Category: Health for 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!!

 

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.

Over 80,000 Gallons of Safe Drinking Water Distributed in Grande Saline Last Month

The water system in Grande Saline continues to be a source of good health and pride for the community in Grande Saline.  Over 80,000 gallons of clean, safe drinking water were distributed to the community in August 2018.  The system is run by operators who live in the community.  The system, donated by the Pall Corporation, filters the river water making it safe to drink. The community reports, “No matter what, the river is dirty.  But we take care of it with filtration and it is very clear.”  Yesterday they sent some pictures of the river and the water “pure in a person’t bucket”.  Thank you to the Health for Haiti clean water team.  You are changing lives in this community.

Sewing Students Show Off New Skills

Most students are enjoying summer vacation in Grande Saline, but the sewing students have continued to work hard every week.  Some of the students are now able to make clothing. This skill can mean an opportunity to earn income, which will improve the quality of life for their families. Thank you to our talented teachers, Miss Dana and Mr. Ovila, for their dedicated service to the students. Thank you to the students for their hard work.  And thank you to the Health for Haiti donors who have helped to make the sewing school a success.

There is also no vacation for our water system operators!  They have continued to keep the system running all summer. Many people come to get water every day.  The operators distributed 28,800 gallons of safe drinking water between August 1 and August 8.

Clean water means better health, and Health for Haiti is committed to helping the community to convert this system from gas to solar power.  With the help of local donors, a District Grant from Rotary International and the Endwell, and the Rotary Club in Saint Marc, Haiti,  we hope to begin Phase 1 of this project very soon.

The Haiti We See

This update is not what I planned to be posting this week.  I thought I would be writing about joyful reunions with dear friends; hot, dusty, bumpy bus rides; delicious food; and the great work accomplished by our summer 2018 Health for Haiti team and Haitian community partners.  Instead, I am home reflecting on the differences between the Haiti I see on the international news broadcasts, and the Haiti I know from personal experience in the country.

Our summer SUNY Broome Health for Haiti team of fourteen students and staff was supposed to be in Haiti now and for the next several days.  This dedicated group has worked for months preparing for this trip.  Each member of the team made sacrifices to be a part of the group and was ready and willing to share their own unique talents and abilities.  I knew each of us was very much looking forward to reconnecting with friends and a wonderful experience in Haiti.

Just days before our departure, on the afternoon of Friday, July 6, the Haitian government announced that fuel prices would increase up to 50%.  This would mean a huge jump in the price of gas, diesel fuel, and kerosene.  For people who already struggle to meet basic needs, this was devastating news.  The announcement sparked protests and civil unrest that soon turned violent and led to widespread vandalism and looting.  Even though the Haitian government quickly reversed the decision (for now), the violence continued.

Businesses and vehicles were destroyed, and it became unsafe for people to leave their homes.  Flights to and from Port au Prince were suspended for a few days, and the US Department of State raised the travel advisory for Haiti to Level 4: “DO NOT TRAVEL”.  Sadly, with this change in status, Haiti joins the other Level 4 countries which include Afghanistan, Libya, North Korea, South Sudan and Syria.  To ensure the safety of the US and Haitian members of our team, we had no choice but to cancel our trip. The certainty that it was the right decision does not make it any less heartbreaking for our team, both here and in Haiti.

For anyone who is familiar with the poverty experienced by so many families in Haiti, the initial protests are not hard to understand.  However, the violence and destruction and the resulting loss of jobs for the working poor are in polar opposition to the protestors’ claims that they are demonstrating on behalf of the poor.  It is the local Haitians who will be the most hurt by the recent events in Haiti.  Our Health for Haiti team is profoundly disappointed to miss our trip to Haiti, but we have the luxury of choosing safety and security.  This is not an option for the typical Haitian.

Haiti has a long and complicated history.  As a US Citizen who is relatively new to Haiti, I certainly don’t presume to know much about what life is really like for my neighbors in Haiti.  What I do know is based on about a dozen visits over the past five years and the treasured relationships I have built with the people I have met in Haiti.  What I have seen in the news this week is very different from what I have personally experienced.

