Sionfonds for Haiti Blog

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Buy Tickets for Sionfonds September 25, 2016 Fundraiser, Dinner and Auction

Buy Tickets for Sionfonds September 25, 2016 Fundraiser, Dinner and Auction

Please join us for our annual fundraiser

When: Sunday, September 25, 2016, 4pm to 8pm
@ Venga Paella
229 Brush St
Oakland, CA
View Google Map

We hope you will join us and bring a friend.
It is a fun party for a great cause.
Tickets are $45 each

We will have tapas, pealla and drinks.
Rolando Moralas will set the tone with his beautiful music.
Our silent auction promises great deals and an excellent way to support education in Haiti.
A lot has happened this year at our schools and we have some exciting plans for the future we would like to share with you.

Dinner will include cocktails, sangria, or wine, appetizers, salad and Paella.

Hope to see you soon !

Make a Reservation
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Happy Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday! We love this day so much we want it to last all week.

What a great idea to remind us while we are getting into the holiday spirit by giving thanks on Thanksgiving, shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for the holidays, that we can also remember to give to those who are most in need of our help.

And I will put it to you straight, Sionfonds is in desperate need of your support this holiday season. Our school communities, teachers and students are diligently working in Haiti but without your help, our schools cannot continue.
So we would like to help you with a common holiday problem, in exchange for your helping us to continue to provide an education and jobs in Haiti we want to help you to find the perfect gift to show your appreciation to the hard to buy for person on your holiday gift list.

This whole week Giving Tuesday gives twice. Donate to Sionfonds this week and we will send a thank you gift and handmade Beneco card made from Haiti with your personal message to the recipient of your choice. Below are some suggested programs to support and corresponding gifts to choose from.

Make your donation

Email me and tell me which program you donated to and who to send your thank you gift too.

We will include information on Sionfonds in Haiti, with the card and gift.

Thank you so much for giving the gift of hope and changing lives in Haiti.

Happy Holidays,
Annie Blackstone

Founder and CEO
Sionfonds for Haiti

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The Medical Team Climbed Up the Mountain…

The Medical Team Climbed Up the Mountain…

Yesterday morning as a group we woke and prepared for a long day. All of our supplies and medicines concentrated down to only what was absolutely necessary  for the clinic up the mountain we loaded up everything in the back of the truck.

Check out the handy bag holders/weights we picked up along the way.

Dirk, Brandon and Devin aka the masters of the universe

After an hour and a half drive we reached the the bottom of the mountain.

Let’s get this started…

The children from the school met us to help carry our bags.

DSCF0597

To say this hike is steep, and brutal to a seasoned athlete is putting it mildly. It is 2-3 miles straight up the mountain. The views are incredible, still they do not match the smiles of the children. Once we arrived we were welcomed though the gates of the school, and chatted with children, as they took things out of our arms to put in the office waiting for us.

After a long hike these smiles make it all worth it

School Office

We set up shop in respective buildings, left to right being Optometry, Dental, and Pharmacy. Outside was where our triage/Dr. Offices and Student Sponsor updates were completed.

Well child check ups for all 350 students were done in  the classrooms  by Dr. Dirk Smith  and Alicia Cheney. Alicia and Dirk said the 5 classes in tarp and pole structures were unbareably hot and dark and they wondered how the children were able to learn in them completeing additional classrooms is a current need of this school.

Well Child Check-ups

Our first patient of the day was a precious six year old student with her four front teeth so rotted in her mouth Dr. Bulloch was concerned that they might come out in pieces.She was not excited to have them pulled. That is an understatement. Yet, she was amazingly brave and did an incredible job holding still while she was numbed and had her teeth pulled.

Dr. Office

We were able to see approximately 550 patients, including well checks for our 350 students at Masson and community members.

Our waiting room

Masson is an amazing school with many dedicated teachers. It is so very rural and difficult to get to, it is evident they have to few resources to provide  nutrition and healthcare for their children. They need our help. We need to reinstate the  feeding program at this school. Lack of funding has caused us not to provide food for these children yet this year.

