Please join in the efforts of Fundacion de Libertad, the University of Vermont (UVM) and Partners in Health in providing relief to Haiti. UVM students, staff, and faculty have been involved with humanitarian work in Haiti and with Haitian migrant communities in neighboring Dominican Republic for many years, most recently through medical missions and service-learning courses. Now is the time to build on our established ties and join in solidarity with the community of Batey Libertad and Haiti to support ongoing relief efforts. We will be supporting the many efforts by sending our raised funds to Partners in Health, a medical group working in Haiti since 1987. Founded by Dr. Paul Farmer — the subject of this past year’s UVM book pick Mountains Beyond Mountains — Partners in Health has been a model for the world for health care delivery to the poor.
There are a variety of ways to make donations in support of the UVM Haiti Relief Fund:
- If you’re in Burlington, visit one of our convenient locations on campus to drop off donations, including the Davis Center Information Desks, Waterman Building Information Desk, UVM Bookstore, Bailey Howe Library Information Desk, and Dana Medical Library.
- Contribute directly to Partners in Health by clicking here or sending a check made out to Partners In Health with “Haiti” in the memo line to: Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-557.
- Donate to the UVM Haiti Relief Fund with a check sent to: UVM Haiti Relief Fund, Grasse Mount, 411 Main Street, Burlington, Vermont 05405.
In addition, the University will collect donations from January 19, 2010 until January 29, 2010 in the spirit of our Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, through “A Week of Giving” program. Look for information at the events. All of the donations collected at UVM will go directly to Partners in Health in Haiti. Finally, the Office of Student Life Leadership and Civic Engagement web site has additional information http://www.uvm.edu/~lce/ on relief efforts in Haiti.
Thank you everyone for your kindness, prayers and support during this difficult time.
UVM and the Community of Batey Libertad
A time line of the week since 4:53 p.m., January 12th in Haiti ….
Saludos a todos,
For my first post I wanted to first just quickly introduce myself and my work in Batey Libertad and with Futbol Para la Vida. My name is Chelsea McGuire and I am a Fulbright scholar studying HIV/AIDS health culture in bateyes, primarily in the Cibao and North-coastal regions of the Dominican Republic.
I arrived to the D.R. at the end of August 2009 and have been living in Batey Libertad (also part-time in Santiago) ever since. My involvement in FPV in multifaceted. First, I identified the program as the perfect vehicle for my research. If I was interested in HIV-related health culture, what better way to access that information than to participate with a HIV prevention program that works in the same communities where I am researching? The idea is the take advantage of the fact that a FPV program is something that is noticed, and talked-about by the entire community. It is in those conversations, stimulated by FPV, that people express their opinions, beliefs, and perspectives on HIV, AIDS and health.
My research methods also involve working with local research assistants, who will be participating in what is known as ‘conversational journaling.’ Some of the FPV trainers expressed interest in joining my research team, further connecting me to the FPV program by bringing them on as my assistants.
Based on these two initial connections, combined with a few great opportunities for FPV that came to me through some of my research affiliations, I took on the role as a volunteer coordinator for FPV during my first 4 months here. As I will describe in the next few blogs, we are now on our way of establishing a partnership with Peace Corps, thanks to some great meetings and demonstrations done by the FPV trainers. My remaining 5 months I am expecting to take a less active role in the coordination work for FPV, especially since one of our highly experienced trainers, Yanlico Munesi, has expressed interest in taking on more responsiblity in that area. I will be continuing to participate, but will focus more heavily on my research responsibilities to the Fulbright program in the months to come.
Which brings me to my final connection with FPV: the program is also a research target for my study. As a way of ‘giving back’ to the program, I want to provide a second scientific study that looks at the effectiveness fo the program. Unlike the work Zak Kaufman already completed, I will be conducting a purely qualitative study, using methods such as participant observation, conversational journaling and focus groups. Furthermore, as opposed to focusing strictly on the impact and effectiveness of the program on the adolescents who have participated in FPV, my research will be looking more at the community-wide impact of the program, focusing on adult non-participants.
I will be continuing this series of posts to brief all of FPV and Fundacion de Libertad’s supporters, participants and any other interested-folk on what has been going on with the program in the past 4 months and where we are going in this new year.
Let me finish by saying that it has been a privledge to work with the talented FPV trainers and the FPV staff throughout 2009 and I am very much looking forward to continuing our work together in 2010 and beyond.
