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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