Hand in Hand with Haiti – a project of EMAS Canada
June 2013 – a Ten Year Review
Hand in Hand with Haiti is a project of EMAS Canada (Education, Medical Aid and Service), which is a Christian, interdenominational, charitable, non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada and in Hong Kong, which partners with organizations in healthcare initiatives, in reasource limited communities.
Hand in Hand with Haiti is a partnership between EMAS Canada and the El Shaddai Church community in Port-au-Prince Haiti. This project has four major areas of focus.
Focus #1 – YEAR-ROUND PROGRAMS
1993 – The late Pasteur Saint-Hilaire Faniel established a new church in a community on the north east edge of Port-au-Prince.
1994 – Supplemental Nutrition Program began as a meal offered to neighbourhood children by El Shaddai Church members whenever they were able to gather enough resources.
2005 – Imago Dei Elementary School began with four classes (K-3yrs, K-4yrs, K-5yrs and grade 1) and met in the church building. Additional grades were added each year. Their first grade six graduation occurred in 2010. To date, 100% of their graduates have passed the Haitian national state Grade Six exams.
By 2009, the 2 programs merged into a primary school program that offers its students and staff three cooked meals weekly.
Enrollment in eleven classes (K-3yrs, K-4yrs, K-5yrs, grades 1 to 8) is currently at 211. The students and staff receive 3 cooked lunches weekly. Staff includes eleven teachers, 4 teaching assistants and 9 additional staff (principal, cooks, security, custodian etc) for a total of 24 people employed at Imago Dei. It costs approximately $360/year for a student to attend Imago Dei and receive three meals each week. None of the families are able to afford tuition; 100% of all school fees are subsidized. The El Shaddai Church contributes what it can but most of the needed funds are raised in Canada.
The next program focus is to reduce poverty by increasing the employability of members of the community. Additional courses in trades, marketable skills and languages for youth and adults will be explored as appropriate resources become available.
Focus #2 – ANNUAL TEACHING TEAM
Dr Pierre Plourde first went to Haiti in 1982 as a medical student with the help of EMAS Canada. In 2000 Pasteur Saint-Hilaire encouraged Dr. Plourde to consider bringing EMAS Teams to Haiti to offer free clinics for the people in the neighbourhood around El Shaddai Church. Dr. Plourde returned to Haiti in 2002 for the 5th time to explore the feasibility of this option. The first EMAS Haiti Team of five arrived in Port-au-Prince at the invitation of the El Shaddai Church in January 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Plourde. Rachelle Brière joined the team in 2009 and is now the EMAS Haiti Deputy Team Leader. Krista Waring provides administrative and logistical support for the team as well as for the other three foci of Hand in Hand with Haiti.
An EMAS Haiti Team has gone annually since 2004 and over the past 10 years 51 different Canadians have participated and experienced a taste of Haiti through these missions (10 have gone more than once). While in Haiti, team members work along side Haitian health care workers (under the supervision of Dr. Robert, a Haitian physician) and an average of 350 patients are served each year. Patients receive their prescriptions free of charge because every EMAS Haiti Team is accompanied by Physician Travel Packs (PTPs) filled with essential medicines and supplies obtained from Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC), costing up to $6,500 annually.
We can now accommodate a maximum of twelve team members on an EMAS Haiti Team Mission. All members need to have a good working knowledge of French and English. In addition to the Team Leader, Pierre Plourde and the Deputy Team Leader, Rachelle Briere, priority is given to including a dentist and optometrist on each team.
The team can also take up to:
- Two 4th year medical students. University of Manitoba offers a four week elective in Tropical Medicine in Haiti. The student elective includes attending the WRHA Travel Health and Tropical Medicine Clinic at 490 Hargrave Street (Winnipeg).
- Two 4th year nursing students. Université Saint Boniface and University of Ottawa credit the work in Haiti toward the clinical hours required by their Graduate Nursing program.
- Two high school students (each with one parent).
It costs approximately $3000 per person to be an EMAS Haiti Team member and each member must raise funds (or self finance) to cover their share of the cost of the mission. As this is challenging for students, opportunities to apply for student grants are explored to help subsidize the cost for students.
The opportunity to teach health care professors and students at a national level in Haiti has recently come about as a result of invitations to teach at:
- Hôpital Universitaire de l’État d’Haïti (HUEH) in Port-au-Prince, the largest medical school in Haiti, which suffered 80-85% destruction of its facilities in the January 2010 earthquake.
- Hôpital Sainte Thérèse d’Haïti (HSTH) in Hinche, two hours drive northeast of Port-au-Prince. HSTH is a former mission hospital established in 1925, and now operated as a public hospital under the auspices of the Haitian government Ministry of Population and Public Health (MSPP) in partnership with Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante (PIH/ZL), a large Boston-based NGO.
