Month: January 2015

Bridge to Haiti: Update from Cite Soleil

Children in Cite Soleil are busy working in their newly expanded computer lab.  Using training documents provided by the Bridging the Digital Divide Program (BDDP) and translated into Haitian Creole by SUNY Broome student Shaina Louis, the Haitian students are learning basic computer literacy and continuing to master PowerPoint in preparation for their exchange with the children here in New York.

The computer lab is at the Good Samaritan Foundation in Cite Soleil and is being used by hundreds of children who attend school at the Good Samaritan Mission School. In the afternoons, the computer lab will be available to young adults in the community.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this project, including Geodis and Pall for donating laptops, BDDP for training documents and computer refurbishment, and the 2015 Health for Haiti students who carried laptops to Haiti and taught the first PowerPoint lessons at our computer lab in Cite Soleil.

Thank you also to those who have made monetary donations to the Bridge to Haiti project.  Your donations are currently helping to support two full time teachers and Internet access in Cite Soleil.  As electricity is unpredictable in Haiti, our next goal is to provide and install equipment so that this lab in Cite Soleil can be fully powered with solar power.

For more information about how you can support the Bridge to Haiti project, please visit: http://bddp.org/haiti.html.

2015 Health for Haiti Class Comes to a Close

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Today was our “Recognition and Reflection Ceremony”, marking the official end of our 2015 Health for Haiti Class.  We were fortunate to have Dr. Francis Battisti, SUNY Broome Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, to serve as the Master of Ceremonies for our final class meeting.

The students did a wonderful job giving presentations and reflections on our work in Haiti.  Group 1 (Heather, Nancy, Jaime, Emily E. and Jean) talked about the food distribution, health clinic and education programs in Cite Soleil, as well as our visit to the museum, shopping and traveling around Port-au-Prince.  Group 2 (Makenzie, Sierra, Iyan, Emily C. and Rachael) spoke about our experiences with the kids from the orphanages, working at Dr. Ken’s health clinic and our experiences at Mother Teresa’s Hospital for Sick Children and Mother Teresa’s Hospital for the Dying.  Group 3 (Jocelyn, Alison, Olivia, Sonia and Kayla) talked about our health clinics, education program, solar power installation and water system installation in Grande Saline and the lectures on water filtration and solar power from Jodi Tate and Dr. Gay. All of you did a great job sharing your experiences and impressions! Thank you for your work in putting the presentations together and for sharing your personal reflections with the group.

We also had the opportunity to thank our community partners who provided so much support for our work in Haiti.

Learning to use sound effects in PowerPoint.

Learning to use sound effects in PowerPoint.

The Bridging the Digital Divide Program is a the result of a collaboration between SUNY Broome Community College and the Binghamton University Center for Civic Engagement.  BDDP helps underserved populations to access technology by providing computer literacy training and refurbished computers. The BDDP has provided major support to the Bridge to Haiti project. BDDP computer literacy training documents were translated to Haitian Creole by SUNY Broome student Shaina Loius. BDDP volunteer Jack Rappaport spent many hours refurbishing laptop computers that were donated to the Bridge to Haiti program. As of today, forty new and used laptop computers have been distributed in Haiti and hundreds of children and young adults are receiving  computer literacy classes and have access to the Internet. Bridge to Haiti is also partnering with local schools, including George F. Johnson in Endicott, to connect local kids with kids in Haiti.  Thank you to all of the BDDP staff, especially SUNY Broome Professor Sandra Wright, Director of the Binghamton University Center for Civic Engagement, Allison Alden, and BDDP computer refurbisher extraordinaire, Jack Rappaport.  Your efforts are bringing the light of education and opportunity to eager students of all ages.  Their bright eyes and smiles are a clear indication of what this opportunity means to them.

 

Team Solar, you rock!

Team Solar, you rock!

