Month: June 2016

Thank You GFJ Elementary and More Photos From Grande Saline

SUNY Broome Health for Haiti would like to extend a sincere thank you to the students, staff and families from George F. Johnson Elementary School in Endicott.  The GFJ community has been partnering with the Bridge to Haiti project for the past two years and have helped to enhance educational opportunities for children their age in Haiti.  At an assembly on Monday more than 600 students listened attentively to an update about the school in Grande Saline, and then showed us on what they have worked on this year. Wow! Not only have the students worked to raise a substantial amount of money to support the school in Grande Saline, but they have also created educational materials to share with their peers in Haiti. Last year they created over sixty beautiful PowerPoint presentations and this year they created several books that will be the start the very first library in Grande Saline. The books are wonderful and I know that the children in Grande Saline will love them and be very proud to have them in their new school! All of the educational materials created by the students were translated into Haitian Creole by Pastor Mike Willis from the Vestal United Methodist Church.  Pastor Willis has been working in Haiti for decades and has been a tremendous help and resource for the Health for Haiti program.  Thank you, Pastor Willis, for being so generous with your time. Kindergarten teacher Lynn Gilyard has coordinated the Haiti project at GFJ and will be traveling to Haiti with us next month. Thank you to the entire GFJ community for your kindness and generosity. Your donation will help to support the school lunch and educational programs for children like you in Grande Saline.  You are truly global citizens and we are inspired by your enthusiasm and willingness to help the children in Haiti.

(Assembly Photos by Linda Myers, UE Communication Coordinator)

Meanwhile, things in Grande Saline are still very wet.  Below you can see some photos that were taken yesterday. You will see that many families are dealing with flooding in their homes.  The homes are made of sand and dirt and you can see that the water is actually eroding the walls.  However, although the road is still under water, the water filtration system is running and the people have access to safe drinking water.

From Dr. Robinson: “Despite the flooding, the operators are still working, like good soldiers.  I am so proud of them.  May God bless everyone in the US and Haiti who supports this water filtration system.  You can imagine how the life of this population would be without the water system.” The operators and people must wade through water and mud to get to the water system. But imagine the alternative, with no sanitation the flooding makes the water quality even worse and the people are at an increased risk for infection and disease.  I think these pictures will give you a renewed appreciation for our easy access to clean, safe drinking water. After all of this flooding, we are very fortunate to have a Pall engineer traveling with us to Haiti in July to check on the water system. Thank you to our friends at Pall for your continued commitment to support this water filtration system.

Even with the clean water, there is also a lot of worry about mosquitos.  From Tida: “As you know, the situation in Grande Saline is very bad, We are not too worried about good water because the water filtration system continues to do an awesome job.  But my heart is broken to see the people. We are very concerned about malaria and zika.  We are worried for the pregnant women.”

The standing water will make the mosquito problem worse.  This is a very difficult and sad situation because the people have little or no protection from the mosquitos. Health for Haiti will bring anti-mosquito spray and netting in July, but this is such a small response to a huge problem.

Hopefully Haiti will have a lot of sunshine in the next couple of weeks and dry up the standing water.

Flooding in Grande Saline

Haiti has had heavy rains over the past couple of weeks and there has been flooding in several areas.  Our friends in Grande Saline are dealing with damaged homes and standing water.  Schneider went to Grande Saline yesterday and had to walk for over a half hour because even the motorcycle he was riding on was unable to travel on the flooded road.  Our community garden, which is full of mature corn ready for harvest, is also flooded, but the farmers think that it will be all right once the water dries up. Many other local farmers were not so lucky and have lost everything that was growing in their gardens. Schneider reported that he was surprised to see how bad things were in Grande Saline.  He said that many people lost their homes because the walls are made of sand and dirt and cannot withstand the high water.  Schneider told me that he is glad he went because he now understands how difficult things are for his brothers and sisters who live in Grande Saline.

The standing water may create serious health problems as well. Dr. Robinson expressed concern about more malaria and the possibility of a serious cholera outbreak due to the standing water.  There is also additional worry about zika and other mosquito-carried diseases. Below are some recent pictures from Grande Saline.  Health for Haiti team members, I am sure you will hardly recognize Grande Saline in these pictures.

In other news from Grand Saline.  Dr. Gary has offered two free medical clinics in Grande Saline, using the supplies collected by Health for Haiti. All is well with the school lunch program and the computer classes.  Although school will be out soon, computer classes will continue through the summer and Tida is welcoming several new children to the classes. The garden is doing well and, despite the flooding, we expect another excellent corn harvest.  The farmers are now preparing to plant some rice in the garden. Below are some pictures of the garden before the flood and computer students enjoying lunch.

I am sure the 2015 Health for Haiti class remembers Baby Georges (since you helped bring him into the world!).  Baby Georges and his mom have not had an easy time of it and have been struggling to get enough food to eat.  Because of donations, Health for Haiti was able to arrange a micro-business plan for them and now they have a small business selling food.  Thanks to Tida (and Dr. Robinson) for helping to develop the business plan and for getting the supplies.  Hopefully this will make it possible for Baby Georges mom to become financially independent and support them both. We certainly consider Baby Georges and his mom to be part of our Health for Haiti family.

We are also looking forward to some new projects in Grande Saline. A team will be spending a few days in Grande Saline in July for water system maintenance, we will be helping the community to begin a sewing school, we will be offering our Harmony for Haiti music camp, and local George F. Johnson Elementary School teacher, Lynn Gilyard, will be offering a full day professional development workshop for the seven teachers in Grande Saline.  The teachers asked to learn about some ways to make learning fun.  Lynn is drawing from many years as an elementary school teacher and planning a workshop called “Multiple Intelligences and Universal Design”.  The workshop will include some activities that draw from all kinds of learning styles and can be used to make learning fun.

While we continue to make plans for the July Health for Haiti trip (and hope that the roads are passable by then!), please keep our friends in Haiti in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with the hardships created by heavy rains and flooding.