Greetings from Health for Haiti! During these hot days of summer in upstate New York, most of us have a pretty easy time finding a cold drink when we need one. Cold water may not be easy to come by in Grande Saline, but the water filtration system is busier than ever. People are spending quite some time waiting in line for water. Having access to clean water reduces exposure to the germs that can cause typhoid, cholera, chronic diarrhea, and other waterborne diseases. After about a year and a half with access to clean water, along with Health for Haiti efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene, there is no doubt within the community in Grande Saline that they are experiencing better health. As more and more families come to the system for clean water new challenges arise. The community in Grande Saline recently had a meeting and elected seven people to serve on a Community Water Board. The Board will help to manage day-to-day operations at the water system and will address comments and questions about the system from the community. For example, the Board is working on some guidelines about how many containers a person can fill at one time, and they are helping to keep the land around the water system clean. In October a small Health for Haiti team will visit Grande Saline to perform some maintenance and upgrades on the water filtration system and meet with the Board to discuss future management of the system. We also hope to begin the process of converting the system from gas generators to solar power. We see this transition as a critical step in the process of making the water filtration system self-sustainable. Helping to provide continued access to safe drinking water is central to the Health for Haiti program and we are grateful for the donations that have made this project possible.
Next we go from water to food. The re-planted rice seedlings continue to grow in the Community Garden. It takes a lot of effort to keep the rice plots irrigated and weeded. Over the next month the farmers will continue to weed, water and fertilize the rice. If everything goes well, the rice will be harvested in a couple of months and will be used for the school lunch program.
And we are happy to tell you that sewing school classes continue for the thirty sewing students in Grande Saline. The teachers asked for a some tables so that the students could work on patterns. Wood is expensive in Haiti but we were able to help with some supplies for the new tables. The students are learning to sew seams and make patterns. Thanks to the sewing teachers and to the people who have worked so hard to get this new program off to a great start.
Soon it will be time for school to begin again in Grande Saline. This year we hope to be able to help to build a kitchen/storage building for the school lunch program in Grande Saline and to continue to support the ongoing education programs. Below is a picture of the structure that the community would like to try to build. The building would serve as a storage place for the food from the Community Garden and as a place to prepare and serve lunch.
Finally, Professor Hankin and I are very excited to put together the 2017 Health for Haiti class! The 2017 team will work with our partners in Haiti in January to provide health clinics and education and to continue to build on the other Health for Haiti efforts. Interested students can visit our home page for a link to the 2017 Fact Sheet and Application. Thank you!