Daily Archives: November 22, 2014

Haiti 2014 (Day 3: Nov 22)

Today’s post was written by Claire Cunningham ’18 and Liz Heckard ’18.
This morning we woke up to go to mass at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. This mass was especially interesting as this daily event also serves as a funeral for those who passed away the previous day at St. Damien and St. Luc’s and whose family cannot afford a funeral for them. It was a beautiful service and was the first time we experienced the Haitian culture and way of mourning, which is very different than our own. It aroused strong emotions in all of us and the singing was beautiful.
After mass was finished we got all of our things and left Hotel Francesca for Hinche in the

The '18s at HUM.

The ’18s at HUM.

Central Plateau. On the way to Hinche we stopped in Mirebalais to visit HUM (Hospital Universitaire de Mirebalais), the hospital founded by Partners in Health after the earthquake in partnership with the Haitian government . We received a tour from Maggie Smith, the External Affairs Coordinator for PIH in Haiti. The hospital is incredible and the services provided are extensive.

After we finished our tour we went to the Nourimanba factory which produces enriched peanut butter that is very caloric and is used to treat children under 5 years old with malnutrition. This peanut butter is prescribed for 8-11 weeks at a time to a child. We were astounded to learn that 85 percent of children under 5 years old are undernourished in the central plateau.  While the factory produces a great deal of Nourimanba, they still don’t produce enough to reach all the malnourished children under 5.
After the factory visit, we went to Cange to have lunch at “The View.” As you can tell from

Group in front of the view from Cange.

Group in front of the view from Cange.

the name, it had a spectacular view of the mountains and the Haitian border that is shared with the Dominican Republic. Maggie Smith joined us for lunch and it was delicious as it included, pasta salad, fried chicken, rice, avocados, plantains, and very sugary coke. After we ate, we visited the Cange hospital, the original PIH/Zanmi Lasante site, and again

The hospital at Cange is an oasis of trees!

The hospital at Cange is an oasis of trees!

Maggie Smith gave us a great tour alongside Dr. Val, the Assistant Medical Director of the hospital. Dr. Val pointed out a poster that shared a declaration of human rights created by the first fifty patients at Cange. It explains that all people are people and should get equal care and treatment. He said that this fully explains their mission as a hospital that is dedicated to serving all members of the community, especially offering a preferential option for the poor. After reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, about PIH’s founder Paul Farmer, and actually visiting the hospital, we fully understood the reason people are so dedicated to creating a healthier community.

That concluded our day, because after the tour we headed to Hinche, our final destination for the day, and got settled in at the Midwives for Haiti house. We spent the evening preparing to conduct our needs assessment surveys in the community of Clory tomorrow.
Prepping for tomorrow's needs assessment exercise.

Prepping for tomorrow’s needs assessment exercise.

Highlights of the day:
GHF ’16:
Stuart- How powerful mass was this morning
GHFs ’17:
Graham- visiting Mirebalais and the hospital and seeing how it changed
Nathalie- Going to the beautiful mass at St. Damien’s
Ryan- Touring the Nourimanba peanut butter factory
Justine- seeing the Nourimamba factory
Helen- Returning to Zamni Lasante ‘the view’ and MFH and seeing familiar faces
GHFs ’18:
Claire- Visiting the Nourimamba factory and talking to Maggie Smith in the car
Gabi- seeing how advanced the hospital in Mirebalais
Elizabeth- Visiting the kids for 10 minutes at the Cange hospital
Olivia- Playing with the kids at the hospital in Cange
Lawson- Visiting the children in Cange
Hunt- Giving the little kids at Cange high-fives

Haiti 2014 (Day 2: Nov 21)

Today’s blog was written by Helen Shaves ’17 and Gabi Diskin ’16.
We had another early start waking up at 6 for a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, rolls, and peanut butter. Then we coated ourselves in bug spray and sunscreen and were astonished to see a tap-tap, Haiti’s main form of public transportation, named for the way its riders signal to the driver to make a stop.
In front of our tap tap.

In front of our tap tap.

