L’Union Fait La Force (Unity Is Strength)

Greetings from Haiti!  Today started with another roof top yoga class from Kristy.  It finished just as the sun was coming up (I guess Kristy was late to class on purpose).  We all enjoyed a breakfast of Jude’s amazing oatmeal and had a more relaxed morning as we did not have to leave the guest house until 9:30.  Our first stop this morning was at the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (MUPANAH).  MUPANAH is a museum featuring the heroes of the independence of Haiti as well as Haitian history and culture.  Since our team is so large, we divided into two groups to tour the museum. Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and did a great job explaining the extensive and complex history of Haiti.  We learned about the tumultuous and often brutal road to independence experienced by the Haitian people.  We had the chance to view some artifacts of Haitian culture that helped to make the history come alive for us.  I think our experience at the museum helped us to have a deeper understanding of the resiliency and pride of the Haitian people. Of course a major goal of our trip is service work, but this is a college course not a mission trip and Professor Hankin and I were glad to have such experienced and talented guides to contribute to the academic component of our experience.

After the museum we went back to the guest house for a couple of hours.  We were surprised to see that the road in front of the guest house was being paved!!  It is great to see some real improvements happening around Port au Prince. Later in the afternoon we went to Mother Teresa’s Children’s Hospital.  We spent a couple of hours holding, feeding and playing with sick babies and children.  We also helped the staff to put away the Christmas decorations.  Some of the students described the experience as painful but rewarding, and definitely eye-opening. There were so many children there, and while it was a pleasure to hold them and play with them, it was very hard to leave them when our visit was over.  There were quite a few tears, and not just from the children.  This was different from the other work we have been doing, we did not have to use any special skills our bring any equipment. Sharing some human contact was the most important thing we could do.  After Mother Teresa’s we came back to the guest house and prepared for dinner.  We also had some visitors today.  Natasha’s family is originally from Haiti and she had a visit from two cousins she has never met before.  We also had a visit from a local merchant who set up a bunch of souvenirs so that we could go shopping right inside the guest house. It was fun to look at all of the items and many of us made purchases.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside MUPANAH or Mother Teresa’s so there are not too many photos to share today, but thanks to Marcia and Silvia there are some images from other parts of our day.  While we were at the museum today, we learned about the motto on the Haitian flag:  L’Union Fait La Force (Unity is Strength).  It is also a good saying for our course because we are definitely stronger together.  The cooperation of our students and interpreters and staff has enabled us to accomplish some great work over the past week.  Tomorrow is another full clinic and education day at an orphanage in Port au Prince.  It is our last official work day of the trip and we are all ready to give it our best.  Good night from Haiti.

Health for Haiti Meets OAEH!

Greetings from Haiti!  Today started with “Rooftop Yoga Club” of Jacob, Ty, Kat, Mikayla, Silvia, Claire, Jen and our teacher Kristy. We felt really good about ourselves until we saw the group at the guest house across the street running, doing calisthenics, and kick boxing on their roof.  After everyone was up, we all had a great breakfast of eggs, watermelon, mango, bread, peanut butter and jelly.  We knew we would have a later departure than usual today because of the logistics of our day.  We were working with children from  Assistante pour des Enfants d’Haiti (OAEH) but we are not able to go to them, so we borrowed a church with an appropriate space in Port au Prince where we could work with them.  Our bus driver Steevenson went to pick them up and 7 am, dropped them off at the church and then came to get us.  Unfortunately he got a flat tire along the way and we had a bit of a delay while Steevenson changed the tire.  After that we loaded our suitcases on the bus and headed  out to meet our friends from OAEH.  They gave us a very warm welcome and greeted us by singing a song.  Some of it was even in English!  After the introductions, we got to work setting up the medical/dental clinic and our education program.  While some of us were setting up, a few students used the puppets to teach the kids about the best way to brush their teeth.  Today in the clinic we had Molly, Jennie, Kat and Mikayla assisted by Min in dental.  We had Sam, Amelia, Hollis, Nate, Aurora, Robert, Austin, and Natasha working in medical.  They were assisted by Professor Hankin, Darlene, Kristy and our interpreters Louie, Roosevelt, Junior, Eddyson, and Wacnel.  The medical team served over 65 patients.  They saw 48 patients and applied 48 fluoride varnishes.  They sealed 504 teeth! The sealants are only applied to permanent teeth and prevent future tooth decay.  Our education team consisted of Jacob working with Tom and Greg on “Balloon Rocket Racers”,  Mia and Riley working with Lynn at our bones lesson, Claire and Ty were back at the heart lesson, Sara, Abby and Marcia were working at the insects and malaria and scientific observation lesson, Isaac and Kaia were working outside on physical education, and Brooke and Emily were working on an art game and lesson. The “Balloon Rocket Racers”, the physical education equipment, and the art game were provided by students and teachers at Tioga Hills Elementary School in Vestal, New York. We had Elysee, Lyndie, Steevenson, Derson, Bury, Fritz and Jerry helping us to communicate.  The kids rotated through the clinic and the education “stations” for a few hours and then we served them lunch.  The lunch was purchased with the donation money that the Health for Haiti students raised before our trip.  After lunch some of the OAEH kids treated us to a dance performance and we handed out some gifts we had brought for them.  The kids were very well behaved and it was a pleasure to spend the day with them.  Everyone pitched in and helped to clean up the church so we could leave it the way we found it!  Steevenson brought the Health for Haiti group back to the guest house and then went back to take the OAEH kids back to their homes.  Once we were back at the Guest House the students took some time to write in their journals and we all had some down time.  Later on we enjoyed a dinner of salad, bread, rice and pumpkin soup.  Everyone is tired after a busy but productive day.  Jude put on the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” to end our busy day.  Everything was going on at once while we were working with the OAEH kids today so the photos are a bit of a jumble…but….we have a decent Internet signal so there are lots of pictures to enjoy. Thanks again to Marcia and Silvia for sharing their photos. And thanks to our entire team for all of their hard work!!

