Families Celebrate in Haiti

Author Portrait_Yamileh Théodore, Sponsorship Servicing Coordinator
Yamileh Théodore

Sponsorship Servicing Coordinator

Save the Children in Haiti

January 26, 2018

Two hours north of Port-au-Prince is a community rich in colorful culture and history. Dessalines, the hometown of the founder of this nation, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and also named after him, is an interesting place with a historical past and many forts. At these forts, the locals can be seen gathering during certain times of the year, paying tribute, holding voodoo ceremonies and feasting in honor of their patron saints.

Families gathering for mass at the Saint Claire Catholic church.
Families gathering for mass at the Saint Claire Catholic church.

The annual Patron Saint Claire is one of the biggest celebrations in Dessalines and is funded by the mayor, the department senator’s office and other local businesses. The Saint Claire celebrations are held every August 11, and are traditionally considered mostly a festival for socializing. For example, many go to church, share in a family meal and perhaps watch a soccer game together or gather in parks and streets to listen to local bands play kompa music – a type of lively dance music similar to méringue. However, some residents, depending on their beliefs, will wake up at the crack of dawn to go the mass at the Saint Claire Catholic church. These church goers dress in all white and carry a lit candle in a procession, and pray and sing for hours, until the sun comes up.

Alternatively, the voodoo believers have a more colorful and animated ceremony at “la source imperial”, a natural spring, where they dance to the rhythm of drums and sing and clap. Their outfits are a mix of colors from the Haitian flag – blue, red and white – or other vibrant colors with many layers of fabric that helps the dress to swirl and flow when dancing and twirling.

One of the many historic forts in Dessalines.
One of the many historic forts in Dessalines.

To mark the festival this year, Save the Children participated in its own way. With support from our sponsorship teams, we spent two full days taking advantage of the massive gathering of people, speaking with children, teens and adults, to raise awareness on good hygiene practices, nutrition skills and sexual and reproductive health. After the awareness campaigns, we organized quiz-style competitions in which the winners competed for prizes such as hand soap, hygiene kits with soap and chlorine tablets to clean water, backpacks and dictionaries. A stand was even built for condom distribution and HIV testing, in collaboration with local partners like the Claire Heureuse Hospital and the UAS, or Unité d’Arrondissement de Santé Unit Health Department.

How do you celebrate with your family during special times of the year? Do you sing or dance together, like they do in Haiti? Consider writing a letter to tell your sponsored child about how you celebrate holidays. You may find you have more in common than you think!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Haiti Is Facing A Humanitarian Crisis We Can Solve — So Why Aren’t We?

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Originally published on huffingtonpost.com

Of the many humanitarian crises challenging the world today, none is as solvable as the human disaster that Hurricane Matthew has wrought in southwestern Haiti. The threats to human life in Haiti’s Sud and Grand Anse departments are entirely within our grasp to address immediately: starvation, exposure and disease—cholera, from contaminated water. And we have the solution at hand: food, shelter, clean water, medicine and sanitation supplies.

The only barrier is the collective will and resolve to act. Not doing so now — as we approach the one-month mark — means certain death for thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands.

Hurricane Matthew hit the United States with wind, rain and floods that have tragically killed more than 40 people, but gave its hardest punch to southwestern Haiti. The category 4 storm made a direct hit on the remote peninsula, killing hundreds and pummeling the landscape with brutal 145 mph winds and as much as 40 inches of rain. The wind stripped trees, ripped off roofs and toppled block walls. Overflowing rivers tore out bridges and spread cholera bacteria. Crops not killed by wind were drowned by a surge of seawater; ocean water also flooded wells, contaminating precious sources of fresh water.

As a result, an estimated 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, many without food, safe water, shelter or basic health services, and children are often the most vulnerable.

Because the few roads that serve this region are badly damaged, towns along the southwestern coast were without help for days. In Port-à-Piment and Port Salut, some health clinics and cholera treatment centers are damaged, but functioning with limited supplies and an increasing patient load. Food is scarce and the vast majority of homes are damaged or destroyed.

Cholera, a deadly diarrheal disease, is a serious concern with more than 3,400 suspected cases in the three weeks following the storm. Patients are arriving at cholera centers, but without additional, ongoing deliveries of large quantities of IV fluids, water purification supplies — tablets or even bleach — and basic sanitation items such as soap and gloves, the disease will most certainly expand its deadly reach, making the hurricane’s death toll a footnote. In some damaged health facilities cholera patients are treated alongside children and pregnant women, increasing the risk of infection.

