Help Renata Promote Public Health in Haiti!

Help Renata Promote Public Health in Haiti!

From Renata Wettermann

I'll be spending 5 weeks working with the Haitian American Caucus as a Public Health intern, promoting sustainable, community-based healthcare in Croix-Des-Bouquets!

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Update #9

over 7 years ago

Well, I’m back. I still don’t believe it, at least not entirely. Haiti has been my life for the past 5 weeks, and I’ve been drop-kicked into the land of air-conditioning and giant grocery stores. Not gonna lie, I may have shamelessly binged on fresh fruit and salad… I also may have responded to a sales clerk in Kreyol the other day. Whoops.

Being in the US is weird. But nonetheless, I’ve had a bit of time to give some thought to my time in Haiti- more than just missing waking up to roosters, I mean. So, here’s a bit of what I’ve learned. Before I start, I want to say capital T Thanks. Not sure if my ramblings have been read, or if I’m just talking to the vastness of the Interwebs, but Thanks to everyone who’s supported me. Thanks for at least pretending to be interested, and please, keep asking questions about Haiti: in case you haven’t noticed, I love to talk about it!
Now, without further ado:

10 Lessons I’ve Learned in Haiti (this time around)

1. Eat to live, don’t live to eat
I didn’t realize how much of a foodie I was until I lived on rice and beans, spaghetti with ketchup, and legume (cooked vegetables). It was rough as someone who loves to cook and who eats a borderline ridiculous number of fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet, I learned to appreciate what we had. We ate VERY well by Haitian standards, and a couple of weeks taught me that even freaking rice and beans is a gift, a privilege, and a welcome source of nutrition in a country where so many wonder where their next meal will come from.

2. There is somewhere in the world that values politeness more than the Midwest!
And that place is Michaud. Everyone says hello on the street (if you don’t, it’s considered tremendously rude). They bring out chairs when you come to visit, even if it’s just for a few moments. Even if they’re the only chairs they own.

3. Sometimes a name is enough to dispel a stereotype
The little kids in the neighborhood would yell ‘blan’ (white) whenever we passed. But after a week or so, they came up and asked us our names. They met me at Ecole Shalom. The yelling continued…but it was different. “Wenata!” they’d call, running up to grab my hand and play in the street. They taught our names to the kids in the neighborhood. In that time, we went from being nameless outsiders to real people who were part of their lives. Just walking around the neighborhood was one of my favorite things to do.

4. On a related note, kids love nothing more than hearing their own name out loud
And the relationship went two ways. When I’d ask a kid their name, they instantly got a little bit shyer. They’d mumble as if they were afraid you didn’t really want to hear it. But I’d always smile and repeat their name a few times, trying not to butcher it in the process. When that happened, their faces would light up. We were friends now- mutually invested in each other’s lives.

5. You are ALWAYS dependent on someone else in Haiti, which means that patience is ESSENTIAL!
I’m really terrible at being patient. Like unspeakably bad. But after 5 weeks of waiting for someone- a tap tap, my fellow interns, the one person who of course has the very thing you desperately need in order to do any work, the students who you’re supposed to teach (but who run on “Haiti time”)- I’d like to think I’ve developed at least a teeny tiny seed of patience.

6. Plans change. Nothing will happen the way you plan.
Roll with it. Things can work out, but when your resources are limited, you take what you can get. At the risk of speaking too generally, you can reach the same goal by taking different paths.

7. Attempting to speak any Kreyol gets you pretty far in terms of respect and friendship.
ESPECIALLY as a blan. In 5 weeks, I managed to get okay at understanding Kreyol. My speaking? Still marginally awful. Nonetheless, people would be SO surprised, yet so overjoyed when I spoke their language. Even if my grammar was terrible, or I butchered the pronunciation (like that one time I gave a cholera prevention talk in Kreyol), they were more than happy to listen (and to gently correct when I made a massive error). More importantly, speaking Kreyol to people made them feel free to TALK. It was a way to show people that you respect and value their opinion, and as such, speaking in Kreyol usually smoothed the way for stories and questions and peoples’ lives.