ETM Solar Works has not only provided design expertise to help Health for Haiti purchase solar equipment to power our computer lab in rural Grande Saline, Haiti.  Dr. Gay Canough, President and Founder of ETM joined us for our entire ten day trip to Haiti.  Dr. Canough has a PhD in particle physics from Notre Dame University and worked on the lunar prospector spacecraft.  She is a true “rocket scientist”. Dr. Canough provided tools and equipment, lectured to our 2105 class on solar power, and led our “Team Solar” in Grande Saline. Over two days, Dr. Canough instructed our students and Haitian volunteers as they successfully installed a 2000 watt solar system.  Conditions were difficult, and for several hours there was a woman delivering her first child in the same space that the solar team was working.  Through it all, Dr. Canough was patient, upbeat and motivating.  Her enthusiasm for solar power was definitely contagious, and the students who worked with her can now say that they brought light to a community whose only source of power was an old gas generator. The newly expanded computer school in Grande Saline is now powered by the sun, something Haiti has in abundance! While the best news of the day was “It’s a boy!”, Dr. Canough’s enthusiastic announcement that “We have power!” was equally exciting.  Dr. Canough also participated in all of our other Health for Haiti 2015 activities, forged many relationships with our friends in Haiti, and is already helping us with plans for our next solar installation.  Thank you Dr. Gay, for your generous spirit and for being with us.  We love you and we look forward to working with you for years  to come.  And we can’t wait for the Haiti Branch of ETM Solar Works to open!

 

imageGeodis has been an integral and valuable part of the 2015 Health for Haiti class projects.  Geodis in Endicott has donated 19 Panasonic ToughBooks to the Bridge to Haiti project.  These rugged computers are absolutely perfect for use in Haiti, and they form the core of our computer centers.  Thanks to John Yesensky and his team for their unwavering support of the Bridge to Haiti project. In addition to the local asset management branch, Geodis is a large international logistics company that generously managed our purchase and shipment of a container to Haiti.  The container housed all of our solar equipment and the water filtration system donated by the Pall Corporation. This was no small job, and since last April, Mr. Louis Policastro has spent countless hours helping to arrange the complicated pieces of this endeavor.  Our container arrived at our site in Grande Saline on the same day that we landed in Haiti.  We could never have done this without Lou’s help. And even though all the help he and his staff provided was donated, he never made us feel like our project was any less important than his “real” work.  Lou, thank you for the daily phone calls, the late nights, your patience with the ever-changing plans, and explaining every step so patiently and thoroughly.  The solar power and clean water projects would not have been possible without you.

 

imageThe Pall Corporation in Cortland, New York donated to every aspect of the 2015 Health for Haiti projects.  The company provided a state-of-the-art Pall Aria AX-1 Microfiltration System that if run at full capacity, has the potential to provide enough clean water for 17,000 people. Pall Cortland employees led by project manager Chris Scalza engineered the system specifically for the terrible water conditions in Grande Saline.  The filters were specially selected to remove the Cholera bacteria and parasites from the water that the people are currently drinking.  Pall provided all of the necessary equipment, including a compressor, generators and tools.  Pall Vice President of Operations, Jodi Tate, and Engineer Paula Stapf joined us in Haiti for one week and, in addition to working on installation of the system, participated in many of our class activities.  They lectured about microfiltration and the installation and operation of the system.  Pall also worked with their suppliers to raise money to purchase necessary chemicals, modify the container to serve as a home for the system, and to help pay the salary of the Haitians who will serve as system operators. Pall also provided 35 laptop computers to our Bridge to Haiti program, and Jodi brought hundreds of personal care kits that were distributed in Haiti.  While we still have some work left to do to make the system fully operational and properly train the operators, we are well on our way to bringing clean water to the people of Grande Saline.  The system will significantly improve the health of the people in this community and has the potential to save lives. Thank you to Pall, the team in Cortland who prepared and packed the system, and to Jodi and Paula who worked so hard under incredibly difficult conditions.  You enriched our class and became permanent members of our Health for Haiti family.

We would also like to once again thank all the members of the community who  donated over the counter medical supplies and funds to support our projects and attended our pre-trip fundraisers.  Thanks to everyone who followed the blog and sent words of encouragement to our group. Thanks to Professor Sandra Wright’s Fall 2014 Project Management Class for creating Certificates of Achievement for the computer students in Haiti, badges for the teachers in Haiti, and the Bridge to Haiti Facebook site.  Your work is going a long way towards helping our new computer schools in Haiti feel cohesive and official.  With the delivery of the 8 new laptops containing webcams, the kids in Grande Saline now have the tools they need so that we are able see and hear each other.  Our digital bridge is in place!

