Alo Ayiti

Inspirations and adventures of an Intern with the Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti.
Byenvenu!
This past fall I took a break from university to explore the world of international health and development while volunteering with the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, with the goal of raising a healthy generation of Haitian children, who in turn will raise Haiti from poverty. In the three months that I lived in Leogane, I scaled slippery slopes collecting data, worked in a clinic under a mango tree and learned to parler and salsa in Kreyol with the most tenacious and vibrant people I have ever met. 
Ayiti cheri, mwen renmen ou
This blog is a collection of my adventures and observations. Please browse the archive and share with your friends. I am currently working on a publishing a photobook as a fundraising campaign for the organization and families that I worked with. Stay tuned.

Cheers, 
Rachel

Byenvenu!

This past fall I took a break from university to explore the world of international health and development while volunteering with the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, with the goal of raising a healthy generation of Haitian children, who in turn will raise Haiti from poverty. In the three months that I lived in Leogane, I scaled slippery slopes collecting data, worked in a clinic under a mango tree and learned to parler and salsa in Kreyol with the most tenacious and vibrant people I have ever met. 

Ayiti cheri, mwen renmen ou

This blog is a collection of my adventures and observations. Please browse the archive and share with your friends. I am currently working on a publishing a photobook as a fundraising campaign for the organization and families that I worked with. Stay tuned.

Cheers, 

Rachel

PUBLISHED! Two years later, poverty, corruption, and health crises persist in Haiti. But so does hope.

I’ve been wanting to write a final piece about my experience in Haiti, but I’ve been having a terribly difficult time articulating my feelings about it. Haiti has changed my life. There’s no other way to say it. But my biggest fear when writing about my time in Haiti is to come across as an unqualified expert or a cliche, angsty youth out to change the world. I didn’t walk away from my internship with a sense of accomplishment at having ‘survived’ in the developing world, but I do hold a greater sense of understanding. The perspective I’ve gained is priceless. I think it’s important that people are reminded of what other people face in the world; how getting a safe sip of water or a bed to sleep can be someone’s greatest challenge.

I am now working for YES! Magazine as their Media and Outreach Intern. YES!, a wonderful publication that promotes powerful ideas and practical actions, is based on Bainbridge Island, Wa. In honor of the two year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, I pitched the idea of putting together some photos from my time there, and now it’s ONLINE! I sincerely hope that it is a fair and illuminating look into Haiti’s current conditions and captivating characters.

I am incredibly grateful for my experience, and encourage all of you to take a chance and pursue your own adventures.

'There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor.' Santayana

Check out my photo essay at YES! Magazine!!

A Bientot!

Last Day at the PTA

LES Artistes

"Pancakes," I sighed through the phone to my friend at ISRAAID, "Well maybe more like Latkas." I had gotten a head start this morning on the road to Jacmel, for my final weekend of Caribbean surf, but it wasn’t looking good. Don’t get me wrong, the weather was beautiful- 85 degrees, clear sky, a friendly breeze.. but not a wave in sight! I tried to mask my disappointment, and suggested we take the opportunity to explore the town for once. We spent the day romping through streets lined with characteristic colonial architecture, taking our time perusing artist galleries and sneaking around handsome hotels, far too glamorous for intern budgets. 

Jacmel is the epicenter of Carnival, Haiti’s largest festival. Artists spend all year constructing larger than life papier mache masks for the event. We spent hours poking around their workshops and learning about the story behind each piece. Relaxed, yet slightly edgy, Jacmel feels like a little European artist town. Voudou is the consistent muse of every studio, with the more graphic paintings usually hung in the backrooms. When it comes to purchasing, bargaining is part of the fun- I came home with a backpack full of magical metal work and funky face masks! 

À Bientôt, Cheri
This Saturday sealed my final farewell to Madame Lucien, my surrogate mother here in Haiti. Every weekend after either an exhausting surf session at earthquake break, or a spelunking excursion to Bassins Bleu, Verlaine has been the ultimate frosting on the cake. Her vibrant enthusiasm and sweet southern cooking are impossible to resist, as is her endless generosity. After a trying childhood in Haiti, Verlaine moved to the sates in 1986 with  her husband, where she opened an authentic Haitian Creole restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her fiendish ways with the frying pan earned her the respect and admiration of everyone from Denver to Baton Rouge. 
Though the Madame was making ‘Bon Business’ in the states, she felt homesick for Haiti, and retired here to Jacmel two years ago with her husband. She flies back to Tulsa on occasion, to visit the two boys she adopted from the Kickapoo tribe, who are now in their second year of university. A true patriot, Madame Lucien will never cease to remind us that the only way we can raise Haiti from the dust and corruption is to work together, “It can’t always be every man for himself, you know? That’s why I always give more than I should.” This last part I can personally testify for, as we are always treated to at least two extra courses at her insistence, “Oh, I just wanted your opinion on the gumbo,” she says, even though I have it every time and she knows it’s my favorite. 
I’ve never met someone with such radiant positive energy, it was hard to say goodbye. No really, when I scurried back to the kitchen she was thoroughly occupied, with one hand on stirring gravy, the other blindly reaching in the fridge and the phone clamped between her shoulder and her ear, barking orders for more ingredients.
 “Au revoir Madame, tu me manque déjà,” I muffled from beneath her bear hug."Pas ‘au revoir’ c’est à bientôt Cheri,” she said.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. Oh Madame Lucien, I miss your barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes already..  