A typical home for our students

The day was spent quickly doing everything that we could do before it got dark, as we set out down the mountain rain began to drizzle, we were happy to see our waiting vehicles and friendswaiting to take us back into the city. Fresh grapefruit  from up the mountain was waiting for us at the bottom. As we rested and breathed in the end to beautiful challenging day, views from both directions spoke what we didn’t need to.

The sun sets on the last day of the Medical part of our trip

This day ended the Medical part of our trip. The friends that we made and priceless moments we spent in service are a bond we all carry with us . Sionfonds is a gift of Passion given to those involved. We all return home better, more thankful people. To join our next trip, or for more information click here.

Our lovely motley crew at the bottom of the mountain

We finished off our day with a tired but successful group picture.

What an incredible day. The Immediate Needs we see at our Masson school are:

  • Our goal is to build an additional two classrooms to our school at Masson, to get the kids out of the dark tarp classrooms they currently are now in.
  • One deep concern we as a staff and educators share is the nutrition needs at Masson. Because the school is on the top of the mountain, many children burn what precious calories they do have in hiking to and from school.
  • Our funding to have the feeding program at Masson is depleted, we can see the immediate results, many children were once again malnourished with extended bellies and brassy brown hair. This is something anyone can do, on a large or small scale.

To feed a child is around $15 per month, there are 350 students. Contributing to this fund is enormous for the children of Masson. Please see what you have in your heart to help these children accomplish their dreams….

Why we do what we do….

Why we do what we do….

Yesterday morning after hiking through some rolling hills we arrived at our Kenscoff school. Already many were waiting for us. One woman in particular stood out. She barley seemed to be able to sit up let alone stand. She was pale and very ill. She was seen immediately by our Physicians. She had an extreme infection on her finger that had begun two weeks ago, and by now had tracked up her arm towards her elbow. The heat of the infection was palpable. Both American and Haitian Dr.’s pooled forces and information.
Discussing all options and the likely hood of her having opportunity and finances to attend a local hospital being little to none, they decided to do a small operation to remove the infection (what the doctors agreed was a “pyogenic granuloma”) and be proactive with both oral and topical antibiotics. She was in so much pain and very weak. After hydrated with IV fluids, her finger and hand were numbed, and her finger lanced.

Dr. Dirk Smith did an amazing job gently cleaning and lancing the infection


She was so very brave as her sweet husband held her while she held still for the procedure. We were all so very touched by the concern and love between this sweet couple.

Husband Attends to Wife

Her husband, so very worried

This is a perfect example of how very basic things like a finger infection can very easily turn into someone losing their arm, ore worse septic and dying. This is why Haiti needs available medical care, this is such a small drop in the bucket of enormous need we see everyday. But for now, for today, we had the beautiful opportunity to help this sweet woman keep her arm, and let her loving husband keep his wife.

 

When she came back the next day, she was smiling and saying how much better she felt, wanting to know where Amber was from, because we are now all her family.

Cavaillon School Trip

Cavaillon School Trip

So far our Medical trip has been off to an amazing start. Though we had a couple of unforeseen bumps in the road preventing us from being able to jump in our first full day in country, things have been surprisingly smooth and we have been so blessed to serve so many of our students, their families and the community. It is not with out the help and hearts of our amazing donors and volunteers could this work continue.

Day one, we entered Port-au-Prince, pleased to see new developments of transportation and organization in the airport. Once through we loaded up our luggage and our group and away we traveled the long dark and windy roads to Le Cayes. Four hours later we reached our destination for a late dinner and time to unwind and plan for the next day.

Day two we spent most of the day in our mock Pharmacy organizing medication, and counting out vitamins for adults and children.

The next morning we packed up our supplies and drove to our school in Cavaillon, beginning over a paved road that quickly turning into a bedrock covered windy path that was a very muddy and difficult to drive on road.

Cavaillon School

As we drove the images of women washing clothes in the stream, children walking to school and the many half clothed children watching as we and they passed by, reminded us why we were here.
Once arriving, our patients had already been waiting. Ready, patient and hopeful for relief, help, painful teeth to be pulled and so much more.

