Month: January 2017

Thank You January 2017 Health for Haiti Team!

It is never easy to say goodbye to our friends, and we all felt a little sad to leave Haiti behind.  The students did an amazing job delivering their final presentations and, once again, it is clear that we all gained much more than we gave on this trip. Now that we have had a chance to settle back into our lives at home and reflect on our experiences in Haiti, it is time to say thank you to all of the people who made this trip and these projects possible.

Professor Hankin and I are grateful to our amazing team of students and staff for all of their hard work to make the trip a success.  Thanks to our incredible students: Abagale, Brittany, Tabor, Rachel, Monica, Donette, Maddi, Phoebe, Molly, Michaela, Vera, Amanda, Shelby, Brandon and Emma.  All of the fundraising that you did before our trip helped to ensure that we would be able to meet our goals for this trip.  You worked very hard under difficult conditions. Every one of you cheerfully pitched in wherever you were needed and we appreciate the efforts you made to make meaningful connections with the people we served in Haiti.  You are an extraordinary group!  Thanks to our non-student staff: Gay, Greg, Kristy, Nick, Marcia, Lynn and Silvia.  All of you shared your time and talents to make this trip not only a valuable academic experience, but a productive and meaningful service opportunity. And thanks to our friends and Partners in Haiti: Jean Claude and the staff at Le Gou T, our dear Jude and his staff at Estinfil Guest House, our fearless driver, Steevenson, David and the rest of our great security team, Dr. Gary and Dr. Johnny, and of course our amazing translators:  Brigida, Dashka, Esther, Scott, Louie, Jean Frico, Roosevelt, Peterson, Elysee, Schneider and JJ.  We could not work without you.  Thank you for being our bridge to the Haitian people and thank you for your friendship and kindness.  Another big thank you to all of the friends and families at home who supported this trip in so many ways.  Thanks for attending our fundraisers, donating supplies, providing financial support, and encouraging us in our efforts.

Here is what we accomplished together in January:

The medical team triaged 293 patients in our health clinics. Working with Dr. Gary and Dr. Johnny, we dispensed 879 prescriptions and hundreds of pairs of reading glasses.  The dental team performed 268 dental exams with oral hygiene instructions, toothbrush prophylaxis and fluoride varnish applications.  The 2017 Health for Haiti team also gave out 1,750 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste.  We provided food (rice, beans, fish and oil) for 200 families in Grande Saline.  We gave out 300 personal care kits.  We delivered our ProjectP reproductive health/sewing workshop to over 100 girls and women.  We provided education on nutrition and tooth brushing and the opportunity to create art and music or hundreds of children. We provided a teacher training workshop and a workshop on how to create a small business.  We built a hyperbolic solar cooker.  We performed maintenance and training at the water filtration system in Grande Saline.  We met with the Water System Committee, gave them badges and shirts, and discussed the future management of the water system.  We did some advance work to prepare for our upcoming project to convert the water system from gas generators to solar power. We delivered many donated sewing supplies, 18 laptops for our Bridge to Haiti program, school and art supplies, children’s clothing and over 200 pairs of flip-flops.  We met with the Grande Saline sewing school students and teachers and saw some of the beautiful items of clothing that the students made.  We taught people to crochet plastic mats out of grocery bags. We visited the community garden and provided multiple days of lunch for hundreds of children.  We provided two orphanages with some much needed financial support to help purchase food over the next several weeks.  We also treated the children from two different orphanages to a fun day at the beach (which we also enjoyed very much).

Below you can see some more pictures from our time in Haiti.  There are also some more recent pictures from computer class in Grande Saline, and some before and after photos of work done to repair hurricane damage in a home in Grande Saline.

Looking ahead, we would like to invite all of our Health for Haiti family (including our former students!) to join us for the Espere: Health and Hope for Haiti reception at the Broome County Arts Council Gallery.

Espere: Health and Hope in Haiti Art Exhibit Opens February First Friday at the Broome County Arts Council

Espere: Health and Hope in Haiti opens First Friday, February 3, from 6-9pm at the Broome County Arts Council, 81 State Street, 5th floor, Binghamton. The art exhibit celebrates the Health for Haiti course at SUNY Broome Community College, which brings students, faculty, local professionals and community volunteers together to address some of the most pressing needs of our neighbors in Haiti.

Espere: Health and Hope in Haiti exhibit  is open to the public at the Broome County Arts Council thru February 24, 2017, Monday through Friday, 10am-6pm

We look forward to continuing our work in Haiti and once again thank you for your support of the Health for Haiti projects!