8. If you ask people what they need, they’ll tell you.
They know better than you do. We learned this during the Community Health Day, when we asked women from the neighborhood a variety of questions. What do your families need to be healthy and happy? What health questions did they have? How could HAC serve them better? Their answers were loud, clear, and almost entirely unanimous. Contrary to the stereotype, people in the developing world aren’t helpless or stupid or oblivious to the ways of the world. They have dreams and goals and plans for how to get there. You just need to ask them!

9. Being funny is a, if not THE cardinal virtue in Haiti.
That’s the best thing anyone said in praise of their friends or family. “They’re funny”. But unfortunately for me, Haitians are not fluent in sarcasm. I’ve tried. They didn’t get it, which just made me feel silly and strange. It’s a shame, too, because I had a great line for people who would call me blan on the street…

10. Happiness is a choice. Praise is an attitude, and sometimes it’s the only way to go.
This is something that I can best explain with my experience in church. Going to church in Haiti is a party! And I say that without the slightest trace of sarcasm. Despite living in one of the poorest countries in the world, people praise with their whole being! All smiles and dressed to the nines, they shout to the rafters. They pray with their whole body and soul. They give, even when they can’t afford to.
It’s a beautiful attitude, one that I’ve tried to adapt and hope to maintain, even in my privileged life in the US. Despite the hardships, there are joys to be found in life in Haiti.
Grace a Dieu, today, I am alive. I have eaten and slept with a roof over my head. I am surrounded by family and friends. I am in good health. I am free to pray and to praise. Today, as every day, life is good.

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

10 Things I've Learned in Haiti (this time around)

Well, I’m back. I still don’t believe it, at least not entirely. Haiti has been my life for the past 5 weeks, and I’ve been drop-kicked into the land of air-conditioning and giant grocery stores. Not gonna lie, I may have shamelessly binged on fresh fruit and salad… I also may have responded to a sales clerk in Kreyol the other day. Whoops.

Being in the US is weird. But nonetheless, I’ve had a bit of time to give some thought to my time in Haiti- more than just missing waking up to roosters, I mean. So, here’s a bit of what I’ve learned. Before I start, I want to say capital T Thanks. Not sure if my ramblings have been read, or if I’m just talking to the vastness of the Interwebs, but Thanks to everyone who’s supported me. Thanks for at least pretending to be interested, and please, keep asking questions about Haiti: in case you haven’t noticed, I love to talk about it!
Now, without further ado:

10 Lessons I’ve Learned in Haiti (this time around)

1. Eat to live, don’t live to eat
I didn’t realize how much of a foodie I was until I lived on rice and beans, spaghetti with ketchup, and legume (cooked vegetables). It was rough as someone who loves to cook and who eats a borderline ridiculous number of fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet, I learned to appreciate what we had. We ate VERY well by Haitian standards, and a couple of weeks taught me that even freaking rice and beans is a gift, a privilege, and a welcome source of nutrition in a country where so many wonder where their next meal will come from.

2. There is somewhere in the world that values politeness more than the Midwest!
And that place is Michaud. Everyone says hello on the street (if you don’t, it’s considered tremendously rude). They bring out chairs when you come to visit, even if it’s just for a few moments. Even if they’re the only chairs they own.

3. Sometimes a name is enough to dispel a stereotype
The little kids in the neighborhood would yell ‘blan’ (white) whenever we passed. But after a week or so, they came up and asked us our names. They met me at Ecole Shalom. The yelling continued…but it was different. “Wenata!” they’d call, running up to grab my hand and play in the street. They taught our names to the kids in the neighborhood. In that time, we went from being nameless outsiders to real people who were part of their lives. Just walking around the neighborhood was one of my favorite things to do.

4. On a related note, kids love nothing more than hearing their own name out loud
And the relationship went two ways. When I’d ask a kid their name, they instantly got a little bit shyer. They’d mumble as if they were afraid you didn’t really want to hear it. But I’d always smile and repeat their name a few times, trying not to butcher it in the process. When that happened, their faces would light up. We were friends now- mutually invested in each other’s lives.

5. You are ALWAYS dependent on someone else in Haiti, which means that patience is ESSENTIAL!
I’m really terrible at being patient. Like unspeakably bad. But after 5 weeks of waiting for someone- a tap tap, my fellow interns, the one person who of course has the very thing you desperately need in order to do any work, the students who you’re supposed to teach (but who run on “Haiti time”)- I’d like to think I’ve developed at least a teeny tiny seed of patience.

