Founder & chair joanne kuehner with school director sister gisele. 

Four Years Post Quake, a School Rebuilds

Jennifer Lang, Director of Program Communications

The picturesque views from Haiti’s St. Francois de Sales school also carry the heavy weight of destruction from four years ago; located high above the capital city of Port au Prince, the community of Riviere Froide was hit immensely hard by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The entire school building collapsed, and the mountainous road was largely blocked due to rockslides leaving injured teachers and students trapped under the rubble and unable to receive medical care. 150 children were lost that day alone.

Founder & Chair JoAnne Kuehner with School Director Sister Gisele. Inauguration Mass JoAnne spreading warmth to
Founder & Chair JoAnne Kuehner with School Director Sister Gisele. Inauguration Mass. JoAnne spreading warmth to
an earthquake victim

Since January 12, 2010, the community has been re-building under the leadership of School Director Sister Gisele Chaperon. Classes for the school’s 1,300 students were held under tents and books were stored in a metal container. At the suggestion of Founder, JoAnne Kuehner, Hope for Haiti has supported the Order of the Little Sisters of St. Therese for more than ten years and offered to help.  The school was included in our Education Program, which provides support to pay teachers, buy books, and guarantee that no child is turned away for a family’s inability to pay school fees. The small local health clinic received donations of birthing kits, gloves, and other essential supplies to help provide care when patients could not afford to pay for services.

Thanks to the generous financial support of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Charity Foundation (UFCW), Hope for Haiti was able to commit to outfitting a computer lab and library at the newly constructed school.  In a true collaborative effort, Hope for Haiti worked closely with the German charitable organization Kindernothilfe (KNH) and the Haitian construction firm GRETCO. The community chose to protect the flat site of the former school as a memorial to the lost children, not all of whose bodies were successfully recovered. As such, the new school is constructed into the sloping mountain. Remarks JoAnne, “The structure of the new school is extraordinary! I’ve never seen a school like that in Haiti. Painted orange, green, and white, it is a very uplifting place.”

Members of Hope for Haiti Students reciting an original poem
Members of Hope for Haiti
and UFCW touring the school.
Students reciting an original poem
during the inauguration ceremony.

Finally, on the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, the new school was inaugurated in a ceremony defined both by somber remembrance and hope for the future. Representatives of both Hope for Haiti and the UFCW were able to meet with community members and hear their stories. The young woman pictured in the attached photo lost both her brother and her leg during the earthquake. Both siblings had been teachers, but the inauguration ceremony was the first time she returned to the site. The young man pictured wrote a poem for the ceremony detailing his harrowing experience, recited in front of a banner displaying the names of the deceased.

The new school is a beacon for the next generation. For the first time, there are kindergarteners enrolling at the school who did not experience the destruction first-hand.  Hope for Haiti worked to construct and equip new state-of-the-art facilities, including a library and computer lab. In addition to accommodating a growing student body, Sister Gisele has plans to use the new facilities to offer vocational training to members of the Riviere Froide community.

Back today in Naples, Florida, the ceremony’s hospitality and emotion have not left JoAnne’s mind or her heart. “When I was visiting the school, I thought, ‘wow, this is beautiful! I felt right at home. The whole experience was very impressive to me. Seeing that progress was completely overwhelming. It was absolutely fabulous!”  Thank you to the UFCW for making the resources of a library and computer lab available for these students and generations to come!

Dr nazaire in california for the presentation ceremony. 

Congratulations to Dr. Elmide Nazaire for winning a REAL Award!

Jennifer Lang, Director of Program Communications

The REAL Awards, created by Save the Children in partnership with the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, is a first-of-its-kind global awards program designed to develop greater respect and appreciation for health workers and the lifesaving care they provide globally, as well as in the United States. The REAL Awards is made possible by the support of presenting sponsors like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare.  Dr. Elmide Nazaire, Hope for Haiti’s Infirmary Director, was the first global health worker invited to participate in the announcement in Laguna Niguel, CA on January 12, 2014. Her fellow honorees include practitioners working across the continental United States and Alaska, throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as well as from Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The announcement took place during a high-profile healthcare summit and in attendance were both former United States President and United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton and Dr. David Budnitz of the Centers for Disease Control, another REAL Award honoree.

Dr Nazaire in California for the presentation ceremony. Dr Nazaire participated in the Patient Safety Summit. With the well wishes of the community in Naples, Florida
Dr Nazaire in California for the presentation ceremony. Dr Nazaire participated in the
Patient Safety Summit.
With the well wishes of the
community in Naples, Florida

The Award came as a complete surprise to Dr. Nazaire, who had just finished work with her patients that day in Les Cayes, Haiti. “I was completely shocked as Tiffany (Hope for Haiti’s President & CEO) and Dr. Sabine (Country Director) called to congratulate me! It was a flood of emotions and happiness to experience this privilege.” At Hope for Haiti’s Infirmary St. Etienne, Dr. Nazaire works to ensure that no patient who cannot afford to pay for services is ever turned away. In the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere, patients receive affordable primary and specialty care, as well as support in the form of food, medications and supplies, and transportation free-of-charge. Dr. Nazaire consults on a variety of cases, including chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. She has been a strong advocate of continuing education for medical professionals in Haiti, including the Infirmary’s 18-member team.


