Category: 2017

Please Support the 2018 Health for Haiti Class Fundraising Efforts!

Greetings from Health for Haiti!  Our 2018 class is working hard to raise money to fund out work in Haiti this January.  The students had a very successful Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee’s, and are now preparing for our Third Annual Bowling Fundraiser this Saturday.  The fundraiser is at 12:30 pm on Saturday, December 9th at Midway Lanes.  We still have room for more bowlers (email kellydm@sunybroome.edu ASAP), or, please just come by Midway Lanes to check out our basket raffles or purchase a ticket for our 50/50 raffle.  Your support will mean a lot to our 2018 Health for Haiti students. The students are paying tuition, all of their own travel expenses, and working very to raise money to help hundreds of families in Haiti. We are so proud to work with this amazing team! Please consider showing your support for their efforts.

And now some updates from Haiti.  Things are going well at the water system in Grande Saline.  The wood platform that supports the water tanks was in bad shape because of the flooding experienced by the community in the past year.  The tanks were moved and a new concrete platform was built in place of the wood.  The taps are now more secure and supported by the new concrete structure. The water system continues to supply clean, safe drinking water to the community.

In other news from Grande Saline, plans are moving forward for the new student vegetable garden!  Land has been rented and materials purchased.  The rice was harvested from the big community garden and is now stored for the school student lunch program.  The community is preparing to plant beans and corn in that garden later this month. Beans are so important as a source of protein, so we are happy to see another crop going in!  We plan to visit both gardens in January.

Things are also going well at the sewing school, where students are learning how to make patterns. We are looking forward to meeting with the students and teachers and seeing their most recent work in January.

In other news, construction of a much-needed fourth classroom space in underway.

Dr. Gary and his team continue to provide a monthly health clinic for the community in Grande Saline. They say 40 patients in November.

Finally, the children who are attending school with help from the Health for Haiti Helping Children Program are sending some holiday messages to their sponsors.

There are about 25 children in Grande Saline who are able to attend school because of this scholarship support.  Donors also help to provide the computer literacy lab that serves all 180 students in Grande Saline,

We are also still collecting over the counter medical supplies. Please click below for a list of items that we need.

Health for Haiti 2018 Donation Flyer

Thanks for your support! We are working hard to prepare all of our programs for January, and we look forward to sharing more updates and pictures and video from our trip.

Thanks to everyone for supporting our ongoing efforts. Your kindness and generosity are appreciated here and in Haiti.

Bridge to Haiti Connects Broome with Port au Prince

Greetings from Health for Haiti!  As our amazing 2018 Health for Haiti team prepares to head to Haiti in a just a couple short months, we want to acknowledge some other incredible SUNY Broome students who are helping children and adults in Haiti from right here in Binghamton.

SUNY Broome Professor, Sandra Wright, and her students in the Business Information Technology program have been working together as part of the Bridge to Haiti program to advance computer literacy for adults and children in Haiti.  Together, they have not only contributed high quality lessons and necessary equipment, they have made a meaningful connection with students in Haiti.  Below you can see a video of students in Haiti thanking Professor Wright and her students for all of their work and help.  Under the video you can read Professor Wright’s reflection about the project and the impact that it had on her students.

The children in this video live in Cite Soleil, an extremely poor area of Port au Prince.  The computer center provided by the Health for Haiti Bridge to Haiti program is giving them exciting opportunities to use technology. Because of donated laptops, equipment provided by Bridge to Haiti, and the lessons provided by Professor Wright and her students, children in Haiti are learning critical new skills and digital literacy.

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Global Service Learning in Career Courses: A Thank You to Haiti

by Professor Sandra Wright

“Thank you SUNY Broome! We love you!”  What greater joy is there than watching the videos from Cite Soleil, Haiti – the children working hard to learn computer skills, so grateful for what they have been given and unaware of how much they have given us. Bridge to Haiti, a component of SUNY Broome’s Health for Haiti Global Service Learning Course, is a computer literacy program that brings equipment, lessons, and guidance to four communities in Haiti. As of January 2017, over 120 computers have been delivered to Haiti, curricula have been shared from the Bridging the Digital Divide Program, and over 800 students have been taught or are in the process of learning basic computer literacy.

