Category: 2018

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!!!

Peppers and Progress

Greeting from Health for Haiti!  We have many updates from Grande Saline to share with you. The gardens in Haiti are growing well and the community is harvesting many peppers and eggplants.  The farmers recently used the donated farm equipment to prepare a new section of field and plant some corn.  The children are enjoying the many vegetables that they are growing in their gardens and the community continues to enjoy visiting the garden and seeing all of the beautiful plants and produce.

Sewing classes are going well and the students are showing a lot of progress.  We would like to thank the students for all of their efforts and the teachers for their wonderful work.  Please enjoy the pictures of the beautiful shirts that the students have made. Wow.  It is not easy to make a shirt!  All of the students are making little bags that we are selling to help to pay the teachers salaries. You can help to support the sewing school and all of our projects in Haiti by purchasing one of these bags or a solar light here: http://www.etmsolar.com/shop/

The water system continues to be a busy place.  For over three years, with your support, hundreds of families have enjoyed better health. Three years of safe, clean drinking water mean stronger, healthier families.  Please be sure to see the pictures that show the river and the water before it is filtered.  You can see why people walk many miles from five different surrounding towns for the water and they congratulate the operators on the great quality of the filtered water. It must be very good if people are willing to walk for miles, and half of that trip carrying a 5 gallon bucket of water! Many thousands of gallons of water are distributed to the community.

Our friend Dr. Robinson recently visited Grande Saline. He is the person who first introduced us to the community and asked us to begin working there.  This community has a very special place in his heart. He has been outside of Haiti for a few years and received a very warm welcome from his friends in Grande Saline when he returned to visit. He sponsored a lunch for the children and offered a medical clinic with Dr. Gary.  Dr. Robinson said that he was very happy to see Grande Saline again and see all of the great progress.  The classrooms and the solar panels and all of the education programs were exciting to see. He said that most of all he was happy to see the children and the people looking so nice.  He said he clean water and the food from the gardens has changed the people’s lives, and that we have done a good job serving the community.

“The water system is so important for the population of Grande Saline.  You cannot imagine how many lives you are saving.”

 

Thank you, Dr. Robinson!! And thank you Health for Haiti!  I hope all of our students and our many community supporters can take a minute to think about what your gifts have meant to this community and those who care about them.  For most of us in the United States, finding clean, safe water is easy.  But what a gift it is for those who are not so fortunate.

Speaking of medical clinics, we continue to partner with Dr. Gary and his wonderful staff to offer a monthly clinic in Grande Saline. In last month’s clinic, they saw 48 patients (children to the elderly), gave out nine pairs of eye-glasses, several prescriptions, and recommended some follow up care. Thank you to Dr. Gary and his staff and Pastor Berlando for all of their work in running a very nice and needed monthly clinic.

And, we cannot fail to mention the wonderful school children.  Several of the scholarship children sent their thanks for all of the support.  They asked me to send “big” thanks to the supporters.  Ginette wrote a letter to thank her sponsor for helping her with tuition and school supplies and to say that she is doing really well.  All of the scholarship students want their sponsors to know that they think of them each day and ask that their lives, their families and all that they do will be blessed.  We even have some students who have moved on to secondary school and they are so excited for the opportunity to continue their education.  This summer we will be completing the second phase of our science and microscopy lesson.  We have an exciting, hands-on lesson coming together and we hope to help the school in Grande Saline become a site for quality science education.  These kids are so eager and bright, it is exciting to see them learn and grow.

Once again, thanks for all of your support. Thank you for supplies, for donations, for inviting us to share our program with you, for encouraging us, and for being part of our Health for Haiti family.

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: http://www.delval.edu/about-delval/community-connection/seeding-relief

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!

Science, Soap, and School Bags

Although the January 2018 Health for Haiti team returned to New York a couple of weeks ago, the work they started continues on in Haiti.  The scientific observation lesson was created by SUNY Broome CLT students and was first taught by the 2018 Health for Haiti class. The same lesson was recently presented to all of the children at Organisation Assistante pour des Enfants d’Haiti (OAEH).  Thank you to Pastor Edwige and his staff for including the lesson at their Saturday Education and Entertainment Club!  We love to see the OEAH kids working together in their club, and we look forward to bringing more science lessons to share with this hard-working and enthusiastic group. Thanks to our SUNY Broome Haitian student who translated these lessons into Haitian Creole for the teachers in Haiti. It is wonderful to see this education initiative continue at multiple schools in Haiti.

In news from Grande Saline, the community recently participated in a church convention. The ladies sold some of the soap they have been making to the people at the convention.  We learned that the people from the visiting churches really liked the soap and offered a lot of encouragement. The ladies have received many orders for more of their soap and hope to see the project continue to grow. We are excited about the potential of this new economic initiative.

The 500 school bags that were so generously donated by Dick’s Sporting Goods are still being distributed in rural and urban Haiti. These bags will get a lot of use by the school children who received them.  The bags were donated when one of the 2018 Health for Haiti students contacted Dick’s about the need for bags in the communities we serve. Thank you Dick’s Sporting Goods!

In other news, the Port au Prince orphanage that we were not able to visit while we were in town recently enjoyed a hearty meal. All of the children and staff enjoyed having the special dinner.  The food was provided thanks to fundraising that the 2018 Health for Haiti students did before their trip. Although they were not there in person to serve this meal, their efforts were appreciated.

We are happy to see the work started earlier this month continue, and we look forward to providing more updates in the future! Thank you from Health for Haiti!