Category: Bridge to Haiti

Education for Everyone!

Greetings from Health for Haiti!  At the request of the community in Grande Saline we recently expanded two of our most successful education programs.  Computer classes with Mr. Eric remain one of the most popular offerings at the school in Grande Saline. With donated/refurbished laptops and content created by SUNY Broome students who are part of the SUNY Broome Bridge to Haiti project, the students in Grande Saline are learning essential computer literacy skills that are critical for communication and success in today’s world.

The children have been so positive about their experience in computer class that the adults in the community asked whether there could be a class offered on the weekends for them.  Thanks to our generous donors and Mr. Eric, the new class for adults is going strong.  These days in Grande Saline it is not just the school children who are gaining critical new digital literacy skills! The community is proud of this great resource that is available to both children and adults.

Our popular weekend sewing program was also recently expanded.  Health for Haiti helped the community to build cabinets to store the sewing machines and supplies.  Now that the supplies are stored in one of the classrooms, the teachers are offering a sewing class to children while they are in school. The students are excited for the opportunity to learn this valuable skill.

Thank you to the generous donors who have supported these educational opportunities for people of all ages in Grande Saline.  SUNY Broome Health for Haiti is committed to investing in the people of this community, and we look forward to continuing to learn together!

First Digital Literacy Class for Adults Held in Grande Saline

Health for Haiti and Bridge to Haiti have been helping to provided computer equipment and digital resources to children in urban and rural Haiti for some time now.  We are pleased and proud to welcome our new computer literacy teacher in Grande Saline, Mr. Eric.  Not only is Mr. Eric offering classes to the school children, but he is also offering our first ever Saturday morning computer literacy class for adults!

Computer literacy is the knowledge and understanding of computer concepts and the ability to use computer technology accurately and efficiently. Acquiring digital and computer literacy skills is vital for success today’s world.  Access to technology is empowering and can help bring people into contact with the broader world, providing new opportunities for education and employment.

We have had many requests from adults for computer literacy training, and we are so grateful to the generous donors and the community members in Grande Saline who have made this new class possible!  We are excited to continue to partner with talented SUNY Broome students and faculty to develop a quality curriculum for the digital literacy programs in Haiti!

Below are images from the very first Saturday morning computer literacy class for adults in Grande Saline.

Thank you to our donors, to the community and school in Grande Saline, and to Mr. Eric for making this program possible.

Student Garden Yields Healthy Harvest

We are still dealing with plenty of winter weather in the Binghamton, NY area, but the sun is shining and the gardens are growing in Grande Saline.  The tomatoes and okra planted by the 2018 Health for Haiti class are being picked and enjoyed by the school children in Grande Saline. There are beans and corn growing in the big community garden and, in addition to tomatoes  and okra, the student vegetable garden is also providing peppers and eggplant. Many of the seeds currently growing in the garden were generously donated by Seeding Relief at Delaware Valley University. Check out the wonderful work they are doing here:

The produce (along with our last harvest of rice from the big garden) is providing a healthy lunch for the school children. The gardens are a source of pride for the community and the students are enjoying learning best practices for growing their own food.  Pastor Berlando reports, “The children are having a wonderful experience in the garden. It is a great thing for our school and our community. Many people from the community come to visit the garden to see the good things we are growing. Each person who sees the beautiful garden congratulates us on our project.”  Pastor also tells us that after all the success with the garden, now the children are talking about adding some school goats and chickens to the project! They are working on a plan to share with us.

Things are busy in the classroom in Grande Saline too. Computer classes remain a favorite of the children and they look forward to continuing to partner with the SUNY Broome Bridge to Haiti program and adding more lessons.  Plans are still moving forward to create a computer literacy class for adults.

The instruments and song books donated by the children and teachers at Tioga Hills Elementary School are very popular and are being used for music class.  The children have decided to work on forming an orchestra that can play at church services.

On Thursday, March 8th we received good wishes for International Women’s Day from all of the ladies in Grande Saline! It was a great time to celebrate all of the wonderful ladies who work hard to make a positive difference in the world.

Thank you for your continued support of Health for Haiti!

