About: “Hello my name is Jean Simon Sabine. I attend the Heart In Haiti school or L’ecole Mixte De Sibert. I am 14 years old, and I am in the 6th grade. I live in Roeber, Haiti with my mom, cousin, aunt, and my little sister who also attends the school. (Her name is Nehemie, and she’s in the 1st grade.) I have been in this school for 2 years.”
Hobbies: “I love to listen to music and jump rope.”
Three places I would like to visit: “I would love to visit the United States, Canada, and France.”
Favorite Music: “I like to listen to JBeatz, Vanessa, and Fantom.”
The world’s biggest problem: “The biggest problem I see is that life is expensive.”
Favorite part of school: “My favorite part of school is French, Social Sciences, and Experimental Science.”
If you were president: “If I were President I would put the people who aren’t in school, in school, and I would give everyone work.”
Three famous people you would invite to dinner: “3 people I would invite to dInner are JBeatz, Ti Joe, and Olivier.”
Your ideal meal: “Plantains and chicken with fruits and natural juice.”
Your greatest accomplishment: “When I pass school.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years: “I find myself working in Government offices.”
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Hobbies: “I love to study, ride my bike & play soccer.”
Three places I would like to visit: “I would love to visit the United States, Argentina & Brazil.”
Favorite music: “The artists I like to listen to are usually Wendy, Izolan, Chalè & Baky”
The world’s biggest problem: “I think the biggest problem in the world is that too many people die rapidly.”
On your bedroom walls: “Nothing is hung up on my bedroom wall.”
Favorite part of school: “My favorite part in school is Math, French, and Grammar.”
If you were president: “I would construct a school for kids who can’t afford to go to school.”
Three famous people you would invite to dinner: “3 people I would invite to dinner are Wendy, JBeatz & Izolan.”
Your ideal meal: “Rice alone.”
Your greatest accomplishment: “Singing in front of a crowd.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years: “In ten years I see myself as a soccer player & rapper.”
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Hobbies: “I love to play, ride my bike and study.”
Three places I would to visit: “3 places I would like to visit are Canada, United States & France.”
Favorite music: “Artists I love to listen to are Richell, Bello & Jean Jean Rosevelt.”
The world’s biggest problem: “Not enough hospitals and not enough unity.”
On your bedroom walls: “There is nothing.”
Favorite part of school: “My favorite part in school is Social Sciences & French Communications.”
If you were president: “I would decrease the prices of everything expensive. I would give the people money. I would add more hospitals. I would tell everyone not to beat their kids.”
Three famous people you would invite to dinner: “Fantom, Baky & Wendy.”
Your ideal meal: “Plantains with chicken.”
Your greatest accomplishment: “Passing school. I am always first in my class.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years: “I see myself as a doctor in 10 years.”
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Hobbies: “I love to read, play soccer & study.”
Three places I would like to visit: “I would like to visit United States, Brazil & Chile.”
Favorite music: “Artist I like to listen to are Lucky Dube, Izolan & Gêt Noir.”
The world’s biggest problem: “It’s hard to find work and food is expensive.”
On your bedroom walls: “I have nothing hung up on my walls.”
Favorite part of school: “My favorite part in school is Math & French.”
If you were president: “I would build a house for people who have nowhere to sleep. I would build a school for everyone to attend. I would build a hospital and offer free food. Lastly, I would make apartment buildings.”
Three famous people you would invite to dinner: “Izolan, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube.”
Your ideal meal: “Chicken & Plantains.”
Your greatest accomplishment: “When I do good in school.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years: “I see myself in 10 years working as a mechanic in the United States.”
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Hobbies: “I like to study, wash clothes and dishes.”
Three places I would like to visit: “I would like to visit the United States, Russia and Germany.”
Favorite music: “The artist I like to listen to is JBeatz.” (JBeatz is a singer who performs in Haitian Creole)
The world’s biggest problem: “Starvation, misery, people don’t function well and there’s no work.”
On your bedroom walls: “There is nothing hung up on my wall.”
Favorite part of school: “My favorite part in school is Social Sciences & Math.”