The program is growing and expanding to provide computer literacy training to new groups of children and to adults. Through a generous teaching grant, we were able to purchase additional equipment and provide 40 new lessons to Cite Soleil. It is for the equipment and lessons that the children are grateful. However, it is not the children of Haiti that I wish to reflect upon, but the students of four SUNY Broome Business Information Technology (BIT) courses, who took a journey to Haiti without leaving the lab, and returned wiser and kinder and more determined to work toward a more equitable future for us all.

Global service learning begins with the idea that students grow exponentially in their understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion when they experience firsthand the needs of someone different in race, culture, language, or socioeconomic status, and then use their knowledge, skills and privilege to serve.

For students in BIT courses, this process takes the form of four graduated assignments as part of the Bridge to Haiti program.

The journey for our BIT students began with an initial assignment to research and read about the Bridge to Haiti program, the Health for Haiti programs, technology transfer to third world countries, challenges of understanding cultural needs different than one’s own, and importance of diversity, inclusion and equity in the information technology industry. Reading and writing about these topics broadened their perspectives and opened the door to a live conversation with our Haitian teacher, Mr. Elysee.

In the second assignment, students installed the globally recognized communication app, WhatsApp, on their own phones, and came prepared to participate in a group chat with Mr. Elysee to ask questions and listen to the needs of the community. Students came prepared with insightful questions and plenty of patience. The technology wasn’t always perfect and the language barriers in translating between English and French Creole were difficult, but the students were open minded and eager to learn all they could. Part of their learning was the experience and understanding of the challenges of global communication even with technology.

The response of students after the WhatsApp session was almost universal. “They are so loving.” “They have so much faith.” “They are so grateful.”  SUNY Broome students were immediately humbled by the faith, dedication, and optimism of the Haitian people. They were also confronted, many for the first time, with the challenges of sanitation, clean water, food, health and education for Haiti. Students were proud of the work that has been done by SUNY Broome in Haiti and were eager to know how they in turn could help.

Assignment 3 provided this opportunity. Based on what they learned, the students created new lessons for the computer literacy classes. Students took to this assignment eagerly. The teaching grant goal was 10 lessons. Due to the enthusiasm and dedication of the BIT students, 40 lessons were created and delivered to Cite Soleil. The lessons ranged from PowerPoint presentations on computer basics to Excel tutorials on community garden produce revenues. The BIT students put great effort into the lessons they created, motivated by the knowledge that the lesson would be so appreciated in Haiti and so instrumental in educating the next generation, working to break a cycle of poverty for these children.

The final assignment was a reflection on the global service learning experience and on diversity and equity in their own career areas. The student reflections were heartfelt and thoughtful. They reflected on the need for more and deeper understanding of other cultures, of the need to be grateful for the educational opportunities that they are privileged to have, and the challenge of entering career paths in business, health, and information technology where many barriers still exist to achieving a truly diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace.

We often focus on the benefit of global service learning to the communities in which we serve. We don’t as often focus on the profound effect that these learning activities have on our own students and community. It is essential that we continue to pair academics in all disciplines with service, and that courses directly related to professions allow students the space to think critically about global issues and challenges of diversity. It is not enough to leave this work to the general education requirements. In bringing these lessons to our career classes, we ensure that students understand the relevance of these issues in their own lives and their own choices.

Thank you Mr. Elysee, thank you children of Haiti, for opening our hearts and minds and teaching us to embrace our world and strive to make it a better place.  

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We are so grateful to Professor Wright and her students for sharing their talents, skills, and resources with students in Haiti, and for showing that whether or not you are able to travel to Haiti, this project has a way of changing lives. Thank you for demonstrating how rich and valuable global service learning can be for everyone who participates.

Below are some recent pictures and videos showing the Bridge to Haiti program in action.

Elysee reports that the computer center at his school is a source of great joy and pride for him, his teachers, the students, and their families.  He has been contacted by principals from other schools who have asked if their students might come to computer class after school.  There is such a need for this type of education in poor areas of Haiti. Each one of these students who has the opportunity to access computer literacy training gains confidence and new skills that will help him or her to build a better future. The student below is from Elysee’s school in Cite Soleil.  He asked Elysee if he could make his own video to say thanks for the opportunity to learn to use a computer.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the Bridge to Haiti program by donating equipment, money for salaries, and lessons.  Because of you, there are many kids and adults in Haiti who, just like this young man, can now say that when they see a computer they know what to do with it.