In the hardest hit communities, 100 percent of homes are destroyed, there is no food, little water and no aid deliveries. Understandably, people in the region are becoming increasingly desperate. With their livestock dead and crops stripped, survivors can’t subsist without outside help. Without shelter, they are at risk of exposure. When all water sources are most likely contaminated with cholera bacteria, they can’t safely take a drink. And with roads blocked and no aid trucks in sight, all hope is gone.

The Haitian government and local communities are doing their best under tough circumstances. Our organizations with decades of experience working in Haiti are also mounting significant relief responses. Like partners and peers, we have qualified teams on the ground with many Haitian staff members leading the charge and are rushing aid to as many communities as we can. But our experience tells us that these collective efforts are not enough. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “A massive response is required.” The need for food, shelter, medicine and cholera prevention and treatment supplies is too urgent. The United Nations is seeking $119 million for Haiti’s recovery but so far only 28 percent of that has been raised. Will the commitment be met by member nations? If so, when? There is no time to find out.

This disaster requires mobilization at a huge scale and fast. The U.S. government has deployed resources but if it does more, it will signal the urgency to others. Individuals, corporations and foundations need to support the work of qualified relief agencies that can save lives.

Amid the spin and noise of the news cycle, let’s not tune out the voices expressing human needs. There are a lot of complicated things in the world. This crisis is not one of them.

Words from a Teacher in a Save the Children Supported School

Faima

Faïmi P. Moscova

Sponsorship Manager

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

July 17, 2015

 

Jadlin is a third grade teacher at a Save the Children-supported school located in Dessalines, and has worked there for over 5 years. He teaches children between the ages of 8 and 10 and lives very close to the school. Growing up, Jadlin liked to work with his classmates pretending to be a teacher. It is something that he truly enjoys. 

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Jadlin with children in front of the school

Before the integration of Save the Children programming, Jadlin admitted he didn’t have sufficient training to manage his classroom or teach certain topics such as geometry or creative writing. The various trainings he has received through Save the Children have brought significant changes to his professional life. According to Jadlin he has learned new teaching methods in disciplinary techniques, how to better manage his class, and how to encourage his pupils’ participation. He now knows it is important to use questioning and group work in the classroom. “I considered myself like I was a dirty dish. Save the Children washes it and fills it up with knowledge.” he added with humility and fulfillment.

Jadlin recognizes he is not the only beneficiary of the organization. Now with help from Save the Children, the school has at its disposal services such as wastebaskets and a book loan program for third to sixth grade students. Parents also are more aware of the activities in the school and of their children’s education. However, children are still affected by flooding in the community during the rainy season and the shortage of potable water. Jadlin hopes that the organization will not only continue to support teachers training but will help the community solve those problems as well. 

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Jadlin

Jadlin is proud to be a teacher at this Save the Children-supported school, and sends a big thank you to the sponsors for their support of Save the Children sponsorship programs. Be on the lookout for updates from Haiti on how Save the Children is helping communities solve other challenges facing children!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Helping Children Understand Their Rights

Faimi

Faimi P. Moscova

Sponsorship Manager

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

April 13, 2015

 

The Convention on the Rights of a Child, a United Nations human rights treaty, is quite complex and utopian to a child’s mind, but when summarized and explained it becomes more tangible. Being conscious of this, the Sponsorship Education Team used this approach to increase children’s participation in commemorating the Global Child Rights Day. As our program in Dessalines includes children’s advocacy within the schools and communities, we wanted to do something special for the children themselves to be promoters of their own rights.

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A Student Her Work on Children’s Rights

The activities were welcome by the nine participating schools and teachers were very supportive in facilitating the peer learning sessions. The peer learning experience played an important role in helping the children to understand their entitlements and their roles as members of their communities. The students benefited from an in-depth examination of the children’s rights principles, to then compare to what challenges they face every day. Afterwards, children from 1st to 3rd grade were invited to create drawings, while children from 4th to 6th grade developed short essays, reflecting on the rights they had learned about and their points of view.

