There are many challenges to living in a resource poor country and most recently, with COVID's effect on the economy, tourism and travel for business, as well as the political unrest and leadership challenges which have resulted in a rise in crime, gang violence and personal safety, Haiti continues to struggle. However, as a team, we are sharply focused on what we can achieve. Our resources are strained due to a dip in global fundraising for Haiti, and by the need to spend extra funds on safety measures, but we have been able to accomplish a lot in the last few months thanks to a strong local staff and dedicated support teams.
This month, we broke ground on the Sho-Ping Chin Clinic for Healthcare and Education's triage courtyard. The courtyard serves many functions medically, but also helps to actively prevent further erosion on the campus that has resulted from years of deforestation. We also broke ground on a playground for the children and a communal outdoor study space for the older children. Physical education and activities is a core value as is having the older children mentor and model behavior for younger children. Our basketball program has suffered due to travel restrictions and providing new ways for the children to exercise safely is critical. The playground also restores landscaping to combat the effects of past erosion.
We have also proceeded with the work to replace the girls dormitories, upgrading their bathrooms and living spaces, and we have installed solar powered lighting in the clinic building. The building was design to function off the grid and has always had natural light and air movement thanks to a brilliant design, but the need to use the building at all hours has increased due to the safety challenges. The solar lighting is a welcome addition.
We hope everyone stays safe and well.
Best to all.
“First year, first try.” This is my first year as Director at Saint Dominique Sponsor Site. Our overall result is a real success. Through it all, nothing could be achieved without your help. Our great sponsors. Our sponsored children express their gratitude to you all and wish to let you know what you really mean to them. Let us show you a little about what we have achieved so far with your wonderful help.
SAINT DOMINIQUE SITE Year of Challenges
2019-202 has been such a special year, during which our country has faced severe issues. There were countrywide lockdowns due to political tensions, border closures because of poor security, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Above all, we were dealing with a serious lack of food, pandemic effects on school operations, site security problems due to intruders at night because our property was not fenced, and late teacher’s wages owed from the Saint Dominique School. All of those problems would have been even worse if you hadn’t helped.
OUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS
This was the first time Saint Dominiques and our sponsored children have received such tremendous food assistance. These funds allowed us to support food security for our orphans for over seven months, This relieved daily concerns and met our dietetic policy that ensures better physical and mental health for our children.
Security wall/fence construction: As mentioned above, social and political insecurities were crucial issues, and since our little community is a poor one, where living decently is just a dream for some; intrusions occur at night which frighten the children. Thanks to you, our supporters, we built a concrete reinforced wall, mostly at the back of the property. Out front, we installed metal fencing where walls wouldn't suffice. To add to this achievement, a small building for our security guard was built, to help maintain strict control over all visitors to the office. Security-wise, we can affirm that most of our concerns are now solved. We just could not live with the potential threat that the lives of a hundred children would be in danger. Thank you dear sponsors for bringing us this peace of mind and safety.
Infrastructural achievement: Reinforcing, renovating, and rehabilitating structures were among the greatest needs of our site. Once completed, our staff, children and visitors felt a greater level of comfort. We had wonderful work don to our latrines, offices, and home-cafeteria.
Christmas: Because of your wonderful hearts, our sponsored children had a wonderful Christmas. They received new clothes and gifts. You have created special childhood memories and made them feel more than proud, as they feel respected and loved as human beings.
COVID-19: Being exposed to and confirmed by a worldwide pandemic in a country where healthcare systems are a luxury, we had to be more than careful to ensure that the children were distanced from any strangers and/or people with frequent outside activities. Basic health and hygiene measures were rigorously followed. IN addition, Chalice sponsor funds allowed us to purchase basic material sanitizers, containers for water, disinfectants, masks, etc.
MOVING FORWARD: Having had such a difficult year, it is easy to recognise that we have faced some of the biggest challenges yet. Security-wise, we intend to finish the fences and continue to employ a security guard. We are looking forward to being able to guarantee the safety of the children. We expect to have an even greater impact on the lives of every little child in the Chalice program, at every level possible. In turn, this would be the best favour to the development of our society towards an improved and secured lifestyle.