Our Cavaillon school is built on a hillside extending from a previous home, built out of wood and corrugated metal. The pre-school students use the one room bedroom in the house, as the rest of the students sit in open tarp-lined classrooms with a foundation of cement. The hillside between classrooms is steep and very challenging to walk on in the mud.

Denistry

Denistry

Fluoride Treatments

Still they come. The children, many walking for hours to reach their destination.. This day we worked tirelessly. First with the lines of triage, dividing who needed to go in which direction whether it be, fluoride treatments, oral surgery, the pharmacy, the medical clinic, the optometry, while another team worked on updates of children for sponsorship after their well child checks.

Our 3 Haitian Doctors and 3 visiting American Doctors managed to see around 450 patients. Dental clinic servicing 74 men women and children, including pulling many teeth.

The Optometrist Clinic helped 70 people this day, it was beyond touching watching a little girl witness the the world clearly for the first time, the way her sweet mouth formed a perfect “O” as she looked around blinking and seeing, actually seeing.

As we worked with our students on updates, taking pictures, working on sponsorship booklets, the light in their eyes was not easily missed as they proudly showed what they have been learning. What their dreams are, and who they hope to be.

Thank you. We are so grateful to all that give and contribute to our foundation. Your donations big or small are reaching far and making such a difference.

Cavaillon School Students

Cavaillon School Students

If you are interested in helping our Cavaillion School here are some of our most immediate needs:

67 children are sharing one classroom. We need to divide the class in half and hire another teacher. To do this we need $250 to build another classroom/awning. Also to add another teacher which will be about $100 per month. School supplies are desperately needed. Every child could use a school supply stipend yearly of only $13 a year, what a difference $13 can make. Out of our of the 360 students at Cavaillion, only 14 are sponsored.

Our goal before Christmas is 15 more students. Please consider this as an incredible gift for that loved one that has everything; or a combined gift for your favorite teacher.

As always thank you for being part of this massive dream. Change is happening, and it is beautifull

Pieces

Pieces

Robenson, who is the director of Kenscoff school  said to me yesterday, that the reason he believes in education so deeply is because, as he tapped his head “this is all  I have, and with it I can change my life and help others. If I can educate  200 children  and they each help even 10 children themsleves that will still make a difference and something like  that, can change Haiti”.

This morning Kingsley one of the medical students who participates in our medical trips and works at the General Hospital was talking  to me about Haiti and how the reason I come here  and work so hard, must be that  I want everyone to be healthy. We began to talk about  what Haiti would be like if everyone was healthy and had enough to eat and clean water to drink. It was a wonderful vision.

Yesterday we met with a boy who lost his foot during the  earthquake, his mother gave birth to his sister as they lay  in the yard of the hospital waiting for help, in the days after  the earthquake. Yesterday, I was there, to check on the family for my friend Shellie, who found them there in the hospital yard, last January and has been helping them since.

We met on the street in Petionville. He is a shy young man, I asked a few questions about his family and his health but got quickly to  point, money. How much does it cost him to go to school? How much for his English lessons? How about his sisters tuition? How does his mother support him? He looked away from us as he answered. It is hard for me to be a stranger asking so many personal questions of someone I have never met before.

Sionfonds programs are administered by Haitians so people receiving services from us do not have to be questioned by someone like me who has never  lived a life like theirs, who does not know what it is to live  in a tiny shelter without any income, praying that  someone will think of them and send them some money so they can eat.

Even though we were all uncomfortable, I keep asking questions, nonchalantly acting like I have a right to know his situation and maybe I do have at least a good reason, because if I don’t find out what his family’s needs are  I won’t be able to report them to Shellie.

I came to check on his education but have found something  else, the family is not eating except  when the someone sends money or gives them food.  Shellie has paid for the two older  children go to school  and sent packages down to them, the shoes and shirt he is wearing are from Shellie.

As we talk and I ask the same question in a variety of ways, it becomes clear that they are not eating  everyday.

The thing is that is hard, is that  in Haiti many people do not eat every day. When a family in the neighborhood does have food they share  with their neighbors because who knows who will be hungry next and be in need of the generosity of others.

Trying to wrap this post up in a neat little package is escaping me, but I know the pieces are  here.

