A full house for the party! 

Christmas Greeting From Haiti 2012

Let me wish you all the best for this New Year. I was very happy to meet you during 2012, and I have been happy working and collaborating with you as well. I hope 2013 will allow us to collaborate even more, and that it will bring many opportunities for our shared projects.

A full house for the party! Christmas Mass at Charpentiers. Dancing performed by a church group.
A full house for the party! Christmas Mass at Charpentiers. Dancing performed by a church group.
Dancing to traditional Haitian konpa. Distributing Christmas dinner. Families receiving Hope for Haiti Emergency Buckets
Dancing to traditional Haitian konpa. Distributing Christmas dinner. Families receiving Hope for Haiti Emergency Buckets

These are some pictures from Christmas. As I told you, we had a very nice party on December 25th, where we laughed together, danced, and distributed emergency buckets to 150 families from our community thanks to Hope for Haiti. We want to say thank you very much. I really appreciate your help and your support. People were so happy to receive the kits. Thanks a lot for your concern.

May God bless you,
Best regards,
Fr. Berard, OMI

Performing the dance for the community. The community worked together to provide meals for families in need. The student groups rehearsed for months
Performing the dance for the community. The community worked together to provide meals for families in need. The student groups rehearsed for months.

At the airport. 

Hope for Haiti Staff Thanksgiving Trip

By Elizabeth Davison, Executive Director

When we first started talking about the possibility of a trip to Haiti for the Naples office staff, we discussed when it might happen.  We all decided that Thanksgiving would be perfect.  Not only would we be able to go when the Naples office would be closed, but as it is not a holiday in Haiti, all the schools would be in session, the Hope for Haiti (HFH) Infirmary would be open and the other partners we wanted to visit would be available.  We also valued the opportunity to give thanks for our many blessings while bringing hope, supplies and good will to our adopted country.

At The Airport. Cathy lost her shoe in the mud as we headed to the school construction site. President and CEO Tiffany Kuehner, Exec Dir Elizabeth Davison, Operations Dir Cathy Grassi at school construction side
At The Airport. Cathy lost her shoe in the mud as we headed to the school construction site. President and CEO Tiffany Kuehner, Exec Dir Elizabeth Davison, Operations Dir Cathy Grassi at school construction side.

We have new staff members who had never been to Haiti to see our many projects.  They had heard and seen photos of the abject poverty, the hunger and the pain but until you live it, breathe it and touch it, one cannot comprehend the magnitude of the need.  Tiffany Kuehner, Hope for Haiti’s President/CEO and I are regular travelers to Haiti.  It was with great excitement that we escorted Operations Director, Cathy Grassi, Office Manager, Yvette Ebb and Executive Assistant, Ida Soderlind through the maze of customs in the US and the airport in Port au Prince (PAP) for their first visit.

Seeing Haiti through the eyes of our staff who had never been was very special.  When we visited the construction site of a school we are rebuilding after the earthquake of 2010, everyone was in awe of the structure which was juxtaposed among the rubble we had passed through driving from the airport.  The young students greeted us with joy and our team was delighted when we were able to take photos with them.

Emergency Buckets ready for distribution. Exam Room  1 with Dr. Elmide and Hope for Haiti Staff Hope for Haiti Infirmary with Jennifer Lang and Haiti staff nurses.
Emergency Buckets ready for distribution. Exam Room  1 with Dr. Elmide and Hope for Haiti Staff. Hope for Haiti Infirmary with Jennifer Lang and Haiti staff nurses.

Next was a four hour drive, on roads that were sometimes treacherous, to the southern Haiti city of Les Cayes, our home base.  Most of our programs take place in very rural areas in the south.  Being Thanksgiving Day, the Hope for Haiti team had prepared a sumptuous turkey dinner.  Spending time with the International Management Team in Haiti was one of the features of our trip.  Jessica, Paula, Jennifer, Liz and Arianne made us feel welcome and house manager Carmene outdid herself with dinner.  Haitian turkey tastes just like turkey in the USA.

It was a delight to see all the supplies we work so hard in Naples to gather, sort and pack, in place at our depot and infirmary in Les Cayes.  We again took lots of photos to show our volunteers how their hard work was being put to good use.  Visiting the local hospital in Les Cayes was a real eye opener.  They struggle to make ends meet and have very little in the way of supplies and staff.  We met a little girl with a cleft palate which we will be referring to our contacts at Smile Train.  In stark contrast, the Hope for Haiti Infirmary is bright, clean, well-staffed and above all well stocked with much needed medications.

Last day spent at Port Salut beach with entire Hope for Haiti staff. Little girl we met at the hospital in Les Cayes. We will refer her to Smile Train. One of our favorite parts of the trip was interacting with the students.
Last day spent at Port Salut beach with entire Hope for Haiti staff. Little girl we met at the hospital in Les Cayes. We will refer her to Smile Train. One of our favorite parts of the trip was interacting with the students.

Our Haitian medical staff was all on duty in crisp, clean uniforms and the dentist, Dr. Esperance, had a patient who gave us permission to come into the exam room.  Dr. Esperance is one of the only dentists in southern Haiti with the ability to take digital x-rays.  We were all impressed to see x-ray view boxes in the exam rooms, a full lab in use, and computers on the desks.  The archive room holds the patient charts which will soon be transferred to an integrative electronic system which will allow the doctors to have histories at their fingertips at all time.  Amazing!

When we went to visit the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s order), an orphanage for disabled children, a recovery center and hospice for the poorest of the poor, we were all saddened by the rooms that had crib after crib with babies and children suffering from various ailments and deformities.  Malnutrition, hydrocephalus, and cerebral palsy seemed most prevalent.  To say we were in the company of angels on earth is an understatement.

Next stop, two schools and their communities. Remembering that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, we hear from Paula how we can look forward to these schools having solar panels and electricity for the first time in the near future.  Thanks to The Bob and Rene Parson’s Foundation, the students will have a chance to go through to the end of High School with the promise for college.  A new lunch program provides a solid good meal mid-day and for many the only meal they will have for the day.  A lush new garden is growing much of the vegetables needed for those lunches and the children are learning about reforestation. Parents are in adult literacy classes. Our hope is that these communities can serve as a model for others all over Haiti.  This is a very exciting venture and, thanks to generous donors, the possibilities create a happy experience for all of us.

School directors Rode and Rochel with Hope for Haiti staff. The team with paitents from a nursing home on the Infirmary's property. Thanksgiving Dinner
School directors Rode and Rochel with Hope for Haiti staff. The team with paitents from a nursing home on the Infirmary’s property. Thanksgiving Dinner.

It is a somber ride back to the guest house as the team has witnessed the real Haiti, in all its glory and all its misery.  The reality of how the people of Haiti live and struggle has been overwhelming.  We are also in awe of our staff’s commitment and level of understanding and compassion for those around us. After dinner, we sit in a circle and decompress by sharing a “high” and a “low” for the day.  Some of us were sobbing as we shared our thoughts and emotions.  The biggest high was being able to share Haiti and the work of Hope for Haiti, in person, with our whole team together.

On Monday, Hope for Haiti’s founder, JoAnne Kuehner, came in to the office to find out how the trip went.  As we shared our experiences, she told us how Mother Theresa said after visiting Haiti that she felt Haiti was poorer than her home base of Calcutta.  We know why.