Haiti 2013: Day Five (Class of 2016)

Today’s post is co-written by Stuart Luter and Wyatt Miller, both GHF ’16.

Today was a very exciting day for Bridget, Elizabeth and especially Stuart. Today the three girls piloted Stuart’s Women’s Empowerment Curriculum at Manno and Theard’s school in Clory. Arriving around 10 AM, they got a slow start. The kids were still taking their final exams so the girls and Ms. Massey along with the wonderful translator Gladias headed off to conduct a few interviews in local homes. They discovered very shocking information, meeting a girl who dropped out of school when she was only 12 due to pregnancy. Returning to the school, the girls convened and the workshop began. The number of girls in attendance shocked Bridget, Elizabeth, and Stuart. 70 girls, packed into one tiny room, made for a very loud environment. After explaining the program and its purpose, they discussed women’s function in society, goal setting, decision-making and consequences. All of the girls agree that the biggest frustration today was encouraging the girls to talk about themselves and interact in the workshops. Typically school for the girls is very formal and traditional and so they are not used to participating and expressing themselves. The lack of participation was the biggest problem with the workshop. The hope is that as the lessons go on, the girls will become more comfortable in the environment and will be able to talk about themselves and participate. The workshops were very successful, albeit frustrating at times, and there remains a great deal of hope for this curriculum going forward. Stuart is really excited to work more to improve the curriculum and to have formed this partnership with Midwives for Haiti. Going forward, the midwives with conduct different lessons from Stuart’s curriculum bi-weekly at the school; the the next workshop will be on June 28th!

The boys had an exciting day, as well. First Brian, Wyatt, Aneesh, and Mr. Doar went with their translator Emmanuel to the market to interview people regarding their respective projects. Since it rained so heavily last night, the sewage pits on either sides of the road were filled with unclean water, trash, and runoff. It was amazing to us all how unsanitary that is for the people and yet the infrastructure is so poor. Effective waste management from the public sector is obviously a challenge here. There is an abundance of NGOs here which attempt to supplement the public sector’s programs. Eventually for Haiti to see long-term sustainable success, the government will have to increase the role it plays in providing basic necessities, and it will need support in doing so.

The group ate lunch back at the guesthouse and went to the new girls’ division of the Maison Fortune orphanage. They interacted with the girls: painting nails, playing soccer and basketball, and listening to Justin Bieber and High School Musical music. All of the boys even painted nails and Brian and Aneesh were treated to manicures and pedicures. After an hour of playing with these girls, the group headed back to the guesthouse to pack and prepare for departure tomorrow. We will visit the American Red Cross in Petion-ville tomorrow morning before our flight back to the States.

Highlights of the Day:

Elizabeth: Interacting with the girls during Stuart’s lesson in Clory

Stuart: Piloting my women’s empowerment curriculum at Manno and Theard’s school in Clory

Brian: Interviewing more people in Hinche.

Bridget: Bonding with the girls at the orphanage

Aneesh:  The meeting with DINEPA, which made me realize how terrible the water system is in Hinche.

Wyatt: Discussing the NGOs’ role in providing basic necessities versus the government’s role with Aneesh, Brian, and Mr. Doar.

Haiti 2013: Day Four (Class of 2016)

Today’s blog post is written by Elizabeth Lilly, GHF ’16.

(Note: Pictures are still taking a long time to upload. We will keep trying, or we will input them into these posts upon our return this weekend!)

Today was our first day immersing ourselves in what is truly rural Haiti. Whereas before we had been roaming the relatively urbanized (by Haitian standards) streets of Hinche, we traveled today to Clory, a beautiful village far off the beaten — and safely driveable — path. It is in Clory that Manno, the manager of the Midwives for Haiti house, and his friend Theard, have built their school; it is in this school that Stuart will pilot her curriculum tomorrow morning. Clory sits in the center of an expansive plateau, rimmed by towering, cloud-topped mountains. We hiked along narrow, rocky trails to gather information about perception of disease in the most rural of settings. All of us found the residents in and outside of Clory to be, for the most part, lacking medical knowledge that we take for granted in the United States. Nearly all of us encountered someone whom we knew to be sick, but in each case we were unable to do anything. The nearest hospital in Hinche, St. Therese, is basic at best in the care it offers. This cast a somber mood over the interviews but only reminded us of our purpose. Many of the people we surveyed were curious about that purpose — and what was in it for them. Our responses to these questions usually began with “In the future, we hope…” This trip is the first step in making that hope and future a reality.