6. Plans change. Nothing will happen the way you plan.
Roll with it. Things can work out, but when your resources are limited, you take what you can get. At the risk of speaking too generally, you can reach the same goal by taking different paths.

7. Attempting to speak any Kreyol gets you pretty far in terms of respect and friendship.
ESPECIALLY as a blan. In 5 weeks, I managed to get okay at understanding Kreyol. My speaking? Still marginally awful. Nonetheless, people would be SO surprised, yet so overjoyed when I spoke their language. Even if my grammar was terrible, or I butchered the pronunciation (like that one time I gave a cholera prevention talk in Kreyol), they were more than happy to listen (and to gently correct when I made a massive error). More importantly, speaking Kreyol to people made them feel free to TALK. It was a way to show people that you respect and value their opinion, and as such, speaking in Kreyol usually smoothed the way for stories and questions and peoples’ lives.

8. If you ask people what they need, they’ll tell you.
They know better than you do. We learned this during the Community Health Day, when we asked women from the neighborhood a variety of questions. What do your families need to be healthy and happy? What health questions did they have? How could HAC serve them better? Their answers were loud, clear, and almost entirely unanimous. Contrary to the stereotype, people in the developing world aren’t helpless or stupid or oblivious to the ways of the world. They have dreams and goals and plans for how to get there. You just need to ask them!

9. Being funny is a, if not THE cardinal virtue in Haiti.
That’s the best thing anyone said in praise of their friends or family. “They’re funny”. But unfortunately for me, Haitians are not fluent in sarcasm. I’ve tried. They didn’t get it, which just made me feel silly and strange. It’s a shame, too, because I had a great line for people who would call me blan on the street…

10. Happiness is a choice. Praise is an attitude, and sometimes it’s the only way to go.
This is something that I can best explain with my experience in church. Going to church in Haiti is a party! And I say that without the slightest trace of sarcasm. Despite living in one of the poorest countries in the world, people praise with their whole being! All smiles and dressed to the nines, they shout to the rafters. They pray with their whole body and soul. They give, even when they can’t afford to.
It’s a beautiful attitude, one that I’ve tried to adapt and hope to maintain, even in my privileged life in the US. Despite the hardships, there are joys to be found in life in Haiti.
Grace a Dieu, today, I am alive. I have eaten and slept with a roof over my head. I am surrounded by family and friends. I am in good health. I am free to pray and to praise. Today, as every day, life is good.

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

Amateur Musings on Health in Haiti

So a few days ago, my family asked me what I had learned about Haitian culture recently. I basically gave them a blank look, mainly because I’d just gotten off a 7-hour bus ride from Cap Haitien, but also because I don’t think that I’ve taken much notice. Not that I haven’t been soaking it up, but it won’t really hit me until I’m dropped back into a crazy whirlwind of life in the ole US of A. Stay tuned for that culture shock, I guess.

But what I have taken notice of are various aspects of health in Haiti. I guess as a public health intern/aspiring physician, it’s never escaped my attention. But that also means that you’ll get the privilege of learning about these issues (lucky you!), because these are the things that have been rolling around my brain since I’ve gotten here. Here’s a (poorly edited, exceptionally nerdy) list a la Thought Catalog. Enjoy my ramblings.

1. CLEAN WATER
I saw this spray painted on the side of a house near Port au Prince: “NOU BEZWEN DLO”. WE NEED WATER. That’s a message that has been coming in loud and clear as a primary health need. During our Community Health Day, we asked the women what they and their families needed most to have a better, healthier life. Their answer? Reliable, cheap access to clean water. I guess that’s one of the most frustrating things about working in Haiti. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people who know exactly what they need. They know to use clean water to prevent cholera. Then know that drinking dirty water can give their kids worms. They know that washing in the river makes their risk of disease skyrocket. The problem is that they can’t use clean water that’s not there, or that costs an arm and a leg, or that is ridiculously inconvenient to fetch on a consistent basis.

But that’s also one of my favorite things about this internship- we get the opportunity to make a tangible impact in people’s lives by providing them with a sustainable clean water system. So it’s not all bad, I promise. But the need is there, as is the desire for change.

