Acts of kindness bound for Haiti

Nearly two tons of food
and supplies quietly sailed away from Grand Cayman shores Friday headed for
Isle a Vache, Haiti.

Friends of Isle a Vache
slipped into the country early last week on board the R Heritage Too, a 50-foot
modified ketch rig, to collect the goods and donations.

The captain and crew were
lured here by the Pineapple Club.

“We sailed to Haiti last
year in April,” said Candy Whicker, one of the Pineapple Club’s members. “We
made contact with Bruce and he said he would come to Cayman.”

Captain Bruce Leening and
his son Arlen are the crew aboard R Heritage Too. They trek down to Isle a
Vache each year to deliver goods and donations collected in Canada. They’ve
been making the trip
for 12 years.

The Pineapple Club on
Grand Cayman has been supporting an orphanage on the island for about two
years.

Isle a Vache – Cow Island
– is a small island off the southwest peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les
Cayes. It is about eight miles long, two miles wide, with an area of 20 square
miles. The population of the island is somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000
people, most wracked by poverty.

The Leenings packed up and
sailed from Deltaville, Virginia, to the island to deliver goods about two
weeks ago and from there to Grand Cayman.

The Pineapple Club held a
fundraiser on 16 March and in the meantime, Tara Nielsen’s ARK – Acts of Random
Kindness – foundation had been collecting goods and donations for Haiti but was
strapped with a way to get them to the country.

Headed to the island on
board the R Heritage Too are tools, clothes, medicine, baby food and formula,
as well as other needed supplies and donations.

The largest donation – a
15-foot pirogue with a 15hp motor – came from Davenport.

All of the medicines and a
lot of the goods were donated. Retailers like AL Thompson’s, Kirk Office and
others sold supplies at discounted rates. Cayman Prep helped out with school
supplies. Scott’s Marine donated five days of boat slip use and water at its
new Barcadere site near the airport.

Captain Bruce said the
trip should take five days because of the heavy load.

While he’s there, he will
use $1,000 of money collected from the sale of original Haitian artwork to buy
more of the art to be sold for even more aid money.

 

Captain Bruce and others
formed the Friends of Isle a Vache Haiti, a non-profit organisation dedicated
to sustainable economic development, in 1999.

“We were originally down
there looking for the Canadian schooner Blue Nose, which went down in 1946,” he
said.

The
Friends’ website reads: Bluenose, the queen of the seas, the ship that brought
hope to so many, is once again leading the way and doing what is right. The
spirit of Bluenose is alive and well in Haiti. This spirit has brought many
friends together now from all over the globe. Everyone working to develop the
islands standard of living and economy. Giving a hand up and not a hand out.
Just like Bluenose – winning the day.”

Mrs.
Whicker and friends Judy Bulmore ad Pat McDonough learned of Sister Flora’s Orphanage
on the island after a co-worker of her husband’s at KPMG spent a month there
about two years ago. They formed the Pineapple Club and have been sending goods
and donations.

The
orphanage is in the village of Madame Bernard. Sister Flora, a French Canadian
woman, has been on Isle a Vache since 1967.

“She
pretty much runs that place single-handedly,” said Mrs. Whicker. “She’s
absolutely certain that God supplies everything they need, and I guess he does.
She’s a very inspiring woman.”

There
are 80 children at the orphanage; 22 are severely disabled.

There
are several groups and organisations worldwide helping Isle a Vache, but more
aid is needed.

The Noonsite.com website
sums it up: “When you come to Isle a Vache you will find a place that is
quietly struggling. Things that make it a fascinating and charming place to
visit, also make it a tough place to live. Without electricity, running water
and transportation, everyday chores are daunting. There are very few jobs, so
money is always in short supply. Everyone makes the most of what they’ve got;
which isn’t much. There is no doubt that any donations of food and clothing are
needed and appreciated.”

Top 2 Story

Loading up goods bound for Isle a Vache, Haiti, on Friday were, from left, Tara Nielsen, Pam McDonough, Arlen Leening, Candy Whicker and Capt. Bruce Leening. The two men left Grand Cayman on Friday to take aid and donations to Sister Flora’s orphanage and to the people of the island.
Photo: Tammie C. Chisholm
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