Kingston Charity’s Medical Team Treating Victims of Hurricane Matthew

By Steve Gerard, Kingston Herald
October 9, 2016

As families in Canada get together this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving, staff at the Kingston-funded Helping Haiti medical clinic are struggling to treat those most affected by Hurricane Matthew.

The clinic – situated in Cité Soleil, one of the most impoverished cities in the world – is located at sea level and therefore experienced serious damage from Matthew’s heavy winds, rains and storm surge.

Purposely built to withstand this sort of punishing weather, the Helping Haiti clinic was open to shelter neighbouring families during the storm, but none appeared due to concern their belongings might be lost to flooding or theft.

Head nurse, Mario, treats patients after Hurricane Matthew
Head nurse, Mario, treats patients after Hurricane Matthew

Now the clinic’s staff, who themselves have families recovering from the disaster, are treating some of the most needy citizens for injuries and ailments associated with the storm.

The medical team is headed by lead nurse Mario, along with 4 more nurses – two of them doing internships – and 2 nursing assistants.

Mario has informed Helping Haiti’s Kingston founder, Tammy Aristilde, that people will soon shoulder a tremendous amount of sickness due to flooding and the lack of proper sanitation.

He has also expressed concern that antibiotics are very expensive now, as is food and other necessities.

The team is trying to ensure patients are eating before taking medication received from the clinic and, although the clinic won’t be able to do a general distribution for the area, patients who come to see nurses and need food will have a bag of food given to them.

Garbage and sewage in flood water near Helping Haiti clinic
Garbage and sewage in flood water near Helping Haiti clinic

Tammy Aristilde – a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, presented by the Governor General this summer for her work in Haiti – says the charity is in need of funds to help the people most affected by the storm.

“We require more medication and to afford extra wages during this difficult time,” said Aristilde, adding that all donations will go directly to the front line.

She reports Helping Haiti will be supplying the clinic with rice, peas, and oil for patients in need, along with water purification and medications.

“Basically the clinic is working with what they have,” Tammy explained. “If they have more money for medication, they’ll be able to assist more people.”

For more information, feel free to check out the Kingston Herald’s coverage of Helping Haiti’s efforts to improve the lives of people in Citi Soleil.

You can lend a helping hand by donating now to Helping Haiti, allowing its hard working medical team to treat the people most impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

Kingston Medal Recipient Returning to Haiti’s Cite Soleil

By Steve Gerard, Kingston Herald
July 10, 2016

With less than a month having passed since Kingston’s Tammy Aristilde was awarded the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal, the charity worker is now making final arrangements to return to Cite Soleil in Haiti.

The founder of Helping Haiti was presented the award on June 23rd in Ottawa by Governor General David Johnston, someone who shares another connection with Aristilde through his alma mater (Law’66, LLD’91), Queen’s University, where Tammy is a Supervisor in the Campus Security department.

While there is no cash award to Meritorious Service Medal recipients, it does shine a light on charities that both raises awareness and confidence for donors.

Aristilde's Meritorious Service Medal
Aristilde’s Meritorious Service Medal

Aristilde’s hope in being awarded the Meritorious Service Medal is for “increased awareness of the work being done on the ground with Helping Haiti and for others to get involved. There are strength in numbers and we are excited to increase our numbers, our reach and our impact.”

That philosophy of strength in numbers (and a testament to current Helping Haiti supporters) was demonstrated this past week when Aristide posted a request to finance a last minute opportunity that would benefit Haitians in her upcoming trip. The addition required hundreds of dollars in extra funding – and it was paid for by supporters in less than an hour.

The team enroute to Haiti later this month will also include Director Aaron Sousa. He will be working with their Helping Haiti Clinic staff and offering first aid and CPR programs to the general population of Cite Soleil.

Sousa’s own fundraising efforts this month have enabled additional purchases that include an automatic blood pressure cuff, allowing medical providers to accurately and consistently track patients’ blood pressure as they are triaged upon arrival, and a no touch/forehead thermometer for quickly assessing and screening patients for fever. Those items join the 8000 gauze pads and 192 conforming gauze rolls his sponsors have also funded for this trip.

Tammy outlined some of their other projects set for late July that include:

– First Aid classes for 3 different zones of Cite Soleil,
– Local meetings to move the process along towards a more sustainable clinic practice,
– Morning yoga classes for the elders with a focus on core strength and balance,
– Water distribution,
– Work with our micro credit and artisan teams,
– Plans to organize a 3v3 basketball tournament where each of the teams will receive jerseys provided by the Calgary Selects.

Contrary to another media report, Helping Haiti runs only one medical clinic in the country – where all donations and services are concentrated – and this month they will be blending their Canadian doctor with those local clinic staff.

