Month: July 2016

Rice for Grande Saline: Community Garden Update

There has been a lot of activity in the Community Garden in Grande Saline. In fact, you would hardly recognize it because it has been completely reworked to accommodate our very first planting of rice.  In case you have lost track of our progress, this is the third planting in the garden.  Last November the community planted rice and beans and melons. Hundreds of pounds of beans and corn were harvested in February, and then we had a second corn planting. Here are some pictures from the second corn harvest. If you keep reading, you will see that the garden looks completely different today.

After the second corn crop was harvested, the farmers began the long process of growing rice.  They prepared a special plot to plant the rice seeds.  Here you can see the rice seedlings growing from the seeds. The July 2016 Health for Haiti team visited the garden a few weeks ago and had the pleasure of seeing the beautiful rice seedlings and the changing landscape in the garden.

After a couple of months the rice is ready for the second stage. The seedlings have to be replanted in water.  The seedlings must be spaced out to grow properly.  The farmers had to remove all of the residual corn stalks and weeds from the rest of the garden, and then rework the land into plots that could be flooded with water.  Here you can see the farmers preparing the land to replant the rice.

The farmers did a tremendous amount of work to change the garden into rice plots. And today, the seedlings were relocated to the new plots. You can see several of the school children helping to replant the rice. If all goes well, they will be enjoying this rice for lunch in the fall or winter! The children enjoyed a small meal after they finished their work.

The replanted rice has to mature for 3 to 4 months before it can be harvested. After the harvest, there are still four more stages to pass through before the rice can be eaten. The mature plants need to be cut down.  Then the plants are beaten to separate the rice grains from the stalks.  After that the rice will be dried in the sun and, finally, the grains must be separate from the hulls. Below you can see the replanted seedlings in the rice plots.

It is a lot of work to grow rice!  Rice is a major staple in Haiti and has been grown there for hundreds of years.  Until the 1980s Haitians were self-sufficient with regards to rice production. Sadly, Haiti now relies on imported rather than domestic rice and the Haitian market is flooded with rice imports.The decline in local rice production has been devastating for people in rural Haiti. With the Community Garden, Health for Haiti is working to encourage the growth and purchase of local rice in Grande Saline. We hope that by supporting farmers and rice production in Grande Saline, we might have at least a small positive impact on the local economy.

Thanks to everyone who has worked to support the Community Garden in Grande Saline!

Home from Haiti


Lunch in Grande Saline

Lunch in Grande Saline

The summer 2016 Health for Haiti Team arrived back at SUNY Broome at about 10pm last night.  It was sad to say goodbye, but nice to get home.

It was a great trip and we accomplished a lot. The first Harmony for Haiti project was so fun and a great success, and we are excited to share some more pictures and video with you.

Stay tuned for a later post with more details about Harmony for Haiti, the teacher’s workshop and the awesome lunches in Grande Saline, the start of the sewing school, the latest on our clean water system, our progress for converting the water system to solar power, and much more!

For now, please enjoy this video showing how much fun you can have when your bus breaks down in Haiti.


(Photo and video credits to Miss Ally Musa).


Harmony for Haiti Spends a Final Day in Haiti

We spent our final day in Haiti in Port au Prince. We started at Mother Teresa’s Hospital, which, as it turns out, is not open to visitors on Thursdays. But the very kind sister in charge let us in to spend a few minutes holding the babies. After that we went to visit JJ’s orphanage. There are over 80 kids living there and we were all so impressed with how beautiful it was. In the afternoon we had a great visit with Pastor Vincent and the children who live with him. We enjoyed coloring, making music and just spending time together. The entire visit was filmed by the “Pipo Cam”. We had yet another busted fan belt on the way home, but made it back to Jude’s for some time to visit (Stanley came to see Nancy, Achna came to see me and Fritzka came to see all of us), dinner and a little shopping.

It has been a great trip with  long, hot, busy days. We accomplished a lot, made music with hundreds of people, and shared some tears and a lot of laughs. Thanks to the summer 2016 Health for Haiti team for working tirelessly and being awesome. Special thanks to Marcia and Lynn for all the work you did to prepare for the super successful music camp and teacher’s workshop. All I can say is “wow”. Thanks  JJ, Schneider, Jean, Elysee and Chris for being such amazing partners on this trip. Thanks Tidjo for driving us (we are sorry that Ben’s head knocked the window out of your bus). Thanks Le Gou T and the #1 guest house in Port au Prince: Estinfil Guest House (we love you Jude).

And most of all, thank you beautiful, crazy, wonderful Haiti!  

