Month: January 2016

Clean Hands and Dry Beans in Grande Saline

It has been a couple of weeks since we returned from Haiti and I am happy to share this update from Grande Saline with you. Thanks to Schneider for making the trip out to Grande Saline and providing the pictures and video.

The beans and corn growing in the Community Garden are mature and are now drying for harvest.   By drying the beans and the corn, the community will be able to store them and use them for school children’s lunch over time. There are also melons, okra, eggplant, papayas, and bananas growing in the garden. The beans will be ready for harvest very soon!

Meanwhile…the tippy-tap and bathroom are being used by children in the computer school and the regular community school.  In computer class, the children continue to learn about about nutrition and clean water, and practice their knowledge and computer skills.  The children are using the instructional materials that the 2016 Health for Haiti class delivered and the digital lessons created by SUNY Broome Business students.  They are also using school supplies donated by Johnson City Intermediate School, SUNY Broome and many generous members from our local community. Thanks to everyone who has helped to support these Health for Haiti projects in Grande Saline!

More January 2016 Highlights!

Thanks to the amazing Silvia Briga (SUNY Broome Marketing and Communications, Communications and Media Arts) who joined us in Haiti this year and put together this beautiful video.

January 2016 Reflections

On Friday morning, the 2016 Health for Haiti Team had one final formal meeting as a class to share and reflect on our experiences in Haiti. We were honored to be joined by Dr. Francis Battisti who helped us to process some of the feelings we are having as we transition back to our lives at home.

The students did a wonderful job presenting on all of the experiences that we had in Haiti.  On this trip: the 2016 Health for Haiti team provided free quality medical and dental care to hundreds of children and adults; we helped to feed over 335 families in Cite Soleil; we delivered 25 more laptops to children and young adults in Haiti; we installed two more solar panels on the new classroom that Health for Haiti helped to build in Grande Saline, increasing the power there by 50%; we delivered education and art programs on nutrition and malnutrition, the importance of clean water and hand-washing to health, the miracle moringa tree, and tooth brushing to hundreds and hundreds of children; we delivered many school supplies to the new school in Grande Saline; we delivered new digital lessons created by SUNY Broome Business students to our computer schools; we performed critical maintenance and upgrades to the clean water system in Grande Saline, and Pall awarded Certificates of Achievement to our water system operators; we painted the bathroom that Health for Haiti sponsored in Grande Saline; we visited the Grande Saline Community Garden and met with the farmers to discuss plans for the upcoming harvest as well as future crops; we built a tippy-tap hand washing station in Grande Saline so that the local children can wash their hands with clean water; we provided care and comfort to some very sick babies at Mother Teresa’s Hospital; we provided a fun beach day with lunch that we made for nearly 40 orphans; and we experienced and were inspired by Haitian culture at the National Museum, stores, and church.  Thank you to Pall, ETM Solar Works, Johnson City Intermediate School, SUNY Broome, and the many organizations and individuals in our community who donated the supplies and funds that made these projects possible!  Funds collected will help to pay the salaries of teachers, water system operators, farmers, and the tippy-tap manager, as well as to defray costs associated with all of these projects, including Internet access, chemicals for the water system, and supplies for the garden and future preparation of school lunches.  Due to the generosity of our local community, we were able to leave Dr. Robinson with many medical supplies so that he can continue to provide clinics for the people of Grande Saline.  We were also able to provide Ken and Andrea with some dental supplies that will help to support their amazing work with the communities that they serve.

When the students presented about all of this on Friday, despite all that we accomplished on this trip, each of them commented on how much they received from the Haitian people and our experiences in Haiti.  I think all of us have a new appreciation for the things we may have taken for granted before this trip, as well as a better understanding of what truly matters in our lives.  Thanks again to these incredible students for all of their hard work and for pushing themselves to places they may have never thought possible. Thanks to Silvia Briga, Tom Bucker, Gay Canough, Greg Cempa, Tom Collart and Bill Hollister for all of their hard work to support our students and the 2016 projects. Thanks to our 2014 and 2015 Health for Haiti students for all you did to get these projects going, we love you! Thanks to Jude Estinfil and his staff and Le Gou T Hotel for our food and lodging, thanks to TiJoe for getting us to all of the places we needed to go, and thanks to JJ, Schneider, Elysee, Louie, Esther, Dashka, Scott, Patrick, Roosevelt, Jean Frico, Kenold, and Peterson for not only helping us to communicate, but for carrying so many suitcases, for keeping us safe, and for teaching us so much about life in Haiti.  We love our entire Haiti family and we thank you for being with us.