À Bientôt, Cheri

This Saturday sealed my final farewell to Madame Lucien, my surrogate mother here in Haiti. Every weekend after either an exhausting surf session at earthquake break, or a spelunking excursion to Bassins Bleu, Verlaine has been the ultimate frosting on the cake. Her vibrant enthusiasm and sweet southern cooking are impossible to resist, as is her endless generosity. After a trying childhood in Haiti, Verlaine moved to the sates in 1986 with  her husband, where she opened an authentic Haitian Creole restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her fiendish ways with the frying pan earned her the respect and admiration of everyone from Denver to Baton Rouge.

Though the Madame was making ‘Bon Business’ in the states, she felt homesick for Haiti, and retired here to Jacmel two years ago with her husband. She flies back to Tulsa on occasion, to visit the two boys she adopted from the Kickapoo tribe, who are now in their second year of university. A true patriot, Madame Lucien will never cease to remind us that the only way we can raise Haiti from the dust and corruption is to work together, “It can’t always be every man for himself, you know? That’s why I always give more than I should.” This last part I can personally testify for, as we are always treated to at least two extra courses at her insistence, “Oh, I just wanted your opinion on the gumbo,” she says, even though I have it every time and she knows it’s my favorite.

I’ve never met someone with such radiant positive energy, it was hard to say goodbye. No really, when I scurried back to the kitchen she was thoroughly occupied, with one hand on stirring gravy, the other blindly reaching in the fridge and the phone clamped between her shoulder and her ear, barking orders for more ingredients.

“Au revoir Madame, tu me manque déjà,” I muffled from beneath her bear hug."Pas ‘au revoir’ c’est à bientôt Cheri,” she said.

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. Oh Madame Lucien, I miss your barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes already..  

Albendazole 
Mademoiselle Claire Pierre came to our doorstep with her father on Tuesday morning. Just shy of 24 months old, little Claire is malnourished. Like most of the children in Haiti, she struggles to maintain a healthy weight for her age. Sadly, this is not an unfamiliar sight after three months with CNP. What was unexpected, however, was the reason behind her inability to absorb adequate nutrients; a sincerely sinister culprit— Worms. Three of them to be exact, and more were likely on their way out. Each of them 4-5 inches in length, and no wider than a crazy straw. Her father had gathered them in a clear plastic bag after retreating from their host, post-Albendazole dosage from Medecins Sans Frontiers.
Albendazole is de-worming medication. One Albendazole pill will not only rid the recipient of hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and other worms that are commonly found in Haiti, but also protect them for four months afterward. Millions of Haitians remain afflicted by worms that can cause anemia, vitamin deficiencies, a weakened immune system, lethargy, and poor cognitive development in children. Dehydration is a serious concern as well, since worms magnify the effects of diarrhea. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that worms can consume up to 20% of a child’s nutrition intake. In Haiti, many children are malnourished, and cannot afford the loss of nutrition to parasites.
Claire is now a patient of our PTA (Programme Therapeutique Ambulatoire) where we are monitoring her recovery from the intestinal parasites, and supplementing her diet with pounds of PlumpyNut to make up for the stolen calories and vitamins. Thanks to Albendazole, Miss Pierre is now the sole beneficiary of her nutrient consumption, and will soon be a healthy and happy two-year old!

Albendazole 

Mademoiselle Claire Pierre came to our doorstep with her father on Tuesday morning. Just shy of 24 months old, little Claire is malnourished. Like most of the children in Haiti, she struggles to maintain a healthy weight for her age. Sadly, this is not an unfamiliar sight after three months with CNP. What was unexpected, however, was the reason behind her inability to absorb adequate nutrients; a sincerely sinister culprit— Worms. Three of them to be exact, and more were likely on their way out. Each of them 4-5 inches in length, and no wider than a crazy straw. Her father had gathered them in a clear plastic bag after retreating from their host, post-Albendazole dosage from Medecins Sans Frontiers.

Albendazole is de-worming medication. One Albendazole pill will not only rid the recipient of hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and other worms that are commonly found in Haiti, but also protect them for four months afterward. Millions of Haitians remain afflicted by worms that can cause anemia, vitamin deficiencies, a weakened immune system, lethargy, and poor cognitive development in children. Dehydration is a serious concern as well, since worms magnify the effects of diarrhea. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that worms can consume up to 20% of a child’s nutrition intake. In Haiti, many children are malnourished, and cannot afford the loss of nutrition to parasites.

Claire is now a patient of our PTA (Programme Therapeutique Ambulatoire) where we are monitoring her recovery from the intestinal parasites, and supplementing her diet with pounds of PlumpyNut to make up for the stolen calories and vitamins. Thanks to Albendazole, Miss Pierre is now the sole beneficiary of her nutrient consumption, and will soon be a healthy and happy two-year old!

The Vitamin A Song!

Kenbe Mwen Anvi

Our monitrices practicing educational nutrition songs at our training this week

Lekol
Whether you’re cruising through the city or hiking in the mountains, you’re guaranteed to spot groups of children en route to school, light blue UNICEF backpacks in tow. Their uniforms are always clean and pressed, in spite of the dusty roads they walk on. The colors are vibrant and varied, changing not only depending on which school they attend, but by grade as well. The boys sport shorts or trousers while the girls wear skirts and matching hair ribbons, and everyone tucks their tops in with a belt. 
These gentlemen are on their way home from primary school in Citronnier, the 6th section of Leogane.

Lekol

Whether you’re cruising through the city or hiking in the mountains, you’re guaranteed to spot groups of children en route to school, light blue UNICEF backpacks in tow. Their uniforms are always clean and pressed, in spite of the dusty roads they walk on. The colors are vibrant and varied, changing not only depending on which school they attend, but by grade as well. The boys sport shorts or trousers while the girls wear skirts and matching hair ribbons, and everyone tucks their tops in with a belt. 

These gentlemen are on their way home from primary school in Citronnier, the 6th section of Leogane.