Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti Mission Trip
November 9-13, 2017
Fran Juste, Kelly Poole, Christine Perkins, Michaele Juste, Marie Lamarre, Lisa Berg, Racquel Walters, Isaiah W. Walker
The objective of this visit was for Helping Hands Bring Sunshine (HHBS) to provide blood sugar and blood pressure screening to the residents of Croix-des-Bouquets, and to conduct hand to hand distribution of toiletries, school supplies, clothing and food kits to the students and residents of the community.
Detail of Events
Day One | November 9, 2017 | Arrival, Briefing, and Organization of Items
The team arrived in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and immediately met with the local director of logistics and coordination, Evans Paul and the other local team members of HHBS. The team assembled at the Karibe Hotel, and was briefed by Fran Juste. The itinerary, goals, prospective challenges, and role specialization of the mission were discussed. The team sorted and organized the items for distribution, and the health screening.
Day Two | November 10, 2017 | Health Screening (Blood Sugar; Blood Pressure)
The team arrived in Croix-des-bouquets, and were warmly welcomed by the students, parents, and residents of the community. The team was introduced to the community, followed by the commencement of the health screening. Our clinical ambassadors screened approximately 150 community members. While the health screening was taking place, our HHBS ambassadors distributed kits containing hygienic products, topical ointments, and other donated items to the community members. Day One of the community engagement and distribution was a success, and culminated with an HHBS sponsored hot meal for the community members.
Day Three | November 11, 2017 | Distribution Day
The team conducted a detail sort of the items in terms of recipients’ size, age and gender, and they were packaged individually for easy distribution. Upon arriving to the community, the children parents and residents were delighted to see the HHBS team once again. Before the distribution began the some of the children danced individually for the audience and sang. They were given bookbags after their performances. The remaining book bags were also given to some of the children. The major distribution began with the clothing and shoes in the order of children to adults. Distribution of food kits to the parents of the children followed. The kits contained tin-food, rice, beans, sardines or salmon, sugar, and oil. The excess of the food kits was left behind for the school. Over 60 school bags were distributed, 100+ Children Clothing package, 100+ adults clothing package, 400+ Food kits were distributed. The HHBS team members were individually given a token of appreciation from and the students and the teachers. The school family and the community members were overwhelmingly thankful for the donations and supplies.
Day Four | November 12, 2017 | Debriefing Day & Recognition Day
The debriefing was call to order by Fran. She expressed her gratitude to each ambassador. Fran also gave tokens of appreciation the local HHBS team members for their years of dedication and hard work. Each ambassador gave an account of their experience, observation, recommendations and opportunities for improving future mission trips.
Day Five | November 12, 2017 | Departure
The team made a final assessment of the mission trip as they departed from Port-Au-Prince.
The school community is dependent on HHBS for sustainability and growth. The school population has grown and has reached its maximum capacity. Students with different talents, abilities, and skills make up the school population. As a result, the teachers expressed their interest in expanding the curriculum to vocational skills such as arts and crafts. There is a need for higher grades or a continuation for students who graduate from the school.
There was a surplus of food kits, but there was limited clothing, footwear, and stationary for the children who were the main target group. In addition, it was difficult to match the correct size to a recipient. The roof of the school is in need of repair. Many holes could be seen through the aluminum roof. Engagement with the residents during the health screening revealed that a significant number of individuals that were screened were unaware of the seriousness or potential risk factors of having a very high or low blood pressure and/or glucose reading. Many were unaware of ways to maintain normality of these vitals, and lack the financial resources or other means to access primary health care service for treatment for treatment or regular check-ups.
Recommendations / Moving Forward
For future missions, we recommend that HHBS keeps a data on all students enrolled at the school such as gender and age to reduce the possibility of a child being left out during distribution. Preliminary sorting of donations to be done before shipping to Haiti, to reduce the cost of shipping unnecessary items. Due to the high health illiteracy observed, future mission trips should include health education, and training of community leaders such as teachers how to conduct blood pressure reading, and understanding the results.
This year’s mission trip was a phenomenal success! We saw our ambassador membership increase from four to eight! Our eight awesome ambassadors came together to carry out HHBS’s mission: to provide service to our brothers and sisters in the community of Croix Des Bouquets. Our youngest ambassador to date, Isaiah W. Walker, is 8 years old.
See the entire gallery of photos from our 2017 Mission Trip below
Photos by: Lisa Berg