October 2017 Health for Haiti Update

Greetings from Health for Haiti!  We now have twenty wonderful SUNY Broome students accepted into out 2018 Health for Haiti class and we are excited to get to know each other and start preparing for our January projects in Haiti!  At the end of this post you can read about how you can help us to meet our 2018 goals!

In news from Grande Saline, we are grateful that the community was spared from the worst of the recent hurricanes. Other than some flooding and standing water, there was no damage.   School in session and the children are excited to be attending classes.  We hope to help the community to build a fourth classroom this year to accommodate the local children, and we are very proud to report that there are about 25 children who are able to attend school this year because of the Helping Children School Scholarship Program.

Computer classes are back in session after a summer break.  We are pleased to welcome a new computer teacher, Mr. Lyscar Rosemond to the program.  We are excited to see more children (and hopefully some adults) improve their computer literacy skills.

Sewing classes are going very well with the students working hard and making some nice skirts, blouses and dresses.  We have a new sewing teacher who will be working with Madame Dana, Mr. Ovila Edouard.   Mr. Edouard is teaching the school students about the fundamentals of sewing every Friday and Saturday.

Health for Haiti has also continued to help sponsor a monthly medical clinic in Grande Saline.  Thanks to Dr. Gary and his expert staff for all of their great work on behalf of this community, and to Pastor Berlando for helping to organize the clinics.  Dr. Gary hopes to offer a special October clinic just for the school children.

The rice continues to grow well in the Community Garden and is now ready for harvest.  All of the rice harvested from the Community Garden will be used to provide lunch for the school children.

Even with our successful Community Garden, there is still not enough food available to offer enough lunch for the kids every day.  To help with this, we have an exciting new garden project that we hope to begin this month.  We will be partnering with the school to start a student-run vegetable garden.  Under the supervision of a few experienced farmers who will serve as “monitors”, the students will grow vegetables and fruits for their lunch.  Not only will this project provide much needed nutritious food, the students and their families will learn best practices for growing their own vegetables.  Pastor Berlando hopes to make this project a part of the school curriculum. The plan is to even have periodic tests to be sure that the children are learning this important information. There is so much food insecurity and malnutrition in the region, we hope this project will be a great hands-on opportunity for the children and their families!

As you can see, there are a lot of good things going on in Grande Saline.  We are looking forward to spending some time in the community with our amazing 2018 team.  We have a lot of exciting projects planned and some very ambitious goals!  We are working hard to raise money and collect supplies to help us complete our January work in Haiti.

Please consider helping us by coming to our Flapjack Fundraiser on Sunday, November 19th from 8 am to 10 am.  We will be serving flapjacks at the Applebee’s on Front Street, right across from SUNY Broome.  Tickets are only $7 and can be purchased from Professor Hankin (hankinmr@sunybroome.edu) or me (musajm@sunybroome.edu). Please consider having some delicious flapjacks to support our 2018 Health for Haiti students and the communities we serve in Haiti. Thank you from Health for Haiti!

Calm Before the Storm

It seems like the whole world is watching the path of Hurricane Irma as it moves through the Caribbean and towards the United States. While it looks as if Haiti will be spared a potentially catastrophic direct hit from powerful Hurricane Irma, there are grave concerns about heavy rainfall that will cause devastating flooding in the already fragile country.  We are in contact with our friends in Port au Prince and Grande Saline, and we hope that everyone will have shelter and be safe.  Hurricane season is always a scary time.

In the mean time, we have good news from Grande Saline.  The rice growing in the community garden is looking beautiful. If all continues to go well, it should be ready for harvest in late October. It is great to see all those future lunches growing in the garden!

And we have heard that the teachers in Grande Saline are excited and ready to welcome the children back to begin school on Monday (weather permitting).  There are exciting plans in place for new classrooms and desks, and we have twenty children who are able to start school next week because of the Helping Children School Scholarship Program.

Here in the US, we are excited to welcome new students to the 2018 Health for Haiti class.  We have some exciting projects coming together for January!  Interested students should apply now using the link on the front page of this website.

As we wait to see what Irma brings, we hope for the safety of everyone in the path of the hurricane. Thanks for following Health for Haiti.

 

 

Water, Rice, and More Good News from Grande Saline

Greetings from Health for Haiti! It is late July and there is all good news to report for Grande Saline.  Thanks again to our hard-working international team, the compressor was repaired and the community is receiving over 3000 gallons of clean, safe drinking water every day. The water is central to our Health for Haiti mission and is very important for every member of the community.