Technology Enhances Education in Grande Saline

The computer literacy program in Grande Saline, which started with one laptop powered by a gas generator in July 2014, has continued to expand and grow. Now, technology and computer classes are part of the graded curriculum at the primary school in Grande Saline.  Students in all different grade levels enjoy computer classes taught by teacher, Mr. Elysee. The computers were donated by the Pall Corporation, the SUNY Broome BIT program, and Geodis.  All of the computers were refurbished and set up by Bridging the Digital Divide volunteer, Jack Rappaport.  And thanks to Dr. Gay Canough and ETM Solar Works (as well as our Health for Haiti students), the computers are powered by the sun. This is a great use of “old” technology that, in most cases, was just gathering dust here in the United States. Now these laptops are the center of a vibrant computer literacy program for hundreds of children. Most of the primary school students have now moved beyond the fundamentals of learning the parts of a computer and basic hardware, to mastering file structure and word processing skills.

In addition to learning “offline” computer literacy skills the students in Grande Saline also have some access to the Internet, which allows them to reach far beyond their classroom.  They recently enjoyed a lesson where they visited this Health for Haiti blog and were excited to see pictures of their school and community as well as their friends from SUNY Broome. The students are learning how to use a browser to search the Internet and developing plans for communicating with students in the United States.

It is easy to see that the children enjoy their computer class, and their teacher often reports that the kids are very enthusiastic about what they are learning.  Much like students here in the United States, the students in Grande Saline get comfortable with the computers very quickly.  The videos below show the 3rd and 4th year students working together in class.

The enthusiastic students have made quite an impression on adults in the local community.  There have been several requests to begin an evening or weekend adult computer literacy class in Grande Saline.  Mr. Elysee is working on developing a training program that would last nine months, with an assessment every three months.  At the end of the program, adult students who successfully completed the program would earn a computer literacy certificate. Adult students would also learn the fundamentals of computer hardware, basic word processing skills, more advanced lessons about spreadsheets and presentations, and some basic training in search engines. Although there is a lot of interest from local adults, there is still work to be done to arrange adult classes in Grande Saline.  We hope to help the community to set up this new program in the future.

Grande Saline is not the only site that has seen a transformation from access to technology.  Health for Haiti is also helping to support a few similar computer literacy programs in Port au Prince, and is very happy to hear that children and adults are making great progress towards achieving basic computer literacy skills. Below are some pictures from a busy computer lab in Cite Soleil.

We are grateful for all of the support for this and other Health for Haiti programs. We hope that new educational and economic opportunities and access to technology might provide some tools that could help each community to make sustainable positive changes. One thing is for certain, as these programs continue to grow and reach more learners, they become a source of pride for the entire community.


“Bridge to Haiti”: Computer Class Continues in Grande Saline

The children in Grande Saline continue to enjoy their computer literacy lessons and are becoming more and more comfortable in their computer use. The pictures below are from a class this week.The children are using three laptops donated by Geodis and SUNY Broome. The laptops were refurbished by the Bridging the Digital Divide Program (BDDP) and are currently powered with a gas generator.

In January, the 2015 Health for Haiti students will bring eight new laptops provided by the SUNY Broome Business Information Technology Department, as well as some additional Toughbooks provided by Geodis. The 2015 Health for Haiti  students plan to teach the students in Grande Saline how to use PowerPoint, how to take pictures with a digital camera, and how to incorporate the images into presentations. This training will enable the kids in Grande Saline to share information with the children at George F. Johnson (GFJ) Elementary School in Endicott. (The kids at GFJ have raised money for the digital cameras as part of their participation in the “Bridge to Haiti” program.)

Also, thanks to the hard work of SUNY Broome Professor Sandy Wright’s Project Management class, we now have a Facebook site where students in the United States and students in Haiti can interact, and we will be able to provide the students in Grande Saline with certificates of achievement to celebrate their progress.

If all goes well with our recent shipment to Haiti, the 2015 Health for Haiti students will also work under the direction of Dr. Gay Canough from ETM Solar Works to help install the equipment needed to power the Grande Saline Computer Lab with solar power.

Thank you to everyone who has donated resources, time, equipment and expertise to the “Bridge to Haiti” project. You are providing these children and young adults with a valuable opportunity to gain new skills and new experiences.

Geodis Donates More Toughbooks for “Bridge to Haiti”!

Geodis has once again provided valuable equipment for the Bridge to Haiti program. John Yesensky and his team from Asset Recovery Operations at Geodis in Endicott have refurbished and donated thirteen more Panasonic Toughbooks to the program. Last summer, Geodis donated six of these rugged machines,  the very first computers that Bridge to Haiti placed in Haiti. The Toughbooks are built to withstand rough conditions like drops, dust, and grime….and are perfect for heavy use in rural Haiti.

