Biodigestion Project Expansion

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 cycle-diagramsolution 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.

project-team student-learning-1 student-learning-2

While this build was taking place, teachers were attending a training lead by HEART Educationpic-2 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. pic-1Teaching 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.

A Call to Help. Student Families Have Been Affected by Hurricane Matthew.

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 paul-family-6miles 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 whenpaul-family-5 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 challengespaul-family-4 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

Dr. E… Returns to HEART School November 23rd to 27th

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.

Or, mail a check to HEART at:
P.O. Box 554
Middletown NY, 10940

Before I left Haiti, I made a commitment to return, not just to the community of Croix des Bouquets, but to also work with nearby communities. I am now following through on that commitment, and we need your help. In the time that I will be there, I will be providing the following workshops:

  • All-Day Workshop for Educators
  • All-Day Workshop for Young Adults on Mentoring and Community-Building

Your Chance to Help in Haiti

Expenses will be incurred for each workshop, as well as other expenses, and I am seeking donations to support our efforts.Dr E2 Donations will go to The HEART School, where they have developed a fund specifically for this community project if you click on the links. The HEART School is a 501c3 non-profit that teaches children from Pre-K through 5th grade, and they also are continuing to develop vocational programs to teach young adults skills to help them gain employment. Your donations ARE Tax Deductible.

  1. Translator for a Day: The Cost of a Translator for a Day is $60. We will have 2 Translators for the work that we will be doing there for the three days. The total cost for translators will be $360.
  1. Lunches/Food for Participants: A meal per day for kids and adults can be a luxury, at times, in Haiti. I think we all know that diet can be a big issue when it comes to learning. I want to make sure that everyone who comes to any workshop gets fed so that they can focus better on what we are hoping to feed their heart and soul, rather than feel hunger pangs. The cost for food/drinks will be $300 per workshop. The snacks for the community in the evening sessions will be roughly $100 for each of the three sessions. **Any additional remaining food and funds after the workshops will be donated back to the school to help provide healthy meals for the students and staff.
  1. Dr E3Transportation in Haiti will be provided. While the amount cannot be known in advance, it is estimated that it could be as much as $300, because I will be hoping to build bridges for future trips and may have to travel here and there to make those connections, as well as other transportation for materials.
  1. Electricity is by generator at The HEART School, and this will be used during the workshops. The cost to run the generator for the time I will be there will be roughly $100.
  1. Additional Presenter Compensation: In Haiti, I will not be the only presenter for these workshops. Shad St. Louis, who is the Founder of the School, as well as other staff, will be providing their experience and expertise during the daytime workshops. I would like them to be reimbursed for their valuable time. There are also other administrative costs involved in this endeavor that I would like to make sure get covered. We are estimating $1000 to cover these expenses.
  1. Community Development Endowment: One of the goals of the Community Mentoring Workshops is to develop a Community Endowment that will be supervised by The HEART School. This is a fund that young adults, who want to develop and implement community activities, can write “grant proposals” to request funds for programs and/or materials for the project. Decisions will then be made about how to distribute funds in an appropriate manner. These funds could be used for community development events, education, providing community resources, possibly recreational equipment or supplies. Only those who have participated in the workshop will be able to apply for funds. Indirectly, what we are hoping to teach the young adults is how to develop a plan for a program, develop a needs assessment and budget, and then apply for funds and ultimately implement the program. They need funds to do this, and hopefully by going through this exercise at a micro level, it could develop in them being able to develop a business and know how to pursue funding, operate within a budget, and succeed to make a dream a reality. This fund has no amount attached to it, but, as you can see will be priceless. This fund goes beyond our visit, and hopefully can continue to grow, as it helps these communities to grow.
  1. The HEART School: There are many ways to support The HEART School. If you would like to visit Dr E4their website and donate directly to the school, that would be wonderful, as well. You can sponsor a student, or provide funds for school supplies, meals, or other larger projects on school grounds. It is my goal to build awareness for the wonderful things that The HEART School is doing, as well as to support the community around the school. As the community wins, the school and its students win.