2. Sexual Health
For the longest time, we were thinking about doing a segment on STDs and pregnancy prevention for our Community Health Day. The problem is that it’s not typically discussed. Haiti remains a very patriarchal society, and when the men want to have sex or have a kid, that’s what happens. No bargaining. It’s frequently assumed that a man has a mistress; yet, getting tested isn’t on the table (I’m not really sure how financially/logistically feasible testing is, either, but that’s a whole new can of worms).

Yet, at the health clinics that HAC has been having, SO many women had STDs. SO many were pregnant and didn’t want to be. SO many women at the Community Health Day expressed interest in learning about STDs and UTIs.
One of the questions that I’ve been wrestling with is how to breach this cultural taboo. Haiti has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, people! Education and prevention is sorely needed.
I have hope, though. In Cap Haitien, I saw stores advertising Depo Provera and the birth control pill. Studies show that young Haitians are becoming increasingly accepting of condom use. I’m just praying that the country continues to move towards safer sex in a way that is respectful on Haitian cultural and religious practices.

3. Food, glorious food?
The Haitian diet is largely consisted of starch (rice, beans, cornmeal, spaghetti, potatoes, dumplings) and fried things (chicken, goat, pork, plantains, pates). Many people don’t have the opportunity to eat all that much, but it’s still fairly concerning. The risks of heart disease must be astronomical! It’s kind of a hard issue to address without comprehensive access to a varied diet (and clean water, so that they don’t have to fry the heck out of food just to make sure it’s safe), but one that I’d definitely like to examine more in the future. Plus, it’s been getting nearer and dearer to my heart every day. We eat very well compared to most Haitians, but if never eat spaghetti with ketchup again, it will have been too soon!

4. Medical Education
At HAC, I’ve met students who are at the top of their class. They speak near-fluent English, and are compassionate and engaged members of their community. Many of them want to be physicians.

The sad thing is that that’s not going to happen.

To go to medical school, students need to go through secondary school, take a ridiculously challenging test, and be one of only a few (I think less than 10%) that are accepted to the national medical school. All of this, of course, costs exorbitant amounts of money by Haitian standards. Even if they could raise the money, they’d be competing against the rich kids- the ones who’ve had connections and the best schools since they were in diapers.
But think about it- that means the ones who can afford to get in/go to med school are the ones who can afford to leave. Haiti continues to face MASSIVE brain drain- and given their medical education system and status as a ‘Republic of NGOs’, that seems unlikely to change.

I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about medical education in Haiti. But what I do know breaks my heart. Haiti deserves bright, compassionate, Haitian doctors- and they’d have them if they just gave their students a chance.

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

In which the Community Health Day defies our wildest expectations (in a good way)

Hey, me again!
I had a few moments to write this because we’ve wrapped up HAC’s first ever (!) Community Health Day on Sunday. We had no idea what to expect and honestly, we were going to call it a success story if five people showed up (Haitians are amazing at many things, but punctuality is not one of them).

But that wasn’t in the cards…. BECAUSE 50 FAMILIES SHOWED UP!!! We handed out enough monthly supplies for 286 people (!!!), enough prenatal vitamins for 33 pregnant and lactating women, and an awe-inspiring assortment of deworming medication, toothpaste, toothbrushes, fever medication, baby formula, and oral rehydration solution. Even more importantly, the room full of women and their children got to hear crucial information about preparing potable water, preventing cholera, and recognizing Chikungunya. They were respectful and SO eager to learn- I know we couldn’t have asked for a better audience! As our final segment, we also asked the community members about their goals, desires for community improvement, and health concerns for women and children. It was a unique opportunity to get direct feedback on life in Michaud and how HAC can make it better.

My fellow public health intern, Nathalie, deserves a HUGE shoutout! She did an incredible job explaining Chikungunya (which has the whole town in an uproar) and clean water, as well as facilitating the entire afternoon. Mad props and congrats are in order, because she made sure the whole crazy thing happened smoothly!
I’m just proud of myself because I was able to give my presentation on cholera prevention in Kreyol. Did I butcher the language? Yep. Did they know what I was saying? Well, they answered well, so yes, I hope. Did they go home laughing at the blan talking medical Kreyol in an American accent? No way to be sure, but I know how I’d wage my bets… Honestly, I’m just glad I did it. I took a risk, used my Kreyol, and learned a few new words in the process. Thank God that everything worked out well- actually, well’s an understatement: beyond our wildest dreams, maybe.

