Mission Statement

Stone By Stone- building a road following God's chosen path.  Together with our brothers and sisters of Haiti, we strive to serve the cooperative of HASWEP through Listening, Educating, Supporting, Praying, Working, Advancing.

LESPWA means HOPE in Creole. 
We are full of hope for Haiti.

 

.

 FANMI LASANTE

CLINIC

Desab, Haiti

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Sunday
Feb042018

What's The Deal With The MSPP?

If you have been following our Facebook posts or newsletters for awhile, you may have seen “the MSPP” mentioned quite a bit.  The MSPP is the Ministry of Health in Haiti.  Fanmi Lasante’s approval by the MSPP is getting very close, so I think it’s time we explain why this is such a big deal.  To be honest, I only just found out recently myself why this is such a big deal and I want to share the excitement with all of you. 

MSPP stands for Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population.  Healthcare facilities are inspected by state health offices and authorized at that level in order to officially practice medicine.  All clinics are authorized by the state.  Fanmi Lasante became authorized by the state a long time ago.  I thought that was pretty exciting.  But we kept talking about MSPP approval and I just kind of thought that was the normal next step.  It turns out, it’s not.  All clinics are approved by the state, but not all clinics are authorized by the MSPP.  MSPP authorization is the highest level of recognition that a clinic can receive by the Haitian government.  It’s like becoming a 5-star restaurant.  There is nowhere else to go.  You have reached the top.  When Fenel explained this to me I understood why he and the staff have been working so hard on this and why it is such a major goal.  To gain MSPP authorization would put Fanmi Lasante in an elite group of clinics. 

Why does that matter?  MSPP authorization opens major doors for Fanmi Lasante.  MSPP authorized clinics receive free vaccines, and that includes all vaccines supplies and the booklets for parents to track vaccines for their children.  By the way, those booklets are not available outside of the MSPP in Haiti.  If someone else has them, it’s because they obtained them in an unofficial manner.  MSPP authorization also provides free patient education materials, training for the staff, free medicines, and extra staff paid for by the state if they feel the program requires more staffing based on reports and statistics.  This is major! 

Beside all of that, there is the intangible sense of pride for the entire community that they have an MSPP authorized clinic in their region.  People will come to Fanmi Lasante just for that.  Even the doctor from the MSPP, after arriving in Desab in his nice state-funded Land Cruiser, said that he did not expect to find something so nice after driving up that road so far from town.  He complimented the staff on what a great job they are doing for the state with this clinic. 

The clinic staff, and especially the administrator Fenel Jean, have worked so incredibly hard for this.  I cannot imagine a better group of people who deserve this honor, or a group of people more worthy of our support.  When I met with the clinic staff on my last trip, I asked them what they would like to say to our supporters in the US.  Dr. Gabrielle said, “I hope they trust we are doing the right thing with their money.  Thank you!”  And the nurse Pauline said, “Their money is going to the right place.  I will pray for them and that we can create more opportunity.”  This staff is not only focused on care for the community that they serve, but they are aware of the fact that they are accountable to our supporters for how your money is used.  Seriously.  Could there be a better group of people to support? 

If you already support us financially, I join with the entire clinic staff in a huge THANK YOU!  And if you don’t, why not start?  Your tax-deductible donation will support a soon-to-be MSPP authorized clinic in a mountain village in Haiti without electricity or running water which is providing quality healthcare to a region of 10,000 people.  Why not be a part of something big?

Mesi anpil,

Nicole Pitzer

Sunday
Oct292017

I Quit!

My excitement and anxiety were at high levels as I was preparing for my first trip to Desab, Haiti, and Fanmi Lasante clinic. Nicole Pitzer, President of Stone By Stone, and  I left Pittsburgh International Airport at 6:07 a.m. on Saturday, October 7th.  We rendezvoused in Boston with Sue McCook, Vice President/Treasurer of Stone By Stone, and left for Port Au Prince to arrive in the early afternoon.

And the culture shock begins.  I cannot explain the chaos of the Port Au Prince airport in the space I have here.  The heat was oppressive and the people were crowding around.  Thank God our Clinic Administrator, Fenel Jean, arrived to pick us up.  And the culture shock continues.  Driving around the side streets of Port Au Prince was quite an experience.  We arrived at a restaurant which had a UN security guard, with what appeared to be an M-16, guarding the parking lot.  But the food was everything I expected.  Excellent. 

After leaving the restaurant the culture shock begins again. We are now on our way to Desab.  Heading out of Port Au Prince, the traffic was mostly bumper to bumper with horns honking with diesel and gas fumes filling the car.  The only rule on the road to Desab is “there are no rules.” Stop signs mean nothing, and the only right of way is the one you take while beeping your horn.  Quite hilarious.  I really enjoyed it. 

