Greetings from Health for Haiti. Over the past months we have received many questions about how our friends in Haiti are doing and how they are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the United States we are all too familiar with news about rising infections (some of the highest rates in the world), widespread unemployment, and worries about whether and how our schools will open this fall. The community in Grande Saline is facing many of the same challenges that we are, but they have far less access to testing and medical care. Like us, they are doing their best to wash their hands, social distance, and cover their faces in public. I have received pictures from Grande Saline showing people spacing out while they wait in line for water and new hand-washing stations with messages to educate the community about how to stay safe and healthy.
Given the challenges and struggles that many of our supporters are facing at home, we at Health for Haiti narrowed our focus to the most critical of projects in Grande Saline: clean water from the water filtration system and nutritious food from our community gardens. Our water filtration system continues to provide safe drinking water to the entire community, but obtaining gas and keeping the generators running has been a challenge. We hope that when the situation is safer in Haiti, we can begin the final phase of the solar for water project (which will involve a lot of shopping for panels and parts). We had a very successful harvest of peppers and corn this summer. The peppers were sold at market and the money was used to purchase rice seeds for our next planting. The corn was harvested and is now being used to help feed the local children.
But the main topic of this update is another type of garden – as described in the following reflection and update from school principal, Pastor Berlando (translated by Lafaille Schneider).
“Hello to all of the Health for Haiti supporters. I want to share with you my thoughts about our school in Grande Saline. This image from 2016 and is the first sponsored group of the school. These children were not able to afford school before your help, but they were lucky to have the scholarship helping them to obtain and education.
At this time in 2016 all of our classes were combined in the church and I was not really happy with how we had to teach all of the kids of all ages and abilities crowded together.
In 2017 things started to change for the school. With your help we were able to build more classrooms and expand our classes and hire more teachers. Because of this we were able to serve many more kids from the community. We were all grateful and excited for the new kind of education that we were able to offer to the kids. We knew we were building a center for excellence.
Below are pictures from 2020. We feel that it is easy to observe that a great move forward has been made for our school during the last four years. We are seeing our dreams come true, but without the help of the donors we wouldn’t be able to offer the quality of education that we are giving the community.
We have come such a long way in just a few years. We started with 25 kids and 2 teachers in 2010. Now, because of your help, we have the biggest staff of teachers serving in the entire surrounding community. It is a blessing from God. I have realized that every single donor is a kind of water drop. And the drops of water nourish our seedlings. Each seedling is a child that will someday later give beautiful fruits. And these fruits are truly the harvest of the investment from our donors who cared enough to change our community.”
School is scheduled to open again in Haiti on August 17th. To protect students and teachers from COVID-19, Haitian health leaders have set some requirements for the schools that will open. The school will always keep water, chlorine, and soap available to allow students and staff to wash their hands when they arrive at school and before they leave. They will also rotate the break times so that there are fewer children in each class at one time. Also, there will be no vacation breaks so that students can work to catch up and keep working towards their education goals.
As we look forward to the school reopening, Health for Haiti is excited to start a new initiative, The Grande Saline School Based Goat Project. The purpose of the project is to introduce the children to the benefits, care, and maintenance of goats. Goats greatly stimulate interest, cooperation, and empathy in children. Goats can expand educational opportunities and bring about many positive effects on child development. The goats will be utilized in various school subjects and activities.
From Health for Haiti and the community in Grande Saline, we say thank you to all of the Health for Haiti donors who have nurtured all of those promising “seedlings” in Grande Saline. Even in these difficult times, your investment continues to thrive and grow. It is with optimism and hope that we look forward to seeing their beautiful future fruits.