Marquis Gibson, ASB-Haiti Co-Coordinator Reflects

Photograph by Kerry-Ann Hamilton/Marquis Gibson and Phelisha Midy, ASB-Haiti co-coordinators, work on foundation for the Microfinance Bank being built by the Haitian American Caucus in Croix Des Bouquets, Haiti.

For me, ASB Haiti means going beyond the call of duty to be of service to someone else. It reminds me, and other people who embark on service projects there, that service learning is needed across the globe. It’s so significant because there are many disparities in terms of education, economics and the environment, that can eliminated and our presence in various areas are small steps at eliminating them. The impact, especially in Haiti, is powerful especially as African-Americans because the communities that we aim to help are exposed to student-servants that look like them. As a co-coordinator of the ASB Haiti 2012 trip, the trip was my way of keeping my promise to the commitment I made last year, which was to continue to help people of Haiti. I worked specifically with the construction and after-school programs at HAC-Haiti; it was an excellent way to continue my promise.”

Sam Darguin, HAC-Haiti Executive Director, Thanks Howard University ASB-Haiti

This weekend, we concluded the Howard University Alternative Spring Break mission to Haiti. For the second consecutive year, Howard has responded to the needs in post-earthquake Haiti. We partnered with the Haitian American Caucus-Haiti based in Croix Des Bouquets, 15 miles east of Port-au-Prince.

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“Howard came with skills,” said Samuel Darguin, executive director of the Haitian American Caucus. “They provided hearing screenings, dental work, STD training, taught in our classrooms and adult program as well as helped with our construction of the micro finance bank.”

Darguin adds, “Having students of color reaching out to people of color makes the impact that much more significant…Thank you to Howard! Hopefully this is the beginning of an enduring relationship.”

Last week, Howard led a number of activities in Haiti. In case you missed it, here are some highlights:

Haitian-Born Professor Fred Williams Sparks Passion and Purpose

Howard Provides Hearing Screenings for Children, Adults in Haiti

Video: Merci Howard University from Ecole Shalom in Haiti

Screen Shot of Thank You Video with Howard University and Wagner College, both schools volunteered at the Haitian American Caucus in Croix Des Bouquets, Haiti during Spring Break 2012

Howard University’s Alternative Spring Break Volunteers Get a big “Thank You” from the Students at Ecole Shalom in Croix Des Bouquets, 15 miles east of Port-au-Prince.

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Haitian-Born Professor Fred Williams Sparks Passion and Purpose

Photographs by Kerry-Ann Hamilton/HU Communications – Professor Fred Williams teaches students in the sixth grades at Ecole Shalom in Crox Des Bouquets, Haiti. The student on the right with his hand raised is Richard Germain.
Meet Professor Fred Williams and three poignant dates in his life:

February 7, 1946, the day he was born in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince.

May 29, 1969, the day he left Haiti to pursue a better life in the United States

March 17, 2012, today he leaves Haiti after one of his most rewarding trips to his native homeland in more than four decades.

This week, Williams taught the sixth grade grammar French class. The students were tackling the agreement of the past participle and the conditional.

“I observed the class for the first day and thought I could help them,” Williams said.

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Everyday for an hour, he lectured in teacher Natalie’s class. It was there Professor Williams met Richcard Germain. Germain, 11, sat attentively in the front row – he would gently nod his head as Professor Williams explained with vivid examples. The shy but smart boy from Croix Des Bouquets, 15 miles west of Port-au-Prince, would smile when he understood. He was the first to raise his hand to answer a question posted to the class.

He has big dreams and Professor Williams encourage him to pursue them.  “I want to be a doctor,” Germain said.

“I want to help my mother and sick people.”   When Williams asked how Germain would become a doctor, he said, “I work very hard and study.”

Germain’s dedication and drive is something Professor Williams recognizes because education was a top priority for him as a child. He, too, studied hard and was determined to excel.  When the young Fred left Haiti at age 23, he was already in University and had experience working at two radio stations. In high school, he taught adults learners how to read and write. It was then that his love for teaching developed.

However when he arrived in the U.S., he enrolled in a lab tech program to get his “foot in the door.” But after one year, he moved to Canada to pursue his dream –teaching.   Ultimately, he earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Montreal where he studied French, literature, didactics of languages and minored in education.

In 1986, another milestone year, Williams took a job with Voice of America. He was then able to combine his love for teaching and communications. Now, he had the world as his classroom via the airwaves. He worked as a Haitian Creole content broadcaster for 21 years.

Following retirement, Williams joined the Howard University faculty as an adjunct lecturer. Four years ago, he became a fulltime faculty member of Haitian Creole and French in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.  Prior to his arrival in Haiti, Professor Williams spent several weeks teaching ASB-Haiti volunteers Haitian Creole 101. He was later asked to join the ASB-Haiti mission.

“I immediately said yes,” Williams said. “It was an opportunity to make a difference in Haiti.”

As he reflects on the trip, the 66-year-old Haitian-American is grateful for the opportunity to serve. He wished Germain and his classmates well and charged them to – “succeed in your dreams.”

Kerry-Ann Hamilton, director of strategic communications and marketing, is traveling with Howard University volunteers on their service mission to Haiti. The blog “Howard Brings Hope to Haiti” chronicles the travels and work of nearly two dozen students, faculty and staff during Alternative Spring Break 2012.

Howard Provides Hearing Screenings for Children, Adults in Haiti

Photographs by Justin D. Knight/HU Communications – Martine Elie, Ph.D., conducts hearing screenings at Ecole Shalom.