From Saint Marc to Port au Prince

Greetings from Haiti.  Today we said goodbye to Saint Marc and traveled to Port au Prince.  Some of us started our day with Kristy’s rooftop yoga which really helps to work out the kinks after all those hours on the bus!  After that we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of pumpkin soup and got ready to go to church.  One of the wonderful staff members at Le Gou T, Fabienne, invited us to attend a service at her church.  We felt so welcome and enjoyed the beautiful music and singing. The Pastor even invited us to say a few words to the congregation.  Professor Hankin talked about how the experience of seeing the people’s enthusiasm at the service taught us all about something special about the meaning of faith.  After church we picked up our bags at Le Gou T and drove to Estinfil Guest House in Port au Prince.  It was wonderful to see our friend Jude who is a fantastic host!  Jude welcomed us to the Guest House and everyone enjoyed some well deserved rest and relaxation.  Dinner was salad, plantains, rice, okra and beef.  After dinner we had a team meeting and reflected a bit on our experiences so far. We have experienced so much in such a short time.  Professor Hankin and I are proud of the entire team and grateful to our amazing staff who make this work possible. We want to give a special thanks to our driver Steevenson.  He does such a great job getting us from place to place and keeping us safe.Below are some photos from our day (thanks to Marcia Blackburn and Silvia Briga for sharing). Tomorrow is another clinic and education day.  We will be working with about 100 local children.  Thanks for following and good night from Haiti!

 

A Successful Last Day in Grande Saline

Greetings from Haiti! Today was our last day in Grande Saline. We will miss our dear friends but we accomplished a lot during our visit. We continued our work on the various projects we started yesterday.

Our medical/dental clinic saw 121 patients today! The triage team of Brooke, Finley, Hollis, Sam, Robert, Natasha, Roosevelt, Wacnel did a great job greeting patients, assessing complaints and taking height, weight, blood pressure and pulse.  After filling out a health form, they send their patients to see Dr. Gary and Dr. Robinson. Kristy, Amelia, Emily, and Lucile worked non-stop in the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions Dr. Gary and Dr. Robinson prescribed. Darlene and Bury worked together in the optical area to give community members prescription glasses. The Dental Team (Molly, Jennie, Kat, Mikayla, Min, and Eddyson has another record day. They saw 59 patients and sealed 340 teeth! Professor Hankin said the children were wonderful and very cooperative.

The water system team performed some necessary upgrades including a valve replacement and software update The software update was done remotely between the team here in Haiti and the Pall Corporation back home in the States (and the programmer, Matt, was even took time during his vacation to do this!). Thanks to, Jacob, Greg, Tom, Louie, Riley, Mia and the water system operators for their help in ensuring the community will continue to have access to clean water! And thanks to Silvia for a great job taking pictures and video with the drone.

While the water system was being worked on, the Education Team was back at it teaching lessons on the bones, heart, mosquitoes and malaria/insects, art, and physical education. The team had about 100 students who very much enjoyed learning how to stay safe and healthy. The kids were put in groups of ten to fifteen and rotated through all of the lessons. The kids were very excited to work with Claire, Tyler, and Steeven to learn about the heart, how it works and what it looks like. They even got to see a cow and sheep heart and listen to their own heartbeats using stethoscopes! Aurora, Nate, Lynn and Lyndie were in the next classroom over giving lessons on the bones. The students had the chance to look at x-rays and a skeleton. They viewed spongy bone through a microscope and even did a hands on activity to build some “bones” with cardboard and pipe cleaners. They also sang a few songs about the skeletal system! Sara, Abby, Austin, Marcia, Derson taught about mosquitoes and malaria.  The kids had the chance to examine insects and butterflies in microscopes and then were given the opportunity to choose an object and practice scientific observation skills.  They enjoyed drawing with colored pencils and made some beautiful art. Isaac, Kaia, Mia, Sara, and Riley started out in physical education. The guided the kids through some drills with the agility ladder and some soccer skills until it was too hot.  Then they gave a nutrition lesson to the kids who were waiting to go to the other lessons.

