School directors from various locations sit to discuss successes and challenges of last school year 

With many hands, the weight of providing a quality education to Haiti’s children is a little lighter

Paula Prince, Program Assistant, July 21st 2011

On Wednesday July 20th, Hope for Haiti held its first meeting with nearly all 40 Directors of Hope for Haiti’s numerous partner schools. The ability to assemble all of these partners in a single location was a remarkable feat. This reunion allowed schools from all over the Southern Peninsula, ranging from the lush forests of Baradères, to the slums of La Savane in Les Cayes, and the crystal blue coasts of Morency, to come together and share stories of struggles and successes.

The dedication of the school directors to their mission of educating all children and the appreciation of their relationship with Hope for Haiti were apparent in the long distances that our program partners traveled to attend the meeting. Seven local directors and one regional director made the five-hour car ride down treacherous bumpy roads from the regions of Gris Gris and Cote-de-Fer just to partake.

As the directors shared their stories, the impact of Hope for Haiti on their schools and communities became strikingly apparent. Numerous directors highlighted how Hope for Haiti’s support has contributed to higher school enrollment numbers, more qualified teachers, and better school supplies and furniture. Ernst Desir, the Director of Morency Primary School, emphasized that because of Hope for Haiti’s Back to School Fund, he was able to put a teacher’s desk in every classroom. He also enthusiastically shared the outcome of the Dawill Book Share Project, claiming, “Every student in every class now has five books!”

School Directors from various locations sit to discuss successes and challenges of last school year
School Directors from various locations sit to discuss successes and challenges of last school year
Program Director, Patrick Eucalitto, sitting with School Directors from varying regions in the focus group session
Program Director, Patrick Eucalitto, sitting with School Directors from varying regions in the focus group session

After breaking down into smaller focus groups, the school directors were able to share strategies on how to better deal with their day-to-day struggles; challenges that, as the meeting proved, are oftentimes shared across geographic divides. From parents’ inability to pay school fees and the need for Cholera prevention in school communities to the task of improving Parent Teacher Associations, the Directors shared strategies, took notes, and accessed and exchanged new information and ideas.

Wednesday’s meeting served as a testament to the power of assembly. Hope for Haiti is proud to have been the facilitator for such a supportive gathering of dedicated individuals all working toward the goal of ensuring that all of Haiti’s children receive a quality education. As the Haitian proverb explains, “Anpil men, chay pa lou,” or “With many hands, the load is not heavy.” With so many devoted directors reinforcing the work of their colleagues, the task of providing quality education in Haiti became a little bit lighter.

School Directors in focus group 3 pose for a picture
School Directors in focus group 3 pose for a picture
Entire group of School Directors
Entire group of School Directors
Program Assistant, Paula Prince, leading one of the focus groups
Program Assistant, Paula Prince, leading one of the focus groups
Two chws enjoying the module training 

‘All work and no play makes Jacques a dull boy’ – the familiar proverb holds true in rural Haiti

Jennifer Lang, Program Assistant, July 18th 2011

This year’s group of 24 Community Health Workers recently received some well-deserved rest and praise to recognize their completion of 6 months of Hope for Haiti’s Public Health Pilot Program. The Community Health Workers (CHWs) all traveled from various regions of Haiti’s south for a two-day training in Les Cayes and a celebratory beach day in Port Salut.

Both the training and the retreat provided opportunities for reflection, feedback, team bonding, and learning. Day 1 commenced by sharing stories of successes and challenges in enacting content from previous training sessions. Samuel Terasma, a Community Health Worker from Cherettes-a rural mountain community and recent partner of Hope for Haiti, spoke of the sacrifice required to be successful. “Travelling up into the mountains to reach those students whom I could not normally see is hard work. I have to travel from my house, to the hub of Cherettes, up the mountains, and back again all in one day. Rains and heat have made it difficult, but I continue because I know my goal is worthwhile.” As an exemplary of the program, Samuel visited four schools in May and June and presented over 9 hours of curriculum.

While past trainings have featured lessons on the importance of nutrition, cholera prevention, and the distribution and use of first aid kits, July’s meeting educated the CHWs on diseases common in Haiti. Hope for Haiti’s two Public Health nurses presented information on the identification, treatment, and prevention of Anemia, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Malaria, Typhoid, and Tuberculosis. The Community Health Workers asked questions based on their previous experiences with these diseases-“I know diabetes sometimes stays in families and happens a lot in the same house. Is it contagious?” The nurses’ answers helped clarify common misconceptions, while providing important information that trainees can bring back and share with their communities.

In addition to gaining new knowledge, the training modules provide an opportunity for the CHWs to develop their public speaking and teaching skills. The Hope for Haiti Public Health Pilot Program intends not just to disseminate information, but also to ensure that it is retained, both by the trained Community Health Workers and within the classrooms they visit. Each training module contains educational songs, skits, and games designed to help students participate in the learning and engage with the material presented by the CHW. Students can bring the information home to their families and extend the Public Health Program’s reach.