Thanks to Gina Curcio for making our trip possible and sharing your wonderful spirit with us.  Thanks to all of our friends in Haiti who helped us. Thanks to our translators, you did an amazing job taking care of us and helping us to provide health services and education in Haiti. We all treasure our friendships with you that were born on this trip. Three of our translators, Brigida, Sabine and Kenold are former SEED students and SUNY Broome graduates! Thanks to Jude and Barbara and the rest of the staff at Estinfil Guest House for making us feel at home in Haiti.  Thanks to TeeJoe for driving our bus and getting us into and out of some pretty tight spots.  Thanks to Dr. Robinson, Dr. Ken and Andrea for helping us to provide health care to hundreds of Haitian patients and to distribute over 1500 prescriptions. Thanks to Tom C. (I love you, Dad!), Nick and Dan who worked  tirelessly on the water project and did a lot of the heavy lifting wherever we were. Thanks to JJ and Esterling for helping us to communicate and for working so hard by our side!  Thanks to the kids from Good Shepard and Home of Destiny Orphanages.  We love you, and you will be in our hearts forever.

Finally, thanks to our amazing 2015 Health for Haiti students.  You worked hard to raise money and supplies for our trip, you managed to help us get about 1800 pounds of checked luggage containing supplies to Haiti, and that does not even include the 27 laptops we carried on the plane. You were hot, sweaty, dusty and crowded, you had only breakfast and dinner each day, you did without hot water and the other comforts of home, using bottled water to brush your teeth and waiting for your turn in the bathroom.  You carried suitcases full of clinic supplies over bumpy roads, you treated others with care and compassion, and you pitched in wherever you were needed.

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As a result of your efforts: we distributed food to 500 families, we provided oral hygiene and nutrition education programs to over 500 children, we saw hundreds of patients at our free health clinics, we helped to dispense over 1500 prescriptions, we helped to deliver a baby in Grande Saline, we provided computer literacy training to children and adults, we expanded our computer labs in Cite Soleil and Grande Saline, we installed solar panels to power our computer lab in Grande Saline, and we helped with the first phase of installation for the water filtration system in Grande Saline.  Your efforts are bringing light, solar power and clean water to Grande Saline, an area that lacked all of these things before the Health for Haiti team initiated these projects.

Each of you is special and unique and talented. We are proud to know you and fortunate to have worked with you as part of the Health for Haiti class. I know that we all share a special love for the people of Haiti and a desire to continue the work that we started. So, although our class is coming to an end, it is only the beginning of of what we can accomplish together!

 

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.

-Nelson Mandela

Beach Day and A Difficult Goodbye

Today was our last full day in Haiti and it was a great one. We spent the whole day at the beach with the kids from Pastor Vincent’s Orphanage and Jude’s family’s orphanage.  Late last night we made sandwiches for the kids to eat at the beach. The sandwiches were raw hotdog, ketchup and mayonnaise on while bread. We also had chips, water and cookies. The lunch for the orphans was purchased with money that the students raised before our trip.

We picked up the kids from Pastor Vincent’s orphanage first and had a very happy reunion with them.  Then we traveled to Archaiae to pick up the kids at the other orphanage. Of course, in true Health for Haiti fashion, things did not go exactly as planned.  Our bus got stuck in a big hole.  We had to get off (all 50 of us) and some of us had to push.  We did make it out of the hole, and then headed to the beach!  It was a crowded but exciting ride to the beach.  The beach was gorgeous and we had so much fun with the kids.  We swam and played, ate lunch, and then swam and played some more. It was a wonderful way to end out time in Haiti.  However, it was really difficult to say goodbye to the kids.  We have all gotten close to the kids from Pastor’s Vincent’s and there were quite a few tears shed when we had to leave.  The kids had written us letters and made us pictures and we opened them after leaving.  They are such wonderful, sweet kids.  We will miss them very much.

 

Tonight we are packing up and getting ready to leave. We will head to the airport around 11am tomorrow and head for home.  It has been such an amazing trip.  We all worked so hard and accomplished a lot, but still have lots of work to do.

We are working with Jodi and Paula to plan for another “Team Water” trip so that we can finish the installation of the water system.  Hopefully we can have the system working and the operators trained within the next couple of months.  It was a major feat to get the container and all the equipment safely delivered to Grande Saline, and we are well on our way to bringing clean water to the people of this community.

The solar panels are up and working an we have received out first pictures of the new expanded and solar powered computer lab in Grande Saline!  We saw hundreds of patients at our health clinics, offered computer literacy lessons to children and adults, taught the kids in Grande Saline how to use digital cameras, enjoyed every minute of our time with the kids from the orphanages, made many new friends, and helped welcome a new life in Grande Saline.

Stay tuned for a final Health for Haiti 2015 post when we return, but here are a few pictures to remember our trip.

