Month: January 2018

Science, Soap, and School Bags

Although the January 2018 Health for Haiti team returned to New York a couple of weeks ago, the work they started continues on in Haiti.  The scientific observation lesson was created by SUNY Broome CLT students and was first taught by the 2018 Health for Haiti class. The same lesson was recently presented to all of the children at Organisation Assistante pour des Enfants d’Haiti (OAEH).  Thank you to Pastor Edwige and his staff for including the lesson at their Saturday Education and Entertainment Club!  We love to see the OEAH kids working together in their club, and we look forward to bringing more science lessons to share with this hard-working and enthusiastic group. Thanks to our SUNY Broome Haitian student who translated these lessons into Haitian Creole for the teachers in Haiti. It is wonderful to see this education initiative continue at multiple schools in Haiti.

In news from Grande Saline, the community recently participated in a church convention. The ladies sold some of the soap they have been making to the people at the convention.  We learned that the people from the visiting churches really liked the soap and offered a lot of encouragement. The ladies have received many orders for more of their soap and hope to see the project continue to grow. We are excited about the potential of this new economic initiative.

The 500 school bags that were so generously donated by Dick’s Sporting Goods are still being distributed in rural and urban Haiti. These bags will get a lot of use by the school children who received them.  The bags were donated when one of the 2018 Health for Haiti students contacted Dick’s about the need for bags in the communities we serve. Thank you Dick’s Sporting Goods!

In other news, the Port au Prince orphanage that we were not able to visit while we were in town recently enjoyed a hearty meal. All of the children and staff enjoyed having the special dinner.  The food was provided thanks to fundraising that the 2018 Health for Haiti students did before their trip. Although they were not there in person to serve this meal, their efforts were appreciated.

We are happy to see the work started earlier this month continue, and we look forward to providing more updates in the future! Thank you from Health for Haiti!

Thank You From Health for Haiti 2018!

Greetings from cold, snowy upstate New York! On Tuesday, January 16th, the 2018 Health for Haiti students presented and reflected on our experiences in Haiti.  We are all adjusting to the cold upstate NY weather, and finding ways to get used to the new perspective we gained from our work in Haiti.  Professor Hankin and I were so impressed with the student presentations, and we are so proud of this group and what they have accomplished.

Everyone worked hard before and during the trip, and we certainly accomplished a lot while we were in Haiti. The medical team, together with Haitian doctors Dr. Gary and Dr. Johnny,  saw over 200 patients and dispensed many prescription medications. All prescription medications were purchased in Haiti.  The left over medications were given to Dr. Gary and will be used in the monthly medical clinics in Grande Saline. Health history forms were collected and will be added to our patient database. The database will help Dr. Gary and Dr. Johnny to care for the populations we serve, and will provide information about the impact of our work, including how the availability of clean water and a school lunch is improving health in Grande Saline.

 

While in Haiti we distributed over 1200 toothbrushes and used puppets to teach kids how to properly brush their teeth. The dental team shared their special skills and worked so hard. They were assisted by Haitian dentist, Dr. Marc, who was available for consultations.  The dental hygiene students placed nearly 1000 sealants that will prevent decay in the children’s teeth.  The new, cutting edge technology used by the team worked beautifully! The treatment is painless, and hopefully will spare the children from the pain of future tooth decay. The team also placed silver diamine fluoride on 43 teeth.  This treatment stops the progression of decay.  In the pictures below, Professor Maureen Hankin is placing silver diamine fluoride on the tooth on the left, and a student is placing sealants on the tooth on the right. Health for Haiti is grateful for the support of our local community of medical and dental professionals who donated to this work.  We also appreciate all of the community members who helped to collect the over-the-counter medications that we shared with the Haitian people. Medical clinics will continue in Grande Saline once every month for the next year.

The water system is functioning well and continues to provide clean, safe drinking water for nearly 1000 people each month.  In March we will celebrate the three year anniversary of clean water in Grande Saline, and we have no doubt that this project has improved health and life for the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The solar panels on the church and school provide power for computer classes, sewing machines, and even lights and a fan in church.  We look forward to expanding the system and possibly constructing solar powered hot plates that can take the place of charcoal fires.