A Beautiful Beach and Bus Beats

Our last full day in Haiti was beautiful and sunny and warm and started off with some of Jude’s wonderful oatmeal.  Today was a well-deserved day of fun and relaxation for the students and staff.  We went to the beach with about thirty children from Pastor Vincent’s Orphanage and Jude’s family’s orphanage. The students raised enough money to treat the kids to a fun day at the the beach.  They bought toys, chips, cookies, drinks and all the fixings for a kid’s favorite sandwich…raw hot dog on white bread with ketchup and mayo.  The Health for Haiti students made the sandwiches before we loaded up onto the bus.  We picked up all of the kids and had a fun but crowded ride to the beach.  The beach was absolutely beautiful and the weather could not have been more perfect.  We all swam and looked for shells and enjoyed the beautiful setting and our time together.

It was tough to leave at the end of the afternoon but the bus ride home was really fun because Marcia passed out her percussion instruments and we all played along.  Even the littlest children kept the beat.  We had such a great time, it made it a little easier to say goodbye.  We had a delicious dinner back at Jude’s and now everyone is getting ready to pack and enjoying a really beautiful evening on the rooftop decks.

Today was the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.  We had a moment of silence on the bus at 4:53pm, the time that the earthquake started. Although this is a difficult day for everyone in Haiti, it was nice to have a day that focused on celebrating our love and appreciation of Haiti and the Haitian people.

We had such a productive and special time here in Haiti.  It will be hard to say goodbye to our friends and leave tomorrow, but also good to get back home.  We will meet again next week for our final class meeting and student presentations.  After the post-trip meeting I will share a final update from our amazing, special time here.

Good night from Haiti!

Kids, Kids and More Kids

Today was our last official “working” day in Haiti.  We spent the entire day at Foundation Sens Universal Damabhia Orphanage.  This is orphanage is supported by our dear friend and translator, JJ.  We were really excited to see the kids, they were so sweet.  About 85 children live at the orphanage and another 40 or so attend school there.  JJ gave us a tour and talked about the children, some of whom were living on the street and had nowhere else to go.  We saw the rooms where the girls and boys sleep and the classrooms where they attend school.  After the tour we were busy setting up for our medical and dental clinics and our education programs.  We were happy to have Dr. Johnny with us again to see all of the children and teachers.  We saw 82 patients in the medical and dental clinics and gave out 246 prescriptions.  All of the patients received an oral exam, toothbrush cleaning and topical fluoride treatment.

Our other students and staff played with the children and provided educational activities.  We delivered a nutrition lesson, another great ProjectP workshop for the adolescent and teenage girls, some art and music activities and a lot of fun. It was a great day and a lot of fun for everyone.  At the end of the day, singer-songwriter (and translator) JJ had a CD release party and concert that was a fundraiser for the orphanage.  JJ signed CDs and posters, sold T shirts, and performed for the enthusiastic crowd.  He was even interviewed by a Haitian news station after the concert.  Everyone had a great time and enjoyed ending our day with some singing and dancing.  (However, we miss Kristy and Greg who left yesterday.)  We were able to leave a lot of donated soap, art and music supplies, and Haitian Creole versions of our lessons with the orphanage.  We were all really impressed with what JJ has done for the kids at his orphanage. Once again, our students were so helpful and fun and amazing.

When we returned to Jude’s we organized our now mostly empty suitcases and prepared for our beach day tomorrow.  We will be taking children from two orphanages to the beach for a fun day.  Tonight the students are busy making sandwiches for the kids.  We are all happy that the Internet is working again. I added yesterday’s pictures to yesterday’s blog post and below you can see some images from today.

We are all well and safe and enjoying our final days together here in beautiful, warm, sunny Haiti!

Great Day, No Internet

We had a super day visiting (Saint) Mother Teresa’s Hospital in the morning. We held and comforted sick babies and provided education, toothbrushes and toothpaste to over 400 children. We spent the afternoon playing and socializing with the children at Pastor Vincent’s orphanage. We did some souvenir shopping and then had a fascinating evening lecture from Betsy Sherwood, an International Social Worker from Vestal, NY. We are all safe and looking forward to a busy and exciting day tomorrow.

I hope to post some pictures as soon as we have Internet access again.

Good night from Haiti!