Day 2 in Cite Soleil: Clinic and Computers

It was another busy day for the 2015 Health for Haiti class. We left the guest house at 8:30am and headed for Cite Soleil. Today is the 5th anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. There are remembrance ceremonies going on around the country and our bus had to pull over for President Martelly’s motorcade on the way to Pastor Vincent’s. In fact, Pastor Vincent was holding a service in his church so we had to set up our clinic in one of the classrooms (There is no school today because it is a holiday). Even though it is a sad day, there was lots of music, singing and dancing coming from the church.

We split into two groups today, one team for the clinic and one team to teach computer lessons in the Bridge to Haiti computer school here in Cite Soleil. The education team spent the morning teaching kids how to use PowerPoint. The kids are part of the Bridge to Haiti program where kids in New York and kids in Haiti will exchange information with each other.  The laptop computers were donated by Geodis, the Pall Corporation and SUNY Broome. The refurbishment, software and computer literacy training documents were provided by the Bridging the Digital Divide Program (BDDP). BDDP is a collaboration between SUNY Broome and the Binghamton University Center for Civic Engagement. Esterling Accime, who manages much of Pastor Vincent’s business, is also managing the computer school here in City Soleil. Esterling explained how critical the opportunity to learn to use a computer and access to the Internet is to the youth in Cite Soleil. Most of the young people here have little chance for advanced education and employment. Esterling explained that many finish school without ever learning to type a letter.

The Health for Haiti students did a great job teaching the kids to use PowerPoint and before long there were some very creative PowerPoint presentations complete with animations and sound effects! We had Alison, Jocelyn, Rachael, Olivia, Emily C., Jean and me.  Nick and Gay also helped out by teaching in the computer lab.  One challenge was the power. We had to have gas and a generator to power the computers when we lost the electricity. This is very common in Haiti. We were glad to have had our resident rocket scientist and solar power guru, Dr. Gay, to look over the building and wiring. Solar power would be a tremendous benefit for the computer school as many time class must be cancelled if there is no power or gas. Dr. Gay determined that a system similar to what we installed in Grande Saline would be perfect here, so we hope to bring the same to Cite Soleil in the near future!

After a short break at noon, the students worked with a wonderful group of young men that work with Esterling. They all spoke some English and were interested in learning to use PowerPoint.  A few had never used a computer before today! Using the BDDP materials, the Health for Haiti students worked with the Haiti students one-on-one and taught them to make a presentation. It was nice that we were able to communicate. They were a great pleasure to work with and we all enjoyed the experience very much.  It was fantastic to see them learn to create presentations and we had fun seeing the creative things that they came up with while they were learning.

After finishing the lessons, Esterling explained that although over 200 school children are using the lab in the morning, he hoped to open the lab for a couple hours in the afternoon for local young adults, including the great young men we worked with this afternoon. There are so few opportunities for young adults after they have finished school. It was inspiring to see how happy they were to learn something on the computer. Because of the computer lab, they can learn to use MS Office and access the Internet for research or even take online courses. We hope to find sponsors to help cover the cost of the two teachers and the Internet. Each teacher is paid $150 per month.  This little school can serve so many, we hope to continue to build this BDDP Bridge to Haiti program.

At the same time this was going on, the health clinic was busy seeing patients. Maureen, Mackenzie, Sierra, Nancy, Jamie, Heather, Iyan, Sonia, Kayla and Emily E. were on the health team today.  Dr. Robinson was not able to leave Grande Saline until this morning, but our good friend Dr. Ken graciously agreed to fill in. He and his lovely wife Andrea assisted at the clinic all morning. Dr. Robinson arrived after noon and continued seeing patients for several hours. At the end of the day, the clinic had seen 127 patients and gave out over 500 prescriptions.

The students working in the clinic said that they really enjoyed having the chance to work with both Dr. Ken and Dr. Robinson. They commented on how each doctor had his own style but that both were fantastic clinicians and teachers.  The students say far less malaria than they had seen in Grande Saline, but many more cases of worms, TB and general infections. Cite Soleil is so crowded and has no sanitation at all so this was not a surprise.  There were also many people complaining of problems with their vision. All in all the students, doctors and Professor Hankin worked very hard for over 8 hours.

It was definitely a productive and fulfilling day for all of us.  It is hard to convey how hot and crowded the computer lab and clinic were. I know that Professor Hankin is so pleased with the effort, professionalism and dedication of the students working in the clinic.  I was so impressed with the education students and the job they did working with all of the computer students.  Their enthusiasm, positive attitude and skill working with students of all ages made this day a success.  The Bridge to Haiti project is very special to me, and their work today helped make my dream for this computer center a reality.