The rest of the way to Fanmi Lasante clinic assaulted my sensibility and emotions.  Seeing people digging in refuse along the road, and others selling anything from chickens, pigs, water, shoes, dresses, and blouses, even gasoline in used anti-freeze bottles caused me to just stare blankly out the window trying to make sense of it all.  And then we hit Cabaret.  Traffic was stopped.  Vehicles double parked with no way around. And did I mention the heat was oppressive?  We finally made our right hand turn out of Cabaret and headed up the mountain road to our guest house.  By now my emotions were ruined. And the mountain road was no respite.  Winding, washed out, rocks, crevices from erosion, and very narrow passages, caused much concern to all of us.  By the time we arrived in the plateau on top where the Guest House is located, I made a decision to quit being involved in Stone By Stone.  The past two hours were a visual assault that left me thinking that there is not enough time, money, or people to alleviate and offer any long term help to the people of Haiti.  I QUIT!

That is until Sunday morning.  When we went to church with the community members and experienced the joy that the people exhibited, I began an emotional turn around.  The joy of the Lord truly became my strength.  And from that day forward I experienced the tremendous work Stone By Stone is accomplishing in the village.  Seeing the clinic in operation and full of 78 patients that day was amazing.  I was brought to tears when a young lady had her name called to go start the intake process with one of our medical providers. Her smiling face lit up the room. I left the room to compose myself before I continued my work of interviewing potential patients, some of whom had walked for 4 hours to see our doctor.  One person, 70 years old, came by donkey being led by his loving son.  It took them 4 hours as well. 

Well, not only am I not quitting, I am having difficulty thinking about anything else but my next trip to Desab where Stone By Stone and I are making a huge difference in the lives of many people in the community surrounding Fanmi Lasante clinic.  We have a large list of projects to accomplish as we endeavor to build up this community.  With all of our help, there will be enough time, money, and people to make a lasting impact on the citizens of Desab and the surrounding villages.  Did I mention that it was hot?

Greg Miheli

board secretary


Tuesday
Sep052017

Planning for Hurricane Irma

I love rain.  I love thunderstorms.  Rainy days at home with a cup of tea and a Law & Order marathon are among some of my favorite things.  I also love rainy days in Desab.  The rain smells and feels so fresh and clean.  I am also aware of the fact that rain can be quickly devastating to Haiti. 

Natural disasters can be destructive no matter where they strike.  However, Haiti does not have the infrastructure in place to recover and mend herself.  And hurricanes are especially devastating.  Crops and livestock are washed away, roads and bridges are demolished, disease spreads rampantly.  This is why I am already afraid for Hurricane Irma. 

We are trying to anticipate needs and plan ahead for this storm and we are asking for your help.  Torrential rains bring large quantities of contaminated water, which breeds cholera and other water-borne illnesses.  We need to be able to supply water purification tabs through the clinic.  More illness brings more need for medicine.  The clinic pharmacy already runs out medicine on a regular basis.  We need to plan ahead for increased demand.  On a practical note, Fanmi Lasante has a new roof and new solar system.  If these are damaged, we will need to plan for repairs. 

I will be honest with you all.  As the president of Stone By Stone, I feel like most of what I do is ask for money.  But there is good reason for that.  Money buys medicine and pays the clinic staff and repairs damages to the building.  Money allows us to expand the services that the clinic provides.  And 98% of all of the money we receive goes directly to Fanmi Lasante and the Desab community.  Our administrative costs are minimal.  Our passion is Haiti. 

So here I am, once again, asking for money.  At last check, the Stone By Stone Facebook page had 721 followers.  If just half of them donated $10 towards hurricane relief planning, that would be $3600, which is actually enough to stock the pharmacy for almost a year.  If I share this blog post on my personal Facebook page, it will reach my 352 Facebook friends.  If half of those people donate $10, that’s another possible $1,760.  And if each person who is reading this right now does the same, the number of possible donations will go up exponentially. 

I know we are all overwhelmed with financial obligations and with opportunities to give.  There are needs all around us.  Maybe you already donated to Hurricane Harvey relief.  Maybe you are supporting a political cause you are passionate about.  I am passionate about Haiti, so I am asking that you consider a donation to Stone By Stone to help us take care of a community of people that we love. 

Mesi anpil!

Nicole Pitzer

president

Saturday
Aug192017

If You Build It...

If you build it, they will come. Everyone knows that if you build a baseball diamond in an Iowa cornfield, then the great players of baseball past will come and play again. But it is also true that if you build a medical clinic in a remote village in the mountains of Haiti, people will get there. They will get there by walking, mostly, over steep, rocky footpaths. They will walk for an hour, or two hours, sometimes, to get there. They will walk while carrying small children. They will walk while feeling sick with fevers. They will walk while in pain, leaning on a stick. They will fill up the long wooden benches in the waiting room. The doctor will see patient after patient, and will peek out the door, and see that the waiting room is still just as full of patients as it was before.