Thanks and Happy New Year to all!
A new documentary by Fleischer Films entitled “Cane & Able: Hope in Hispaniola” highlights both the community gardening and HIV/AIDS prevention education projects at Batey Libertad. The film explores the legacy and current conditions of bateyes in the Dominican Republic, communities originally developed as work camps in Dominican sugar plantations for Haitian migrants. The two projects highlighted at Batey Libertad have grown out of collaborations between the community, the University of Vermont, and non-governmental organizations working in the Dominican Republic. The first project has developed with University of Vermont students and faculty and the NGO Seeds of Self Reliance, a group working in the DR and Haiti on building “community through gardening”. A second project, also a collaboration with the University of Vermont, grew out of a pilot project with the international NGO Grassroot Soccer. Today, “Futbol para la Vida” is an HIV/AIDS prevention education program based at Batey Libertad and working through a network of schools, NGOs, and communities in the Valverde and Puerto Plata provinces.
To view a clip about the FPV program from the documentary project, click on the YouTube video below.
Dr. Pat Erickson of the University of Vermont’s Animal Science Department will be leading a course entitled “Conservation Medicine in the Developing World: A One World, One Health Approach” to the Dominican Republic from March 5th through 13th. The course will be designed to understand the link between anthropogenic environmental change, conservation and the health of all species. Students will be participating in ongoing community projects at Batey Libertad, learning about ecological restoration research and projects of the Center for Sustainability of Punta Cana’s Ecological Foundation, and experiencing the rich biological diversity of the Dominican Republic.
Hispaniola, the Caribbean island which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti, is home to thousands of plant species, including 600 kinds of ferns, some 226 species of birds, more than 285 kinds of butterflies and 134 kinds of reptiles, including four species of marine turtles. Protecting this wealth is a challenge in any geographical area, and the pressure in the developing world is substantial. Our understanding of these unique problems can only come during direct contact with the people and species whose lives are so deeply entwined.
Join Professor McKew Devitt of the University of Vermont’s Department of Romance Language and Literatures for his fourth consecutive March travel-study class to the Dominican Republic. The class will help fund and build a house for a family in need; interact with Dominicans and Haitians on a batey in a community garden and on a soccer field; experience ecotourism at a natural water park; tour an organic shade-grown coffee farm; travel to the city of Dajabón on the Dominican-Haitian border on market day; visit the oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere; and learn the difference between merengue and bachata!
Through all of these activities the class will be observing and discussing some recurring themes: the construction of a national identity through cultural and historical manifestations; land use and immigration; racial tensions between Dominicans and Haitians; and the roles of tourists (and student visitors) and the possible positive and negative impacts tourism has on a society.
Prior to the trip students will be required to read and discuss various texts about Hispaniola, both fiction and non-fiction, including The Farming of the Bones by Edwidge Danticat and Why the Cocks Fight by Michele Wucker. These readings will provide a historical foundation on which to base observations during the trip. The course builds on past classes and student projects such as Fútbol para la Vida — an HIV/AIDS prevention education program piloted by a past UVM group — and a community gardening project seeded (literally) by UVM students and the NGO Seeds of Reliance. We will also continue a literacy project in the batey community which includes developing a library and a tri-lingual exchange.
For the third consecutive January, John Hayden of the University of Vermont’s Plant and Soil Science Department will be leading a service-learning course to the Dominican Republic to learn about (and do!) community gardening. As an organic farmer, sustainable agriculture professor, and co-founder of Seeds of Self Reliance, John will offer students an opportunity to live and work alongside Dominicans and Haitians in a previously established community farm in Batey Libertad, and extend lessons learned to a new farm site at the community of Saman in the Puerto Plata Province.
Seeking ways to improve nutrition and income-earning opportunities by establishing a community-run farm, the class work together with community members in learning organic vegetable production techniques, composting, and small scale livestock rearing. Students will also visit the Finca Alta Gracia organic shade- grown coffee and tropical fruit farm to participate in harvesting coffee, set up a worm composting demonstration, and learn other farming techniques. The class will begin with tours of successful community gardens and urban agriculture sites in La Vega. These will serve as a model for the Batey farm. We will take a one day break in the middle of the trip to sample the north shore beaches. The second part of the class will focus on agro-forestry in the tropics, including shade grown coffee and tropical fruit production. We will be given tours by experts from the Dominican agriculture sector.