This was our last day of work in Haiti.  Tomorrow, our last full day here, we have a fun and special day planned. We will pick up the kids from two different orphanages and enjoy a day together at the beach!

Orevwa!

 

A Day of Peace and Rest

After a very long and emotional day yesterday, we all needed some time to rest today. We had a later (8am) breakfast and an optional trip to Leglize Sur La Roche, a local Haitian church. Jude gave us a ride in the back of his truck and we took seats on the second level balcony. There was a full band and a group of amazing singers. The music was so uplifting and inspirational and the people were so engaged in the service, it was really wonderful.

After that, we walked back to the guest house together.  At about 1:00pm we boarded our bus (Yay TeeJoe!) and headed for Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying (sorry, no pictures allowed). This is a peaceful place for people at the end stages of illness. There are people of all ages and various levels of health. The students spent time with the patients, played with the children, painted nails and, as you will see, let the patients braid their hair.  After a few hours, we returned home for another amazing meal (thank you, Barbara….we love you!!) and started preparing our bags for our health clinic and education program in Cite Soleil.

A new baby and solar power for Grande Saline!

The 2015 Health for Haiti crew got an early start and was on the road for Grande Saline by 7am. Team Water left first in the red truck while the rest of us enjoyed a luxurious ride in a new air conditioned (!) bus. TeeJoe’s bus was not up to another rough ride to Grande Saline, but we are all looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. We had a tremendous amount to accomplish today and everyone was ready to get to work.

However, as often happens in Haiti, things did not go quite as we had planned. About 15 minutes away from our destination, we were flagged down by some people carrying a woman on a stretcher. The woman was in labor with her first child and the people asked for us to please help get her to a hospital. It would have taken a long time to get her out to a hospital, but we knew that Dr. Robinson was waiting for us at our destination. So we squished together as best we could and made room for her on the front row of seats. She was in active labor and had a hard time even getting onto the bus. Her uncle, mother and two sisters insisted on coming with her, so they squeezed in as well. The woman’s water broke shortly after we got her onto our bus. Nancy stood next to the woman and tried to assist as we slowly bumped along the road. We were able to find some gloves for Nancy in the clinic bag, but she had one of the translators tell the woman to keep breathing but do not push!

We finally made it to Grande Saline and helped the woman into the church. The health science students helped Dr. Robinson put a few benches together and to move the chalk board so the woman would have some privacy. She gave permission for the health science students to assist, so they all gathered around and prepared for the birth!

Team water was already working on the water system at the container, about a half mile up the road. They lost an entire day of work yesterday because the red truck was broken.  Team Solar also had a tremendous amount of work to do, so they regrouped on the other side of the chalk board and tried to concentrate on their jobs. If you have ever tried to work in the same room where someone is having a baby, you will understand that this was a challenge. Although the drill and generator drowned out some of the yelling, we were all pretty anxious for the young woman and her baby.

I am happy to tell you that although it was not easy for her, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy! It was a good thing that we made it to Dr. Robinson. There were some issues that would have made it very difficult and dangerous for the woman have the baby on the road. The new mother gave us permission to share some pictures of the baby with you, so please enjoy! Dr. Robinson stitched the woman up and we all enjoyed seeing the beautiful new baby. The experience was something none of us will forget, but it was extra special for the students who were able to assist Dr. Robinson with the birth.

All the while this was happening, Alison, Iyan and Esterling were on the roof mounting the rails for the solar panels. Rachael, Emily E. and Kayla were running wire and preparing brackets and carrying solar panels back from the container where we had locked them up Thursday. Jean and Emily C. held some lessons for the kids from the Grande Saline computer school. The students at George F. Johnson Elementary School in Endicott, NY raised money to purchase a couple of digital cameras for the kids in Grande Saline. They hope that the kids in Grande Saline will take some pictures and communicate with them over the Internet. Jean and Emily taught the kids how to use the camera, remove the SD card, put it in the computer, and transfer the pictures to the computer. We also gave their teacher, Tida, ten laminated hard copies of the BDDP instructions for using PowerPoint which had been translated into Creole by superstar Haitian SUNY Broome student, Shaina Louis.