 

Stay tuned for some videos about our trip and for future updates on the ongoing projects in Haiti!  Thanks for following!

La vim se plage!

Our final full day in Haiti was a really fun one!  We took all of the children from two orphanages to the beach for a day of fun in the sun!  We fit 70 people on our bus and had a wonderful day at Preval Publc Beach. Please forgive the brevity of tonight’s post. We are having a rooftop dance party to celebrate our time in Haiti. Bon nwit!

We have Wi-Fi: Let’s catch up!

Bonswa from Ayiti!  I am happy to report that we have Internet access again so I can update you on our last two days.  On Sunday we began our day by attending church.  We went to Church on the Rock and enjoyed the incredible music, contagious enthusiasm, and the warm welcome from the Haitian people dressed in their Sunday best.  You have not been to church until you have been to church in Haiti!  After church we headed to MUPANAH (Musee de Pantheon National Haitian Museum).  This is a beautiful and special museum and we had a guided tour through the complicated history of Haiti.  We brought all of our interpreters with us to the museum and for many it was the first time that they had the opportunity to visit their national museum.  It was special to share this experience with them.  After the museum we went to visit Pastor Vincent’s home and spend some time with the 22 children who live there.  This was really, really fun for all of us and we had fun doing crafts, playing soccer, and just being together.

Today (Monday), Team Water had to head back to Grande Saline to complete some essential maintenance on the water system. The rest of us began our day at Mother Teresa’s Hospital for Sick Children.  Sorry but there are no pictures allowed in the hospital.  We all spent time holding, comforting and feeding the sick babies at the hospital. None of us wanted to leave them!  We also presented our  education program to some of the toddlers and to 335 (no, that is not a typo) elementary school children from the school.  With the help of our interpreters, we presented our nutrition, clean water and tooth brushing lessons to the children.  They were so cute in their bright yellow uniform shirts. We also handed out tooth brushes, toothpaste and stickers to the kids.  The best part was when we took turns introducing ourselves to the kids.  Some of our names made the children squeal and laugh. It was really fun for all of us!  After our time at Mother Teresa’s we went to Petionville to do some souvenir shopping. Our interpreters helped us to negotiate prices with the vendors and on our way back to Jude’s we enjoyed the time driving through different areas of Port au Prince.  After arriving back home we worked on getting our suitcases ready for our return.  Some of the students relaxed on the roof and wrote in their journals.  Team Water has the system fixed and running well and even made home for our great dinner of spaghetti and chicken and homemade french fries.  Tomorrow we are taking all of the children from two different orphanages to the beach for a day of fun. After dinner, several of the students worked to make sandwiches for the children.  They had a lot of fun making the hotdog, mayonnaise, ketchup on white bread sandwiches for the kids. You can look forward to all of the footage that Silvia filmed of everyone eating one of the sandwiches, Josh’s mayonnaise corner, and Ashley pretending to cut off her finger.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is our last full day in Haiti.  We have had a wonderful trip and although we will be glad to get home, it is going to be really hard to say goodbye to this very special place.

Bon nwit!

Last Day in Grande Saline and Clinic with Ken and Andrea

Bonswa from Haiti!  We still do not have Internet access but thanks to my Dad for letting me use his phone as a wireless hot spot.  So get comfortable, you have two busy days of Haiti coming at you. Hopefully the Internet will be fixed tomorrow and I can tell you about today.

Friday:

Today was out third and final day working in Grande Saline. We started with a good breakfast at our hotel, Le Gou T. We would like to thank the hotel staff for welcoming our large group and for the great meals and nice accommodations. After breakfast of eggs, bread and sandwiches we boarded our bus to make the two hour trip to Grande Saline. Shortly after we left our bus had a mechanical issue and we had to pull over and stop. While Tidjo worked on fixing the bus, the students played a few games of “Head;s Up”. The bus needed a new part so Tidjo arranged for a second bus to come and pick us up and take us to Grande Saline. Our new bus driver, Stevenson, was 19 and has been driving a bus since he was nine. He was a very good driver and did a great job getting us to Grande Saline.