Later in the afternoon, lunch was ready!  The lunch was provided by donations that the students raised before our trip. The students helped to serve lunch to the children. It was great to see all of the kids enjoy a healthy meal! After packing up all of our supplies, we took the last hot, dusty, bumpy ride from Grande Saline.  We had a delicious dinner of chicken, pork, rice and beans, plantains and salad.  Then the students and translators played charades and heads up and celebrated a great three days of hard work in Grande Saline. Tomorrow we will have an early breakfast and attend Haitian church. After that we will travel to Port au Prince and settle in at Estinfil Guest House.  Once again the team did an amazing job under difficult conditions.  We are sad to leave our friends in Grande Saline but looking forward to continuing our work in Port au Prince.  Good night from Haiti!

Grande Saline Projects in Motion!

Greetings from Haiti!  It was a very full day for our 2019 Health for Haiti team! After a traditional Le Gou T breakfast of spaghetti and hot dogs, we boarded our bus and made the two-hour journey to Grande Saline.  Today we were ready to get to work as soon as we arrived. We had three teams of people working on different projects.  We had a team working at the water system, our medical/dental team ran our clinic, and our education team worked with the local teachers and students.  The water team did a chemical clean, repaired the intake line and did some general maintenance.  The medical team assisted Dr. Gary and Dr. Robinson and saw 115 patients.  The dental team saw 60 children and sealed 227 teeth!  Pastor Belando is very grateful for the dental sealants applied by Professor Hankin and her students and looks forward to the day when the people in his community are spared the pain of tooth decay.  On the education team, Lynn provided a second day of professional development for the ten teachers in Grande Saline. She built on her work from yesterday and guided the teachers through student observation and the application of the brain gym activities.  At the end of the day the teachers each received a certificate for completing the workshop.  On their exit surveys the teachers overwhelmingly reported that the brain gym information would be very useful in their classrooms.  The students on the education team delivered lessons on the bones, heart, mosquitoes and malaria, and physical education.  The education team had over 100 students attend these lessons, each of which had a focus on how to stay healthy.  The kids loved looking through the microscopes and all of the hands on activities. They especially enjoyed working with notebooks and colored pencils to record what they were seeing.  After the lessons many of the students walked to see the community gardens.  We visited the student garden and saw all of the tomatoes and melons growing there. We were able to see the gas pumps that are used to water the garden.  We did not have time to visit the big garden because we had to head back to the hotel, but we did get a good idea about how difficult it can be to grow food in Grande Saline.  After a hot bumpy bus ride home and a delicious dinner and some fun and conversation we are all ready for some rest.  Tomorrow is another clinic and education and water system day in Grande Saline.  We are so proud of the students and staff and all of the great things they accomplished today.  One very special part of our day today was having the chance to work with Dr. Robinson again. He is the person who introduced us to the community of Grande Saline in 2014.  He no longer lives in Haiti but is back for a visit.  He was overjoyed to see all of the positive changes happening in the community. He said that to him, it feels like when you have a dear friend who used to be very sick, and is now smiling and running around.  Below are some images from our day. Thanks for following our progress and good night from Haiti.

 

 

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Health for Haiti Serves 500 Families

Greetings from Haiti!  It was a long and tiring but wonderful day for the 2019 Health for Haiti Team.  After breakfast we traveled to Grande Saline and began to prepare for our food distribution.  The 2019 students took on the challenge of trying to serve 500 families with a food distribution.  Thanks to our generous community and the hard work of our class, they were able to raise enough money to reach this goal!  All of the students and staff worked hard today to pack rice, beans, fish and oil and a personal care kit for each family.  After several hours of great teamwork, we distributed the food to the local families. The food distribution is our gift to the community. Not only does this food distribution help local families with about two weeks of food, it also supports the local farmers who grow and sell the food.  It was a great opportunity for us to work together and for us to share with the community in Grande Saline.  Before the food was distributed, Pastor Berlando thanked the students for all of their work and welcomed them to Grande Saline.  While the students were working, Lynn held a professional development session for the teachers in Grande Saline.  They were so excited to welcome Lynn back and enjoyed learning about how to incorporate “brain games” and mindfulness into their teaching.