Students then presented their works to their communities, with the support of their respective school staff. One memorable text was written by a 5th grade girl who is a restavèk, a domestic worker who goes to school in the afternoon. She never thought about being a victim in regards to her rights, but as she acquired full knowledge she wanted to raise awareness by sharing her story. She told of the things that she would have loved to enjoy as an adolescent. “People don’t give children restavèk enough food to eat, they don’t let them sleep early whereas they are the ones to wake up first in the morning.” She continued, “Even children in restavèk must have the right to sleep, to go to school, and the right to have three meals a day.”

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Three Students Receiving Awards

With her new knowledge on her rights as a child, she believes with a good education she will be able to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. What do you know about the Convention on the Rights of a Child? How does helping children understand their rights in relationship to their community and the greater world support their education and their development?

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Local Cuisine: Mayi from Haiti

Blog AuthorFaïmi P. MoscovaManager Sponsorship

Haiti

December 2, 2013

 

Local cuisine: Mayi (my-ee)—a Haitian nourishing commodity

We are pleased to share information about Haitian cuisine. This time, we will talk about mayimoulen – the Creole name for a dish made from cornmeal, a traditional food found throughout the country.

 

Corn HarvestKnown for its excellent cuisine, this Haitian food is a mixture of local native flair – a combination of local ingredients and spices. It tastes great and is economical, easy to cook and fast to prepare. Maybe that’s one reason people choose mayimoulen at mealtimes. There is a popular belief that eating cornmeal makes people stronger than eating rice. Whatever the case, cornmeal is a highly nourishing food and an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron and vitamins such as A, B1, B2 and folic acid. 

 

There are multiple ways to eat and cook cornmeal. At breakfast, it’s eaten plain as hot cereal, or as Akasan (AK100), a sweet-tasting, cornmeal-based nutritional supplement drink. At lunch and dinner, it is often cooked with beans and served with a vegetable stew. For dessert, one can enjoy cornmeal cake.

 

CornCorn or maize was originally introduced to the island of Haiti by the native Taino Indians. It is the principal economic crop, with the greatest yield reaped during the rainy season. Corn is easy to grow in both the mountains and the plains with multiple harvests possible each year. It stores well, making it readily available all year round at a low cost.

 

Traditionally, a good harvest is celebrated by villagers on May 1, the national Labor and Agricultural Day. This is when community fairs display farm produce to promote local foods. On this day, cornmeal is almost always served in Haitian households to celebrate the season’s bounty.  I personally believe maïs-moulu tastes best all by itself. Corn after griding

Finding Hope in Haiti

I expected to be disappointed. Disappointed that more had not been done; disappointed that there were still families living in squalor in tent cities; disappointed that there was still no

Board Member Bill Haber visits with children in Leogane

education or health system; disappointed that there wasn’t more progress. And while I saw things that made me frustrated and angry on my fourth trip to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake, I also came away with a real sense that there is a chance for this country. A chance that wasn’t there before. A chance for a better future in a place that never seems to catch a break, whether from natural disasters or bad governance. There was a very different feeling, a palpable sense of hope in the air this time—especially from Haitians themselves.

 

While it’s far from the most important thing, the streets are finally mostly clear from rubble (80% now cleared, according to the UN) and the listing or crumbling buildings are finally down, from the Presidential Palace to the Ministry of Finance to many of the flattened apartment buildings. Even though families are still far from housing secure, more than 70% of those displaced by the earthquake are no longer living in tents. Importantly, small businesses are booming, with most average Haitian citizens working in small local enterprise. The economic growth is not as robust as we all would have wanted, but it’s expected to be close to 3%—which, in the current global slowdown, is better than many countries.

 

But what’s most promising to me is the state

Shaping the way to sustainability


Author Blog Post3Elizabeth Richard, Assistant
Sponsorship Operations Manager and Translator

Maïssade, Haiti

January 10, 2013


As Save the Children transitions out
of the Maïssade community, a local association, ANORMA, is now ready to take the
lead.  

Summer vacation is at its end and many
children who participated in this year’s summer camp are headed home with new
friendships, a sense of confidence and new skills. This was the first summer
camp led by ANORMA, a local association,and judging by the positive feedback it
will be the first of many. 

The camp welcomed boys and girls from
12 to 18 years old to be trained in basic computer skills, French, floral art
and dance. The two week camp was an occasion for the local group to not only demonstrate
its ability to manage the program, but also to recruit community support for trainings.
Indeed, local teachers, florists and even cooks volunteered and added greatly
toward the program. The result was tremendous.