The community has also been very busy in the garden.  They have reworked the garden in preparation for the second stage of growing the rice.  You can see all of the hard work and the planted rice seedlings (not sure if that is the correct term) in the images below. Take a look a the garden images from the last post to get a better appreciation for all of the hard work done in the garden. In the fall, this rice will be used to help provide lunch for the over 100 children who attend school in Grande Saline.  Thanks to the farmers and the members of the community who work so hard to take care of the garden.

Sewing classes are also still in full swing in Grande Saline.  It is very exciting to see the students and their progress!

Health for Haiti continues to partner with Pastor Berlando and Dr. Gary to provide a monthly one-day medical clinic in Grande Saline.  Below are some photos of the July clinic held last week.  Since April, Dr. Gary and his staff have seen and treated over 200 patients at the clinic.

A Health for Haiti team is headed to Grande Saline next month and we have a lot of projects to work on.  We hope to install a new compressor at the water system, complete some advance work for our upcoming (hopefully!) solar project, meet with the sewing students and teachers, and provide a fun three day camp for the school children.  On the last day of the camp the community is planning some competitions for the kids to participate in. There will be “races with foot, races with eggs in a spoon, and races with bags as an outfit”.  We are all looking forward to a productive and fun visit in Grande Saline!

Professor Hankin and I are also very excited about the team that is taking shape for the January 2018 Health for Haiti class. We are currently accepting applications (please see link on website home page) and encourage all students who are interested in joining us to apply now!

As always, thank you for your support of Health for Haiti!

Classes Resume in Grande Saline

Hello from Health for Haiti! I am happy to report that the flood waters have dried up and classes have resumed in Grande Saline. The children are back in school and the teachers are back to work.

Computer classes are also back in session and are scheduled to continue throughout the summer.

Sewing classes have resumed in the church and some students have moved from hand sewing to (solar powered!) sewing machines.

There is also good news from the community garden where the rice is growing well and the farmers are preparing the land to replant the rice seedlings.

We have had some problems with a malfunctioning compressor at the water system and, unfortunately, until it is repaired, access to clean water is limited.  A very big thank you to Greg, Wilson, Jean Claude, Berlando, Schneider and Robinson for all of their efforts to identify and correct the problem.  We hope the system will be back to running at full capacity very soon.

We have also seen progress in Port au Prince at Lambi Orphanage. With the help of  some very special donors we have been able to help the children here with some much-needed food and some basic health care.  We are also excited to be starting a brand new garden project (more updates to come).  Thanks to Schneider’s mom for cooking for the kids at Lambi.

It is great to see things starting to return to normal in Grande Saline and we look forward to sharing some additional updates in the near future.  As always, thank you from Health for Haiti!

 

Difficult Days in Grande Saline

The heavy rains in Haiti have led to widespread flooding in Grande Saline. As you can see below, the road now looks more like the river. Pastor Berlando reports that many people have lost their homes and their possessions. Although the flood water has filled the church and is right up to the doors of the new classrooms, Pastor says that there are ten families who are now “living” in the classrooms because they have no where else to go. Flooding not only destroys homes and possessions, but brings increased risk for disease, so this is a very sad and difficult situation for the community.

We were very happy to receive the good news that our dear friend, Daniella (one of the school lunch cooks and a talented sewing student), gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl, last Sunday. Daniella gave permission to share these beautiful pictures taken just before and after she had her baby.

Unfortunately, the home where Daniella, her husband, and their new baby daughter live is one of the many that have been flooded. Please keep Daniella’s family and all of the families in Grande Saline in your prayers and thoughts. We will post updates when we have more information.

 

Little Bags for a Good Cause

Hello from Health for Haiti!  The students at the sewing school in Grande Saline have been working hard and practicing their new skill with the hope of raising money to help support their sewing program. In particular, the students hope to raise enough money to pay the salary of the two sewing teachers. Although the students are learning to make clothing and school uniforms, they are also making small bags that are for sale. Their idea to make and sell the bags came from the Economic Development Workshop that Dr. Gay Canough presented in January.

The little bag project is part of an ongoing effort to make the sewing school a sustainable project. The bags are now in New York (Thank you, Ann from Reiser Relief!) and available for purchase.  The hand made drawstring bags come in many colors and a few different sizes. The bags would be great for storing a cell phone or other small electronics, chargers and cords, change, keys, or any small items that you need to keep organized. The little bags could be used inside of purses, golf bags, cars or backpacks. The bags cost $10 and 100% of your purchase will directly support the sewing school in Grande Saline.