Two CHWs enjoying the Module training
Two CHWs enjoying the Module training
Public Health Nurse Claudine preparing to teach a game activity that identifies infectious diseases
Public Health Nurse Claudine preparing to teach a game activity that identifies infectious diseases
CHW Samuel Terasma smiles as he completes an activity on the symptoms of Anemia
CHW Samuel Terasma smiles as he completes an activity on the symptoms of Anemia

To close the training, the CHWs and Hope for Haiti staff all went to the beach to celebrate 6 successful months of the Pilot Program. As he sat playing dominoes at the table, Samuel shared his goals for the future. “The students and teachers love when the Community Health Workers come to the schools. After talking with my colleagues here today, I hope the Program can grow and we can do more!” Hope for Haiti shares his vision – the second half of the curriculum encourages the Community Health Workers to expand their impact beyond the classroom by presenting health lessons at a community meeting. While frolicking in the ocean or feasting on fish and fried plantains, the CHWs were able to connect despite the distance between their communities. As Samuel (or Jacques!) can attest, working towards a better future can be arduous, but it can be fun as well!

Wendie alie's certificate of completion 

Seven Young Women Successfully Complete Hope for Haiti’s 4th Cooking Class

Paula Prince, Program Assistant, July 11th 2011

On Saturday July 9, 2011 the Hope for Haiti house was in a cooking frenzy. Seven young women prepared the final dishes that would serve as a test of the culinary expertise that they’ve acquired over the past 19 weeks in Hope for Haiti’s cooking school. As onions were chopped, batter was mixed, and eggs were cracked, the young women fried, baked and boiled into existence some of the many recipes that they have spent long hours memorizing. The young ladies, ranging in age from 15 to 26 years old, prepared a wonderful spread of dishes ranging from Rotisserie Chicken and Rice au Gratin to Christmas cake.

Wendie-Alie's Certificate of Completion
Wendie-Alie’s Certificate of Completion

The Hope for Haiti cooking school, which began in 2009 with an initiative by Carmene Alverbe, Hope for Haiti’s House Coordinator and extraordinary chef, has served as a wonderful way for young women and men to acquire superior culinary skills that can enable them to provide nutritious meals for their families and find employment in one of Les Cayes’ many restaurants. Some of the numerous talents that students gain include proper food preparation and presentation techniques, learning about balanced nutrition, and developing the savvy planning required to use local products on a precise budget.

One of the students, Wendie Alie, enrolled in the weekly Saturday cooking classes after her mother, the director of ‘Paradis des Enfants’ Kindergarten in Les Cayes, had successfully completed the course. Witnessing the valuable skills that her mother had attained, 17 year-old Wendie decided to join the class and graduated on Saturday with a wealth of culinary knowledge. When asked to reflect on her experience in the cooking class, Wendie explained, “It is a beautiful thing to be a woman who knows how to cook. With Hope for Haiti I believe that I have succeeded in a part of my life because I love to cook.”

As the evening came to a close, the young women changed out of their Hope for Haiti aprons into their finest dresses and shoes for the awarding of certificates, which served as the official recognition of their culinary accomplishments. The real reward for their work, however, will come in the form of the practical opportunities that will exist for them in the future. Whether they go on to better nourish their families and children, work in a restaurant, or even start a business of their own, the seeds of knowledge that were planted over the past 19 weeks will continue to positively impact the seven young women, their families, and the community of Les Cayes as a whole.

Student, Roseline Chery, with some of the students' delicious dishes
Student, Roseline Chery, with some of the students’ delicious dishes
Program Director, Patrick Eucalitto, giving certificate of completion to student Wendie-Alie
Program Director, Patrick Eucalitto, giving certificate of completion to student Wendie-Alie
Carmene Alverbe with her students behind their amazing spread of dishes
Carmene Alverbe with her students behind their amazing
spread of dishes
Repairs to roof of baraderes healthcare facility 

Baraderes Community Offers Lesson on the Power of Action

Jennifer Lang, Program Assistant, July 6th 2011

Baradéres is a rural farming community 30 miles outside of Hope for Haiti’s operations base in Les Cayes. Still, visiting Baradères requires a 3-hour drive over mountain ranges and boulder slides. Despite this intense topography, the residents of Baradères remain committed to their community – walking hours to the nearest market, farming wheat over rocky slopes, and taking ownership over their health and education.

Even when other organizations have lost interest in this small community, Hope for Haiti has proudly continued its support for the past 11 years, supporting the Little Sisters of Saint Therese as they run a primary school, healthcare facility, and nutrition program. They aid new mothers in a maternity ward, providing both pre-natal and post-natal care. For those women who cannot make it down from the mountains to give birth, they support a network of local midwives with regular trainings and birthing kits assembled by Hope for Haiti volunteers.

Perhaps most impressively, the community of Baradères has persevered despite continued setbacks. Since December 2010, cholera has become an enormous plague that the area’s sole doctor continues to combat. Trained Community Health Workers were left to fend for themselves as previous international aid turned to more visible, accessible recipients. Yet their valuable work continued.