Our morning work, however, utterly exhausted us, and we returned to the house for a filling lunch and restful naps. As the afternoon rain-clouds encroached upon the horizon, we set out for the Maison Fortune orphanage, which was a main staple of last year’s trip. In the ten months that have passed since our last visit, the boys’ and girls’ orphanages had been separated, so we only were able to see the boys today. The boys played a competitive 3v3 basketball game while the girls toured the school and library with some of the younger boys. The threat of dark skies prevented us from visiting the girls. We returned home exhausted but fulfilled after another eventful day under the Haitian sun. Our conversation over the dinner table allowed us to reflect upon this week, to analyze our projects and this type of research we are undertaking, and begin looking toward the upcoming year and how we might delve deeper into these topics.

Highlights of the Day:

Bridget: Seeing that the kids at Maison Fortune remembered us

Elizabeth: Practicing my French with and teaching English to the boys at Maison Fortune
Stuart: Walking to see the beautiful country of Haiti while talking to the young students at the school in Clory
Aneesh: Touring Clory and meeting with the rural villagers and seeing the effect of our work in action
Wyatt: Sitting down at the dinner table and discussing our trip and our changing projects
Brian: Interviewing villagers in an even more rural setting in Clory

Haiti 2013: Day Three (Class of 2016)

Today’s post was co-written by Brian Peccie and Stuart Luter, both GHF ’16.

Our day began with a trip to the market in central Hinche. Wyatt, Aneesh, Stuart, and Ms. Massey experienced the many positive and negative aspects of the local market. Using the funds Bridget raised last month, they bought the final 12 mosquito bed nets from 3 different vendors. While doing so, Wyatt took blood pressure and heart rate readings and Stuart and Aneesh interviewed the different men and women in the market. Upon leaving the market, they walked through Hinche and found more interviewees. Doctor Wyatt Miller took 30 blood pressure readings, discovering that many Haitians have high blood pressure — some even as high as 170/106. Aneesh and Stuart interviewed a few more of the locals to inform their projects.

Wyatt taking blood pressure readings in the streets of Hinche.

Wyatt taking blood pressure readings in the streets of Hinche.

Next, they walked to the United Nations MINUSTAH (India) peacekeeping compound so that Aneesh could translate for Emmanuel, our translator, whose vacation bible school is receiving support from some of the men stationed there. This turned out to be an extremely interesting and unique experience.

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Receiving water, orange juice, and coffee while relaxing in the AC was a great break from the heat of Haiti. They met the main commander of the force, Commander Shidu, and an officer Ajay Sharma, as well as other soldiers and doctors. Aneesh had great conversations with them in Hindi. They invited us to lunch, which was an amazing experience. The rice and dal, Indian sweets, and finale of ice cream was such a treat! They had many great conversations about Haiti and the UN’s job here as well as what Haiti’s future has to hold.

With our new Indian friends from the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.

With our new Indian friends from the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.

While Stuart, Aneesh, Wyatt, and Ms. Massey were out in the market, Brian, Elizabeth, Bridget, and Mr. Doar headed off to the Midwives for Haiti mobile clinic in the village Rhode. The clinic was located in a home of one of the midwives. Although it was smaller facility than the one the other group visited yesterday, the midwives still were very productive in working with the limited space. Brian took the blood pressure of the patients, Elizabeth and Mr. Doar sorted pills, and Bridget continued her distribution of bed nets to the pregnant women. They then all sat down with a few of the women to continue interviews that will inform their projects. After an exhausting hour of work, they took a quick hike up the nearby mountain to take a look at the breathtaking views of the countryside and the distant mountains. They also walked to a local school. It is exam time for the kids of Rhode, so the group was not able to interact with the school kids as much as they would have liked. However, as with wherever we go, there were other children curiously following behind. The group made their way back to the clinic where they continued interviewing more patients of the clinic. They left the clinic on a cheerful note by seeing the smiling faces on the patients after Bridget gave them the bed nets.

In the afternoon we all reunited and traveled as a group to St. Therese Hospital, the Ministry of Health’s hospital here in Hinche, where we spoke with Emily Dally, Curriculum and Training Specialist for Partners in Health.

Emily Dally, of Partners in Health, speaks to the group at the St. Therese hospital in Hinche.

Emily Dally, of Partners in Health, speaks to the group at the St. Therese hospital in Hinche.

At some point during our tour, each one of us noticed that the hospital looked more sanitary and less crowded since last time. Before departing, we dropped off some donated medical supplies from Norfolk Academy’s athletic training room. When we returned home, we tried to play a game of “futbol,” however a storm interrupted those plans. That didn’t stop us from having fun though! We ended a long day in the scorching heat by cooling off in the pouring rain.