If you were president: “I would put work for everyone who is jobless and clean up the streets.”
Three famous people you would invite to dinner: “JBeatz & Woody.”
Your ideal meal: “Rice, beans, legume and chicken.”
Your greatest accomplishment: “I respect everyone, and I love to do favors for people.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years: “I see myself working in the bureau as a secretary or director.” (the bureau refers to the government)
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“Dr. E’s workshop (see post under Community Projects) is going very well, I love the topics and I love giving back to the community and sharing with others who don’t have what I have. Did you know that I was inspired by his workshop last year, and I’ve begun to hold literacy classes at my house? After school, I invite older people from the community, who can’t read or write, to come to my house and I teach them to write their names and read and write. I teach them like our preschoolers, with patience, and showing them vertical lines, horizontal lines, and shapes to begin to write the alphabet. Some of them cry and get discouraged, but I encourage them to keep trying and not to give up on writing their name and learning to read.”
There is a group of women who like to get together and sew, rather like the quilting bee of earlier times. We have been together for several years now. We make Made With Love Dresses and donate them where they are needed and wanted. After being introduced to the HEART school, we fell in love with the program and have been devoting our time to sewing little sundresses for the girls in the school. It is a simple way to gather and do something for good. People hunger to do good things. We have women who don’t sew but donate material and embellishments. We have women who bring a friend along just to introduce them to the program. I was very fortunate to travel to Haiti and to take some of the dresses to the school. The joy on the faces of the girls when they are given a dress that has been made especially for them reflects the joy on the faces of the women who made them. One by one we are sharing the HEART story with our friends and neighbors. One by one is how good stuff gets done!
Isn’t it heartbreaking to see Haiti so barren, devoid of trees? Deforestation causes:
- Rising temperatures
- Decreasing rain
- Soil in the mountains washing away so much, the rivers run brown
These in turn lead to lack of food and jobs for the people in Haiti. Poverty keeps people dependent on cooking with wood and charcoal, so the trees don’t have a chance of making a comeback.
While the above snapshot of Haiti looks quite grim, we are here to tell you, there is a viable solution to these challenges called biodigestion. Basically, organic waste like food scraps, leaves or grass clippings are put into the biodigester. What comes out is liquid plant fertilizer which helps grow more food and clean cooking fuel to cook the food which is grown. The diagram to the right created by Home Biogas shows you the cycle. At the HEART in Haiti School, we are using a large scale design to produce gas for our school of 124 students, plus faculty and staff to eat two meals a day, 5 days a week.
In December 2015, we started small with an IBC tank design, which was led by Kathy Puffer of Solar Cities. Kathy recorded the process and educated participants during the build so they can create digesters on their own in the future. In a few weeks, the biodigester started producing clean fuel, which our gardener uses to cook his meals.
In October 2016, thanks to a grant from the Doolittle Foundation, Thomas Henry Culhane, the founder of Solar Cities, lead our team to build a large scale biodigester which will create enough cooking fuel for our HEART in Haiti School Community. Students, staff and community members who assisted with the build are being prepared to spread the word about biodigestion, while creating businesses which provide income for the school and sustainable jobs.
While this build was taking place, teachers were attending a training lead by HEART Education Chair Maxito Sainvil and Board President Maria Blon. The theme of the training was problem solving. The teachers were shown the above picture of Haiti, which was shocking to them because they have never flown over their country. We discussed how biodigestion is a solution to many of Haiti’s problems. The women shared how cooking with wood stings their eyes because of the smoke. Our team of teachers eagerly went to see the biodigester and learn how it is used. They have requested we offer them more training in the future on biodigestion and we are asking the teachers to incorporate this innovative technology in the school’s curriculum.
Biodigestion gives the HEART in Haiti School the opportunity to save money by producing clean cooking fuel and liquid plant fertilizer from organic waste which previously littered the land. Teaching sustainable ways for the people in Haiti to cook and grow food, which gives the mountains the ability to grow a lush canopy of productive trees is a winning scenario for all involved.
Our wish for this project to continue moving forward is to apply for grant money to purchase a Puxin biodigestion mold, which can make biodigesters in 3 different sizes, depending on the purpose. This investment will be the foundation of a reliable biodigestion business for the school and community.