Thank you: Our hearts are where our faith, gestures, and actions lay and remain. May the Lord be with you all and guard you in each of your endeavors. May this same blessing reach all your loved ones for many generations to come.
All our achievements have been made possible thanks to you and your assistance.
Director (Oct. 2020-Onward), Saint Dominique Sponsor Site, Haiti
SHH functions exclusively on donations. While we are in the process of applying for some new grants, since we are still a relatively young organization, we have not secured any to date. And while the world grapples with an unprecedented virus, it has become harder and harder to develop a fundraising strategy for this year. Therefore, we decided that what we need to do this year was to focus on what we know we do well: We are providing primary healthcare and health education to the children of Fondation Montesinos. We can do this with our very modest fundraising efforts through our partner sites like GlobalGiving. Our plans for the health education center, the outdoor courtyard and shower, the fully managed agricultural education center, sustainable and environmentally conscious supplies, and specialist clinics are only delayed and are, most definitely, not cancelled.
We have always maintained minimal yearly operational costs ($14,500 for primary healthcare, licensing fees, insurance and accounting services) for the very reason that we are dedicated to being a sustainable healthcare delivery program. In times of crisis, we need to focus on what we do best.
Currently our children are being seen by Dr. Vlad at ALOM medical center for a full medical, dental and psychological evaluation. ALOM is developing long term plans for each child and our on-site nurse at the Sho-Ping Chin Clinic for Healthcare and Education conducts all of the follow up along with a licensed psychologist. GI parasites, UTI, and mild anemia are the most common ailments. Children with more severe needs are brought to area hospitals where we have agreements for their care.
Meanwhile, we are working closely with Food For The Poor and our partners in Indiana, to design new dormitories for the girls who had to be relocated to temporary structures as their existing buildings were deemed unsafe. Fundraising for the new dorms will be a goal for 2021.
Our Hens for Haiti grant continues to help support our agricultural project as a sustainable way to educate, provide life skills, and feed the children.
We would like to end this report with a happy announcement: Those of you who have travelled with us to Haiti for clinics or other work, will recognize the name Stephane. He, his brother and his company Alphonse Brothers Transportation and Translation Services are our eyes, ears, and hearts in Haiti. Stephane will be getting married in December! Please join us in wishing him and his wife-to-be well.
“Disaster makes existing inequality worse.”
There are so many ways that this is true, but the one we want to focus on for this report is how it impacts our small corner of the world. Prior to COVID-19, our tight group of 15 board members and dedicated volunteers were managing projects that provided healthcare, health education, nutritional support, sports and exercise, social activities, vocational programs and religious celebrations for hundreds of children and the adults that work with them, all with a focus of wellbeing and sustainable living.
COVID 19 shut down:
-Our fundraising as donors themselves now struggle;
-Medical clinic trips that had included 15 healthcare specialists that the children, and some of the adults, have never seen;
-On site counseling for children who have experienced trauma;
-Our ability to test and maintain fresh water systems to our high standards;
-Construction of new and safer dormitories, and the planned expansion of the Sho-Ping Chin Clinic building; and,
-A source of income for over fifty adults and their families.
Our tiny yearly operating budget of $30,000 which supports all of these programs had to be partially redirected to provide additional security for the children on site as police and security resources in Haiti got more and more strained by the economic shut down, additional sanitizing supplies and face masks, and additional support for our healthcare workers, all while food and fuel costs escalated. While we are happy to report that all children under the care of Fondation Montesinos are healthy, we are also sad to report that without these programs, the children are becoming less healthy physically and mentally, with backward steps that take enormous strides to regain.
Being “all in this together” also means we need to address structural injustices that are, themselves, also a plague.