In addition to the REAL Award reception, guests discussed the theme of patient safety to prevent deaths through science and technology. Representatives at the summit discussed key individual cases. One woman highlighted pediatrics, including how to treat birth defects and complicated cases requiring transfusion. Though Dr. Nazaire attended medical school in Cuba on a competitive scholarship, she remains well aware of the treatment limitations she faces due to a lack of resources in Haiti.

real4

 

Here at Hope for Haiti, we remember Dr. Nazaire’s incredible service to her country, forming a make-shift triage center at the Hotel Villa Creole immediately following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Port au Prince, Haiti four years ago.  When reflecting on her own journey, Dr. Nazaire is appreciative. “I feel I gained a new network of professionals in California with whom I can continue to work to save lives and improve my practice, even without the same level of technology.”

To read more about Dr. Nazaire’s life as an international health worker, please check out her “This is My Haiti” profile here.

To learn more about the Real Awards, please visit http://www.therealawards.com/ and support Dr. Elmide by tweeting #therealawards to celebrate health workers worldwide!

Jennifer with conference 

Haiti, Demain Conference Connects Chicagoans Looking to Haiti’s Future

From the Field – Jennifer Lang, Director of Program Communications

On Saturday, January 11th – one day before the four-year anniversary of the destructive earthquake which hit Port au Prince, Haiti – a diverse group of Chicagoans gathered to discuss Haiti’s road to the future. The “Haiti, Demain” conference (meaning “Haiti, tomorrow” in French), organized by the Association Nouvelle Image d’Haïti was held at the Pan-African Association on Chicago’s north side. Speakers included Lesly Conde of the Haitian General Consulate, David Tilus of G.A.F.E. – a group working towards local community development in Kenscoff, Haiti, members of the Bomba con Buya group who performed musical rhythms shared throughout the Caribbean, and Professor William Balan-Gaubert of the University of Chicago. Conference participants had a chance to discuss the importance of decentralization, methodologies of development, and historical influences on contemporary Haitian affairs. We also previewed a new game show that aims to educate people on Haitian culture called “Haiti, Je Connais,” meaning “Haiti, I know.”

Jennifer with conference organizer Marleen Julien Marleen introduces David Tilus, President of GAFE. Professor Balan-Guabert of University of Chicago.
Jennifer with conference
organizer Marleen Julien.
Marleen introduces David Tilus,
President of GAFE.
Professor Balan-Guabert
of University of Chicago.

Hope for Haiti is pleased to participate in conferences like this, which help promote a positive image of Haiti throughout the international narrative. For more information on “Haiti, Demain,” please contact Marleen Julien at marleenjulien@gmail.com. We also hope you will consider attending “Unity Day,” to be held on January 18th at Evanston’s Levy Center, starting at 6pm and sponsored by the Consulate General of Haiti in Chicago.

The start of the game. Members of Bomba con Buya performing Our table at Haiti, Demain
The start of the game. Members of Bomba con Buya performing. Our table at Haiti, Demain.

 

Bomba con Buya
 

Edner Paul

“This is My Haiti” – Teacher Gives Back to his Local School

School Director Edner Paul knows first-hand the value of education. He attended the local primary school as a child before advancing through junior high school via a two-hour walk each day. “I was a very driven student. I spent all my time learning my lessons because I knew today’s effort would help me tomorrow.” He returned to his community and began supporting the school, which was founded in 1976 in response to the long walk required for younger children. “Last week, a man headed down the mountain to buy supplies. The rains came and the trail flooded, and he hasn’t come back. We fear he was caught in the flash-floods and died.”

The school and chapel share one single room on top of a mountain and serve 73 students through sixth grade. “I feel honored to be at the front of this school,” says Edner, who is also the third grade teacher and chapel director. The entire Paul family is involved in the community. “My wife leads an organization advocating for change, and my children are teachers here at school.”

When reflecting on the four-year partnership with Hope for Haiti, Edner is immensely thankful. “Education is a way to avoid charity for the future. We love the help. In Haiti, the problem is that there is not enough work. This community is extremely lacking. The parents contribute a percentage of income for their children’s education, but they often choose between school, food, and their own health.” Of particular importance is Hope for Haiti’s Public Health Program, which trains and equips a local Community Health Worker to provide lessons on important topics like water purification and hand-washing. “In Hope for Haiti’s first aid kit, there is medication for the students. It helps when we have children with fevers who can’t receive care from a nurse or a doctor.”

For the future, Edner hopes to advance his community through business. “Life is so expensive here. There is no road. But if we had a small market, we could increase our own self-sufficiency.”