The Paul family has been with the school since its inception. Wisguens, a 6th grader this year, started with us when he was in kindergarten in 2010. He and his three sisters live with their mother and father in a one room corrugated metal shack about 2 miles from the school. Every morning, Wisguens’ father will accompany the children to school, walking or carrying one child on his bike, and in the afternoon, his mother walks to pick them up. Neither of his parents completed elementary school, but they help their children with their studies and support the school as much as they can. Last school year, Wisguens received the best grades in his class for a marking period and his siblings all receive positive remarks from their teachers.
Their mother sells vegetables in the local market, and when he can their father cuts wood to sell for lumber. In 2013, he developed an infection in his finger from a splinter. The family couldn’t afford medical care. By the time HEART learned of the injury, the infection had spread. HEART coordinated medical care and generous HEART supporters donated $300 so that a local hospital could treat him. Unfortunately, his finger had to be amputated, and he has not been able to regain the same strength or agility to cut lumber as he had before the injury.
When a hurricane like Matthew passes through Haiti, families like Wisguens’ face even more challenges than they already face on an average day. Families may go without an income for days, since there are no open markets to sell produce and no dry wood to be cut to sell. Families may go hungry because they did not have the savings to stockpile food and clean water for the storm. Students miss days of school because schools close due to flooding and wind dangers, and excessive mud in the streets prevents safe transportation. Community members also go without being able to communicate with their loved ones by phone, because the electricity has been out since Sunday night and phones are not charged. Some community members lose their belongings and important documents in heavy rains because there are no safe places to put these items, and many have to spend time to try to rebuild makeshift homes and businesses that suffer damage from heavy wind and rains.
HEART expects to be contacted by parents and families who need help rebuilding and who need medical attention due to water borne illnesses and who need help getting new schoolbooks for their children.
Please consider making a donation to HEART Emergency Fund today. Our families depend on generous donors like you who provide hope for a brighter future for our students.
Emergency Relief Fund
The strength of a community is based on the strengths of its connections. Haiti is country of opportunity, where people are thirsty to learn, grow and build stronger connections, and Dr. Erik Fisher’s goal is to help advance communities throughout Haiti, continuing his work in the community of Croix des Bouquets. No matter what has come their way in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes and political upheaval, Haitians have shown their resilience and the ability to rebound from adversity.
Dr. E… believes in Haiti, and after visiting the country and working in partnership with The Heart School, they have collaborated to spread his wisdom on community building to those in Croix des Bouquets and surrounding communities. He returns in November from the 23rd to the 27th.
Thanksgiving is a time to consider our abundance, and this is when Dr. E… will be returning to Haiti to continue this work. He needs your help to do this. With the recent hurricane that slammed into Haiti, there is a lot of work to do, not just to repair what was damaged, but also to help rebuild the hearts and souls of those who experienced the storm. Rebuilding a community is more than just repairing damaged buildings. Helping people see the wisdom in working together can help people overcome any obstacle. Will you please help?
Please support Dr. Erik’s work by clicking on the button below.
Hurricane Matthew brought major flooding to the community of Sibert where the HEART in Haiti School is located. Since the School is sustainably built with shipping containers and earthquake proof construction it has fared well. Currently the damages within the community are being assessed. As of now the report is that everyone connected to the school — staff, teachers, students and their families — are safe.
Flooded Road in Community Dieusel Watches Rain
Community Bldg and School Entrance Class Room Building and Biodigester
These images were received today. They show the damaged home of four students at the HEART School. They are Wisguens Paul, Adriana Paul, Camelita Paul, Naviala Paul.
At HEART in Haiti, we like to raise money for our school while supporting the local businesses in Haiti. Auctioning beautiful metal artwork made from recycled oil drums has been a fundraiser supported by the Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville, NY since 2012. The current auction has started and will run until October 4th.
We purchase the artwork from “La Sirene”, a group of artists in Village Noailles, Croix des Bouquets. La Sirene, the mermaid, is a powerful image in Haitian lore, the Lwa (spiritual being) of wealth. With this auction you will be adding to HEART’s and Haiti’s wealth.
