water may further threaten the low laying Cite Soleil, where our clinic "The Lamp" is located. I have not been successful in getting through by phone. We here are sick with worry at early reports like the one below. If you have a few dollars to spare, lives will be saved. We are sending emergency funds starting tomorrow, and then as soon as pledges come in, since the need is urgent. We also really need to raise shipping money for the supplies already donated by a local hospital here (Marshall Hospital of Placerville) to send these supplies to Haiti. 
If you pledge, please remember to then send the check to Children's Hope. But please pledge now, so we can get new medicines ordered now, and help on the way. 

peace, always and all ways, Leisa Faulkner

U.S. Embassy employees reported seeing a number of bodies in the street, but the extent of casualties is unknown, State Department Spokesman Philip J. Crowley said in a briefing today.

“There’s going to be serious loss of life,” Crowley said. (Bloomberg News)

Zelenka, a Catholic Relief Services representative in Port-au-Prince, told U.S. colleagues before phone service failed that "there must be thousands of people dead," according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Sara Fajardo. (Mercury
Leisa Faulkner, Founder
Children's Hope
3025 A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682
“If you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, your life will be safe, expedient and thin."          Katharine Butler Hathaway

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bye bye Christopher Dodd

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd said Friday  he would not seek reelection. Dodd said if he ran again in 2010, the race would be, as he put it, a messy one.  And he said he did not want to put the people of Connecticut through something like that.   It is good that  Dodd is  stepping down.  He was instrumental in assisting AIG and the other bailouts.  All of those who helped should be defeated.
Major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown.  Now, they have been rewarded with bail out money.  The crisis was not caused by students, teachers, public employees  nor recipients of social security.   Now we have cuts in parks,  in universities, in nurses, libraries.  School children did not create this crisis.  Foster care children did not create this crisis.