Community Honors Student’s Life; Raises Funds for HHI

In 2013, a student attending MidAmerica Nazarene University travelled to Haiti on a service trip to work with Heart to Heart International.  The trip affected Quincy Foster enough that she changed her college major to nursing.  Before she could return to Haiti on another trip, she died in a car crash.

quincyThe university’s campus community has long supported HHI, specifically our work to improve health and communities in Haiti.  Students on service trips have focused much of their time and energy in the Cascade Pichon area, a remote region of Haiti where HHI runs a health clinic among other things.  Their recent efforts have helped with the construction of a new school for children in the region.

Quincy Foster died on New Years Day of 2015 in southeast Kansas in a head-on collision with a semi-truck. She was 20 years old.  Foster grew up in Arizona playing soccer with the Phoenix Rush Soccer club and attended MNU on a soccer scholarship.  To honor her memory, a new soccer field is currently being cleared and built in the village.  

CP soccer field

A campaign called LQVE was recently launched (the Q is for Quincy) to share more about the young woman, her passions and her legacy.  The campaign features t-shirts with LQVE emblazoned on the front along with a book written by Quincy Foster’s father as he explores dealing with the loss of a daughter.

Proceeds from the sale of these items benefit both HHI’s humanitarian work in Haiti, the university’s student service programs, and the building of the soccer field.  At last check, the LQVE effort has raised more than $2,000 for HHI in recent weeks from sales of the book.

 

 

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.

 

 

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

Into the Mountains: Battling Cholera in Haiti

intro screengrabFor several months, Heart to Heart International (HHI) has led an anti-cholera campaign in the remote mountains of southeast Haiti, centered around the village of Cascade Pichon.

The video below gives an overview of the campaign and showcases how HHI is working to get in front of any new cholera outbreaks in the region, by not just bringing in needed aid supplies, but by hiking up into the mountains to educate the populace from one remote village to the next. The video also shows how local residents are stepping up to volunteer with HHI to help their own communities fight the scourge of cholera.

Education is key in battling cholera in Haiti…

To help fund these anti-cholera campaigns and other efforts to create access to healthcare in Haiti, please donate.

And please share this video on places like Facebook and other locations to let others know about our work in Haiti!

###

Heart to Heart Hosts Haiti Development Summit

Cascade PichonIt was remarkable really.

Momentous even, that so many representatives for so many different entities chose to come to Cascade Pichon, a place quite literally at the end of the road (picture above), in a far remote corner of Haiti, difficult to reach, to talk development and healthcare with Heart to Heart International… we’re all still a bit stunned that it actually happened. But we’re all very pleased too!

The purpose of the Summit was to jump-start all of the things that have been talked about & planned for this far-flung area of Haiti, to get as many groups and government ministries involved as possible, and to get them to Cascade Pichon.

Woman_1This is one of the areas where Heart to Heart has worked for three years to broaden access to healthcare for the citizens of Haiti. There’s a new Heart to Heart health clinic in Cascade Pichon where residents, seeking care, hike down from the mountains on foot to reach. We recently launched a five-week comprehensive Cholera response to aid and educate from here. And this is where we deploy not just Haitian doctors and nurses, but medical and non-medical volunteers to help us reach our goals.

And this is where dozens of people gathered, Thursday, April 4th, 2013 to talk about the future of healthcare for thousands of residents far off the beaten path in Haiti. It’s worth mentioning the date as we hope it serves as a milestone moment.

Both Heart to Heart and The Federation of Peasants of Pichon hosted the summit where government officials, NGO representatives and local leaders met to chiefly talk sustainable development.
For the Government of Haiti this was a Director level meeting and representatives of several GoH Ministries were on hand: Health, Tourism, Education, Environment, Planification (Economic Development).
And from Heart to Heart International both CEO Krystal Barr and CFO Bud Jeffress were in-country, and joined our Haitian staff of doctors, nurses and executive personnel.