This is a bit of background about the artists. The idea of La Sirene was begun around 1999-2000 when Jean Robert Jacques took a class in metal art with a man named George Lioto, who is known as the founder of the art in the Croix des Bouquets area. Jean Robert began thinking and dreaming of starting a metal shop, where tourists and Haitians could come to look at the beautiful art and support a business. He and his two brothers took out loans to start the business, buying materials to work with– steel drums, varnish, hammers — and paid groups of workers to begin carving their artwork. Throughout the years they have worked as a team, paying off all of the loans and continuing to work towards expanding their art skills and their business reach.
Jean Robert learned to make steel drum metal art in the 1980’s as a young boy and has never stopped since. He is the founder of La Sirene, and is very happy to show visitors around his shop, to show them unique, beautiful artworks. Jean Robert specializes in making voodoo art pieces with recycled objects we use every day such as spoons, knives and forks. He is married and has seven children. When Jean Robert is not working he likes to relax and think about life.
Jean Garnier was born in the village of Croix des Bouquets, and grew up to the sound of metal art being made by his brother Jean Robert and the rest of the metal working community. He specializes in art that is inspired by nature, and that shows life. Butterflies, birds, trees of life, fish and sea creatures are some of the nature artwork he frequently produces. He also loves to make pendants and bracelet jewelry.
Jean Garnier lives with his wife and they have a daughter. In his free time, he likes to relax in a quiet place in nature and be inspired by what he sees and think of new ideas for metal art.
Belony was born on May 17, 1982, and grew up with Jean Garnier in Croix des Bouquets. He also grew up to the sound of workers making metal art and learned the craft at a young age. He is very religious and says he is inspired by God and everything God has created on the earth. He creates many angel and cross designs for metal art and also enjoys making faces and things inspired by nature.
In his free time he enjoys reading the Bible and attends church about three times a week.
Below are some pieces featured in the current auction. So please visit Aroma Thyme Bistro for the food, the drinks, the auction, and the fun.
HEART board members Corinne Warren and Carina Blon interviewed 4 community members from the HEART School during the board of director’s March 2016 trip to Haiti. Corinne’s idea was to model the interviews after the ” Humans of New York” blog. They have recorded the direct statements so HEART supporters and community can learn firsthand the viewpoints of community members. This is the fourth post in the series. Here is Rose Marie’s story:
“When I am older I want to be like my aunt Rosita. She cooks and washes dishes; she makes people at the school happy. I would like to be able to work and give other people food and anything they need. I want to own cows, goats, and others animals.”
HEART board members Corinne Warren and Carina Blon interviewed 4 community members from the HEART School during the board of director’s March 2016 trip to Haiti. Corinne’s idea was to model the interviews after the ” Humans of New York” blog. They have recorded the direct statements so HEART supporters and community can learn firsthand the viewpoints of community members. This is the third post in the series, and our student’s name will remain anonymous.
“I used to live in Canaan with my mom, dad, 3 sisters, and 4 brothers. There were no trees and the sun would beat down on you. There was no food at times because my dad or mom did not have steady work. I can remember going three days without eating anything. That was normal for us. I had to sleep on the ground, and when it rained it came right in because the roof was just a tarp. I got sent to live with my uncle. It was ok, but I was the youngest so they made me do everything, all of the house chores and errands. One day I came home with sugar cane, and they asked where I got it since I did not have a garden or money. They called my dad to come and get me to go back to Canaan. Now I live at the house and things are good. I don’t go days without eating anything and I sleep well.”
We were chatting with San Diego friends about repurposing cargo containers into houses. They said that they support a project in Haiti called HEART school where their friend Dick Martin had been instrumental in building a school from shipping containers. Our friends sent us information about HEART and later introduced us to Barbara Rose, Dick’s spouse who continues to support the school. Well, we were hooked and began supporting the children as well, and when Barbara said, “I’m heading to Haiti for a visit. Why don’t you come and see the school for yourselves,” we said yes!