Meanwhile, work continued on the water system, the solar power, and clean up of the “delivery room”.  After a couple of hours, Dr. Robinson drove the new mother home in the red truck and Professor Hankin and the clinic students set up for a couple hours of clinic. Some of the students enjoyed playing with the children in Grande Saline, and Alison, Iyan and Esterling were STILL on the roof.

By the end of the day, many patients had been seen, Jean Frico road a horse, and: WE HAD SOLAR POWER in Grande Saline!!!! Thanks to Dr. Gay and the students, we did it!!  The water team (Jodi, Paula, Tom, Nick and JJ) made a lot of progress but had lost too much time to get the system functioning and properly train the operators. It is critical that the system be maintained, so the team decided that the installation would have to be completed on a second trip to Haiti. We are very proud of the tremendous progress that we made this week under some very difficult and unexpected conditions.  Jodi, Paula, Tom, Nick and JJ worked incredibly hard and had such a positive and upbeat attitude, it was inspiring. We will make plans for “Phase II” and continue our efforts to bring clean water to the people of Grande Saline.

We finally headed for home, confident that our bus and truck would not break down.  On our way out of Grande Saline, we passed a funeral, at about the same spot that we picked up the pregnant woman this morning.  There were so many people, all dressed in their best clothes, a brass band, and four men dancing back and forth across the road with the coffin. It was certainly a celebration of the person’s life. I think we really did see just about everything today!

I wish I could say the ride home was uneventful, but it wasn’t.  There was an accident in Saint Marc’s and traffic was stopped.  Our driver somehow managed to turn around, and JJ did the same with the red truck.   We flagged down a passing motorcycle to ask how to get out of there.  The guy on the motorcycle said he could get us past the accident and back to the main road…while others standing around disagreed.  We decided to give it a go and followed as the guy on the motorcycle led us down a side alley. I guess we were on “roads”, but it was not an easy ride.  After about 40 interesting minutes we did finally make it to the real road and got back on track. So, it was another late night for us, but we are all safe and sound and tired at the Guesthouse!

I was going to try to organize my categorize my pictures, but I decided to leave them in the order I took them…it will give you an idea of how many things we had going on at once today!  A few of these (the best ones) were taken by Heather.

Bon nwit from Ayiti!

Haitian History and New Friends

Today was an  educational and upbeat day for the Health for Haiti 2015 team.  After a very challenging day in Grande Saline yesterday, we all enjoyed a slightly later wake up call and breakfast.  At 9am most of us went to downtown Port au Prince for a guided tour  the “Musee du Pantheon National Haitian Museum”.  Our excellent tour guide, Renauld, led us through the museum and did an expert job guiding us through the complex Haitian history.  We saw many fascinating artifacts, including the anchor of the Santa Maria, and learned about the impressive people who fought for freedom in Haiti.  The students asked several questions and we all learned a lot about this proud and complex country that has found its way into our hearts. After our tour, we took out annual class photo outside the museum.  Yes. They are spelling out “Haiti”. : )

Team water was unable to return to Grande Saline because the red truck needed some repairs.  However, they did make another trip to the Haiti version of Home Depot and purchased the rest of the supplies we will need for our solar and water projects.  We are all ready to return to Grande Saline at 6am tomorrow morning!

After the museum we went to Petionville to do a little bit of shopping.  As always, our translators were very helpful as we negotiated with the Haitian vendors.  Jean Frico has a lot of fun trying out the bongo drums as he helped Rachael find the perfect one…which he then played on the bus for a long time.

After our shopping, we all met up at Pastor Vincent’s orphanage to spend some time with the kids.  We had packed a suitcase of toys and were all looking forward to having fun together.  We had a wonderful time with the kids and enjoyed every minute of our visit.  There was coloring, and nail painting and a pretty intense soccer game.  There were also many, many hugs as we said goodbye for now.  We will see the kids again when we take them to the beach on Tuesday, our last day in Haiti.

We returned to the guest house for another delicious dinner (thank you, Barbara) and even some chocolate cake (THANK YOU Johnny!!).

 

After dessert, Team Solar met to discuss our work plan for tomorrow and Team Clinic sorted our $1200 of prescription medications (all purchased through our fundraising).  We are all packed and ready for another busy and productive day in Grande Saline. We have a tremendous amount of work to accomplish and will probably return to the guest house quite late.

So, we are all rested and refreshed and ready for our second day in Grande Saline. The only sad spot during this fun day was when we saw Professor Hankin wiping away tears at the orphanage.  We hope that she will have recovered from her shock and dismay by tomorrow morning.  Please see the last picture in today’s gallery to see what made her so sad.