We are also so excited to have started a new economic initiative in Grande Saline.  Thanks to a very generous donation of soap-making supplies from Sweet Cakes Soap in Minnetonka, Minnesota, there is a new economic opportunity for women in Grande Saline. Dr. Gay presented a possible business plan to the women who are part of the pilot project, and taught them how to make the soap. If the women are able to make and sell the soap, it will help them to support their families and their community.

We had a wonderful time visiting the two community gardens. The students were able to plant tomato seedlings, okra, and beans.  Below are some pictures of the tomatoes we planted thriving in the garden. The beans are also growing well. The gardens will be used to teach the children best practices for growing, and all of the produce will be used for the school lunch. Some of the students reflected on how great it felt to plant things in the garden and know that they are a part of the garden, along with the kids in Grande Saline.

While in Haiti we distributed 500 personal care kits. We served 300 families in Grande Saline with a food distribution of rice, beans, fish, and oil. We also provided a lot of lunches while we were in Haiti. Over 500 nutritious lunches were served to children in rural and urban Haiti.  Some students commented on what a difference they saw in the kids after they had a chance to eat lunch. The money for all of this food came from student fundraising efforts.  Health for Haiti team, if we include the families and the children’s lunches together, you helped to feed more than 1000 children and adults in Haiti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our education team delivered music lessons in Grande Saline.  The instruments, song books, and instructional videos, which were created by students at Tioga Hills Elementary School, were left in Grande Saline and will now be used as part of the school curriculum.  We also presented lessons on the dangers of malnutrition and benefits of good nutrition. And, we were proud to teach scientific observation and microscopy to children and teachers.  The nutrition and science lessons were translated into Haitian Creole by a SUNY Broome student from Haiti and, along with the supplies (magnifying glasses, observation notebooks, pencils, paper and a microscope), were left with several teachers in Haiti.  A complete lesson was even given to a teacher who will share it with two schools we were not able to visit in Cite Soleil.  The lessons will be shared with over 500 children in Haiti! Some of the Health for Haiti students reflected on how enthusiastic the children and teachers were about the lessons.  They mentioned how the gift of education, which is something many of us take for granted in the United States, opens new doors for these children.  It is a gift that they can keep with them for their entire lives.  We look forward to continuing our science education program in Haiti.

At our last class meeting, we also reflected on our time socializing with children and adults, comforting sick children at Mother Teresa’s Hospital, attending a Haitian church service, and visiting the beautiful National Museum of Haiti (MUPANAH).  We are grateful for our driver, translators, security, and hosts who made our work and meaningful interactions possible, and taught us a lot about what it means to be Haitian. Through these experiences we learned a lot about the dignity, joy, and faith of the Haitian people. We learned that there are many meaningful things in Haiti that we could use more of here in the USA.

Here is a quote from one of the 2018 Health for Haiti students.  I think it is representative of how most of us feel.

“This trip is by far the most amazing thing I have ever done. I truly believe that this trip has changed me as a person. I feel more educated on worldly matters. I have gained a bigger understanding for just how privileged we are here in the US. I will never go a day without thinking of the people I met and what we were able to do for them, and what they have done for me. Thank you so much to all the friends that are like family, all the laughs, tears, and support, and to all the professors for this amazing, life-changing experience.”

-2018 Health for Haiti Student

So, from Professor Hankin and me: Thanks to Dr. Seibold-Simpson, Professor Marcia Blackburn, Greg and Darlene Cempa, Tom Collart, and Dr. Gay Canough for being with us on this trip and for your amazing work. Thanks to our partners in Haiti. Thanks to our incredible students.  Thanks to our colleagues at SUNY Broome who work all year to support this class. Thank you to everyone in our community at home for following our progress and for your support and help with our work.  There is an army of people who never actually visit Haiti but do so much to make this work possible.  SUNY Broome is a community college and Health for Haiti is a community effort.  We could not do it without you. Your generosity inspires us and we are proud to represent SUNY Broome and the surrounding community in Haiti.

There is no doubt that the January 2018 Heath for Haiti class accomplished a lot. However, I think each one of us feels that we received much more from this experience than we gave. We are all much more aware of our common humanity, and we all left a piece of our heart in beautiful Haiti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights from the January 2018 Trip:

Gen Rekonesans

Hello from Haiti!  Today was our final day in Haiti and we enjoyed a fun day together at the public beach. We brought along the children from Home of Destiny Orphanage and Good Shepherd Orphanage, so we had plenty of friends to enjoy the day with. The kids swam in the ocean, played, and enjoyed a lunch of hotdog sandwiches, crackers, cookies and juice.