Stuart met with some of the midwives after dinner to discuss her plans for the young women’s empowerment and health education curriculum. It was a very informative and helpful conversation that will steer her curricular design efforts over the next few months.

Highlights of the Day:

Stuart Luter: Talking to the midwives about my curriculum and getting their feedback

Aneesh Dhawan: Eating lunch with the officers at the U.N.

Brian Peccie: Improving my research by surveying more people at the mobile clinic in Rhode.

Wyatt Miller: Experiencing a morning in the Haitian market in Hinche and talking to the men and women in their stalls.

Bridget Dickinson: Seeing the change in the pregnant mothers’ facial expressions at the mobile clinic after we finished the surveys and handed them the bed nets

Elizabeth Lilly: Watching the midwives’ incredible work at the mobile clinic

Haiti 2013: Day Two (Class of 2016)

Today’s blog is co-written by Aneesh Dhawan and Bridget Dickinson, both GHF ’16.

Our morning began with a quick breakfast as midwives arrived at the house for training. We split up into two groups- one going on the mobile clinic at Los Palos and the other to the market. Bridget, Elizabeth, Brian, Ms. Massey, and our translator Emmanuel departed for the local market in Hinche. Our first stop was to exchange some of the money Bridget raised to purchase mosquito bed nets. We exchanged $500 USD and received 21,000 Haitian goudes. We ventured into the market and decided to buy from multiple vendors to support the local economy.

Bridget purchasing mosquito bed nets in the Hinche market.

Bridget purchasing mosquito bed nets in the Hinche market.

Prior to our trip this week and stemming from our end-of-year symposium projects, we each crafted a survey of questions to ask people in the community this week to better inform our work for our projects. Emmanuel translated for us  as we asked the vendors questions from each of our surveys. After purchasing seventy bed nets from four different vendors, we delved into Brian’s investigation of food security and hunger. Brian visited the food portion of the market along with the shops on the street and was able to gather data on the cost of various food items. It was amazing to see our projects in action and how much we learned from interviewing just a handful of community members.

Brian interviewing food venders in the Hinche market.

Brian interviewing food venders in the Hinche market.

The eventful morning left us very tired, but all we needed was a quick rest back at the house. We continued interviewing residents of Hinche, mostly women who were at home, and learned about perceptions of disease in a rural community. Many were intrigued by what we were doing beyond the simple question-asking; with these concerns in mind, we returned home with an even stronger resolution to translate our research into lasting change. We even met a local pharmacist who is a week away from opening a free community clinic in Hinche! We are hoping to collect some eyeglasses for this new clinic to be able to distribute to those in need.

Interviewing residents in Hinche.

Interviewing residents in Hinche.

Meanwhile in Los Palos, Aneesh, Stuart, Wyatt and Mr. Doar accompanied the midwives on their mobile clinic. Wyatt took the blood pressure of 30 pregnant women, while Aneesh and Stuart checked and recorded their weights. Stuart and Aneesh also interviewed many of the women waiting to be seen by the midwives. Stuart’s survey concentrated on women’s health empowerment and Aneesh’s survey focused on access to water. The three helped support the clinic by sorting pills and then went on a tour of the village.

Heading out on the mobile clinic on the Midwives for Haiti pink jeep!

Heading out on the mobile clinic on the Midwives for Haiti pink jeep!

Their translator, Gladius, was able to show them the high school and introduce them to Father Gee. Father Gee is a very well educated lawyer and priest who ran the church and also taught constitutional law at a university in Hinche. Our topics of conversation varied from Notre Dame to Haitian politics. We thentrekked back to the mobile clinic, packed up the medical equipment and headed back home in the MFH hot pink jeep. Both groups met up back at the house and had a delicious Haitian lunch.

The group tried to use their negotiating skills as they haggled with the Haitian vendors outside the gate of the house to buy some souvenirs.

The last adventure of the day was to the Azil, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries for Charity’s Center for Malnourished Children.  The group thoroughly enjoyed returning to this special place after a year. Each chose an infant to bottle feed while bonding with them over multiple burps and dirty diapers. Playing with the kids, their smiles and happiness on their faces lit up the day. The soccer game back at the house expended the group’s last burst of our energy.

Feeding the children at the Azil.

Feeding the children at the Azil.

As both of us sit down and look out in the distance from the balcony of the MFH guesthouse, we are so excited to continue exploring the beauty Haiti has to offer. We are already saying that just a week isn’t long enough to be here.