Bon nwit!

 

Health for Haiti 2015: Work Starts in Grande Saline

Today was another great day for the 2015 Health for Haiti class. We were up and out very early to make the long drive to Grande Saline. Although we only had to travel about 70 miles, the trip takes 3 to 4 bumpy, bumpy hours.

When we arrived in Grande Saline hundreds of children were waiting for us in the church/community building. Before setting up for our three big projects, the students provided some oral hygiene education. The students did a great job and the kids loved practicing tooth brushing with the puppets!

After that, we all got to work.  Team Health Clinic was lead by Professor Hankin. She started with a student orientation of the clinic operation and the student responsibilities. The student team included Nancy, Jaime, Heather, Sierra, Mackenzie, Olivia, Sonia and Jocelyn. The students set up the clinic and pharmacy. The clinic ran very smoothly this year! The students triaged the patients for Dr. Robinson. They took health histories (with the help of our awesome translators) and recorded heights, weights, temperature, blood pressure and patient symptoms. The height sticks and scale were very useful. Many of the patients had never had their height and weight recorded and were not sure how to step on the scale.  Also, the new health history forms were wonderful and Dr. Robinson really appreciated them. ( The citizens of Grand Saline have no medical records.) Team Health Clinic saw over 100 patients today.  Dr. Robinson shared his clinical impressions about the many different conditions that they saw. He is a wonderful teacher and the students learned so many things from working with him.

Team Solar: Dr. Gay, Jen, Emily E., Emily C., Rachael, Kayla, Jean, Iyan and Alison unpacked their equipment from the shipping container. Nothing was damaged and Dr. Gay put everyone right to work! The students took apart the shipping crates and used the wood to build a box for the batteries.  We also received a tremendous amount of help from Esterling, Tida and other friends from Grande Saline. Under Dr.  Gay’s leadership, the students hammered, drilled and wired. Alison, Iyan and Esterling even made it on to the roof! We got about half way through the project before we had to leave. We are all learning so much and feel very fortunate to have our own rocket scientist here with us. We are excited to finish the project on Saturday and power up the new and improved Grande Saline computer lab! Today we delivered 12 more laptops, eight of them are brand new (thanks to Sandy Wright from SUNY Broome!) and the rest the awesome Panasonic Toughbooks from Geodis.  All of the laptops were prepared with our “Haiti Build” thanks to Jack Rappaport from BDDP.  We also delivered the achievement certificates and teacher badges created by the awesome Project Management class at SUNY Broome. Our teacher in Grande Saline, Tida, is so excited to be able to offer classes to even more of the children in Grande Saline.

Team Water: Jodi, Paula, Tom, Nick and JJ unloaded many items from the container, with a lot of help from some Grande Saline residents. All of the equipment looked to be in great shape. They experienced some delays because it took some time to find enough gas to run the generator. Although they made good progress today, it looks like Team Water will have to make the long trip to Grande Saline tomorrow and Saturday.  It is just so wonderful that our container made it to Grande Saline just in time for our class. We want to say another big THANK YOU to Geodis for helping us to get the container to Grande Saline and to Pall for the donation of the state of the art Pall AX-1 system (and for lending us two of the most awesome and nicest engineers on the planet: Paula and Jodi)!

As you can see from the pictures, there was a tremendous amount of interest in all of our work today. Everyone on the 2015 Health for Haiti Team is so grateful for the opportunity to bring health care, solar power, and access to clean water to our friends in Grande Saline.

Health for Haiti 2015: Cite Soleil Food Distribution

Today was another great day in Haiti.  After breakfast we went to Cite Soleil, the largest slum in the Western Hemisphere, to distribute food to over 500 families.  We went to a church and school run by Pastor Vincent.  The students made bags of rice, beans, oil and fish for distribution.  The food was purchased with money raised by the students. Pastor Vincent explained that this bag of food could last for a couple of weeks. After bagging all the food, the students welcomed the people and handed out the bags of food.  We also distributed 500 personal care kits, which were very well received!  It was a very special experience to be a part of the food distribution and I am sure than none of us will ever forget it.

While visiting Pastor Vincent’s compound we were able to see the new computer lab that is part of Health for Haiti’s “Bridge to Haiti” project.  The project is supported by the Bridging the Digital Divide Program (BDDP).  BDDP is a collaboration between SUNY Broome and the Binghamton University Center for Civic Engagement. The children showed us some of the things they are learning and talked about how much the opportunity to use the computers means to them.  There are over 200 children taking computer classes in this lab, and if we can find the support, the program will be significantly expanded.