Time’s flying by faster than I necessarily want it to, although it will be nice to have my family and a real shower. But as always, shoot me a message on Facebook or Gmail if you have any questions about Haiti, and I’ll try my best to help.

Na we pita! Renata

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

Oops, I'm bad at this updating thing... but in other news, BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT HAC!!!

If every day could be like this morning, I would be ecstatic. Exhausted? Yes. But over the moon? Most definitely.

I wrote that a few days ago, but I definitely think that it applies. The last week or so has been FABULOUS in terms of working and learning here! At the beginning of last week, we got to dose Vitamin A drops to everyone at Ecole Shalom (HAC’s school) who hadn’t already received them. That ended up being around 175 kids in the course of 2 afternoons! And for the second of those days, my fellow public health intern and the volunteer coordinator were otherwise occupied, meaning that I got to explain the benefits and direct students as to how to take medication- IN KREYOL! It wasn’t much, but for me, it’s a victory! I’ve gotten to the point where though my speaking is a few steps above pathetic, I can understand what’s going on a good percentage of the time. Another (mediocre?) victory!

A lot of our time as public health interns has been spent doing house visits to follow up with families who have already received a clay water filter. We wrote a survey, and now we get to enter the homes of gracious Haitian families and find out how the filter is working for them. It’s very humbling to get a better idea of how families in Croix des Bouquets live, and you get this awesome jump-up-and-punch-the-air sort of feeling whenever you see a family that’s doing it right. We’ve talked to families who have stopped buying treated water or using well water, and we’ve talked to many who haven’t had anyone fall ill with worms or cholera since they started using it!

Besides traipsing halfway around the city to do follow-up visits, we’ve been doing logistics for the vitamin distribution program. We have something like 127,000 doses of multivitamins to distribute in the community (no small feat…). We’ve been getting the vitamins into monthly packages, and gathering information in order to explain the benefits to the families who receive them.

Finally, we’re currently planning for some events that are occurring at HAC, most notably, multiple water filter training sessions and a Community Health Day. We’ll be teaching on how to prevent the spread of cholera and that nasty new virus Chikungunya. Keep Haiti in your prayers and thoughts, btw, because it seems like EVERYONE has it!!! We’ll also be having a public forum type of thing to assess the vision that the community members have for HAC’s next public health goals. I’m ridiculously excited to see how this event turns out, even though it’s on Sunday and SHOOT, there’s SOOOOOOO much to do!

Anyways, there’s tons more to talk about, but I’ve taken my allotted five minutes from your day. I’ll share more in the near future. Oh, and as always, feel free to shoot me an email or Facebook message (or phone call, once I’m stateside) with any questions about Haiti. In case you couldn’t tell, it’s basically my favorite thing in the entire world to talk about ☺

M’ renmen nou, tout moun!!!
Renata

If every day could be like this morning, I would be ecstatic. Exhausted? Yes. But over the moon? Most definitely.

I wrote that a few days ago, but I definitely think that it applies. The last week or so has been FABULOUS in terms of working and learning here! At the beginning of last week, we got to dose Vitamin A drops to everyone at Ecole Shalom (HAC’s school) who hadn’t already received them. That ended up being around 175 kids in the course of 2 afternoons! And for the second of those days, my fellow public health intern and the volunteer coordinator were otherwise occupied, meaning that I got to explain the benefits and direct students as to how to take medication- IN KREYOL! It wasn’t much, but for me, it’s a victory! I’ve gotten to the point where though my speaking is a few steps above pathetic, I can understand what’s going on a good percentage of the time. Another (mediocre?) victory!

A lot of our time as public health interns has been spent doing house visits to follow up with families who have already received a clay water filter. We wrote a survey, and now we get to enter the homes of gracious Haitian families and find out how the filter is working for them. It’s very humbling to get a better idea of how families in Croix des Bouquets live, and you get this awesome jump-up-and-punch-the-air sort of feeling whenever you see a family that’s doing it right. We’ve talked to families who have stopped buying treated water or using well water, and we’ve talked to many who haven’t had anyone fall ill with worms or cholera since they started using it!

Besides traipsing halfway around the city to do follow-up visits, we’ve been doing logistics for the vitamin distribution program. We have something like 127,000 doses of multivitamins to distribute in the community (no small feat…). We’ve been getting the vitamins into monthly packages, and gathering information in order to explain the benefits to the families who receive them.