 

Because people want medical care. They need medical care. And if you offer it, they will come. I was privileged to go on the June 2017 Haiti trip, and all of us on the trip witnessed this with our own eyes.

 

When the founders of Stone By Stone began looking around for a way to help Haiti, they decided to start with health care, because they believed health care was the foundation underpinning everything else. Haiti needs better education, but you can’t study and learn if you are sick. Haiti needs jobs, but you can’t work if you are sick. At that time, there was no medical care in Desab, except for when a team of Americans came over. So Stone By Stone made sponsoring the clinic their #1 goal.

 

They fixed up the building. They furnished examining rooms. They put up a new roof. They put up solar panels so they could have electricity. They got a doctor, and a dentist, and a nurse, and a pharmacy technician, and other health workers. (And all of those are local people, so they have provided Haitians with jobs, as well.) They filled the pharmacy with medicine (although never with as much medicine as they would like). And they have plans for more. They want to install a laboratory. Most importantly, they want to get national accreditation. If the clinic gets on the list of officially approved clinics, they can get free vaccinations. And in case of a disaster, they can get relief supplies delivered there. As Paul Rumo said, national accreditation would be “Huge. Huge.”

 

And we all helped make that happen. We donated drugs for the pharmacy. We donated new shirts for the babies. Some of our nurses in out group took vital signs on patients before they saw the doctor. I sat with the doctor, and gave gifts of clothes and candy and small toys to the children. (I didn’t think that was very much help, but the doctor said it was, because if I had not been there, she would have had to stop and do it herself, losing her valuable time.) All of us participated in fixing up the clinic. We painted, and painted, and painted, inside and out. We were hot, and sticky, and splattered all over with white and green paint, but when we left, that clinic shone like a beacon on the hillside. It looked clean and professional.

 

Our time in Haiti was a wonderful experience, and here are some of the reasons why. It is a known fact in development circles that often, people will come from wealthier nations with plans that are well-meaning, but don’t actually help. Because they haven’t taken the time to get to know the place or the people, and what they actually need. But it was clear that Stone By Stone is doing something that the local people value, and desire.

 

It was also a pleasure that we were not just doing something for the Haitian people. We were doing something with the Haitian people. While we Americans were painting, the Haitian children picked up brushes and painted beside us. And while we were painting, local craftsmen were doing fine work building a set of cement steps to the front door. Another local craftsman painted the sign for the clinic, which looked really sharp.

 

Sometimes people want to contribute to a charity, but they worry about waste and overhead, and lining the pockets of administrators. You don’t have to worry about that with Stone By Stone. They pour everything into the work. When the members of Stone By Stone are interviewed, they all say, “God led me here. God led me to Haiti. God put a love for Haiti in my heart. God led me to support the clinic.” And if God is leading you to do something for Haiti, either by contributing money to Stone By Stone, or by going on a future mission trip, you can be sure that you will be helping. And to all of you who have already contributed, by supporting our fundraising efforts, or by making donations of supplies, you have helped to be part of something that is helping people, right now, right this very minute. A profound thank you.

 

~Cheryl Gatling

 


Wednesday
Jun282017

Why I Go To Haiti

I can honestly say the reasons why I go to Haiti are purely “selfish”.  I started going to Haiti in 2009 when my wife and I were in the process of adopting 3 sibling brothers.  For all of you that know us, you know how that turned out!!!

Haiti is a beautiful country once you get past the poverty, the distinct smells and the stares.  Yes, in Haiti, I am a minority.  This effects how I relate to the people.  As a minority, I try to do something unordinary.  I want to stand out as different than the other “white” people.  I strive to be different and memorable.  The Haitian people lead a simple life of survival, so different than my normal life in America.  Not that I do not have struggles, but it is different on so many levels.  Whenever I am in Haiti, I appreciate the opportunity to bring a small ray of sunshine, hope and love (and lots of laughter) to the community we serve.

The selfishness comes from my desire to help, serve and love unconditionally.  This is a “Me” thing because it makes me feel like I have contributed to something.  No matter how small, it still makes me feel good.  Seeing the smiles on everyone’s face when I pull up to the guest house; when asked to visit their home; invited to share a meal; or just sitting with someone I cannot communicate with.  There is love and compassion present and that makes me feel great!

So, when asked, “Why do I go to Haiti?”, my answer is because it makes me feel good.  I think this is true for many people, but some may not want to admit it.  For me, I’m Blessed!

Paul Rumo

~board member