As I write the last post of the Health for Haiti 2018 class trip, it is hard to find a way to sum up the many experiences that none of us will ever forget. It has been an incredible adventure that has consisted of a tremendous amount of hard work and lots of very special moments. The title of this final Haiti post comes from the “Gen Rekonesans” tattoo Brandon got after participating in the 2017 class trip as a student.  It means “Be Grateful” in Haitian Creole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, as our time in Haiti comes to an end and we prepare to head home, I think most of us are feeling grateful for the way Haiti has captured our hearts.  Professor Hankin and I have so much to be grateful for! Thanks to our hosts at Le Gou T and, of course, the wonderful Jude Estinfil at Estinfil Guesthouse (our home in Haiti).  Thanks to our bus driver Stevenson for getting us to where we needed to go and bringing us home safe every day.  We know it wasn’t easy. Thanks to our amazing translators for not only helping us to communicate, but for teaching us about your country and becoming such wonderful friends. We love you all! Thanks to our security team for watching out for us and keeping us safe.  Thanks to the entire staff (Greg, Darlene, Tom, Marcia, Sue, Gay and Brandon) for sharing your expertise and for making this such a rich experience for our students and the people we served. Thanks to our past students and staff for helping to build a strong problem. And especially thank you to all 19 of the 2018 Health for Haiti students who worked for months to prepare for our work, and then gave it their all each and every day.  It has been such an honor to share this experience with you.  You brought help and joy to hundreds of Haitian children and adults, and we enjoyed every minute of working with you.  What a fabulous team you are! You made such a lasting difference here in Haiti. And thank you to the Haitian people for your warmth and your spirit.

Below are some pictures from our day.  Most of the pictures you have seen over the past several days were taken by Professor Marcia Blackburn (all the best ones anyway).  Thank you Marcia for helping us to document our adventure and for taking the time to share your images every night.

Thanks for following our experiences.  Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Haiti and head home.  Bon nwit from Haiti!

 

La Maison du Sourire (The House of Smiles)

Greetings from Haiti!  Well. it is hard to believe but today was our last “working” day in Haiti.  We spent the day at Damabiah orphanage and school. There are 65 children who live there and about 150 who attend the school. There is a sign there that says “House of Smiles”, and that was certainly true today!  The medical team, led by Dr. Jhonny, saw 87 patients mostly children, and dispensed several prescription medications.  The dental team saw 47 children and adults, sealed 331 teeth, and placed silver diamine fluoride on 27 teeth to stop the progression of decay. The education team provided lessons on nutrition and malnutrition, and science, scientific observation, and microscopy, to over 60 children.  We also taught them to make boxes out of paper.  The entire Health for Haiti team provided a nutritious lunch for over 100 children and had a wonderful time playing and interacting with the kids. As always, our hard-working and wonderful translators made it possible for us to communicate with our friends in Haiti. After we returned to Jude’s and had dinner, the students made sandwiches (hotdog, ketchup and mayo) for the children that we will treat to a fun day at the beach tomorrow.  Tomorrow we will be picking up children from two different orphanages and we plan to relax and enjoy the beach together.  it should be a great end to an amazing trip.

I wish I could find the words to express how incredible these students are and how much fun we are having together.  Every single one of them works tirelessly and shows so much love and care to the Haitian people and to each other. They have worked so hard day after day and no one has complained or failed to pitch in when help was needed. For example, after a long and very busy day today, several students helped to reorganize, consolidate, and repack the suitcases so we could all relax tonight. Not only was it helpful, it was so much fun. It seems like every time Professor Hankin and I start to work on something, there is a group of students there asking how they can help. We have become such a family, it is going to be really hard to go our separate ways at the end of the week.   I think we will all enjoy every minute of our last full day together in beautiful Haiti.

Below you can see some pictures from today.  Bon nwit from Haiti!

 

 

H4H 2018: Holding Babies and Haitian History

Greetings from Haiti!  A quick update from last night:  We had Besty Sherwood, an international social worker, come to speak to the students after dinner. Betsy, originally from Vestal, NY,  shared her vast experience advocating for the disabled population in Haiti and around the world. The students really enjoyed her presentation.