In Grande Saline we picked up right where we left off yesterday. The medical and dental clinics began seeing patients. Today they saw almost 150 people! Dr. Gay led the solar team as they finished the installation of two more panels. The students who were working on education taught lessons on nutrition, including a lesson on the many benefits of the Moringa tree, as well as hand washing and hygiene. They talked to the children about how we use water, how it can be contaminated and how to stay safe and healthy. They also continued to teach the children how to properly wash their hands at the tippy-tap. The laminated “whiteboards” made by kids and teachers at Johnson City Intermediate School were a huge hit with the school children in Grande Saline! Dr. Hollister and Kaylin painted the inside and outside of the new bathroom, which is looking really great! Some of the students had the opportunity to visit the water filtration system and the community garden. We had a lot of company on that walk! The water team made some additional upgrades to the system and worked on some plumbing upgrades. As you can see, it was a very busy day for everyone on the Health for Haiti team. We would like to give a special thanks to our interpreters, who help to make all of these activities possible. They are such a vital part of our team, and we have really enjoys spending these days together at the hotel.

Because we had a long trip back to Port au Prince, we finished up by 3pm and started back to Le Gou T for dinner and to pick up our bags. On the way back we passed Tidjo’s bus, still on the side of the road. But while we were having dinner, it was fixed and he came to pick us up. After transferring our many suitcases from the replacement bus to his bus, he took us “home” to Jude’s.

We are all tired but we are happy that we were able to accomplish so much in Grande Saline. Team water had to stay behind for another night to complete the upgrades and maintenance on the water system. JJ stayed with Greg, Tom and Joe to spend another night at Le Gou T and head back to Grande Saline in the morning. The rest of us will be heading to work with our friends Ken and Andrea Taylor at their clinic and community center. We will once again be offering medical and dental clinics as well as education and art projects for the children.

Once again, I want to close by saying that every student worked so hard today and did a wonderful job working on all of our projects. We are once again so fortunate to be joined by such special people on this trip. There are so many projects going on and, when possible, the student have been so generous about rotating around and working wherever they are needed. They are hot, sweaty, dusty, hungry and tired, but they are giving it their all and it seems as if wherever I go to take some pictures, I see students smiling and interacting in such a caring way with the Haitians and with each other.

So, another awesome day for Health for Haiti 2016!

Saturday:

We spent the entire day working with our wonderful friends Ken and Andrea Taylor. Thank you to Dr. Ken and Andrea for hosting us and working with our students!  Together, we offered medical and dental clinics and our education programs. We had many, many people come to the facility, so even some of our non-dental team stepped up to help provide some help.  Once again, everyone did an incredible job and we all worked very hard to see and interact with as many people as possible. If you are a family member or friend of one of these students, you should be very, very proud!!  Here are some pictures from Saturday.

Great clinic and education day in Haiti….but still no Internet. 

We had another exciting day working with Ken and Andrea Taylor at their clinic. Everyone here is fine and the students were so amazing today, but we still have no Internet so I cannot upload my blog post. We hope that the Internet, and the blog, will be back on Monday. Orevwa from Haiti!

Safe Return to Port au Prince, But No Internet

Greetings from Haiti! It was a great and productive final day in Grande Saline and we are back “home” safe at Jude’s.  Unfortunately, there is no Internet here so I cannot upload a post with pictures….but it will be back as soon as there is Internet service! Everyone is tired but doing great!

Bon nwit from Haiti!

Day 2 in Grande Saline

Greetings from the lovely Le Gou T Hotel in Saint Marc, Haiti!  It was another great day in Haiti!  We started out early for breakfast by the pool.  All of the students were on time for breakfast, which showed up a bit later than on time.  But the fact that it was spaghetti with onions and hotdogs made up for the fact that it was a bit late.  And, equally as awesome, it came with bananas. We all enjoyed it very much.

After breakfast we headed back to Grande Saline.  Again, it was a tremendously busy and productive day.  I will try to summarize for you.  The medical and dental team saw over one hundred patients.  Dr. Bucker and Professor Hankin were so appreciative of the new technology we were able to bring to Grande Saline. We had portable X-ray equipment and a Cavitron unit (this is a real thing and it is awesome) that really elevated the level of the treatment we were able to provide.  The dental hygiene and medical students surpassed all expectation. The tream provided dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, fluoride varnish and extractions. All agree that having Dr. Bucker with us was awesome! Every patient received a toothbrush and toothpaste.  We are extremely grateful for the donations that made this free clinic possible.