Helping Haiti Medical Clinic

Kingston Charity Brings Dental Care to Haiti

By Merideth Smith, Kingston Herald
Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Helping Haiti team has returned from another productive trip to the impoverished Caribbean country, where founder Tammy Aristilde kept busy with multiple projects that included a new dental contingent.

In 2014, Aristilde had been put in touch with the group Kindness In Action – a charity that organizes trips to developing countries where they provide dental care to those in need.

Patient receiving dental work from "Kindness in Action"
Patient receiving dental work from “Kindness in Action”

Helping Haiti assisted Kindness In Action by bringing the 15 person dental brigade into Cite Soleil every day of the trip, with two drivers and two security personnel providing a safe and controlled site in Cite Soleil.

The dentists saw over 325 patients – ranging from the age of 4 up to 100 years old – and performed 410 tooth extractions, 82 fillings, 127 cleanings, and treated 10 people for existing infections.

People came to the clinic from 22 different zones of Port Au Prince – 11 zones inside Cite Soleil, with 36 different areas within those zones. These areas of Cite Soleil are sometimes treated as boundaries by the residents due to hostilities between the powers within them.

Helping Haiti also continued worked on their medical clinic during the trip.

Another bed was installed and the clinic’s shelves were filled with over 1000 condoms generously donated by the Sexual Health Resource Centre at Queen’s University.

Baby bottles and diapers, along with over $300 in over the counter medical supplies, vitamins, and medications were also brought in.

The charity has established a plan for sustainability for their medical clinic and, since medical supplies and staff are not cheap, this has been a tricky task compared to their other projects – like the water tower erected by Helping Haiti before the 2010 earthquake.

Another project on the horizon for Helping Haiti is a Community Centre.

On this most recent trip, Aristilde and her team met with their engineer to discuss the centre, as well as purchasing a wheelbarrow for a young man to use while working on the property.

The charity also hired a teacher and ran a three month dental English course for 7 translators – providing food and drink for all participants on class days.

Helping Haiti is proud of hiring local people in Cite Soleil for work. During this trip, they employed over 40 people each day and paid for all lunches – utilizing the services and supported two cooking businesses in Cite Soleil.

Other smaller scale initiatives Helping Haiti organized for this trip included supporting a portion of the construction for a community Fwa, where vendors all over Cite Soleil are gathering in February to sell their wares.

The group was also joined on this trip by one of the presidents of Queen’s Helping Haiti. They were involved in every aspect of the trip to better help the organization understand the work done on the ground in Cite Soleil.

The Kingston-based charity has also redesigned its website and will be releasing a new video that was shot while in Haiti last month.

Helping Haiti focuses on sustainable help to Cite Soleil, the poorest area of Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince. They are engaged in a number of initiatives – from safe water to education – that feature projects designed to encourage cooperation among the people of Cite Soleil.

You can see more about the charity’s work this past summer by reading the summary on their Facebook page.

Donations can be made to Helping Haiti at their website, HelpingHaiti.ca, which offers the option to print out a Charitable Tax Receipt for donors.

Got Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum points?

If your Optimum points are burning a hole in your pocket and you would like to donate a few towards outfitting the clinic in Cite Soleil, Shoppers Drug Mart has now partnered with Helping Haiti and included it in their list of Charities eligible for point transfers.

Shoppers Drug Mart started off the program by donating $300.00+ worth of points and you can help by donating your spare Optimum points at the Shopper’s Drug Mart’s Charity page or simply go to the ‘Transfer’ section of the Optimum app or your profile page, and locate ‘Helping Haiti’ in the list of charities.

“Helping Haiti” Reflects on Summer Accomplishments, Plans Next Trip

By Merideth Smith, Kingston Herald September 4, 2015

Kingston-based charity Helping Haiti had a whirlwind trip to Cite Soleil in July. Much was accomplished during the short trip.

In an update, founder Tammy Aristilde reports that between 40-65 locals were hired and fed every day, helping the charity with work in Cite Soleil.

General housekeeping was accomplished within the medical clinic: they installed hand sanitizer dispensers, stocked supplies, and outfitted the medical clinic with medicine over and above the monthly budget to meet demand.

Furthermore, the medical clinic was outfitted with a desk for triage and a medical bed.

Helping Haiti ran several courses during their trip as well. A First Aid course for men and women was available, this time offered to another area of Cite Soleil. The charity also taught their women’s self defense class again, and a small business course was offered for six women.

Aristilde visited the water tower, the first large project the charity completed in Haiti. She reports it is working well – so much so that she just stopped in to catch up and hear how well everything is operating there.

Work on the Community Centre is moving along as well. Aristilde reports that they have a basketball court/activity pad built. They levelled the grounds and removed debris from the rest of the property.

As well as the more serious charitable activities, Helping Haiti also distributed “countless pairs of flip flops” to people in Cite Soleil. They also had handmade teddy bears to hand out to children! The teddy bears were made with love by Eileen Gerrard, 94, from Gananoque.