What is clear is that really, all any of us  has, is what we carry in our heads and hearts and what we do with that.

annie

Haiti gets into your heart

Haiti gets into your heart

Haiti gets into the hearts of  people who come here in a way that is, I believe, unique. I know it did for me, and many of my friends and even after many years of leading groups here I am still inspired and in love with this place. It is rewarding for me  to see a love for Haiti take root  and grow in the medical teams we bring to Haiti.

It is particularly remarkable because of the challenging nature of our expeditions.

Traveling on bad roads in cramped vehicles, setting up clinics in  buildings that are  not designed to hold 6 doctors, 3 dentists, a pharmacy and dental hygiene team, plus all the interpreters and staff required to manage 100’s of sick and impatient people.

It happens in spite of all the  challenges, or maybe because of all the hardship, the rewards are greater, I don’t know but I witness Haiti taking root and  growing in their hearts of each person who participates in our medical trips. By the end of the week each person is making plans to return on another trip or to help in some way.  And many are planning to bring their friends and family.

We do amazing things our medical providers, many of them having served in other developing countries become committed to our cause so we know that what we are doing is medically valid, as well as helping the desperately needed by the people we serve who do not have access to medical or dental care.

It can be heart breaking for practitioners of modern medicine to have no recourse but to offer less than the very best that modern medicine can offer. But  when it becomes clear that  referring a patient to the hospital or a specialist is not an option, somehow, we are able to save lives anyway. Or on occasion when there is a hospital near by taking a dying infant there in our vehicles and paying for treatment can save a life.

In  Marigot we had two such cases, a tiny sick baby less than 6 weeks old  had not drank or eaten in 3 days, she would still respond but just barely.  She would certainly have died later that day if we had not been able to quickly send her off to Jacmel where there was a hospital. These cases always leave me thinking about other babies and mothers in Haiti who are not as lucky as to have   a mobile clinic show up that day in their village.

Another was an old woman carried in mostly unconscious, soiled with diarrhea and vomiting. We  came ready to treat cholera and at first suspected that was what we were seeing. Whatever her ultimate diagnoses would be, treatment, to start was the same.  All the docs and nurses worked together discussing treatment and  our NP from Canada  Alicia, got an IV started with the one appropriate needle we had for the vein, less medical folks got the IV bag rigged up above her as she lay on the ground  on the terrace, the only space available. Then our ER nurse from Berkeley, Lois, took on the job of getting some medication in to her mashing up the medication in a cup (we did not have medicated fluid that could go into the IV) and mixing it with something that would help her get it down. To start with she threw it all back up but Lois kept on mashing and spoon feeding, and coaxing her to eat with the help of Thamara her interpreter.  All of our Haitian staff becomes involved with any person that comes to us really ill. Bringing them to our attention, making a path through the crowd and everyone immediately begins to help. As it turned out the woman was brought in by her neighbors.  She had no family, she was just being taken care of by the community.

At one point when we asked if it was possible for someone to go to the hospital with her, there was no one to go so we continued to do what we could at the clinic.

Eventually after two bags of IV fluid and medications she began to get a “little Fiesty” as Lois said. An hour later she was recovering well enough to sit up and the stand and even smile because of her response to the treatment our staff determined that it was not cholera.

Amazing.

Maybe that is how Haiti grows in our hearts when we see how we can make a difference, some with our medical or dental skills, all of us by just being here in someone’s hour of need.


Kenscoff school clinic day

Kenscoff school clinic day

Kenscoff is above Port au Prince past Petionville and yesterday was cold and rainy. This has been a trip full of unexpected events and it being cold and rainy fit right in.  The school was toward the top of a mountain which was shrouded in rain fog when I arrived.

On the way we had had a flat and then the land cruiser could not make it up the hill so I walked up the mountain and thru red clay mud to catch up with the rest of the team that had gotten there a bit before me- because of the flat.

The school was full to the brim with the families and students of the school the rain had gotten everyone inside but our staff and the teachers had the lines moving efficiently and the medical team was setting into seeing people as I arrived.

Each student at the school received medical and dental check ups and we began o a new sponsorship program at this school while we were there.  Everyone did a great job which was what we have come to expect by our last day on the trip.