Cloudy Skies and Bright Smiles

Today was a fun and special day for our team.  After a hearty breakfast of Jude’s oatmeal we loaded up our suitcases and headed out to Centre Evangelique Orphanage in Port au Prince.  It was about a two hour drive through the busy crowded streets of Port au Prince. It was cloudy and a little rainy today, but still nice and warm.  The orphanage we visited is run by a good friend of (our translator) Schneider’s.  Schneider asked if we might be able to visit because the children at this orphanage are in need of support.  All of the kids are malnourished and in need of medical care. We were joined by Dr. Johnny, a Haitian doctor who is a friend of JJ’s.  We also wanted to provide some education, food and some fun for the 45 kids who live there.

As soon as we arrived, we got right to work.  The medical and dental teams set up so that they could provide medical and dental services for all of the children. Marcia and a few of the students organized some art and music activities in the two classrooms.  Lynn also helped the students to set up a “store” for the kids with donated clothing, flip-flops, jewelry, toys and soap.  The kids had so much fun coloring, making crafts and instruments, playing with the toys, and shopping at the store.

Our ProjectP team set up in the privacy of the girl’s bedroom and worked with about ten adolescent and teenage girls. They provided some reproductive health education and then worked with the girls to make reusable pads.  The girls really enjoyed the sewing project and each one was able to make a pad.  We also distributed underwear and some reusable pads that were made by a sewing group in the US and donated to Health for Haiti.

Some of the students taught the kids how to brush their teeth using puppets.  The children really loved playing with the puppets and brushing their teeth. We also provided a nutrition lesson for the kids to teach them about what kinds of food will help them to grow and have energy.  The lesson ended with a fun game (with prizes!) to test the kids on the new information that they learned.

In addition, because of the successful fundraising efforts of the 2017 Health for Haiti students, we were able to provide lunch for the kids and donate money to help them purchase food for the next month or so.  The medical team triaged all 45 children and teachers.  Dr. Johnny prescribed medications as needed.  The dental team provided toothbrush prophylaxis and topical fluoride varnish treatments to all of the patients that were triaged.  Every patient received toothpaste, a toothbrush and a sticker.  We also collected health histories for each patient.

We had a wonderful time with the children but it was difficult because these kids were not well.  We felt privileged to at least give them a fun day and some basic care.  Once again the students and the translators really went above and beyond all expectations.  They all did an incredible job and pitched in wherever was needed.  And a special thanks to Silvia for taking all of these amazing pictures for us.

After we finished all of our work, we went back to Jude’s. The traffic was horrendous and it took us over three hours to get home. Jude was waiting with pumpkin soup which made us feel better. Tonight the students are hanging out, relaxing and writing in their journals.  Tomorrow we will start our day at Mother Teresa’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Good night from Haiti!

From Paper Hats to a Solar Cooker: Day 2 in Grande Saline

The 2017 Health for Haiti team broke all records today and worked on 9 projects during the time we spent in Grande Saline.  The entire team of 35 people worked very hard and provided services and education to hundreds of people in the community.

The medical and dental teams, led by Maureen, started seeing patients right away.  Working with Haitian doctor, Dr. Gary, the students and Physician Assistant Kristy Rodgers (who came all the way from Honolulu!) triaged 64 patients. Patient ages ranged from 18 days to 96 years.  They dispensed over 200 prescriptions. Sixty-seven children received toothbrush instructions, an exam and a fluoride varnish treatment. Health data was collected and recorded for all 131 patients.

Marcia provided a fun day full of art for over 80 children. They made colorful flowers out of craft foam and pipe cleaners, drew favorite animals and happily joined the paper “chapeau” craze started by Jean Frico. The kids also played a version of “freeze frame”.  The kids danced while we played drums and when we stopped playing they froze in the pose of their favorite animal. A winner was chosen and everyone made the sound of that animal.  There were lots of smiles and giggles!

Today Lynn, back by popular demand, ran a teacher’s workshop.  With Lynn’s help, the teachers continued their work on multiple intelligences by creating a Jeopardy-style game that could be played with their students. Teachers were teamed up, then created categories for the game, including communication, music, geography and computers.  The final category was a quiz on Haitian Kreyol made especially for Lynn.  The teachers received their second professional development certificate.

As if that was not enough, Lynn also worked with some local women and girls to make yarn out of plastic bags cut into strips.  Tomorrow, she plans to teach the women how to crochet the “yarn” into mats.