One of these machines will be dedicated to the Pall AX1 water system in Grande Saline and will permit communication between the Haitian operators and the engineers at Pall in Cortland. The engineers at Pall will be able to monitor the system and help troubleshoot any problems that may arise.

The rest of the Toughbooks will be used to provide computer literacy training to children and young adults at our computer lab sites in Haiti.

Thank you again to Geodis for their incredible support of the Bridge to Haiti program!!

Pall Corporation Donates Laptops to “Bridge to Haiti” Program

Thank you (once again) to the Pall Corporation in Cortland, New York!  Today, the employees at Pall donated 35 (!) laptops to Health for Haiti’s “Bridge to Haiti” program.  The used laptops were prepared and reformatted by Pall employee Rick Dorman, who worked on the laptops in his spare time.

The computers were picked up at Pall in Cortland this morning and delivered to Jack Rappaport, the head of computer refurbishment for BDDP.  Thank you to Jack and the BDDP Refurbishment Team at Binghamton University who will begin work this Saturday to load all the  necessary software on the machines and prepare them for use in Haiti.

In January, the 2015 Health for Haiti students will transport these laptops to Haiti and install them at our computer lab sites.  The students will use the machines to provide some basic computer literacy training to children and young adults. The computers will remain in Haiti and will be used to provide new opportunities for computer literacy training.

The “Bridge to Haiti” program would not exist without generous donations of time and equipment from our community sponsors.  Thank you.

Update: Health for Haiti 2015 Projects

It has been a very busy and exciting few months for Health for Haiti. We have eighteen students registered for the 2015 course and we are raising money to fund our health clinics and other projects.  We are also making plans for our January 5th departure to Haiti.

Thanks to our amazing and generous corporate partners, the Pall Corporation, ETM Solar Works, and Geodis Wilson, we are one step closer to implementing our 2015 project to bring clean water and solar power to Grande Saline, Haiti.

Health for Haiti Summer Update: Laptops and Clean Water

The 2014-2015 “Bridge to Haiti” project is off to a great start! Thanks to a generous donation of time and resources from Geodis and the Bridging the Digital Divide Program (BDDP), SUNY Broome’s ‘Health for Haiti’ was able to provide six refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks for schools and orphanages in Haiti.

The six laptops were distributed to four different locations in Haiti.  The Home of Destiny orphanage (2), Coram Deo orphanage (1), La Feve school (2) and the community of Grande Saline (1).

It was amazing to see the excitement surrounding the Toughbooks. Each location is making plans to offer computer literacy classes using the materials provided by BDDP.   Several lessons have already been translated into Haitian Creole by Shaina Louis, a SUNY Broome student who is from Haiti.  Shaina will continue to work on the translations over the summer.

The laptop distribution is the first phase of an effort to set up solar powered computer labs in Haiti.  The remote community of Grande Saline will receive at least 8 additional laptops in January, and plans are underway to construct a classroom for computer training.  We are working hard to put plans in place to try to help establish Internet access and fund a teacher.  (It costs about $150-$200 a month to pay a teacher’s salary in Haiti.)

In addition to providing children and young adults with the opportunity to acquire new skills, we hope to establish up a virtual “Bridge to Haiti” that will allow the SUNY Broome community to communicate with the people of Haiti.  There are many opportunities for sharing  knowledge and learning from each other.


We will be communicating with our four computer sites  over the next six months and learning about how the computers are being used and what can be done to maximize their effectiveness for literacy training. We will also gather information that can be used by SUNY Broome students who can create additional training materials.

We are also looking to the future to build additional computer centers.  There is a desperate need for computers and computer literacy training in Cite Soleil, so we hope to be able to assist them as well.

Along with our efforts to build a computer center in Grande Saline, we are also working with the Pall Corporation in Cortland, New York to bring this community of over 1000 families  a water filtration system that can provide 10,000 gallons of clean water each day.  The people of Grande Saline do not have access to clean water and often become ill from drinking contaminated river water.

Water source in Grande Saline.

Water source in Grande Saline.

One major challenge for  both of these projects is to successfully transport the equipment to Haiti and to Grande Saline.

We will continue to make plans over the coming months with the hope that in addition to our health clinics and education activities, our 2015 Health for Haiti class will be able to help with the establishment of the computer center in Grande Saline, computer literacy training,  and the installation of the water filtration system.