We rode the tap-tap to our first activity of the day in Medan Belize, a rural village located outside of Port-au-Prince, on Lake Azeui, the largest lake in Haiti. We went to the village’s school, co-founded by Operation Blessing, International and the Clinton Foundation, which the GHF ’17s painted last year, and had had the opportunity to see what progress they have made. We brought educational coloring books (written by Virginia Beach local Jean Mackay Vinson) with a focus on hygiene and sanitation, and we worked with a translator to read the creole book to the children. There were 5 classrooms and the ages ranged from 7-16. We colored the books with them, played hand games, and helped the kids pick up trash around the school as part of their Friday routine.
We then headed back to the Villa Francesca for a local lunch of potatoes, beef, and vegetables. Once we finished we headed to the tilapia fish farm housed on the grounds of Zamni Beni, a home for disabled children started after the earthquake, and learned about the complicated selling and breeding processes. We drove back to Villa Francesca for a quick card game and were on the road once again to visit St. Luc’s, the adult hospital associated with St. Damien, where we saw various wards ranging from cholera to ICU and radiology.


Favorite moments of the day:
GHF ’16:
Stuart- Playing with all of the kids at the school; getting to know Sylnida, the 12-year-old girl who always had a smile on her face
GHF ’17s:
Graham- Playing with the children at Medan Belize and marveling at how welcoming they were
Helen- Finally getting to experience a tap-tap
Justine- Magline, a girl from the school, saying “we are like sisters”
Nathalie- Playing with the kids at the school
Ryan- Playing with the children at the school in Medan Belize
GHF ’18s:
Claire- Riding the tap-tap
Elizabeth- Playing with the kids outside and coloring
Gabi- Watching the kids run to follow our bus on the way out
Hunt- Helping the kids pick up the trash at the school
Lawson- Visiting the school in Medan Belize
Olivia- Coloring and teaching the kids at the school about hygiene

Haiti 2014 (Day 1: Nov 20, 2014)

Today’s blog was written by Justine Kaskel ’17.
It was a rough start; alarm going off at 3:30 in the morning and meeting my fellow bleary-eyed passengers at the airport 30 minutes later. However, this fact was trivial compared to the reality of finally going back to Haiti. After a two hour flight, when we were slightly less bleary-eyed due to the Starbucks we raided at the Norfolk Airport, we landed in Miami and bonded over TGIF green bean fries. It was the last taste we would have of steak before goat meat, rice and beans for a week. In the afternoon “we managed to break two chairs on the plane, but hearing the music and being apart of the culture again and feeling the air on our skin just…” This was [Graham’s] highlight of the day. And I agree, it was a wonderful feeling “smelling the air that just smells of Haiti” and knowing that we were finally back in this beautiful country (Mr. Boland).
Later, we settled into the St. Luc’s guest houses, Villa Francesca, in Port-au-Prince before heading out to the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital with Dr. Brittany Potts. This hospital, especially for Haiti, is absolutely beautiful. There are colorful paintings, statues of animals, and it just felt like a place for kids. What is really special about the hospital, however, is the chapel. Everyday except for Sunday, there is a funeral in the morning for all the children who die in the hospital, though it sounds sad, it truly is a beautiful concept. All children are so special, and the fact that these almost strangers care enough about these lives to hold a funeral for them; the only word to describe it is beautiful.
Touring St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.

Touring St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.

We were all exhausted at the end of the day, so we gladly came back to our guest house to “delicious” spaghetti (kudos to cook team one and Mr. Boland), and relaxed with a game of cards (well, If you consider hogging out on starbursts and dancing to Beyoncé relaxing…). After an hour of that we headed to the boys’ room for a meeting with everyone. Stuart, our leader of the day, lead us through an assessment of the day and everyone shared a “rose” of the day (highlight) and a “thorn” of the day (low point).
In front of the wall at St. Damien honoring all who passed in the earthquake.

In front of the wall at St. Damien honoring all who passed in the earthquake.

Meeting Father Rick Frechette, National Director of NPH Haiti at St. Damien.

Meeting Father Rick Frechette, National Director of NPH Haiti at St. Damien.

The group’s roses from today:
– Walking through the St. Damien’s hospital and noticing how advanced the facilities are (compared to my expectations).
– Seeing the neonatal ICU
– Riding in the clown car
– Visiting st. Damien’s pediatric hospital and being inspired by their incredible work and variety of services offered at the hospital
– Seeing the progression of St. Damien
– Seeing the bubbly colorful environment created by the animal statues at the hospital
– Meeting and talking to Father Rick at St. Damien
– Emerging from the airport and being filled with the sense of culture with the cars and animals.  And the heat gave a sense of “this is Haiti”
– Going out of the country for the first time and arriving in Port-au-Prince
– Seeing everyone together
– Bonding over spoons
– The smell of Haiti that revokes memories