 

Workshops Descriptions

Educator Workshop

Dr E5

Many educators in Haiti do not have the formal education that individuals in the U.S. have. Furthermore, the ability to motivate students and empower them to make significant changes in their life and their community is often stunted by the ability for educators to see where they can empower themselves. In other words, we can only teach from the language that we know and understand.

Haiti, like many countries, has its culture, and sometimes the culture can limit people’s ability to see how they can succeed. There are many who follow generational patterns of learned helplessness and/or don’t see ways to grow beyond their past to see a brighter future. Perspectives on personal power and the ways that we all view emotion can be like handcuffs that limit our growth and the evolution of community. As people are given other ways to see themselves and the world, it opens up possibility and opportunity. I don’t see what I teach as anything new, but often awakening what we all know deep inside. Awakening what we all brought to this world should be a part of every teacher’s education, as well as every student’s.

This workshop will be taught with the additional help of Shad St. Louis and his staff, and is open to educators in the region. If they can make it to the location, they can attend.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Teach educators about different ways to look at power
  • Provide a different view of emotions and their Positive Purpose
  • Educate on Cultural Views, their limitations and opportunities presented
  • Provide teaching skills and tips to enhance attendees’ personal lives and the lives of their students
  • Provide insights on how to contribute to community building and strengthening

Community Mentoring Workshop

This All-Day workshop will be primarily for young adults and will focus on providing skills for leadership and communiDr E6ty building. The idea of this program came out of the serendipitous opportunity that arose during my first trip to Haiti. A group of young adults, who developed their own community development program saw me visiting there and asked for my help and guidance. In the process, I met with them and we talked about how to build community resources, trust and also connected them with the Directors of The HEART School, who were willing to provide guidance, when needed.

What became clear to me is that there are a number of young adults who want to make a meaningful difference in their communities and their nation, but they lack the necessary education, guidance and direction to know how to do it, individually, or as a collective. They also were not aware of how to involve other communities to gain critical mass.

Many of these young adults have innate leadership skills that can foster growth. If their own skills are not fostered and channeled in a healthy way, those skills may be misused, abused, or stifled. Many communities may lack leaders that can effect positive change, and as a result, generational patterns of stagnancy may persist. This workshop is intended to provide a basis for young adults to begin to find their strengths, as well as the strengths of their community, with a goal that the model spreads to nearby communities and the mentoring continues beyond my visit there.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Help participants understand their personal dynamics, as well at the dynamics of communities.
  • Provide a framework for understanding how emotions and perceptions of power influence communities in both positive and destructive ways.
  • Educate on cultural beliefs that may be limiting their personal community growth
  • Help them to develop a list of community resources that they can call on to build trust, interdependency and group and individual empowerment.
  • Help participants to begin to understand how to effect change on multiple fronts in their community, region, and potentially, their nation.

Dr E7

As you can see, we are working to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time, and I see this as a continuation of what was started a few seasons ago. I hope you will join me on this mission with your support. One day soon, I hope to also be able to continue to effect change in our own back yard, as well. We have to see that although the world is a big place, our community is our planet, and we all live here together. If we can build stronger communities and help people to see how to do that, think of how our world can change for the better.

We each have a role to play in making this world a better place. Don’t think that it is someone else’s job.

Thank you for your attention to this, and even if you choose not to or can’t make a difference here, see how your time and energy can make a difference somewhere else. As one Buddhist teacher once stated: “You Smile and the Word Smiles with You.”

Please help make this a valuable, constructive exercise for Haiti by supporting Dr. Erik’s work.

Or, mail a check to HEART at:
P.O. Box 554
Middletown NY, 10940

Sincerely,

Erik Fisher, aka, Dr. E…

Hurricane Matthew – Updated 10/5

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.

 

community-rosd-flooded                          dieusel-watching-the-rain

Flooded Road in Community                                 Dieusel Watches Rain

 

school-entrance   standing-water-in-school-grounds

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.

 

paul-family-1               paul-family-2             paul-family-3

paul-family-4   paul-family-5 paul-family-6