Nearly Finished School Excites in Haiti

As part of our Community Development work in the remote southeast of Haiti, we’ve been helping to coordinate the building of a school in Cascade Pichon.
Now, the school is partially open and should be completed before the year is out.

CP School #1

We recently featured this school and our development work underway in Cascade Pichon, along with the impression this new school is having on the children of this community.  Here are a couple of excerpts from that story:

10-year-old Deswin says to me, “This is going to be the best school in all of Pichon.”   I thought to myself, “Well, that can’t be too difficult… the school you have now is a tiny one-room building with overflow benches outside under a tarp that has seen better days. The school is so small that hundreds of children don’t go to school because there is simply no room.”

In 2013, the Cascade Pichon Federation decided it was time to start addressing the next big need – Education.  The federation purchased land for the school and then, through building partnerships, Heart to Heart International helped to facilitate the building of the school, working in coordination with the Haitian government which has agreed to send teachers to instruct the children.

Two classrooms are finished and open to students and four more are still being finished. A few days ago, a mini dedication took place for those who are backing the building of the school – an anonymous foundation and the Mid-America Nazarene University – and was attended by a large number of school-children who are using, and who will use, this school.  Check out all those kids in the photo below!

CP School Children Walking

According to Wes Comfort, our deputy director of programs in Haiti, “The community is beyond excited, the kids are smiling ear to ear, and families are excited that their children will be able to get a sound education in a proper school without having to leave the community to go to Belle-Anse, Jacmel, or even Port-au-Prince.”

This is progress.  This is good.

 

 

To Help the Most Vulnerable in Haiti

Heart to Heart International is currently working with UNICEF on a program entitled Kore Fanmi  in the southeast of Haiti – a multi-phase, multi-year project to connect remote communities and families with basic medical and other services.

UNICEF recently featured the Kore Fanmi program (see below for excerpts) and the technology used to survey those living in the most difficult-to-reach areas.

(c) UNICEF Haiti/2014/Nybo

A Heart to Heart International community agent, along with a UNICEF representative, conducts a survey in a remote area of Haiti. Photo courtesy: UNICEF Haiti/2014/Nybo

 

Thomas Nybo reported the story for UNICEF:
Bertha Pierre is a 49-year-old grandmother living high atop a mountain in a one-room shack with five family members. Their hut is a three-hour hike from the nearest town, and the family has called it home since a flood destroyed their house a year ago.

“Life has just been very difficult since last year, May 23rd,” she says. “That’s when we were hit with a flood that washed away all the topsoil, and killed all our farm animals. Since then, it has been very difficult to make ends meet. We have nothing. We have no land and we have no animals.”

But, a pilot programme is being launched with the aim of improving the lives of people just like her: the most-vulnerable Haitians, living in the hardest-to-reach areas. It’s called “Kore Fanmi” — which means “family support” in Haitian Creole. It’s a programme of the government of Haiti, which was started two years ago in partnership with the World Bank and UNICEF.

Heart to Heart International is implementing the plan on the ground.  For months, community agents organized by HHI traveled the roads and paths through the mountains of SE Haiti interviewing people and documenting the needs of families household by household.
HHI’s Samuel Desruisseaux, who is the Kore Fanmi Communal Coordinator for the Anse-a-Pitres area, is quoted in the story:

“…one of the positive impacts I’ve already seen, during the socio-economic survey, once the community understood the point of Kore Fanmi, to reach the most vulnerable, they went to find other families, to make sure everybody was included,” he says. “They refused to let anybody be excluded. The community is very motivated. They see it as their programme, and it will bring a lot of positive change.”

kore_fanmi_10

Data collection during a Kore Fanmi survey is captured on a tablet. Photo courtesy: UNICEF Haiti/2014/Nybo

Access the full story at UNICEF Connect to learn more about the Kore Fanmi program & the technology used to reach these vulnerable populations in some of the most remote areas of Haiti.

 

Haiti Medical Team Delivers Baby on the Side of a Road

IT’S A GIRL!

One of Heart to Heart International’s Haitian Medical Teams helped a woman deliver a baby girl this week alongside a rural road in southeast Haiti.

Dr. Kethia Lamour delivers a petite fille – a little girl!

Here’s how it happened:  Our Southeast Medical Team, along with some volunteer nurses from Pennsylvania, was working in our clinic in Cascade Pichon –  a small, remote village found at the end of a road beneath towering mountains.  Word came that a pregnant woman was just up the road and about to deliver.  The mother-to-be had been walking to the Heart to Heart Clinic seeking help at the only medical facility in the region – but the baby was ready to come. Now.

Baby on the way!

