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

Get Your HHI Fall Newsletter Here!

newsletter 2013 imageHeart to Heart International’s Fall 2013 Newsletter is
now available for download as a PDF.

To access the 2013 Fall Newsletter, simply click one of the images in this email to download a PDF of the newsletter, or click here.

This version is designed to be easily read and viewed on your computer or mobile device. (mobile users: this is best viewed using a PDF viewer like the free Adobe Reader app). This format is also perfect for sharing with others!

newsletter image verticalThe content of this online version is the same as our printed version… But there’s more!
Look for ‘clickable’ links and images throughout to learn and see more of what HHI is doing.  In this edition you’ll learn:

  • Why Sustainability is so important to us and the people we serve
  • How HHI is addressing water and sanitation issues in the fight against cholera in Haiti
  • The amount of aid delivered around the USA & the World in the first half of 2013
  • How corporate donors help us create a Ripple Effect in safety-net clinics
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • How You Can Help in 4 Easy Ways!

Thank you for taking the time to read about the latest with Heart to Heart International…
…and Thank You for your continued support!

Lenexa Rotary Honors Heart to Heart

Lenexa Rotary AwardRotary International (RI) has been a longtime friend of Heart to Heart.  The two organizations share, if not the same, very similar goals centered around service.  In fact, 20 years ago, it was a handful of Rotarians in the Kansas City area that set everything in motion, creating what is now known as Heart to Heart International.

Recently, a chapter of RI, the Lenexa Rotary Club from Lenexa, Kansas named Heart to Heart as the “2012 Business of the Year.”
HHI Interim CEO Krystal Barr was on hand at the club’s annual shrimpfest/bingo night to accept the award in front of hundreds of attendees.  The shrimp was very tasty, the bingo a lot of fun… but it was the award that really stood out.  To be recognized by such a group for all that we do to broaden access to healthcare in the US and around the world is quite an honor.

Many thanks to Rotary for being there at the beginning, throughout Heart to Heart’s history and for the continuing goodwill and friendship.

DW HHI