Harmony for Haiti Rocks On

Today was our final day in Grande Saline, and as our bus pulled up hundreds of kids ran to greet us.  Our numbers have grown each day, and we estimate that we had well over 400 children with us today. With the numbers this large it was difficult to work on organized songs and actvities, but there was plenty of singing and dancing and the kids who had made instruments seemed to enjoy using them. A few of the boys really went to town with Marcia’s drum. We rented a large and very powerful sound system and moved the party outside. It was loud and crazy and very fun. Today’s lunch was very special, the children ate rice, beans and goat. The four lunch ladies did an awesome job cooking and serving so many children. And they did it all with a smile.

Lynn finished her workshop on “Multiple Intelligences”.  All of the teachers from Grande Saline received a certificate and they were able to keep all of the materials that Lynn prepared and brought for the workshop.  It was very touching when Lynn told them that she retired last month and that instead of gifts she collected money for the teachers. They often go months without pay. Because of Lynn’s generosity the teachers will all receive their salary for the first three months of the school year. It was hard for them to believe that Lynn would do this for them. 

We also gave out the books designed by Lynn’s GFJ students. They are the start of a school library in Grande Saline. We distributed flip-flops and school supplies collected by Tioga Hills Elementary School and Saint John the Evangelist School, and soccer tournament supplies collected by 5th grade at Johnson City Elementary School. Thank you to all the New York School Children who sent these items.  

We were also thrilled to have two members of the Saint Marc Rotary visit us in Grande Saline to survey our projects. We are hoping that they will partner with Heath for Haiti, the Endwell Rotary, and other upstate New York Rotary Clubs on a Rotary International Global Grant. The grant would be used to convert the water system from gas to solar power. They were very impressed with our project and even had a drink of our water. We had a great meeting with community members and the Rotary members. They exchanged contact information and plan to begin working together in the near future. 

Overall, it was a great day. We are finally home at Jude’s (after a couple bus “issues” and looking forward to a shower and some rest. Thanks to this amazing team and to the people of Grande Saline.


Harmony for Haiti Makes Music With 300 Children

The July 2016 Health for Haiti team had another long but amazing day in Grande Saline. We arrived to find hundreds of very excited children waiting for us. Today we made simple instruments with the children and every child had a shaker egg or some other kind of rhythm instrument. Marcia led the children through some different activities with the instruments and there was a lot of singing and dancing. Nancy, Ally, Makena, Claire, Silvia, Gay and Ben enjoyed helping the children make instruments. It was great to spend time with our friends in the community and to see all of those kids have so much fun. We served all of the children a hot lunch of rice and beans and then enjoyed more singing and dancing. It was so much fun!!

Lynn Gilyard offered a professional development workshop for seven teachers in Grande Saline. It was so well received that she was asked to extend it for another day.  So she will be working with the teachers again on Wednesday. 

Work continues at the water system where there is a steady stream of people coming for the clean water. 

Wednesday is our final day in Grande Saline. We will have a party and enjoy more singing and dancing together before saying good bye and making the long trip to Port au Prince. 

Sorry for the lack of pictures. Internet and cell service has not been very good and we had some power outages. Silvia is taking pictures and video and I will post some when we have better service. 

For now, I will leave you with just one smile. 

Harmony for Haiti Rocks Grande Saline

We had a great day in Grande Saline today. We had an uneventful ride and were so excited to see the 250 kids who came to our music camp. They enjoyed watching the videos of our SUNY Broome students singing the five songs we are using in our camp. After that we broke up into smaller groups to start teaching the songs. It was so much fun and the kids were just wonderful. We served a spaghetti lunch that was quite well received and then worked on our songs some more  The water team downloaded and updated software and is proceeding with the planned system maintenance and cleaning.  The operators continue to do a great job with the system and it seems that there are even more people using the water.  We also visited the garden with the farmers  it was a joy to see the rice growing and how the farmers are preparing the land for the planting the rice plants  Tomorrow we will make and use instruments with the kids and offer a professional development workshop for the teachers.  Thanks to all of our friends in Grande Saline who made today so awesome!

Safe Arrival and Harmony for Haiti Gets Off To An Unexpected Early But Great Start

It was a very long day but the July 2016 team and our 24 suitcases made it safely to Haiti. We left from SUNY Broome on Saturday at 11pm and arrived at JFK around 2:30am. Thanks to Robin for his excellent driving skills!  After checking all of those bags we boarded our flight and headed to Port au Prince. Our friends JJ. Jean, Elysee and Schneider met us at the airport. We managed to get all of our stuff on Tidjo’s bus and started for Saint Marc. We did not make it very far before the bus broke down for the first time. A couple hours later we had a new radiator hose and lots of new friends. In fact, our Harmony for Haiti Music Camp had an early but very successful start. We got back on the road but did not get too far because of a broken fan belt. We finally made it to Saint Marc at about 5:30….just in time for dinner. We also had a very successful evening meeting with the Saint Marc Rotary and managed to pack for out trip to Grande Saline. Everyone is very tired but it was a great first day in Haiti! Sorry that I cannot post more pictures, I am having some trouble with the Wi-Fi.