This morning, we woke up to a another beautiful day in Haiti.  Some of the students spent the night on the roof and enjoyed the sunrise from there.  We had Jude’s famous oatmeal for breakfast and then went to Mother Teresa’s Children’s Hospital.  We started by meeting with over 400 lively school children.  The Health for Haiti students provided instructions on how to properly brush teeth, and then went out into the crowd to let the kids practice with the puppets.  After that we left the school and went to the hospital to provide care and comfort to the sick babies.  We also brought some donated supplies like pedialyte and formula. We spent about an hour and a half holding babies and playing with the toddlers.  They were all so sweet, it was hard to leave them when it was time to go.

We made a quick stop back at the Guesthouse and then we went to the Museum of the Haitian National Pantheon (MUPANAH).  Our guide, Ronald, took us through the museum and provided many interesting facts about the complicated History of Haiti.  MUPANAH is a beautiful museum with many interesting artifacts and some absolutely stunning Haitian art.  The museum is divided into several sections and details The Indian Period, The Spanish Period, The Slavery Period, The Revolutionary Period, The Post-Revolutionary Period, The Second Empire, and The Contemporary Period.  After our tour of the museum, we went back to the Guesthouse to rest and prepare for our day tomorrow.  Students took some time to enjoy the sunshine on the roof and write in their journals.  We also had the opportunity to do some shopping for souvenirs.

Today we said goodbye to Darlene, Greg and Tom.  We are so grateful for all of their help and support on our trip and hope they have a safe journey home. Tomorrow is another busy day.  We will be providing health care, dental care, education, lunch, and fun for another 100 orphanage children.

We were not allowed to take pictures at Mother Teresa’s Hospital or at MUPANAH, so unfortunately I cannot show you any images from those places….but here are a few pictures from last night and the rest of our day today.

Bon nwit from Haiti!

 

 

New Experiences Bring New Friends

Greetings from Haiti!  Today was our first day working in Port au Prince.  We were privileged to serve the children from the “Organisation Assistante Pour Des Enfants d’Haiti” (OAEH).  This was the first time we worked with this group and it was a fantastic experience.The OAEH organization, led by Pastor Edwige, supports children in their spiritual, social, cultural, and physical development.  Their motto is, “A good child today becomes a good adult tomorrow”.  OAEH provides a training and entertainment club for the children every Saturday and a worship service every Sunday. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the site where the group meets because it was not an appropriate location to safely bring our group.  So, our bus driver, Stevenson, picked up the kids and brought them to us!  Another Pastor generously offered a local church for our program.  He said, “This is community in Haiti”. The church was absolutely beautiful and offered a perfect location for our work.

The OAEH children welcomed us with some beautiful music (accompanied by our own Kevin on the drums) and a prayer. After that, we all got to work to serve the kids. First we used puppets to teach the kids to brush their teeth.  After that, we split up into our teams. The health team provided dental and medical care for all of the children and for the OAEH staff.  Dr. Jhonny, the Haitian doctor who worked with us today, provided check ups, medical care, and prescription medications for fifty-two children. The need was great. The dental clinic saw over fifty children and staff, and again provided dental sealants and fluoride varnish. The education team provided a lesson on the importance of good nutrition and the dangers of malnutrition, as well as our science and microscopy lesson.  We also made origami boxes and played some games with the kids.  We also handed out clothes, shoes, and toys, and provided a nutritious lunch for all of the children and staff. The education team served the lunch to the kids. We were able to provide the lunch because of all of the fundraising the Health for Haiti students did before our trip. The students continue to grow in their ability and empathy. We are so impressed with each one of them.  We also have to express our gratitude to our hard-working translators.  Without them, these programs would not be possible.  We were also all so impressed with how well-behaved and sweet the children were.

After the programs finished, Stevenson took the children home (he did double duty today). We cleaned up and then used the instruments in the church to make some pretty awesome music.  After Stevenson came to get us, we returned to Jude’s to rest and enjoy some traditional Haitian pumpkin soup.

Below are some pictures from our wonderful day.

Because we have some decent wi-fi here at Jude’s, I asked everyone to provide me with their favorite picture from the trip so far.  Below are some of the images from our time here. I think these images that the students and staff selected capture how hard everyone is working as well as the joy and fun and love that has been such a part of this trip.

Thanks for following and bon nwit from Haiti.

Hello, Port au Prince!

Greeting from Haiti! Today we enjoyed a great final breakfast (pumpkin soup) at Le Gou T and headed to church at Mission House Freedom Center. We were all moved by the music and emotion at the service. It was such a wonderful cultural and spiritual experience.