Team solar made a tremendous amount of progress.  We installed two more solar panels and increased our system size by 50%!  We now have more power for the school and computer lab.  We have expanded the size of our computer lab by five computers, bringing the total to 20 laptops.  The students who worked with our amazing Dr. Gay (go ETM Solar Works…bringing solar power to the people!!!) worked very hard on the roof in the hot sun.  We have only a small bit of wiring left to do tomorrow to finish the installation.

Dr. Hollister, Schneider and Patrick helped to finish the tippy-tap.  The tippy-tap will allow the children to wash their hands, an important step towards preventing respiratory and and diarrheal diseases. Thanks to Kaylin for drilling holes through six bars of soap to hang up!  The children really enjoyed learning to use the tippy-tap.

Several students spent the entire day providing education to countless children.  We provided lessons on nutrition, focusing on the benefits of the foods growing in the community garden.  We also presented a lesson on germs, clean water and hand-washing.  As part of this lesson, we taught the kids about germs by using a Glo-Germ powder and a black light.  The children can not see the powder on their hands, which is easily transferred when the kids touch hands, until we shine the black light flashlight on them.  It is a way to show them that things they can not see can be present.  We encouraged the kids to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating.  And speaking of bathrooms, the new bathroom is conveniently located next to the tippy-tap.

We also had a team working at our water system.  We reviewed operating procedures with the operators and began making some changes to improve system operation and maintenance.  The water system continues to be a critical resource for the community.  There is a constant stream of people coming for water.  Many community members expressed appreciation for the water system.

And last, and certainly not least, is the community garden. OK, so I am biased because this project has been very special to me…but the garden was truly amazing.  We planted on November 6, and the growth is incredible. We have abundant corn, beans, melons, eggplant, bananas and papaya.  The corn was well over my head, and there were actual beans!  The farmer told me that people in this area had not been planting beans, but when they saw how well our beans were doing, they started planting beans.  The garden is very large, much larger than I expected, and should provide plenty of nutritious food for the school children. It was so wonderful to see it thriving.

We wrapped up our work at 4pm and started the long, bumpy trip back to our hotel. Once again, we are so impressed and grateful for our team of students and interpreters.  They worked so hard today. Please understand that it is very hot, very dusty, very crowded and many had no break all day.  Everyone worked so hard and contributed so much  to our projects.  After reaching the hotel, we had another delicious dinner and enjoyed some relaxation.  Some even enjoyed a swim in the hotel pool.  We are meeting for breakfast tomorrow morning at 7am and heading back to Grande Saline for our final day of work there.

Please enjoy these pictures from our day.  Bon nwit from Haiti.

Day 1 in Grande Saline

It was a long but exciting day for the Health for Haiti team,  We started out early and left right at 7am as planned. Of course you have to realize that the Haiti version of 7am is 8:11am. We drove to our hotel in Saint Marc, dropped off our personal bags and prepared to transfer our many, many suitcases to the second bus we had rented. Of course that would require the second bus to actually fit 39 people and about that many suitcases. So, our Port au Prince bus driver Tidjo agreed to take us to Grande Saline in his bus.  Thank you, Tidjo…we love you.  We made it to Grande Saline by 1:30pm and immediately started unloading our suitcases. We have so many projects in Grande Saline, I will try to recap them all.

We set up for medical and dental clinics and need to once again thank our community at home.  We have an incredibly well-stocked clinic and optical center. It is truly amazing what people donated to support these clinics!  We also started the solar installation, worked on the tippy-tap (hand washing station station….right next to the new bathroom!), did some art projects with the beautiful children, received many hugs and presented certificates of appreciation from Pall (thank you Jodi, Jesse, and Greg!) to our wonderful water system operators. We worked until about 4:45 and then headed back to the hotel for dinner and some relaxation.  Once again, the students exceeded all of our expectations and did a great job with everything, from waiting in a very hot bus to unloading equipment to helping the community of Grande Saline.  Please enjoy these pictures from our day! And please excuse the lack of captions…it was a long day. : )

We are off to Grande Saline early tomorrow morning for another full day of work.  Bon Nwit from Haiti!