During the camp, many children had
their first opportunity ever to work on a computer. Others had an opportunity to
develop their public speaking skills, while younger children developed their
sense of self-assurance and pride through dance and floral art projects. It was
amazing to hear a 14 year old share her wish to open a floral boutique when she
finishes school. 
Two of the ANORMA members showing a young girl how to do floral art with paper

The closing ceremony was the perfect
time for ANORMA to give thanks to Save the Children for all their support which
led to the successful camp, and share how all the participants had developed new
skills – how to be a better artist, a designer and a better person.  ANORMA’s goal
is to continue to work with the community by supporting local schools and to work
towards becoming a notable training center in the region.

Save the Children’s work with local
partners like ANORMA, training them in school management and capacity building,
assures a smooth and efficient transition of all the activities the
organization has provided.     The achievement of ANORMA’s first summer camp is
not just a reward for Save the Children,but also a sign of what can be
accomplished in the face of adversity.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.

A Former Sponsored Child’s Reflections on the Importance of Sponsorship

Blog AuthorFaimi Moscova, Sponsorship Mananger

Port-au-Prince

August 31, 2012

For over 25 years Save the Children in Haiti has supported development in the Maissade community through our sponsorship-funded programs, addressing the needs of vulnerable children and their families.

Archange Christophe was once a sponsored child and now works for Save the Children in Maissade.  In 2004 Save the Children helped found the first and only community radio station in Maissade, and Archange was, and still is, one of the broadcasters at the station. Radio is a powerful tool for the education and welfare of the population, and also plays a key role i Archange at the radio stationn emergencies.

“With the strong beginning my family and I received from Save the Children I completed my secondary studies and went on to a professional school.  Then I returned to my village and applied for
the position with Save the Children.  I feel like I owe it to the organization and my community.  I accomplish my daily tasks with a spirit of kindness and try to help my people as best I can,” shares Archange.

Archange was enrolled in the sponsorship program when he was in 1st grade, and remained a sponsored child for nearly five years. He still has happy memories of those days and taking part in the many activities Save the Children organized in his community of Bois Rouge.  He received school assistancv through the Save the Children education programs and his whole family was able to receive health care support. Archange believes Save the Children, with its many child-centered development programs, has inspired his lifelong pursuit of self-development. “Save the Children and its child sponsors have made remarkable contributions to education, health care and nutrition in Maissade,” he states.

 Archange during a focus group with community leaders“Being a sponsored child helped me appreciate generosity.  Now I can give back to my community what I received. I can still remember my sponsor’s encouraging words ‘school is very important, you must work hard at it’ and ‘it is essential to love your friends.’ I am so grateful to Save the Children, without them and the support of my sponsor I wouldn’t have been able to gain a good education and succeed.”

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.

For the Future, For Haiti

Alex Treyz, Manager Global Sponsorship OperationsAlex Treyz, Manager, Global Sponsorship Operations

Maissade, Haiti

April 9, 2012 


Fortunately today the river is low. Out my window I see men and women wading in the knee-deep waters, steadily fording the river or hand-washing clothing by hand.  Children cross this river every day to reach their schools on the other side. During the rainy season, which begins in May, this river will rise and the swift current will render it impassable. I remember the ease of my bus ride to school when I was in elementary school and compare it to this journey across the river. Fortunately we’re in a 4×4 vehicle and the river is low, but I ask myself, what if I had to make this journey on foot, during the rainy season? What if I had to wade across a river every day to get to school?

IMG_5982Our 4×4 bumps and splashes over the river bed and 20 yards later we are across the other side, one river river-crossing closer to Maissade. We will cross 5 rivers today on our journey from Port-au-Prince to Maissade, a town of 60,000 people nestled in Haiti’s Central Plateau region, where Save the Children has been working to improve the lives of children and their families through Child Sponsorship for 27 years.We are way past the point when the pavement has ended and the dirt roads have begun. About an hour ago, three hours into our trip from Port-au-Prince, the number of vehicles dropped off; the primary modes of transportation we see now are foot, donkey, andthe occasional motorbike. As we arrive in Maissade, the river waters have dried off and our 4×4 vehicle is covered in a thick layer of chalky dust. I am rattled from the bumpy ride, but thrilled to be in Maissade, the area of our Sponsorship programs.

Every day, Save the Children staff ford these rivers and bump downthese dirt roadsto deliver letters to your Sponsored children. During the rainy season, our staff often leave their vehicles behind to swim across swiftly moving rivers, walking the rest of the journey to your Sponsored children in Maissade on foot. In their hands are your letters to your Sponsored children, sharing your generousgreetings and stories of your lifeto the children of Maissade. Your letters, birthday cards and greetings bring joy and curiosity to these children.