After that we traveled from Saint Marc to Port au Prince and were so happy to arrive at Estinfil Guest House. Jude welcomed us to our “home in Haiti” and gave the students a tour. We went to the DeliMart for water and snacks and then had an amazing dinner at Estinfil. Everyone is ready for some well-deserved rest. Tomorrow will be another busy day! What a wonderful group this is. Professor Hankin and I are so proud of the students, the kindness they are showing to the Haitian people and to each other is inspiring. We already feel like a family, and we look forward to the work we will do together here in Port au Prince.

Please enjoy some assorted pictures from our day.

Bon nwit from Haiti!

Goodbye to Grande Saline.

Greetings from warm, wonderful, Haiti!

Today was our last day in Grande Saline and it was another productive and joyful day for our team.

Medical saw ninety-seven patients today, twice as many many as yesterday. We saw babies and the elderly and everything in between. In addition, thirty-six patients received reading glasses.

Fifty five children were seen in the dental clinic today and over 200 permanent teeth were sealed. Twenty severely decayed teeth were treated with silver diamine fluoride.

The water team did some troubleshooting on the older air compressor and was unable to find the source of the problem. Greg will contact the manufacturer for assistance. They completed their work with some clean up and organization. The system continues to provide clean, safe drinking water to the entire community.

The education team presented a lesson on science and scientific observation that is meant to prepare students for an upcoming lesson on microscopy. The eight teachers were each asked to each choose a student to attend the lesson with them. The goal was to teach the teachers so they can deliver the lesson to all of the students. It was so fun to use magnifying glasses to make observations and recored them in their notebooks.

We also provided lunch for the kids, and visited the garden again (for the students who did not get to go yesterday) and planted okra. After that we returned to the hotel for some fun and relaxation and to just enjoy being together.

We have accomplished so much in the past three days and cannot say enough about these students. They are amazing.

Tomorrow we will attend Haitian church and head to Port au Prince.

Bon nwit from Haiti.

A Pretty Perfect Day in Grande Saline

Greetings from Haiti! It was a wonderful day in Grande Saline. The weather was perfect today and, although we had some “bus stuck in the mud” issues, our day was pretty perfect. We accomplished so much, and I am so sorry we don’t have enough wi-fi to upload pictures.

The hard-working medical team, led by our Haitian doctor, Dr. Gary, saw fifty patients and the students did an amazing job taking care of each person. The dental hygiene students provided oral hygiene instructions, state of the art dental sealants, and fluoride varnish, to forty-eight children. These preventive treatments will protect the children from future dental decay.

The enthusiastic education team provided a fun music lesson for sixty children. The children learned to play recorders and after learning the basic notes: “B”, “A”, and “G”, played “Hot Cross Buns”. The instruments and song books were donated by students at Tioga Hills Elementary School.

We also met with the Grande Saline teachers to prepare for tomorrow’s microscopy lesson. We brought them a light microscope for their school and they had a wonderful time learning to use it.

We then visited the community gardens and planted tomato seedlings and beans with the farmers. It was so exciting to be a part of planting the food that will feed the local children. Thank you to Pastor Berlando for giving us this opportunity.

The water team also had a productive and successful day. They fixed the compressor, did a chemical clean, constructed some new storage in the container, fixed a processing error, and were happy they did not find any dead frogs in the feed tank.

Thank you to these incredible students and our talented and tireless staff for making this day one of our best ever in Haiti!

Bon nwit from Haiti!

Rain and Rice in Haiti

Greetings from Haiti! It rained all day, and we are all soaked, but it was a wonderful day. Of course our bus got stuck in the mud (AKA Haitian Snow), but our fabulous staff pushed us out. The students spent a few hours bagging rice, beans, fish, and oil. They made bags for 300 families and then distributed them.

Dr. Gay gave a presentation on economics, entrepreneurship, and soap-making for some wonderful ladies in the community. Thanks to Sweetcakes Soap for the donation of materials!

We also visited the water system (in the pouring rain) and Greg explained how the system cleans the water.

We are so grateful for this amazing team and these incredible students. Everyone is looking forward to a well-deserved rest and another busy day in Grande Saline in Haiti.

Sorry I can’t post more pictures. Haiti wi-fi is a challenge.

Bon Nwit from Haiti!