Please contact  Jen Musa (musajm@sunybroome.edu) if you are interested in purchasing a little bag.

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.

 

Updates and Introducing the Health for Haiti “Grande Saline Helping Children School Scholarship Program”

Hello from Health for Haiti!  We have some updates to share from Grande Saline and a new scholarship program to tell you about.

Health for Haiti is excited to announce that we are working with Dr. Gary Valsaint and Pastor Dorcent Berlando to offer a health clinic in Grande Saline one day each month. Dr. Gary and his staff will see patients at the church in Grande Saline and continue to distribute the over-the-counter and prescription medications that were collected by the 2017 Health for Haiti class.  The first clinic was held on February 10th.  The team saw 120 patients and gave out 10 pairs of eyeglasses.  Dr. Gary sends his thanks to the Health for Haiti donors because this community is in great need of medical care and appreciates the opportunity. Health for Haiti donations will be used to help support this monthly clinic throughout 2017.  Professor Hankin and I would like to thank Dr. Gary and his staff and pastor Berando and his staff for organizing the clinic and making sure that it was run efficiently.  You can see some pictures of the February 10th clinic below.

We would also like to issue a special thank you to StarSmilez for their generous donations of puppets and stickers over the past four years.  The puppets are used by Health for Haiti students to teach the Haitian children how to properly bush their teeth.  The children really love to use the puppets.  The kids also enjoy receiving a sticker, and the stickers are really useful for helping us to keep track of which children have received a fluoride varnish. Thank you StarSmilez (https://starsmilez.com/) for helping us to bring better oral health (and a lot of smiles!) to the communities we serve in Haiti.

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Things are progressing well at the sewing school in Grande Saline.  The teachers, Dana and Chesnil, report that the students are continuing to do great work.  After Dr. Gay’s economic development lecture in January, the teachers and students were inspired to start making some small bags that can be used to store and protect cell phones.  We hope to sell these beautiful hand-made bags to help support the sewing school.

In other news, the newly constructed large classroom is now being used for classes. Students can learn in the church or one of the three classrooms that Health for Haiti has helped the community to build.  The wood for the children’s desks was also purchased with money donated to Health for Haiti and the desks were built by members of the Grande Saline community.

In not so good news, we have had a lot trouble with one of the generators used to power the water filtration system.  However, with some help from Greg, the operators have managed to keep the system running on one generator.  These generators havebeen used almost every day for two years, and they are starting to fail.  Access to clean water is so integral to the health of this community, and it is a primary goal of Health for Haiti to continue to support this initiative.  We are working hard with Jeff Smith, of the Endwell Rotary, and Dr. Gay Canough, of the Endicott Rotary and ETM Solar Works, to put together a Rotary International Global Grant to fund purchase and installation of solar panels that can power the water filtration system.  We are excited to be very close to the funding we need to raise in order to apply for matching funds from Rotary International. Thank you so much to the Rotary clubs, corporate partners, and community organizations who have pledged money to this project. Switching the system from gas to solar-power will be a huge leap forward in making this project secure and sustainable for the community of Grande Saline. We hope to reach our funding goal in the next couple of weeks.

Lastly, we would like to introduce an new initiative to help increase educational opportunities for children in Grande Saline and support the teachers and primary school in this community.  Working with Pastor Berlando, we have identified several local children who are unable to attend school or who are in danger of having to leave school because their family cannot afford the school fees.  The “Grande Saline Helping Children School Scholarship Program” is a way to link donors with children and families who need help. Anyone who is interested in helping to support a child’s education in Grande Saline can fill out this form (https://healthforhaiti.org/grande-saline-helping-children-school-scholarship/) to indicate how much support they are able to offer (anything from $10 to $130). Donors will be matched with a child who needs their help.  We can then share information about the child and the child’s family, and hope to provide some periodic updates about his or her progress. Below you can see some of the first recipients of a scholarship from the Grande Saline Helping Children School Scholarship Program. If you want to participate, you can click the link above or on the tab at the top of the Health for Haiti website. There is no long term obligation and even $10 can make a difference for one of these kids.

As always, thank you for your continued support of the Health for Haiti projects!