It has been a difficult couple of weeks in Grande Saline. School was supposed to start on September 5 but has been postponed indefinitely because of serious flooding in the community. Our friends in Grande Saline are dealing with significant standing water, even in the classrooms and in the church. As a result, it is not currently possible for the children to attend school, or for the community to hold sewing classes and computer classes. The standing water has also resulted in damage to homes, many more mosquitoes and flies, and has made travel in the area very difficult. Health for Haiti is working closely with the community to find ways to deal with the flooding.
As if the flooding was not enough of a challenge, the compressor that runs the pump for the water system failed. The community was left without clean water for about a week while the Heath for Haiti engineering team worked to help figure out what the problem was and how to fix it. Thanks to Greg Cempa (Pall Corporation), Tom Collart, Dr. Robinson, and our friends in Grande Saline who worked so hard to resolve this problem. Late last week local electrician, Etienne Elysee, was able to fix the compressor and the water system is back up and running. This is especially important for the community because all of the flooding is associated with increases in water-borne infections. A small Health for Haiti team will visit Grande Saline in October to provide some water system upgrades and to work on a plan to have spare parts available that can prevent a prolonged system shut down. In addition, we are still very hopeful that we will have success with our Rotary International Global Grant project and that we will be able to convert the water system from gas to solar power. Many thanks to Jeff Smith, president of the Endwell Rotary, for his leadership and dedication, to the local Rotary clubs who have pledged support and to the Saint Marc Rotary in Haiti.
Another bright spot is the community garden. The rice is growing very well (and does not mind the extra water). The recent pictures of the rice growing in the garden (thanks, Schneider) are beautiful. If you look at the garden pictures from the last post, you can see how much the rice plants have grown.
If all continues to go well, the rice will be our third harvest from the community garden. That is pretty impressive considering that it has not quite been a year since the community garden project started. As with the corn and beans, the rice will support the school lunch program.
Thank you to all of the Health for Haiti supporters who have shared time and resources to support our friends in Grande Saline at this very difficult time. We are working closely with our friends in Grande Saline to find the best ways that we can help, and the generosity of the Health for Haiti community will make that help possible. We have heard from the community in Grande Saline that our continued friendship and commitment has been a comfort as they deal with the devastating effects of the flooding.
We are also very excited about the applications that we have received for the 2017 class. We have some amazing students who are interested in working in Haiti in January and we know that they will do amazing work. We are currently accepting students and welcome additional applications. We are working with the communities we serve in Haiti to put plans together for our 2017 projects. Together we will continue to do our best to meet the challenges and celebrate the successes.