Repairs to roof of Baraderes healthcare facility
Repairs to roof of Baraderes healthcare facility
CChild holding her health records as part of follow-up care
Child holding her health records as part of
follow-up care
Community Health Worker taking notes at the Baraderes Clinic monthly meeting
Community Health Worker taking notes at the Baraderes Clinic monthly meeting
Community Health Workers look over June reporting data
Community Health Workers look over June reporting data

In the past year alone, Sister Denise and her team have distributed pre-natal vitamins and Vitamin A to over 600 mothers and their children by using supplies from Hope for Haiti’s partner, Vitamin Angels. The Community Health Workers continue monthly meetings where they compare strategies for reaching rural children despite limited stipends and long travel times. Programs have even expanded to include building improvements, a cooking school, and a recuperation program for follow-up care.

I found the real lesson in Baradères is the potential of a community. Through cooperation, hard work, and unfaltering resolve, the leaders of Baradères continue to lift up the future for themselves and their children. As a Hope for Haiti staff member, they provide an example to emulate – to touch another’s life, it is necessary to first dedicate your own.

Baraderes Cholera Treatment Center (CTC)
Baraderes Cholera Treatment Center (CTC)
Family members in maternity ward celebrate a new birth
Family members in maternity ward celebrate a new birth
HFH Program Director Patrick Eucalitto speaking to Community Health Workers
HFH Program Director Patrick Eucalitto speaking to Community Health Workers
St. francois de sales's school director sr. gisele stands in front of a container donated by hope for haiti, which is now is used as a school library 

Hope for Haiti’s visit to two Port-au-Prince school partners highlights the stark difference between rural and urban school resources

Jessica Jean-Francois, Program Assistant, July 1st 2011

St. Francois de Sales's School Director Sr. Gisele stands in front of a container donated by Hope for Haiti, which is now is used as a school library
St. Francois de Sales’s School Director Sr. Gisele stands in front of a container donated by Hope for Haiti, which is now is used as a school library

This week, the Hope for Haiti team headed to Port-au-Prince for regular site visits to our partners in the city. We met with school Directors at Dominique Savio and Saint Francois de Sales Primary and Secondary schools and visited the children of the Missionaries of Charity in Delmas 31.

As a new program assistant with Hope for Haiti and someone who is learning more and more about the dynamics of Haiti, I was blown away by the experience and left reflecting on the comparison between Hope for Haiti’s rural and urban partner schools.

Driving up to Saint Francois de Sales on a bumpy mountainous road in Carrefour, just outside of Port-au-Prince, I did not know what to expect. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the glowing smile of the school Director, Sister Gisele of the Petite Soeurs de Saint Therese (Little Sisters of St. Therese) order of nuns. I was impressed to learn that the school began with only 5 students under a straw-covered roof led by Father Louis Charles in 1955. It has since grown to educate 1,230 students this year, with grades ranging from pre-school to Philo, the Haitian education system’s last grade in high school. During the earthquake, the whole school building was turned to rubble and 150 students perished. Hope for Haiti was there to respond, providing relief materials to help the school continue running and assisting with the building of a temporary facility. We also continued to support the school with teacher salary subsidies, which allowed for teachers to keep working with students in the temporary structures.

Hope for Haiti staff, Jennifer, Paula, Jessica and Pierre with Dominique Savio's School Director, Father Printemps
Hope for Haiti staff, Jennifer, Paula, Jessica and Pierre with Dominique Savio’s School Director, Father Printemps

In less than 2 years after the earthquake, the school is doing great. This summer, they are offering summer camp, which includes classes in cooking, sewing, embroidery, math, French, theatre, dance and chorus. The Directors’ offices are well organized and have Internet access which makes communication and reporting much more manageable. The school has 8 latrines and treated water and is able to provide some food and first aid for students in need.

Hearing the stories and seeing the improvements at this school in Port-au-Prince really shows me what is possible for restoring education facilities post-earthquake. Even after such devastation, I found there is still an incredible difference between urban and rural education opportunities. The majority of Hope for Haiti’s education program consists of rural mountain schools, where access and resources are extremely limited. Many schools such as Tiami and Marre a Coiffe Primary Schools are not accessible by car and directors cannot offer their students first aid or something to eat when they are hungry and find it hard to focus.

I am inspired by the work of Sister Gisele as she juggles a primary and secondary school and the construction of new school buildings and I am excited to learn more about what she plans to offer her students. I also cannot wait to see the same possibilities realized for far away communities such as Tiami and Marre a Coiffe. Hope for Haiti has continued to support school directors and teachers in their effort to offer more options to their students in terms of materials and resources. Hope for Haiti has often been the reason why schools are able to extend and add new classes which makes the work that we do both in Port- au-Prince and the South of Haiti so important.

Temporary Classrooms at the St. Francois de Sales primary and secondary school
Temporary Classrooms at the St. Francois de Sales primary and secondary school
Land where the Dominique Savio Primary School use to stand and where Hope for Haiti will be rebuilding
Land where the Dominique Savio Primary School use to stand and where Hope for Haiti will be rebuilding
Dominique Savio Secondary School repaired by Hope for Haiti post-earthquake
Dominique Savio Secondary School repaired by Hope for Haiti post-earthquake