The result from this historic summit? A commitment to improve the road to Cascade Pichon and invest more in the healthcare infrastructure of the area.
It’s not everything that needs to be done, but it’s a start. A good start.

DW HHI

What follows are photos from the Summit. Click any to begin a slideshow.

Combating Cholera in Haiti

Cholera Response

This isn’t an easy fight, but it’s one that Heart to Heart International is committed to waging.
As we blogged recently, Cholera has flared in the remote southeast of Haiti around the picturesque area of Cascade Pichon.  Where the outbreak stems from, we’re not sure yet.  But its affect is apparent.
In our survey of the outbreak in this small region we found nearly two dozen people died from cholera and more than 50 contracted it, were treated, and thankfully survived.

cholera bacteriumCholera is relatively new to Haiti, believed to have been introduced for the first time in 2010 in the months following the January earthquake.  It is a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea.  It causes severe and rapid dehydration, cramps, dry mouth and skin, excessive thirst, lethargy and nausea.
The CDC: The cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by feces (poop) from a person infected with cholera. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene.

 

This is where Heart to Heart comes in.  We’ve mobilized a response of not just supplies needed – like oral rehydration salts and hand-washing materials – but our professional Haitian staff consisting of doctors, nurses and public health workers.  The goal:  To treat those affected, to help them recover and to train the local population in cholera prevention.
What follows is a gallery of photos from Heart to Heart’s ongoing response to combat cholera. Click a photo to begin the slideshow.

Cholera Strikes Again

Just mention – Haiti – and many folks will think about the earthquake that devastated the country three years ago this month.
Though the quake and its aftermath continue to reverberate across Haiti, to be honest, that was a long time ago, especially if you’re marking time on a calendar by crisis.  Recent hurricanes and the continued threat of Cholera, really highlight how fragile the health system remains for Haitians, especially for those living in remote areas.

This month, Cholera flared in a region where Heart to Heart helped to beat it back in 2010/2011.  For the past few weeks, our in-country staff has been responding to an outbreak in the remote, mountainous Southeast area of Haiti.

What follows are excerpts from a report on the flare-up from HHI’s Executive Director in Haiti Steve Weber:

◊◊◊

Inside a Cholera Treatment CenterPhoto: A patient lies in a Cholera Treatment Center bed,
while a health care worker sprays disinfectant
◊◊◊

STEVE: Bottom line… Cholera has struck right in the heart of Cascade Pichon, and the surrounding villages of upper Pichon.  There is a Government Cholera Treatment Center at Bel Anse on the coast, but it’s located about two hours by car from our clinic at Cascade Pichon in the mountains.

We left Port-au-Prince with our country director Christophe Rodrigue, our public health nurse Louise Polidor, Jon Campbell from One5Foundation, and one of our American Volunteer MDs.  We met with our 15 village health workers in the area, interviewed approximately 40 of the 52 cholera patients in the immediate area of our clinic at Cascade Pichon.  And we also interviewed the families of several of the 16 deceased cholera victims of the cholera in the area.

The next day my team continued on to Bel Anse to tour the government hospital there. This story is worth telling in its own right.  Two courageous government doctors were at the hospital. Overwhelmed with patients, one of two doctor’s contract had finished on December 31, but he was remaining – without pay – to attempt to deal with the emergency. Most of the 52 cholera victims from Cascade Pichon owe their lives to this wonderful young man who is staying way beyond his December 31 contract completion date….the others doctors had left.  
If we do nothing else, we must protect and save as many lives as possible in the area immediately surrounding our clinic at Cascade Pichon.

Cholera Education HaitiSo, what happens now?

Supplies are arriving this week to mount an attack on cholera, and to support the one Cholera Treatment Center in the region.  We’re deploying a Haitian medical team, that includes a public health nurse, and will use a three prong attack:  Prevent, Educate & Treat.
It’s similar to how we beat back cholera in the region in 2010/2011.  Let’s hope it works.

DW HHI