Highlights of the Day:

Stuart: Interviewing the pregnant women on the mobile clinic and finding out some really different and unexpected information. Also visiting the Azil and feeding Lwines.

Bridget: Seeing my project put into action and the feedback we got.

Brian: Gathering facts about food security in Haiti through interacting with people at the market and around town.

Aneesh: Spending time with the children at the Azil.

Wyatt: Taking the blood pressures of the many pregnant women who visited the Midwives for Haiti mobile clinic.

Elizabeth: Spreading awareness about cancer and the importance of detecting it early

Haiti 2013: Day One (Class of 2016)

Today’s blog post was written by GHF Wyatt Miller, Class of 2016. Internet access was off and on last night, so this post accounts for yesterday, June 9.

We arrived in Haiti at noon after waking up in the United States at three in the morning to get to the airport. Looking down on the country as our plane landed brought back memories of last year. In 2012, Haiti brought us our first global health experience in the developing world. Last year we toured hospitals in Port-au-Prince, Cange, Mirebalais, and Hinche and visited with organizations based in Port-au-Prince and Hinche, as well. Though we will not be staying in Port-au-Prince this year, we did get the chance to marvel at how much the airport has changed.

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The airport used to be more of a giant warehouse with a free-for-all baggage claim; but recent renovations in December have turned it into a much more modern airport. It was entertaining to watch Mr. Doar being “helped” by the airport porters to our van.

The next part of our trip brought us on our three-hour road trip to Hinche where we will remain for the rest of the stay. On the road we first passed by the Mirebalais hospital, which we visited last year. Last year it had not yet begun receiving patients, but now the hospital is beginning to open up all of its services. Our tour of Partner in Health‘s hospital in Mirebalais, led by PIH staff member Annie McDonough, revealed the completed facility and newly equipped rooms, which, when fully opened, will be arguably the best hospital in the Caribbean. We even got to speak with two ER doctors from PIH who have been hard at work preparing the ER for its opening in just a few weeks. Once the hospital is fully operating, it will have 6 operating rooms running, will employ 1000 people (175 of which are community health workers), will have three residency training programs (family medicine, surgery, and ob/gyn) and will be the largest hospital in the world run solely on solar electricity. What an amazing and truly inspirational facility!

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Group shot in the  playroom in the pediatric ward at Mirebalais.

Group shot in the playroom in the pediatric ward at Mirebalais.

Beautiful courtyard at hospital in Mirebalais.

Beautiful courtyard at hospital in Mirebalais.

 

Bridget and Elizabeth in the same spot at the PIH hospital in Mirebalais, ten months later!

Bridget and Elizabeth in the same spot at the PIH hospital in Mirebalais, ten months later!

After progressing out of Mirebalais and back onto the road, we traveled to the Zanmi Lasante hospital in Cange. In Cange, we toured the oncology ward, which proved interesting especially for Elizabeth since her project centered around cancer in the developing world. After touring the oncology ward, we climbed up a steep hill to a small circle where we had the most amazing view. On top of this hill we met a few Haitian children with whom we attempted to converse in Creole, which was a welcome break from driving in the van.  We unfortunately had to leave both the incredible view and the local children so that we could get to Midwives for Haiti, in Hinche.  After reconnecting with in-country coordinator Carrie, we ate a delicious dinner and discussed each of our goals for our projects. To finish our long, interesting, first day in Haiti we all shared our highlights for the day.

 

From the beautiful lookout in Cange with our PIH friend, Annie McDonough. You can see over to the Dominican Republic!

From the beautiful lookout in Cange with our PIH friend, Lazenya Weekes. You can see over to the Dominican Republic!

Highlights of the Day:

Aneesh: Realizing the progress PIH has made by comparing the hospital at Cange with the hospital at Mirebalais.

Wyatt: Hiking up a hill at Zanmi Lasante’s hospital in Cange and taking pictures with Haitian children while attempting to communicate in Creole with them.  Communication is one of the hardest things to master, but it is also one of the most rewarding.

Brian: Observing all of Haiti’s improvements since last year including the Mirebalais hospital and the reduction of residence in the tent cities, which shocked me as we drove by.

Bridget: Seeing the difference in the Mirebalais hospital–how far it has come and the impact it will have when it opens fully in a few months.

Stuart: Seeing the hospital in Mirebalais and the progress it has made since last summer. I’m really excited about how much hope it offers Haiti.

Elizabeth: Finally making use of my French with the students at Cange.

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Practicing French and Creole in Cange.