Copy of IMG_6080Our journey takes us to Céverine School, 20 minutes from the center of Maissade. On our way we pass homes painted in bright hues of Caribbean pink and green and children playing soccer in the dusty main square. The homes we pass have electricity for only eight hours a day, so when we pass through this way again tonight, it will be completely dark. We cross several smaller creeks to reach Céverine School, which Save the Children has been supporting since 2002. The school bustles with energy and productivity and I observe children paying apt attention in the beautifully built classrooms.The day is dry and hot and I am grateful for the shade the classrooms provide. Our team visits a class of 6th graders and asks the
students why it is important to learn how to read and write, to which one student replies, “For the future and for my country” and another replies, “To help the community – if I have knowledge, I will be able to share it with others.” Thanks to the generosity of our Sponsors, these children have the opportunity to learn and growat this school and to one day become leaders in their community.

Later in the afternoon we visit the temporary location of CoeursUnis School, meaning “United Hearts.” Save the Children is currently constructing a beautiful new schoolfor the children of this community, who in the meantimeare studying in the open air under a tree. The new school is due to be finished any day.When the rainy season comes, these children will find shelter and an environment conducive to learning in this school. IMG_6059

Our day in Maissade ends with goodbyes to children, teachers and parents and the crossing of one more river. I am heartened by what I have seen today in the schools Save the Children Sponsors support. Despite many challenges, these children are learning skills and knowledge every day that will help to build them a brighter future. All of this would not be possible without the dedicated support of our Sponsors.

Thank you for all that you do to support the children of Maissade, Haiti through your Sponsorship!

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Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.

In a Haitian Tent Camp, Grit and Hope

Lane Hartill

Lane Hartill, Director of Media and Communications

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 11, 2012


What’s it like to be teenager in Haiti?

Well that depends.

If your parents have the means, you will go to a private school in Petionville, a hilltop neighborhood of Port-au-Prince where some of the best restaurants are found. Someone will drive you to school. Your uniform will be washed with laundry detergent regularly and, each day before school, it will be ironed.

Sounds pretty normal, right?

It’s not. In Haiti, this life is a pipe dream for most kids.

***

DARLINE_AND_MARCKENSELY_1_96509Go to the Gaston Margron camp in the Carrefour neighborhood, and you’ll find a family of teens, managing on their own. Marclene, a shy 20 year old, acts as the mom for her three younger siblings. She shares a hot tent with her sister, Darline, who recently had a baby, Marckensley (she named him after the Gospel of Mark in the Bible). The two sleep on a twin mattress with Marckensley between them. Their younger sister, Mouna, sleeps on a mat on the floor. Their clothes are slung over a cord that runs across the tent.

When I visited them, they had no money for laundry detergent, so they were rinsing their clothes in a big tub of water. It’s the same tub they bathe in; they don’t have money for body soap either, so they just rinse the sweat off.

Their biggest concerns are elemental: food, water, and sleeping. They rely on their brother, Ted, who sells plastic bags of water in the market. But they cost only a few pennies a piece. Ted has to sell hundreds to make a few dollars. He says he makes about a dollar a day. This is the money the five of them live on.

Life is tough. But Marclene tries not to let it get her down. She’s prays a lot—her Creole Bible is worn at the edges—and she tries to stay positive. Like young people everywhere, she scraped together enough money for a cell phone, but finding the money to pay to charge it is hard.

***

A lot of kids live like Marclene and her family. It’s not a pleasant life, but they’re getting by. One thing they don’t have to worry about: health care. Save the Children provides if for free in their tent camp. Our clinics in Haiti average 4,500 visits a month. And it’s all free.

A lot of people shake their head when they think of Haiti. But they shouldn’t. Haiti is still in better shape than a lot of countries. Think about it: It is next door to the U.S.; more than 1 million Haitian live in the U.S. and send remittances back to Haiti; foreign government pledged billions to Haiti and the first signs of private investment are slowly starting – a Marriott Hotel is slated to be built outside Port-au-Prince.

While the news out of Haiti is often grim, don’t give up on the country. 

Haitians certainly haven’t. And that should be a lesson to us all.

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Learn more about our ongoing work to ensure a better future for Haitian children.