The fact that both Pierre and Rachelle are able to teach in French, and have a basic working knowledge of Haitian Creole, along with significant experience ‘on the ground’ with the El Shaddai community and Dr. Robert’s nursing school will make their teaching both relevant and effective.
These future opportunities should not replace the current mission format but will enhance the mission by having those qualified to teach arrive earlier or stay on after the El Shaddai clinic is complete, extending the duration of the mission.
Focus #3 – CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
The El Shaddai Church, established in 1993, originally built a two-story structure on a small piece of land (ES1) in an established slum on the northeast edge of Port-au-Prince. After ten years the church outgrew their building and began to look for another location. In 2005, a larger piece of land (two km from ES1, designated as ES2) was purchased with the help of donations through EMAS Canada.
Construction began August 2008 on a foundation for a traditional church that would also serve as a school. Pasteur Saint-Hilaire’s untimely death in January 2009 brought this project to a halt. EMAS Canada and the El Shaddai community elders agreed to a 12-month period of grieving, thus simply maintaining the current school and nutritional programs and providing time to restructure their leadership model.
One year later, the January 2010 earthquake reduced their ES1 church/school building to rubble along with 40% of the buildings in their community. The El Shaddai programs went from cramped space to no space in a mater of minutes.
Once immediate concerns were addressed (accounting for everyone, burying the dead, tending the injured and distributing food) the elders turned their attention to construction. At the second property (ES2) a deep borehole and hand pump were secured providing safe drinking water (funded by Christian Medical Dental Society), a security wall was built and a temporary shelter serving as the school was established. In early April 2010, Imago Dei was one of the first schools in Haiti to re-open following the devastating earthquake.
At ES1, the rubble was removed and brought to ES2 to be crushed and used as fill in the foundations of the future buildings. With the rubble cleared, a new one-story building was completed at ES1 in time for the EMAS Haiti Team to run a clinic in May 2010.
Engineering Ministries International (eMi) Canada also arrived in May 2010 to work with the community elders on a design to develop ES2.
Construction continues over a 4 to 5 month period annually, during the dry season. Workers have all learned to Build Better than Before by using construction techniques that meet earthquake and hurricane resistant standards. The Haitian National Ministry of Public Works has reviewed the eMi plans, carried out periodic inspections of the ES2 construction project, and has designated each of the completed buildings as a ‘Community Disaster Relief Shelter’ for the neighborhood.
eMi continues to offer support and consultation. Currently they are revising the plans for the courtyard to include an access ramp and take into account the two stair cases that were added to the original plans.
The next construction phase (3) will begin in November 2013 provided fundraising goals are met (estimated budget for phase 3 is $250,000).
With Phases 3, 4, 5 and 6 remaining the primary focus is to complete the development of ES2. Through this process, approximately 20-25 Haitian engineers and construction workers will be well trained and experienced in earthquake and hurricane resistant construction methods.
Focus #4 – PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Until the 2010 earthquake Public Engagement was limited to waiting for invitations to speak at occasional church events. However, the 2010 earthquake heightened interest in Haiti leading to formal branding of the project, Hand in Hand with Haiti which has subsequently received media attention and as a result a broader interest in the project. Dr Plourde was also honored by Doctors Manitoba with the Dr. Jack Armstrong Humanitarian Award in May 2010, which also increased interest in this project in the medical profession.
At the same time, both the expansion of the project’s Year-Round Programs, the increased opportunities for youth to participate in the Annual EMAS Team and the significant post-earthquake Construction has created a need to raise more financial support that ever before.
Membership in the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation in 2011 provided the opportunity to enhance public engagement and develop the tools to ensure that fundraising efforts do not undermine but support the principles of international development.
In addition to speaking at various events, an annual awareness and fundraising event is organized, RUN…Hand in Hand with Haiti. This event aims to help raise the overall health and well being of our Winnipeg community while supporting the El Shaddai community in Haiti with their efforts to raise the overall health and well being of the people in their neighborhood.
RUN…Hand in Hand with Haiti is an opportunity for Winnipeggers of all ages to get out, enjoy beautiful Assiniboine Park and be active. This event has been endorsed by Fair Trade Manitoba. Fair Trade provides a guaranteed wage, prohibits abusive child labor, encourages sustainable farming, and supports community development. This means that products used at the event are compostable, reusable, locally produced or sweatshop free. In addition to raising public awareness for our particular projects in Haiti, we endeavor to raise awareness on global Fair Trade issues as well.
Recently, the MB Runners’ Association offered us the chance to take over one of their events, ‘the Awesome Twosome’. This worked well for both organizations, so for 2013, we are pleased to introduce – RUN…the Awesome Twosome with Haiti.