Here’s the good news about what we’ve been up to these last four months:
We are exited to welcome Tommy to our Board of Directors. He is a co-founder of Boilermakers for Haiti, a partner based in Indiana, on the campus of Fondation Montesinos who has been focusing largely on the well being of the children through primary education, food and sporting activity programs. Tommy secured a grant from Hens for Haiti, and with additional private donations, we have begun filling our hen houses with egg-laying hens. These hens will provide a greatly needed source of income for the orphanage as well as provide supplemental food for the children. Our team has made significant and exciting steps towards setting up a robust Poulaye in the last few weeks. Our agronomist has purchased 600 out of the 800 total chickens we will have for Phase 1. We are beginning to see a production rate of 50-65% with the 20-week-old hens laying smaller sized eggs.
We hope to see significant progress towards ideal laying rates in the next 4-8 weeks! We are actively seeking to fund the expansion of our Poulaye project! We have 3 total chicken houses with the capacity to fit around 2,400 hens.
Our February trip was successful in providing organization around the transition of Foundation Montesinos leadership since the founder, Father Charles, was transferred by the Dominican Church to France. There is a new Haitian Board which will provide administrative and legal support for the organization. From SHH, board members and volunteers met with the new leadership on campus which includes the agronomist, a comptroller, spiritual leaders, an educator and a nurse and a psychologist. We also signed an agreement with a new medical partner, ALOM, who has opened a beautiful and up to date clinic on land neighboring the campus to provide support beyond our local clinic's capacities. And finally, we met with Food For The Poor who will be leading the effort to reconstruct the dormitories, bathroom and shower facilities on campus.
Our ongoing activities include rolling out a brand-new web site, continuing to raise funds for non-disposable sanitary supplies for the girls, planning our next medical trip for, hopefully, November, and repurposing the existing solar panels on site to be able to drive the water pump so that there is no disruption to safe and clean drinking water during power outages.
The Board of SHH and our Volunteers wish you all good health.
Starting with Giving Tuesday and throughout December we saw great generosity from our donors and supporters and great courage from the children and staff in Haiti. Our partners in Haiti, Indiana, Connecticut and several other states formed a bond despite the distance that will carry our programs for the children in health, education and agriculture through the next full year. Although we had to cancel two trips over the last two months, we are scheduled to go to Titanyen in February. And while we are not running a medical clinic, we will be bringing much needed supplies that have become scarce as a result of the unrest and fuel shortages.
Our plan is to reconstruct the dormitories, showers and bathrooms that have been damaged by storms and normal deterioration in the harsh ocean climate, as well as introduce the new staff and Board members who will be stepping into the shoes of Father Charles, the founder and long term head of the foundation, who was recalled to Paris through his religious order. The various groups and individuals who have been supporting Fondation Montesinos for years have been able to respond to the absence of Father Charles by identifying excellent new staff, structuring a new, all volunteer, Board of Directors, and sorting through and filing necessary paperwork in support of a new future for Fondation Montesinos /St Dominques. In partnership with Food For The Poor, we have meetings scheduled with the well driller; the Government's Department that oversees child welfare (Institut du Bien Etre Social et des Recherches); our contractors; school and orphanage administrators, and attorneys.
Even while we were cancelling our recently planned trips and the children and staff at Fondation Montesinos huddled together texting us to stay calm when the rioting and unrest was bad, they still were able to go ahead with their holiday celebrations. They cooked a wonderful feast, baked cakes, dressed in all white with Santa hats and put on performances for each other. We are grateful for the gifts of children.
We have also been working to develop the final designs for the courtyard and shower that will be used for medical reasons, and hope that construction will start as soon as materials are available again and travel is safer. And our independent fundraiser to purchase menstrual supplies for the girls at the orphanage that are sustainable and enviornmentally sound, is progressing.
SHH turned 10 last year and we are looking forward to our next dacade with the hope of constructing the health education wing of the Sho-Ping Chin Clinic for Healthcare and Education.
Happy New Year to all,
The Board of Sustainable Healthcare for Haiti
Miriam, Lyris, Cassie, Gerard, Margaret, Michelle, Ralph, Kathy, Lee, Carolyn
And our wonderful volunteers Anthony, Jim and Erez
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