The HEART school is just wonderful and everyone we’ve met has been so warm, generous and accepting of us. The children are amazing. They certainly captivate one with their bright eyes and big smiles! Shad and the entire crew gave us such a complete tour and so much personal time. We were really impressed by all that is happening in Haiti.
Haiti is a beautiful country, with beautiful people. For all that has been endured, they are an incredibly buoyant people. The children are so bright, respectful and responsible. The school’s philosophy of educating the whole child for a successful future reflects in the sustainable program that is being presented. It is really a model not just for a sustainable school but also for a sustainable Haiti.
And yes, our hearts are in Haiti with a school called HEART.
HEART board members Corinne Warren and Carina Blon interviewed 4 community members from the HEART School during the board of director’s March 2016 trip to Haiti. Corinne’s idea was to model the interviews after the ” Humans of New York” blog. They have recorded the direct statements so HEART supporters and community can learn firsthand the viewpoints of community members, and this is the second post in the series. Taiina is a student in our school and here is a statement from her mother, Benita:
“I am now selling cold drinks in the town market in front of the clinic. But there are so many other people selling things at the market that sometimes it is hard to compete. In the business, I’m never investing, it’s always taking money out for family needs. My partner works as a mason, but since the price of cement has gone up, he hasn’t found any work. When my business is okay, I can manage to buy some extra food for my family, get treated at the hospital, or buy something nice. But other times it is very hard and we just barely make it by. I can never manage to save any money for those times. I am going to stop having kids, I can’t afford to support any more.”
On May 5, Mrs. Villa’s 6th grade class at Minisink Middle School in New York, gathered in the middle school library to speak to students and teachers at the Heart in Haiti school via Skype. She and her class have done this in previous years. We greatly appreciate her continued work with the school.
To read full story please click here.
Beautiful, broken, starving, tropical, treeless, healing, rebuilding, land of joyful, frustrated, proud, smiling spirited people: Haiti
A foundation is built with great care with the hope to create a home for a school, but wait, this is hard. Some are tired and angry saying, “You are wrong. We quit.” They fly away with their wings to a safer land, leaving anger, hurt, frustration, desperation…… look inside to the light in your hearts, feel the love cheering you on, see supporters ready to join your cause…….there is another way…..strength through unity with a newly forming team of HEART in Haiti.
Plans begin anew, building with greater ease and ready-made classrooms. Vision, dedication, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, creativity, ingenuity, helping, giving, hoping, receiving. Dreams do come true. School is open on time. Children, teachers, the community flourishes always learning, adapting, building and growing, all the while the foundation sits waiting: not a pleasant site, yet not too offensive, all the while there is hope of renewal as our HEART is in Haiti.
Many people visit, seeing the beauty of all which has been planted, built and grown on the land, in the people, reaching to the sky. Dedicated dreamers see potential in the foundation, knowing it is simply a castle, waiting to be built, reaching to the sky. A collaborative team is formed, bringing resources, expertise, hard work, creativity, precision and the drive to encourage the bud to bloom into: The Rose Foundation Community Building. A gift to the HEART in Haiti community with the vision of hosting many celebrations and healings, modeling the hope for our future. Walking into this treasure, tears of joy fall as the strength of this castle, hugged by the mountains, encourages worries of the past to fall away as visions of the future inspire:
Beautiful, repairing, satiated, tropical, reforested, healing, rebuilding, and of joyful, hopeful, proud, smiling spirited people: Haiti.
HEART board members Corinne Warren and Carina Blon interviewed 4 community members from the HEART School during the board of director’s March 2016 trip to Haiti. Corinne’s idea was to model the interviews after the ” Humans of New York” blog. They have recorded the direct statements so HEART supporters and community can learn firsthand the viewpoints of community members. The first person in this series is Dieusel, who is the gardener and watchman for the school. Here is his story in his own words:
“I was born in 1957 in Hinche. When I was 2 years old, we moved to Mireblais in the Central Plateau. When I lived there it was a proud place and there was not a lot of misery. In those days, I could buy a plate of chicken, rice, white beans and sauce for 10 gourdes; now the same plate would cost 200 gourdes. In the beginning, when Duvalier was in power, everyone worked and went to school. There was no insecurity or even guns. Now people do what they want. If you want to cut down a tree, you can do so without any permission from the government. Before, when one tree was cut down, you had to have a permit from the government and five more had to be planted. When it rains now, the water erodes the rivers and mountains. The mountains used to be beautiful and green. This is why I think children are miserable, old people too. There are no more trees to make people happy. I don’t know if I’ll be able to see change for this country in my lifetime, but I have hope for my kids or grandkids. Maybe they will see the change I desire for this country. I take pride in my gardens. Of all the places I’ve rented, I’ve left each more beautiful than when I came because I plant trees and flowers. Of all the plants I have grown, the Papaya tree is the one I love the most and the one I am most proud of. You can make juice out of it or eat its fruit, and its leaves and fruit make good home remedies.”