Jen and another team presented a “ProjectP” workshop for 30 women and girls.  The workshop included a lesson on puberty, female reproductive anatomy, the menstrual cycle and feminine hygiene products.  The workshop included a discussion of the economics of purchasing sanitary pads.  The ProjectP team taught each participate how to create their own reusable sanitary pads.  They received all of the sewing supplies they needed to make their own pad during the workshop and received a take-home kit with supplies to make another pad, soap and underwear. The reusable pad provides a more cost-effective alternative for the women and girls.  It can also be made and sold for a profit. This project actually started a few months ago as a classroom project at SUNY Broome and is now being implemented in rural and urban Haitian communities. For more information visit www.projectp.org, a website created by Health for Haiti and Art of Science students.

Greg and Nick completed an inspection to check for any equipment issues.  All of the equipment is in good working order. The system was operated to fill the water tanks.  The water flow and operating pressures were in line with expected/desired performance.  Once the water tanks were filled a complete chemical clean (high and low pH) was performed.

Gay’s Solar Team started construction of a solar parabolic cooker. The team started by using a template to trace and cut 32 ribs for the parabolic dish. The assembled the base and cut slits in the ribs so they would fit a disc. They fit and spaced the ribs, made sure they were upright and not tilted, and glued the bottoms of the ribs to the base. The team plans to finish the cooker tomorrow.  The finished cooker will be able to boil water in 5 minutes!

All of the children and workshop participants enjoyed a delicious lunch of rice and beans with fish cooked by the amazing lunch ladies.  The money for the food and drinks came from the Health for Haiti student fundraising efforts.

Professor Hankin and I, along with the entire staff, were so impressed by the tireless efforts of our wonderful students and translators. Every student worked hard and did amazing work.  Everyone was very tired after this productive day and was glad to get back to the hotel after the two hour hot dusty bumpy drive back to the hotel.  We enjoyed a diner of goat, plantains, potato salad and rice and beans.  Tomorrow we will be up early to do it all again on our final day in Grande Saline.

Good night from Haiti.

From Saint Marc to Port au Prince

We started our day in the Haiti sunshine with a breakfast of hot goat soup. We have heard that it is about 70 degrees colder at home, but we are all nice and warm.  After breakfast we went to church at the Cathedrale De Saint Marc. The congregation was founded in the late 1700s.  We felt welcomed  and enjoyed the service. It was a beautiful old building and it was a pleasure to see the Haitian congregation dressed in their Sunday best!  It is the first chance we have had as a group to just sit down and enjoy some quiet time.  Although we did not understand the language, we could follow along with the mass.

After that we loaded up the bus and headed for Port au Prince.  It was wonderful to arrive at Estinfil Guest House and see our dear friend Jude.  We unloaded all of our suitcases and took a trip to the Deli Mart to stock up on water and snacks.  We came back and organized our supplies for the next few days.  Jude was even able to broadcast the Giants game!  We had a great dinner and are enjoying a relaxing evening.

Tomorrow we will be up early and will be heading to Centre Evangelique Orphanage here in Port au Prince. Our plan is to offer a medical and dental clinic, a lesson on nutrition, some art and music programs, a small ProjectP workshop for the older girls, and provide lunch for the children. There are not too many pictures from today (although I am sneaking in a few selfies) but I can assure you we are all thrilled to be at Jude’s and are enjoying a little down time.

Good night from Haiti!

Final Day in Grande Saline: Clinic Sets a New Record!

We had a great final day in Grande Saline.  We continued many of the projects that we started yesterday.  The medical clinic set a new record and saw 94 patients aged from 2 months to 88 years of age. Once again the students were prepared and efficient. We saw a wide variety of medical conditions.  All patients were triaged by students and then seen by Dr. Gary. Over 300 prescriptions were dispensed.  All patients also received a toothbrush and toothpaste.  Maureen saw 69 children in the dental clinic.  Each child received a dental exam, tooth-brushing instructions and a fluoride varnish.  All children left with a toothbrush, toothpaste and a sticker.

Marcia’s awesome art team set up three different stations of art activities.  The children drew with colored pencils (their favorite), made construction paper and popsicle stick puppets, and the biggest hit was making bead bracelets and necklaces. In the afternoon Lynn, Marcia and Phoebe taught a group of women how to make plarn (yarn out of recycled plastic bags) and use it to crochet plastic mats.  Two of the older women picked up the technique quickly and they accepted the challenge of teaching other women to make mats.

Nick, Greg and Louis verified that the system was functioning normally after yesterday’s cleaning procedure and Louie practiced a dry run of the cleaning procedure.  After this, Nick and Greg helped the solar team to finish constructing the parabolic solar cooker.  Unfortunately, the cooker was not finished in time for us to cook anything, but we were able to feel the how the sun’s heat was concentrated by the cooker.