Finally, we’re currently planning for some events that are occurring at HAC, most notably, multiple water filter training sessions and a Community Health Day. We’ll be teaching on how to prevent the spread of cholera and that nasty new virus Chikungunya. Keep Haiti in your prayers and thoughts, btw, because it seems like EVERYONE has it!!! We’ll also be having a public forum type of thing to assess the vision that the community members have for HAC’s next public health goals. I’m ridiculously excited to see how this event turns out, even though it’s on Sunday and SHOOT, there’s SOOOOOOO much to do!

Anyways, there’s tons more to talk about, but I’ve taken my allotted five minutes from your day. I’ll share more in the near future. Oh, and as always, feel free to shoot me an email or Facebook message (or phone call, once I’m stateside) with any questions about Haiti. In case you couldn’t tell, it’s basically my favorite thing in the entire world to talk about ☺

M’ renmen nou, tout moun!!!
Renata

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

Greetings from Haiti!!!

So I figured that since I’ve been here for almost a week now, it’s time to stand by my promise of the whole blog updates thing. Anyways, I’m not dead!
Actually, I’d say I’m pretty far above that threshold, and have a LOT of cool things to report on…

This week has been a lot of getting familiar with my surroundings/work.
I’ve been (very slowly) reacclimating myself to Kreyol after a year’s hiatus. Now I just need to get up the courage to talk (and find someone who wants to speak Kreyol and not practice their English with me). I’ve gotten to explore Michaud, the neighborhood in Croix-des-Bouquets where HAC is located, with my fellow interns and, on a few occasions, with some people from the community. It’s a beautiful area!!! Located a little ways outside of Port au Prince, it’s close enough to civilization where there are people around and there’s stuff happening, but far enough from the bustle and traffic of PAP that you can see gorgeous stretches of farmland in between some of the houses. All the corn makes me feel right at home (#midwestmidbest).

I’ve also been getting to know what my work for the next several weeks will look like. My fellow public health intern and I have been familiarizing ourselves with HAC’s water filter distribution program and multivitamin program over the past few days. A lot of it’s in the beginning stages, and honestly, it’s not super well organized at the moment. We’re planning the upcoming community health day, where women from the community can come to get prenatal vitamins, multivitamins for their kids, and baby formula and learn about safe sex and other important public health topics. But doing so requires the Interwebs, which requires power, which is hard to come by in the daytime here. So we’re either doing that or waiting for people to have time to find and share the information from the water filter program. So far, it’s been bursts of super hard work whenever we have the ability to gain more information (from people or the Internet), followed by a lull… a bit frustrating.

But nonetheless, I am SOOOOOO excited to be here, to be working, and to be learning! These programs all have a ton of potential; right now, we have 110 water filters to give to families, and more than 2,600 monthly supplies of multivitamins to protect kids in the community from malnutrition! I’m thanking God for the vision He’s given HAC and the abundant blessings that will help us realize that vision!!!

If you have a sec to pray, please keep the continued safety of the Croix-des-Bouquets community on your heart. Right now, a lot people are being infected by this mosquito-borne disease called Chikingunya. Basically, you get a really ridiculous fever and body aches for a week. Needless to say, it’s not particularly fun. Also, some cases of cholera have been cropping up of late, so send us good thoughts and prayers to get the filters distributed before the rainy season is in full force. I’m doing fine, except some allergy symptoms from the dust. Thanks for your prayers!
Na we! Renata

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

Tomorrow's the Day!!!!

HOLY COW!
This time tomorrow (God willing) I will be in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti!!!
I don't think I've been able to process it all yet, honestly... I don't know that it will be 'real' until I step off that plane in Port au Prince.
The excitement of being in the place that has SUCH a hold on my heart is incredible!
The idea of being able to spend more time there- forming relationships, learning more about Haitian culture, and practicing my Kreyol- is enthralling!
The anticipation of being able to make an impact in public health- making the kind of lasting improvements that up until now I've only dreamed of making- that's a whole new range of emotions!
And honestly, as eager as I am to begin the internship- to work really hard for HAC- I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a tad bit nervous.