Martine Elie, Ph.D., director of the Speech and Hearing Clinic at Howard, answered the call to serve in Haiti for the second year. Elie is an only child in her family to be born in the U.S. Her parents and siblings were born in Haiti, a short drive from where she is currently volunteering in Croix Des Bouquets.

Elie screened nearly 100 children and adults at Ecole Shalom Des Freres in the small rural community known for its metal craftsmanship. A handful of children had hearing challenges.

“Overall, the children responded well to a range of frequencies,” Elie said. “There were about four students who will need special accommodations to ensure that have optimal participation in the classroom.”

Elie added, “It is important to identify them early for treatment, but also so teachers can know that this is a problem and place them in front or ensure that they are able to hear lessons and participate fully in activities.

In the case of adults, there were more cases of hearing loss and the need for follow up treatment including hearing aids. Elie wants to do more and plans to return to Haiti to give back to the country that gave her family so much.

Kerry-Ann Hamilton, director of strategic communications and marketing, is traveling with Howard University volunteers on their service mission to Haiti. The blog “Howard Brings Hope to Haiti” chronicles the travels and work of nearly two dozen students, faculty and staff during Alternative Spring Break 2012.

Howard Students Help to Build Microfinance Bank in Haiti

Photograph by Kerry-Ann Hamilton/HU Communications – Edna Juene and Judith Souffran meet at HAC-Haiti for a microfinance class.

Edna Juene, 29, lives in Croix Des Bouquets, Haiti where she sells Coca-Cola and other beverages. With the sun beating down on farmers and workers in the community, her business does well.

Juene, wanted to expand her business, but did not have the capital to do so. About a year ago, Juene learned about the Asosyasyon Fon Pam, microfinancing program offered by the Haitian American Caucus, Howard’s alternative spring break partner organization.

HAC-Haiti provides capital to small business in Croix Des Bouquets. The loans help beneficiaries, mostly women, to start or expand existing businesses.

The rural village known for its metal work is small rural township about 15 miles from Port-au-Prince.

In the first round of loans, approximately 20 small business owners received loans of $50 each. Today, there are more than 600 microfinance clients including Juene and Judith Souffran, a food vendor I spoke with earlier this week. However, there is a critical need  for more space.

Souffran sells food including Haitian staple fried green plantains.

“It has really helped me to take care of my family,” Souffran said with translation support from Jeanide Joseph. ” I send my two children to school and was able to grow my business.”

HAC-Haiti is building a microfinance bank about a quarter mile from its headquarters in Croix Des Bouquets.

The land was covered in trees and dense vegetation. Howard students along with other volunteers from Wagner College cleared the area with machetes to prepare the land. The group toiled in 90-degree weather to burn debris and to level the land.

Photograph by Justin Knight/HU Communications - Ricardo Noel, a masters degree candidate in the School of Education at Howard and a first generation Haitian-American.

For Ricardo Noel, a masters degree candidate in the School of Education and a first generation Haitian-American, this work is personal and his love for Haiti is infectious.

“Haiti has played a significant role in lives of Black people,” Noel said. “As a historically black college, recognizing Haiti’s contribution to the liberation of black people around the world, we now have the opportunity to give back and help Haiti in their current struggle.”

The work will continue for the next two days as Howard wraps up the alternative spring break mission in Haiti.

Kerry-Ann Hamilton, director of strategic communications and marketing, is traveling with Howard University volunteers on their service mission to Haiti. The blog “Howard Brings Hope to Haiti” chronicles the travels and work of nearly two dozen students, faculty and staff during Alternative Spring Break 2012.

Howard Students Provide Dental Care in Haiti

Photographs by Kerry-Ann Hamilton/HU Communications – L-R Third year dental students Atri Patel and Julia Williams teach student at Ecole Shalom Des Freres how to properly brush her teeth.

Ouvè bouch ou! Di ahhh! translated Open Wide! Say Ahhh!

Today, more than 70 Haitian school children received dental screenings in Croix Des Bouquets, approximately 30 minutes outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Arti Patel and Julia Williams, two dental students at Howard University, held a makeshift dental clinic in the schoolyard of Ecole Shalom Des Freres.

The third year dental students, Williams and Patel, were supported by a team of graduate and undergraduate students including Leoshay Lobley, Angel Mills and Saidat Ilo.

“Many diseases manifest first in the teeth,” said Williams. “We want to encourage the children to take good care of their teeth so they can improve their overall health.”

With the help of translators, the Alternative Spring Break-Haiti volunteers taught students how to brush their teeth, gums and tongue.

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“A lot of the children knew how to brush the teeth they could see well in the front of their mouth,” Patel said. “We spent most of the time showing them how to brush the teeth in the rear and on the tongue side of the mouth.”

Approximately, 20 percent of the children had decay or needed extraction. The dental team saw the deterioration especially present in older children. The students all received toothpaste and toothbrushes to take home. The work done by the Howard team is a precursor to a scheduled campus visit by a group of dental surgeons expected to arrive in May 2012.

Kerry-Ann Hamilton, director of strategic communications and marketing, is traveling with Howard University volunteers on their service mission to Haiti. The blog “Howard Brings Hope to Haiti” chronicles the travels and work of nearly two dozen students, faculty and staff during Alternative Spring Break 2012.

Photo Gallery: Howard in Haiti Day 1

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Photographs by Justin D. Knight/ University Communications

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