While we were in Cite Soleil, Team Water Filtration went shopping for the chemicals and tanks we need for the water system. I am happy to report that they found everything we need and we are ready for tomorrow’s installation.

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After our time in Cite Soleil we went to a sewing school that Gina started.  The women who have learned to sew wore dresses that they had made themselves, and talked about how much the sewing program means to them. One of the woman told us that she had never even learned to write her name but that now she was able to make clothes and uniforms.  It was a great experience for all of us.

After a fantastic dinner we had two great lectures.  Jodi Tate and Paula Stapf told us about water, water filtration technology and the system that we will be installing in Grande Saline.  The system uses cutting edge microfiltration technology. The membranes have pores that are 0.1 micrometers and will even filter bacteria (including Cholera!) out of the water.  They explained how the water will be treated with chlorine to help get rid of viruses and how the system will be maintained. Engineers at Pall in Cortland will monitor the system remotely and work with the operators in Grande Saline.  We learned that although the water quality will not be as good as what we have in the United States, it will be a significant improvement and will be so much safer and healthier for the people of Grande Saline. After that, Dr. Gay Canough, President of ETM Solar Works in Endicott, NY, told us about solar power and about the solar equipment that we will install in Grande Saline.  Both lectures were interesting and informative….and it is pretty awesome to have class out on the deck in January.  Thanks so much to Jodi, Paula and Gay for taking the time to make and deliver such wonderful lectures for our class.

Tomorrow is a very big day for us, we will be up and out by 7am to make the long drive to Grande Saline.  We will have a lot going on: a full day health clinic, installation of the water system, and installation of the solar power equipment.  The students will work in teams and we will try to accomplish as much as we can.

Bon nwit from Ayiti!

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Health for Haiti 2015: Day 2

Our second day in Haiti started early but we were all ready to go after a good night’s sleep.  We began our day at Mother Teresa’s Hospital for Sick Children.  We helped feed the babies and then held and played with them.  There are so many babies, and they seem to really enjoy being held. We were not allowed to take photos, so I cannot show this to you….but it was a special experience for all of us.  After about an hour, we split up into three groups.

Heather, Iyan, Sonia, Jamie and decided that they weren’t ready to put down “their” baby and stayed on for some extra time together. It is never easy to put one of those babies back in the crib!

Nancy, Olivia, Jean, Jocelyn, Alison and Rachael helped out the school age children by teaching them about brushing their teeth, washing their hands and good nutrition.  With the help of our fantastic translators (four of whom are SUNY Broome graduates…how amazing is that?!!), they were able to provide education to over 350 school children. Each child received toothpaste and a toothbrush after the lesson.  They did an awesome job and it was so much fun to see the reaction of the kids,

The rest of the students decided to join our friend Dr. Ken Taylor at his clinic which is located down the road from Mother Teresa’s. Sierra, Kayla, Emily E., Emily C. and Mackenzie assisted Dr. Ken as he saw patients and even performed a minor surgery.

Those of us who had stayed behind with the babies and children finished up and walked to Ken and Andrea’s clinic together. Dr. Ken and his wife Andrea see hundreds of patients at their clinic and also often take the clinic on the road to see patients in need in different areas of Haiti.  Dr. Ken took some time out to speak to the group about the work that he and Andrea do.  He thanked us for being there and told the students that as missionaries, they see volunteers like us as their hands and feet.

After our time at the clinic we returned to the Guesthouse to finish unpacking and sorting our supplies. Tom, Jodi, Gay and Dan went on a shopping expedition to find the final items we need to set up the water treatment system. We rested a bit and then most of us  headed back to Mother Teresa’s to spend more time with those sweet babies.

We had another delicious dinner and then we had a class meeting to talk about our day today and make plans for tomorrow. Tomorrow we are headed for Cite Soleil where we will do a food distribution for 500 widows. We will also visit a sewing school that Gina has started, and then finish our day with a lecture from Jodi and Dr. Gay.  Jodi will tell us about water filtration and how the system we are installing in Grande Saline will work.  Dr. Gay will teach us about solar power and prepare us for that installation work

We were so incredibly proud of the students today.  They all did a fantastic job.    It will be an early day for us tomorrow, TeeJo will be here at 7:45 am. So….it is time to say bon nwit from Ayiti!