After the clinic we all went out to dinner together and had a fabulous time. The best part was when many of the team members Haitian and northern American stood and made speeches about what on amazing experience  the last week has been.

Dr Scott Bullock summed it up for me saying that no matter how hard we work on these trips we always get back more than we give on these trips

We were all over flowing with love and gratitude for the chance to know and work with such wonderful people in such an amazing and challenging place

more soon

annie


Clinic in Chardonier

Clinic in Chardonier

Today we held a clinic in Chardonier a remote village close to the southern tip of Haiti. We passed  through beautiful green rice fields on our way to the coast which was stunningly beautiful and nothing like most of the photos you see of Haiti in the media.  (we will post photos from today asap) The roads are good, the ocean and sky blue, the town colorful and clean.

In fact there wasn’t even too much  evidence of the recent cyclone except standing water and a few downed trees  until two hours out of Le Cayes we came to a river that had been diverted from under the bridge to  beside it. That slowed us down a bit but eventually after calling for another car and and shuffling things around we got everyone to the building where we held the clinic. There are no doctors or dentist this far into the countryside the last visiting medical team  was 3 years ago, and no one remembered ever having dentists there. Even with all the visiting  aid groups in Haiti right now,  seeing foreigners drive by is an unusual sight.

We were able to see about 170 people medically and 90 people for dental despite our late start. We  left a bit late and the 6 hour  drive back to Port au Prince took its toll after a day of driving and and clinic. I am so proud of and grateful for all the amazing people who work together to create  these clinics, working hard and giving everything they have  each day. I can’t believe tomorrow will be our last clinic. Unfortunately the cyclone did mess up most of our plans for the trip, but our Haitian staff has managed to create new opportunities and communities for us to serve. We won’t be able to visit Masson or Cavaillon school because of road conditions but we will be visiting our new school in Kenscoff and having our first clinic there. We will let you know how that goes tomorrow I am sure it will be great!

Meanwhile here is something that the youngest member of our team wrote this morning about the trip

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Yesterday some of the group ventured out to take a tour of the General Hospital in Port au Prince, which is used as a teaching hospital. We were walking along and then all of the sudden we were on the hospital without even knowing it. I think maybe everyone was too busy looking at the sights and sounds all around us, to even notice we were there. Once we were through the gates, we could see that General Hospital had many buildings. Some that were damaged in the earth quake, and have been replaced by tents and small shed like buildings. The Emergency ward is what we toured first. Many people were being seen and it was relatively crowded. It was very eye opening to see how the people were being treated for their various illnesses. Everyone from tiny babies to the elderly were lumped together in the room so as to be treated. After our enlightening trip to Emergency, we toured around the hospital grounds looking at some of the damaged buildings and their replacements. People were standing in the streets just waiting for their loved ones to come out. Everywhere there were children, calling out to you, coming to hold your hand and give you a hug and a kiss. Seeing all those children hooked up to IV’s and the people that were still waiting for medical attention hit me the most. I will definitely be coming back to Haiti!!!!

Savannah Cheney


Day Three Clinic in Auban

Day Three Clinic in Auban

The hurricane and the rain had subsided this morning as we left Marigot the sun sun was shining. There are many people we will remember in Marigot. One beautiful young woman had 5 teeth pulled and kept asking the dentist about whether it was okay that she had not eaten  and if she didn’t eat tomorrow? As it turned out she had not eaten and had no hopes of having anything to eat.  She  is 26 years old  and had 5 children. Our medical team pooled it resources and bought her the essentials, rice beans and cooking oil at a nearby market. This is not something we do regularly but we were moved by this women’s circumstance to act.

We packed up all our medications and luggage and headed for Auban a small community just outside of  Jacmel. We found a welcoming crowd waiting for us. We set up our dentists and oral surgeons in a small room behind the main medical clinic. Dental cleanings were in the main hall with our 6 American, Haitian, and Canadian doctors and nurses . They are averaging 165 medical treatments a day.

Driving back to Port au Prince there were many reminders of the hurricanes effects as we drove past mud slides and debris left behind.

Tomorrow we will go to Le Cayes and see more of Haiti setting up a clinic and hour south of there on Monday morning.


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