Friday, March 18, 2011

Taking his Painting on the Road...literally!

Check out Joseph Augustin's impressive new car treatment!

Joseph Augustin is an Artibonite painter, who meticulously painted one of the hospital vehicles. This mobile mural was in part a reaction to the many different international aid vehicles that have been circulating Haiti since last January's earthquake disaster. These vehicles are labeled with the organization's name -- but none, the artist said, seemed to really represent Haiti and the Haitian people.

The van that Mr. Augustin has painted for HAS Haiti has many different aspects of Haitian everyday life. On the back, Augustin even painted amputees going to the hospital, and emerging with new prosthetic limbs, and walking.

Silkscreen Printing!

As springtime weather starts to emerge here in Pittsburgh, we are greatly inspired by the art that is fully abloom in Haiti.

We've been keeping you regularly updated as to the progress of our newest project, the Philip Craig Arts program. This past week, two local high-schoolers, Erin and Miller, journeyed to Haiti to teach silkscreen printing through PCAP.

And what were their self-professed goals?
1) Set up screens and ink and other supplies
2) Get kids and people in the art program and around the hospital to share with us their dreams for Haiti through printing
4) Have fun!
3) Save the world. (well...maybe)

Erin writes of their first day teaching amputees and disabled Haitians to make prints: "This morning was awesome. About twenty people came to learn to screen print behind the prosthetic legs clinic where we set up. We made Haitian flags in red and blue which were super popular. One guy thought it was so cool he took off his shirt and printed the flag right on it. Smiles and eager learners were welcome sights after months of planning.

"The prints were far from perfect, but that is what makes them so interesting. What's cool about the printing process is that the slight imperfections of each print make them unique and personal to each individual."

HTRIP Highlights

Dear Supporters,

February was devoted primarily to finishing HTRIP's work from the first half of the dry season, and to preparing for the busier months of March and April. We began tree nurseries in our current communities, reached out to the new communities that will begin to work with us in the 2011-2012 year, and prepared for a visit from a group of agro-forestry experts.

Although HTRIP believes strongly in the importance of participating communities sustaining small, self-sufficient tree nurseries, we still do a great deal to both nurture these community efforts, and foster long-term sustainability from the very start. This year, we built hundreds of germinating trays, and bought and distributed 567 shovels, picks, hoes, digging bars, wheelbarrows, and other essential tools to our 41 participating communities. These tools were used for nursery and soil conservation work. We bought nearly 295,000 small seedling bags ourselves, and we hope that the additional bags that community members recycle will bring our total tree production this year to close to our goal of 400,000 trees. HTRIP's nursery specialist Gérard Alvarez was particularly busy in January and February; not only did he work overtime in HTRIP's central nursery in Deschapelles, but he also managed to visit more than half of our communities' local nurseries to lend a hand in places that have struggled in the past, teaching them more efficient cultivation techniques.

This month, HTRIP also began to reach out to new communities. Each year we select ten new communities (communities also select us!) on a rolling basis. In our final decision-making process, we consider the extent of deforestation, the community's interest in agro-forestry techniques, and cohesion and leadership within that community, but we also take socio-economic issues into account. This year we are making a special effort to focus on communities where reports compiled by Hôpital Albert Schweitzer show that cholera and malnutrition rates are highest. Diseases like cholera and tuberculosis are diseases of tropical poverty, and the central tenet of HTRIP's mission is to use environmental restoration to fight poverty in the mountains that HAS servers, so this is a natural step. We look forward to taking on more challenging communities this year.

As we begin the new month, we not only look forward to beginning a new year of konbit (or "community tilling/gardening") days to prepare the terrain for tree planting, but we are also eager for a special visit from masters students taking a course offered jointly by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and its School of Public Health. The course focuses on sustainable development in the post-disaster context of Haiti, and is spotlighting HAS's work (view course description here). There is a specialized agro-forestry group within the class that will be advising HTRIP on exciting new possibilities like shade-grown crops and the introduction of new tree species.

Thank you for supporting these endeavors!


The HTRIP Staff, including Starry Sprenkle and Dan Langfitt

About the Images:
TOP LEFT: HTRIP's Gérard Alvarez visited 26 communities in January and February.
BOTTOM RIGHT: HTRIP reaches to mountain communities where poverty is perhaps felt the most.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Arielle's Story

There are no coincidences in Haiti
By Lauren Lyons, MSPT

I had the privilege of spending two weeks at HAS working with the staff of the Hanger Clinic and HAS's Rehabilitation Services Integration Initiative (which includes the Rehabilitation Technician Training Program). My time at HAS was preceded by a week teaching rehabilitation to nurses at the Justinian Hospital in Cap Haitian.

During our time in Cap, we met two journalists from an organization called Food for the Poor, who were staying at the same hotel. Upon hearing that we were therapists, they immediately brought out their cameras to show us a child they wanted us to meet.

Six-year-old Arielle both sustained an injury to her right hand and lost her left leg below the knee in the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. After the quake, her family was relocated to Cap Haitian for medical care and since their formal discharge had been living in a makeshift shack in a swamp. Her mother had been severely injured in a car accident eight years prior, and had also sustained a partial foot amputation.

Our new acquaintances wanted to know what we could do, if anything, to help. However, our time in Cap Haitian was limited, and so we did not have the chance to go meet Arielle. Even so, we took her name and contact information, as we were aware that there was no one in that area doing prosthetics.
In a short time, we left Cap Haïtien for Deschapelles and HAS Haiti, without having seen the little girl, and not sure whether we ever would. However, after the first two hours that I spent in the Hanger Clinic my first day at HAS, I knew it was the right place to bring her. Food for the Poor helped us contact her, and even arranged transportation to HAS. She arrived two days later. Our incredible prosthetists, Chris Blades and Eric Ramcharran, cast artificial limbs for both her and her mother, turning them around in less than twenty-four hours. Arielle and her mother lived in the LaScale housing community so that she could receive physical therapy and training with her new leg. She quickly made progress, building strength, and soon she was able to walk. Within a very short period of time she even started running and climbing the steps.

Although Arielle was experiencing having an artificial limb for the first time, this was not the case for her mother. This woman came in with an ancient prosthesis, which had been almost completely destroyed and was hardly usable. She was also fit with new bracing, and as a result she was able to get rid of her crutch and walk with an almost normal gait pattern.

And, what is more: Food for the Poor is in the process of building them new housing so that this small family has a home to return to. The amazing work being done by the Hanger staff, in partnership with HAS and this collaboration with Food for the Poor is truly putting people back on their feet again. It was my blessing to be a part of the amazing work being done there.

Tout moun gen you bwa dèyè bannan yo ~ Everyone has someone to support him.

About the Images:
Top Left: Arielle and her sister upon arrival
Middle Right: Arielle being fitted for a cast by Chris, Mom being cast by Eric.
Middle Left: Arielle's cast ready for socket fabrication.
Bottom Right: First steps with Lauren and Chris.