After the food distribution we all visited the water system and saw the new wall that is being constructed around the system.  We all enjoyed playing with the local children and seeing the people coming for water.  Finally, before we headed back to the hotel, Professor Hankin organized the medical/dental clinic so the health team will be ready to begin seeing patients as soon as we arrive tomorrow morning.  The education team also began to prepare lessons that we will present for the local children.  We are all looking forward to another busy day tomorrow.  Professor Hankin and I are very grateful for these awesome students and the amazing staff who make this trip possible. Thanks to Silvia for the awesome drone footage and pictures of the food distribution and the water system.  The drone was a big hit with the local kids!  Also thanks to Marcia for sharing her beautiful photos.  Enjoy the photos (it took hours to upload them but I wanted to share our great day). Good night from Haiti!

 

Good Morning From Ayiti!

After some well-deserved rest everyone is up and ready for a full day. After breakfast we will make the long drive to Grande Saline and begin our work there. This is a fantastic team and we know they will accomplish great things!!

Progress!

Greetings from Health for Haiti!  Our 2019 Health for Haiti Team is working hard to prepare for our upcoming trip to Haiti!! We have some ambitious goals and we are grateful for all of the support from our past Health for Haiti students and the entire SUNY Broome Community.  Our Bowling Tournament Fundraiser will be on December 8th at 12:30 (it is not too late to sign up!!) and we look forward to a fun and successful day! Please come and support our students and their hard work.  Students pay all of their own travel costs, and the money they raise will go directly to the work they will do in Haiti.

The recent news from Grande Saline has been exciting and full of progress and promise.  After a disappointing and unusually dry summer, the gardens have been cleared, weeded and replanted!  The community is trying something new with the big garden – a cash crop of peppers.  The plan is to sell the peppers and use the proceeds to purchase rice and beans for the school lunch.  This idea came from the community, and we are excited to partner with them on the new vision that they developed for the big garden.  The student garden has also been cleared and replanted with tomatoes, eggplant, lalo, and okra.  We thank the look forward to visiting the gardens in January.

Things are also changing at the water system.  The community continues to have access to about 80,000 gallons of clean safe drinking water each month.  We are moving forward with our plan to convert the water system from gas to solar power, one small step at a time.  The first step is to construct a wall around the system.  This project was generously supported by the Endwell and Binghamton Rotary Clubs.  Construction of the wall is underway and we are excited to see this critical project moving forward.  The community is also in the process of developing a membership program so that they can contribute to the maintenance of their system.  We thank the Water and Power Committee in Grande Saline for their hard work and community outreach.

There is also some exciting progress for the sewing program.  Storage of the machines and supplies has been a challenge, and it has been very difficult to get the materials out for class.  To help solve this problem, cabinets were constructed in one of the classrooms.  The cabinets will provide secure storage for the machines and sewing supplies.  This will also allow for sewing classes to be taught to the children while they are in school.

The school in Grande Saline continues to grow and thrive.  Here are some recent pictures of the children raising the Haitian flag before school.  We are also receiving updates from the children who are attending school with scholarship support. Marc-Jordens, Andens, and Wilmese (pictured below) are all attending school with help from our “Helping Children” scholarship program. These talented and hard-working children have a brighter future thanks to their generous sponsors.  I was with these kids for a few days in October and I was so impressed with them.  We congratulate Pastor Berlando, the teachers, and the children for their wonderful school.

Thank you to all of the Health for Haiti supporters for helping the community in Grande Saline to undertake these transformative projects!

Please Support the 2019 Health for Haiti Class Fundraisers!

Calling all former Health for Haiti students and current supporters! We need your help.

We are fortunate to have 24 wonderful students participating in the 2019 Health for Haiti class, and we have some ambitious goals for what we want to achieve this January in Haiti.  We are hoping to serve 500 families with our food distribution in Grande Saline.  This is a gift from us to the community we serve in Grande Saline, and we support the economy in Grande Saline by only purchasing food from the local farmers.  It will cost just under $20 per family, and the food we provide will help to feed a family of four for nearly two weeks.  The families in this community are coming out of a difficult and unusually dry growing season.  People lost their crops and many families are going hungry.  Please support our student fundraisers so that we can meet our food distribution goal AND fund our other projects!  Click here to see what we have accomplished and what we plan to work on in the coming year.

How can you help?

Eat pancakes for $7!  Form a bowling team!  Make a basket for our basket raffles! Buy a 50/50 raffle ticket for $5! Donate supplies!

Click here to see how you can support our Flapjack Fundraiser on November 18, 2018! Tickets are only $7.

Click here to see how you can support our Bowling Fundraiser on December 8, 2018!

Click here to see the list of supplies we need!

All money raised goes directly to fund our projects in Haiti. Please contact Jen Musa (musajm@sunybroome.edu) or Maureen Hankin (hankinmr@sunybroome.edu) if you have any questions or if you would like to purchase tickets for an event.  Thank you!!