I believe that the majority of the people in Haiti are not destroying their neighborhoods and stealing from local businesses.  They are doing what they do every day: struggling to survive.  We all have the same basic needs, but the opportunity to meet those needs is not equal.  I know many people in Haiti who begin their day not knowing if they will eat.  Loss of property, loss of local businesses, loss of jobs, and an increased threat to personal security only make the daily task of surviving in Haiti more difficult.

Unfortunately, every country has opportunistic criminals who take advantage of crisis situations for their own personal gain.  We have seen this kind of looting and destruction in our own country after natural disasters, and it typically gets a lot of media attention.  The people who commit these crimes do not represent the general population.  I’m saddened to think that the images shown on worldwide news this week are what people will remember when they think of Haiti.

The Haiti I know is beautiful. I have seen many more gorgeous sunsets and lush, green fields than burning tires.  The people are welcoming, warm, and fun.  I have experienced wonderful hospitality from Haitians who are quick to share what little they have with a stranger.  Simply put, the people I have met are good and decent people.  They love and strive to provide for their families.  They readily help each other.  They are talented and eager for employment and education.  They are proud of their accomplishments.

If you have ever seen Haitian children in their crisp uniforms walking to school, or a Haitian family in their Sunday best headed for church, you see a reflection of the pride and perseverance of the Haitian people.  The Haitian people I know work hard and worship with a joy and enthusiasm that I have seldom seen in my own country.  I think it safe to say that every member of our past Health for Haiti teams has been profoundly changed by their experience in Haiti and has come home with a broader understanding of humanity and a new appreciation for what really matters.

In honor of the Haiti we know, SUNY Broome Health for Haiti will continue to stand in support of our neighbors.  I hope that people who have never visited Haiti will look beyond the recent images.  I hope that our Health for Haiti family will continue to share the Haiti they know with their own friends and family.  We who know the Haiti behind the headlines have a responsibility to speak out.  Health for Haiti considers it a privilege to work alongside our friends in Haiti.  We will continue to advocate on their behalf and work for sustainable improvements, and we look forward to our future work and experiences together.

Thank You Marine Corps League of Binghamton!

Health for Haiti would like to thank the John W. Thurston Detachment of the Marine Corps League of Binghamton for their very generous donation to the Health for Haiti program. Retired Marine Donald Kumpon has two granddaughters who participated in the Health for Haiti class, Maddi (2017) and Mary (2018). Maddi and Mary shared their Health for Haiti experiences with the Marine Corps League and their presentation inspired the donation. Health for Haiti is based on service, and we are proud and grateful to have received this donation from these Marines who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting our country. This donation will provide so much for the families we serve in Haiti.  It is donations like this that allow us to continue to provide clean water, solar power, basic health services, and educational opportunities in Haiti. Thank you!!!

Clean Water Changes Everything

The World Health Organization estimates that hundreds of millions of people in the world do not have access to clean water, and that every year over a half million people die from diseases related to drinking dirty water. Since March 2015, SUNY Broome Community College’s Health for Haiti program has been providing clean drinking water for hundreds of families in Grande Saline, Haiti.  This clean water effort has been a true collaboration between Health for Haiti and the community in Grande Saline.  For this community, the local river is the only source of water. The Health for Haiti water system filters the water from the local river, making it safe to drink. The system was donated by the Pall Corporation in Cortland, NY and ongoing technical support is provided by their engineers (assisted by SUNY Broome students).  The clean water means better health for the families living in this cholera-affected area.

Last week over 14,400 gallons of safe drinking water were distributed to families in the community.  Health for Haiti donations help to provide a salary for the local operators who run the system each day and to purchase gas to power the filtration system.  Clean water is fundamental to good health.  Access to clean water has changed and saved lives.  This year we hope to build on this success and change the system, which currently relies on gas, to solar power. The system will be less expensive and more efficient if the community does not have to purchase gas and rely on generators. Gas is expensive and hard to obtain, but sunshine is free and abundant. Thank you for your past support of our clean water project.  Please consider a donation to help purchase solar panels and batteries so that we can make this system more sustainable for the community. Click here from more information on our “Solar for Water” initiative.