Baby on the way!

Our team rushed up the road, and while family and other neighbors gathered around, helped the woman deliver a healthy petite fille, a little girl, right then and there.

Swaddling the brand new babe...

Swaddling the brand new babe…

All went well, and mother and child went to the clinic to rest and get cleaned up.  It’s a good thing our folks were there as complications can always arise, especially in such a remote area.  Great job by our Haitian Medical Team and by our volunteers!

The proud volunteer nurse!

Dana, the proud volunteer nurse!

These are the Heart to Heart staff & volunteers who helped deliver the baby girl in Cascade Pichon:

HHI’s Haitian Med Team – Southeast
Dr. Kethia Lamour
Nurse Elisabeth Lindor
Nurse Nathalie Pierre
Rodney Numa

HHI Volunteers
Nurse Dana Darnell – Downingtown, PA
Nurse Dianne Finnegan – Allentown, PA

HHI’s Haitian Medical Teams

HHI has three med teams comprised of Haitian medical professionals, who travel on a weekly circuit to all of our 14 clinics in the country.  The teams are made up of a doctor, a nurse, another nurse or a pharmacist, and a clinic/team coordinator.  While they work on a rotation, HHI brings in volunteers from the US and other countries to augment the team.  We’re always recruiting medical volunteers to work with us in Haiti.  Join us!

 

In Haiti, A Future Shines at the End of the Road…

At the end of the road in Cascade Pichon, Haiti, a little bit beyond the Heart to Heart International clinic and just past the “hotel” there is a path heading to the left, away from the waterfall.

cascade pichon   5I recently took this path to check on the construction of a new school building that sits atop a hill, overlooking a valley and more mountains.  I was in Cascade Pichon, this time, showing a colleague around Upper Pichon, where the clinic is located.  Following us up the hill were four boys who are always together – Antionne, Alex, and brothers Deswin and Fresno.

I’ve developed quite an appreciation for Deswin.  He’s very bright and carries little notebooks with him that he uses to teach himself English, French and Spanish.  This 10-year-old is an immense help and is always eager to let me practice Creole with him and to teach me new words.  Besides Fresno, Deswin has two older brothers who walk a few hours to go to to school in Belle Anse and a sister that lives and attends school in Port-au-Prince.   Deswin and his brothers live in Cascade Pichon with their mother. Their father works across the border in the Dominican Republic.

Deswin says to me, “This is going to be the best school in all of Pichon.”

On this particular day, while my colleague tried to find a cell signal at the top of the hill, Deswin says to me, “This is going to be the best school in all of Pichon.”   I thought to myself, “Well, that can’t be too difficult… the school you have now is a tiny one-room building with overflow benches outside under a tarp that has seen better days. The school is so small that hundreds of children don’t go to school because there is simply no room.”

Instead, I said, “Oh really? Will you go to school here?”  Deswin responded, “I may go to school here or in Belle Anse, but I would like to go here.”

I asked him why he would prefer to attend the school in Cascade Pichon and his reply surprised me. He said that he would prefer to go to school in Pichon because of the volunteers that come there. He explained how it gives him the opportunity to learn more English that will give him more opportunities later.

In my head this is where the work that we do in Haiti comes full circle. Heart to Heart International’s development work in the southeast of Haiti started in Cascade Pichon with a federation, just like all of our work.

A federation is essentially a community civic organization. Federations take ‘ownership’ of the needs in their communities and HHI works with these federations.

The first essential need the Cascade Pichon community wanted to address was healthcare. The federation donated the land for our clinic in Cascade Pichon a few years ago. Once built, the clinic was staffed solely by ex-pat volunteers.  Now, a Haitian Medical Team works in the clinic and is supplemented by volunteers.  Since the clinic is owned by the federation, the federation keeps half of the consultation fees incurred from patients coming to the clinic.

In 2013, the Cascade Pichon Federation decided it was time to start addressing the next big need – Education.  The federation purchased land for the school and then, through building partnerships, Heart to Heart International helped to facilitate the building of the school, working in coordination with the Haitian government which has agreed to send teachers to instruct the children.  Hopefully, the building will be completed, staffed and operational this Fall.

I think this is what Development is. And it doesn’t happen quickly.  But I can’t wait to see what Deswin is doing in 10 years, to see how he is impacting Haiti because of decisions being made today by elders in his community, supported by HHI and its volunteers.

A few years ago, Deswin’s future certainly looked different. He didn’t have access to healthcare, he didn’t have access to a school in his community, and he didn’t have access to volunteers coming to his village to widen his world-view and let him expand his own horizons and quite literally alter his own future.  Now he does.

– Julie