HEART is proud to launch the new heartinhaiti.org. The new website features a rich mobile-responsive user friendly interface, a content management system with access to thousands of plugins to continue improving content and features with ease, and a more search engine friendly architecture. We’re confident that the new online presence will help us continue to grow and touch the lives of many.
We are very grateful and appreciative of the Rotary Club of Northeast Westchester NY for helping to fund our new propane stove! This stove will be very helpful for HEART and will help nourish many children and residents of Haiti. See photos below.
“They love the stove because the kitchen is much cooler and not filled with smoke like it was with burning charcoal as fuel. A student remarked “We love the stove! The food is ready earlier in the day now!”
Hello! My name is Maria Blon and I am the Secretary for the HEART Board and also Mother of Community Liaison, Carina Blon. School director, Shad St. Louis asked if I would offer a teacher training when I was visiting in January 2014, since I was a holistic mathematics teacher for over 15 years, teaching future elementary school teachers hands-on, interactive ways to teach mathematics and learn critical thinking skills. I was very happy to work with the teachers at the HEART school as they are eager to continue learning and improving their teaching skills. I am grateful that Shad and Carina translated for me as my Creole and French speaking skills are at the preschool level.
The training was based on the teacher’s requests:
1. When during the day should we teach each subject?
2. We would like to learn more teaching techniques.
3. We would like to learn more hands on learning techniques, similar to Montessori.
We addressed the first question as a group, asking the teachers what they have observed in their classroom regarding the best time to teach each subject. Each teacher offered thoughtful insights with some similarities and some differences based on the children’s developmental level. The teachers then wrote a plan for what they would experiment with in the future and predicted how that would work. The reason for using this scientific model for having them discover when to teach different subjects is to model where discovery learning can be used and have the teachers experience this themselves and create a plan best suited to their specific students. We talked about how important it is for children to feel safe enough to make mistakes, experiment and take risks when learning. Interactive learning is messier and noisier but more learning takes place. We talked about guiding students to discover answers by asking lots of questions. When a student discovers something for themselves, that learning is with them for life! Repetition is important to learn skills. Balancing discovery learning with fun repetition is important! The teachers then experimented using unifix cubes and playing cards to teach pre-school through third grade mathematics concepts, which you can see in the pictures below:
After this morning of training, discovering and learning, we shared a delicious lunch of cracked wheat and beans, prepared by Rosita Labousse! To finish the day, we watched the French movie, “The Chorus” in our white container classroom. Despite the heat and small screen, the teachers were engaged with this inspiring movie which shows the power that treating students with respect and love can have on a group of troubled youth. Shad said that the teachers continue to talk about how this movie has inspired their teaching.
Thank you to:
- Monica Irlbacher at Middletown’s Thrall Library who found this wonderful movie for us!
- Ginger Hunt, Carina’s Second Grade Teacher who helped me plan this training!
- Karen Weissman and the Corlears School for donating Unifix Cubes!
There were not enough hours in the day to get to the science experiments, so Allison Wilbur did another teacher training in February when she went down to visit. I am proud to say that when a group of teachers from the Art Reach Foundation visited our school in February, they were very impressed with the teachers and students at our school, which is a huge compliment since they train teachers around the world. This school is wonderful because there is so much broad reaching support from so many people. Thank you all for your interest and support to teach critical thinking and sustainable skills to the children and adults in Haiti!