The ProjectP team worked with another group of women and girls and had so much fun interacting with the workshop participants during the education part and the hands-on sewing activity.  After the last ProjectP presentation, we met with the students from the sewing school and they showed us the beautiful clothing that they are making. We learned that it costs $10 to hire someone to make a school uniform. Now the women are proud to be able to make uniforms themselves!  They all said that they really enjoy sewing school and were happy to receive all of the supplies we brought for them.

Dr. Gay delivered a presentation on how to start a small business to members of the Grande Saline community.  The community had specifically requested this presentation.  Dr. Gay talked about how to develop a good business plan and make a profitable project.  She gave a practical example with a project that the sewing students could work on.  They got started right away and I am now the proud owner of a Haitian cell phone bag. All of the people who attended the workshop learned a lot and were excited to get started.

The children and workshop participants had another great lunch prepared by the lunch ladies.

On our final trip home from Grande Saline we once again encountered a funeral.  This time we had to stop and the funeral procession passed around our bus.  There were hundreds of mourners singing and dancing.  It was a special opportunity to experience a Haitian tradition up close.

Once again, the students and staff worked hard and had a great and productive day.  We would like to thank our translators because none of our work would be possible without them.  And thanks to our bus driver Stevenson for getting us safely to and from Grande Saline.  Until you have taken this trip, you cannot appreciate how long, dusty, hot and bumpy it is!

Tomorrow we plan to attend church and travel to Port au Prince.  We all need a day to rest and relax a bit so we will take our time settling into the guest house.

Good night from Haiti!

Food, Fun and a Funeral

 

We had an awesome day working in Grande Saline. We were up early for a delicious Haitian breakfast of spaghetti and hotdogs by the pool. After that we loaded up our bus and headed out for a very bumpy ride to Grande Saline.

The 2017 Health for Haiti students raised enough money to purchase rice, beans, fish and oil for 200 families. We spent a couple of hours bagging up the food to distribute to the people. Yesterday Pastor Berlando distributed tickets to 200 local families and people came from quite a ways away for the food distribution. The people sat on benches outside of the church until all of the food was packaged. We also had a personal care kit with a wash cloth and hygiene supplies for each family.

Before we started the food distribution Pastor Berlando spoke about how much the community appreciated the gift from the students. After that, the people with tickets came in one by one and the students handed out the personal care kits and bags of food. It was a great opportunity to interact with the community and the entire event went very well.

After the food distribution we all walked to the water system. Greg Cempa explained how the system worked and the students had a chance to see the river that is the source of the water. The system has been running since March 2015 and provides the community with thousands of gallons of clean, safe drinking water every day. The system has had a substantial positive impact on the health of the people in the local community who have no other source of drinking water. We saw many people coming for water and the students also enjoyed playing with the local children.

We also had a meeting with the water system operators and the committee that oversees the daily operation of the system. As a part of recognizing and supporting the important work that this committee does, we brought badges and shirts for them. The committee is the voice of the entire community and makes important decisions about how the system is managed. We hope that soon we will have the necessary funding to convert the system from gas generators to solar power. Everyone is looking forward to this exciting improvement that will make the system more sustainable and allow the system to filter more water each day.

We also visited the community garden where the land is being prepared so that we can plant corn, beans and melons. All of the produce from the garden will help to support the school lunch in Grande Saline.

We returned to the church to start setting up for tomorrow’s medical clinic and then headed for the hotel.

On the way home we were forced to stop for a funeral procession. In Haiti, funerals are often a celebration of life. There was music and many people dancing.

After arriving back at the hotel we had a delicious dinner of rice, beans, chicken and plantains and everyone had some well-deserved rest. Tomorrow we will head back to Grande Saline for a full day of activities. We will have our medical clinic and offer several education programs, lunch for the children and a solar oven workshop. We are so grateful for our translators and for this amazing group of students. They have worked so hard and are really making a difference for the community we serve in Grande Saline. This is an amazing group!

Good night from Haiti!

Safe Arrival for Health for Haiti 2017

Hello from Marc, Haiti!  Well it only took 17 hours, two buses and a plane but we (and our 2,400 pounds of luggage) made it safely to our destination.   It was starting to get dark when we arrived and everyone was ready for some dinner and a shower. Although it was a long and tiring day we are so happy to be here.  I only have a few pictures to share but hope to make up for it tomorrow!

Tomorrow we are meeting for an early breakfast and heading out to Grande Saline for a full day of work. Everyone is safe and sound and getting some well-deserved rest.  Good night from Haiti!