The Children's Initiative

Haiti Trip Report



Haiti Trip Report

My recent visit to Phaeton was very productive, with Hurricane Matthew only arriving after all our work was done. I travelled with Alan Jerffery and Michael Ippoliti, both engineers from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Alan, who is spearheading the Medical Mission scheduled for the week of November 12th, was there to plan for the Mission, and Mike was there to research the opportunities for starting a latrine/composting toilet program for the village.  My objectives were to introduce them to the local stakeholders and assist them in their planning efforts, as well as advance the progress of our school, Noah’s Ark. Whereas TCI’s main concentration is on kids and the school, we are also trying to help the community by introducing and facilitating other groups to address community needs with their expertise and funding capabilities.

As is usually the case, we had the services of Elmond Jean who is our in-country director and critical to all our work in Phaeton. The other key participant, particularly for this trip, was Dr. Clonel Louis. Briefly, this is what we accomplished:

  1. Medical Mission: We have made all necessary preparations for the Medical Mission. This will be a team of one Doctor, two Nurses, a Nurse Practitioner, and several others including Havard, who will help in an assortment of ways. We anticipate seeing between 100 and 150 patients each day over the 5 days the clinic will be open. In addition to people from the village, we are providing transportation from two nearby villages as needed. We determined:
    1. The location for the clinic, and how the facilities would be utilized on clinic days.
    2. Patient flow, triage, diagnosis, treatment, administration of drugs, etc.
    3. The information to be gathered and recorded.
    4. Desired medications for use during the Mission, and for subsequent follow up. Over 500 pounds of pharmaceuticals will be brought in by the team. Additionally, every patient will receive a tube of toothpaste, to be purchased locally in the next several weeks.
    5. We visited several potential sites to house the team and decided on a hotel in Terrier Rouge, approximately 25 minutes away.
    6. We have made arrangements for transportation to and fro the airport in Cap Haitien, the clinic every day, patients from the other villages, and all meals for the Team.
  2. Latrines/Composting Toilets: Currently, less than half the village has access to sanitary facilities, and instead use the fields and woods to relieve themselves. Dr. Clonel has been researching and advocating for a village latrine project, and TCI arranged for a study 6 months ago by two member of PHI in hopes they would take on the logistics and funding of a program. They were concerned that a large increase in latrines would eventually leach into the bay, and they decided not to adopt the project. They suggested we explore using composting toilets, but there is a variety of types and methods, each requiring research. Michael is returning in November, and we are determining:
    1. Best version of composting toilet for Phaeton.
    2. Pros and cons of traditional latrines vs composting toilet, including cost comparison.
    3. The level of cultural aversion to having to maintain and handle the composting toilets.
    4. Our thought is to implement a pilot program with two composting toilets at the school. We have pledged $2,000 to launch it, once the best direction is determined.
  1. Noah’s Ark: The good news is that our school is in demand, with a doubling of student population for the new year. The challenge is that additional resources are needed to meet the needs of approximately 90 students. We also have an issue relating to our use of the land that needs attention. We are now considering:
    1. The need for two additional teachers, and one additional cook
    2. Increasing the budget for food, uniforms, supplies etc.
    3. Last year we found an old UN tent, covered it with tarps, and built a dividing wall to house 2 grades, but that is not enough for 90 students. We may add a lean-to onto the school building ($1,500).
    4. We are getting rough cost estimates to build a structure with 3-4 proper classrooms, similar, but smaller than what was done in ER.
    5. The present grade distribution is as follows:
      • Little guys : 12, in the third classroom to the left
      • First grade: 20, in one side of the tent
      • 2nd grade: 10, in the middle classroom
      • 3rd grade: 19, in the other half of the tent
      • 4th, 5th, and 6th: 30 in the classroom to the left
    6. Land: “Ownership” of land in Haiti is often an opaque, bureaucratic, and Kafka-esque process. We have been granted the right to use the land by the Mayor of Terrier Rouge, who controls the county, however, documentation of this right is complicated. Last year we fenced in the front half of the property, but a local group began to clear the land behind it for purported use as a chicken farm. We are in the process of asserting our rights, which is likely to require fencing in this section at a cost of approximately $2,000.

Summary:

We have a number of critical decisions to make as we assess our capabilities, time and resources. We are juggling the need/desire to serve more children against our limited time and money. It would be easy to overextend ourselves, so we are proceeding cautiously.