But then, as He usually does, God worked something marvelous into my life. In church this evening, as I sat there running through worst-case scenarios like a madwoman, we delved into 2 Corinthians 1. And Verse 9 says something kinda incredible: But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Woah, right?!? As I'm sitting there, worrying about what could go wrong, God's basically yelling at me: "Why are you worried? You don't need to handle this alone. You may be worried, but I'm here. I'VE GOT THIS". And He does 'got this', right?!? I mean, He raises the DEAD!

So, it's with an attitude of praise that I head into this new adventure. Sorry for the cheesiness, but it's true and I'm too tired to rephrase. Meh. And by meh, I mean AAHHH, I'M HEADED TO HAITI!!!!
Stay posted!
xoxo, Renata

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

Oh hey, here's a semi-awkward fundraising letter. Read it. Click on the link so you don't feel guilty and close it in a few days without reading it. Whatever floats your boat. Thanks y'all!

Chère fanmi ak zanmi m,

Let’s get right to the point: I’m going on another trip to Haiti, and if you don’t know, that means I need money. 
Please do not misinterpret my abruptness for insincerity. I do appreciate and need your money, but I don’t want to receive a single penny from a person whose motivation is the pity they feel because of some sad picture or heart-wrenching story. I ask that instead of acting on emotion or obligation, you pray- pray for the trip and pray about giving. Donate only at God’s calling and only in the amount he exacts. 



Now about the trip: you may recall that I’ve been going to Haiti for 3 years. However, this past summer was different. I returned from Haiti feeling God’s call- to be there longer, to form stronger relationships with people, to use my passion for global healthcare to serve. So I prayed about it… a LOT. Because it’s kinda crazy, isn’t it? I’m only 19. I have little medical training and self-taught Creole skills. Moreover, I knew that it would be really easy for this trip to become about me, and how brave and selfless people think I am. But then I came across this verse from 1 John 4:12: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is what my work is Haiti is really about: deepening my relationship with God and becoming an ambassador for His love! With that in mind, I have accepted a position in Haiti this summer. I’ll be working with a nonprofit called the Haitian American Caucus (HAC) in Croix-des-Bouquets, a rural town outside of Port au Prince. I’ll be there from May 25th to June 29th. And what’s even more exciting is that I’ll be working as a public health intern! This means I’ll be in charge of:

1. Determining the efficiency of HAC’s clean water program- until recently, 45% of Croix-des-Bouquets residents lack access to potable water
2. Implementing a vitamin-distribution program for the local kids
3. Helping run Public Health Days, where community members can voice their concerns and ask questions about public health issues

I’m looking forward to new challenges and opportunities to make a lasting impact in the place I love. If you want to learn more about what I’m doing, I invite you to check out my page: www.fundly.com/help-renata-promote-public-health-in-haiti There, you can make a donation, follow my blog, and receive updates on my work.

I’ll be sending a letter when I get back to tell you how the people of Haiti were blessed through your money & prayers. Oh, and don’t spend your time praying for my nerves, the plane ride, or safety. I’m not nervous, I like planes, and I don’t fear death. Pray instead for the people I’ll encounter, that my desires are His desires, and that His will be done. Everything else will fall into place. When you know for sure about the money thing, make checks out to Renata Wettermann and mail them to me, or use my Fundly page- both will go directly to HAC, a registered nonprofit. Give me a call if you have questions (630-212-2375). Thanks for reading!

Lots of love,
Renata Wettermann

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

Charcoal+Silver+Ceramic=Health?

Check out these water filters that are being implemented by HAC!
They're tremendously simple, inexpensive, and good for 5 years. It's crazy how much good can be done with a little creativity.

http://www.filterpurefilters.org/the_filter.htm

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Renata Wettermann posted a new update:
over 7 years ago

About the Haitian American Caucus

Oh hey! So fun facts about the Haitian American Caucus (HAC):

1. Their focus is on empowering Haitian families to become self-sufficient-how cool is that?!?
2.They work in Croix-des-Bouquets, a town where 45% of the population lacks access to safe water, and 83% lack proper sanitation.
3. They were founded by a Haitian-American, and most of their staff come from the local community, meaning they're invested in the community and attuned to its needs.
4. They have developed close ties to local families through their school, Ecole Shalom. The school serves as the foundation for HAC's projects in professional development, micro finance, and public health!

Want to learn more? Take a look at the HAC Haiti website: http://wearehac.org/

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