It wasn’t all back breaking labour in Cite Soleil, though. While in town, the charity was featured in Haitian star Scraggy’s latest music video. The video for “Boukan Dife” (embedded below) was shot in one evening during the trip.

Scraggy – who immigrated to Canada and made Kingston his new home – performs Haitian roots music, or mizik rasin in Creole, incorporates reggae, rock, and funk elements into more traditional Haitian music.

Helping Haiti focuses on sustainable help to Cite Soleil, the poorest area of Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince. The charity has many initiatives, from safe water to education, with many of the initiatives designed to encourage cooperation among the people of Cite Soleil.

Helping Haiti Infant CPR Trianing

Giving the Babies of Haiti a Chance

By Ashliegh Gehl, Kingston This Week / Frontenac This Week Wednesday, August 14, 2013

KINGSTON – There are no formal ambulance services in Haiti’s Cité Soleil, and there is no 911 to call.

“When a child gets sick or there’s some kind of emergency it’s up to the parents to handle it,” says Aaron Sousa, the community coordinator at the St. John Ambulance Loyalist Branch. Easy access to medical care, even at the most basic level, is nil.

Last month Sousa spent 10 days in Haiti. He went to Cité Soleil with Kingston’s Tammy Babcock, founder of the charity Help Tammy Help Haiti, and there he taught a specific infant CPR program. Almost every day he had groups of 15 women, mothers and mothers-to-be, show up to learn CPR. By the end of the program, he had trained 105 women how to care for their infants in case of an emergency.

“Our hope was that we could teach some of these mothers some really, really basic things that they could do in an emergency to help keep their baby alive,” he says.

Since Haiti has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere, teaching mothers CPR is a very practical and lifesaving skill. He went over what to do when a child starts choking or stops breathing. He taught the women how to handle minor cuts and scrapes, and how to properly clean and bandage wounds.

“We wanted to give a lot of these babies one of the best chances they had, and the mothers, the best chance that they had to help their kids,” he said.

Sousa and Babcock have been friends for about a decade. Over the years he’s heard the countless stories Babcock has told about the work she’s doing in Cité Soleil.

“She’s working in the poorest of the poorest areas,” he says. “That is an area the Canadian government recommends that you do not go.”

He’s also heard stories about the people on the ground who are helping to sustain the projects Babcock invests in.

“They’re very welcoming,” he says. “They made me feel like part of the family right off the bat. And were really appreciative of the help that we were able to give when we were there.”

The clinic Sousa worked out of was a secured, walled compound Babcock’s charity helped build. And the work he did was an extension of the First Aid for Peace program, an initiative Babcock started that put 10 people from six rival gangs in the same room. Together they learned how to clean and pack bullet and knife wounds.

The earthquake that struck Haiti happened three years ago, in 2010, and a lot of money has flowed to the country since then to help them rebuild.

But “if you hadn’t looked and said ‘There was an earthquake three years ago,’ you would’ve just imagined it had happened a week before,” Sousa says. “The rebuilding is really, really slow. There’s still lots and lots of rubble everywhere. There’s still way too many people living in temporary tents.”

Some of the areas in the capital of Port-au-Prince are brand new. But as Sousa witnessed, the work is far from done.

St. John Ambulance donated about $800 worth of infant Actars – training mannequins – for future training in the clinic and more than $2,000 worth of first aid supplies and first aid kits. To make sure the program can be self-sustaining, Sousa trained a nurse who lives in the area how to teach the program.

Sousa says he has no immediate plans to go back to Haiti, but he’d definitely like to return to see how the program has developed and how it can be improved.

Kingston This Week

Recognizing Kingston’s finest on Canada Day

By Ashliegh Gehl, Kingston this Week Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The snap and crackle of Canada Day comes with a few rites of passage – temporary maple leaf tattoos, collapsible lawn chairs, sweaty cold beverages and great Canadian music. It’s also a time to appreciate the many volunteers who give their time locally and abroad.

This year, the City of Kingston has acknowledged five outstanding citizens who have enriched the lives of the many and have helped in building a stronger community.

Dr. Robert Gordon was awarded the 2013 First Capital Distinguished Citizen Award. Gordon came to Kingston in 1966 to teach physical chemistry at Queen’s University. He worked at Queen’s for 30 years before retiring in 1996.

“I’ve never lived in this small of a town before, but I found it delightful,” said Gordon. “It was a big enough place that it had lots going culturally. And yet you didn’t have long traffic jams and you could be out in the country, in many interesting places in half an hour.”

Gordon is well-known for his work at Martha’s Table. For the last 15 years, his involvement has stretched from fundraising to being a board member to peeling 100lbs of potatoes. He has volunteered with Chalmers United Church, the Rideau Trail and helps senior citizens with their tax forms.

Councillor Brian Reitzel described Gordon as “one of the quietest, most unheralded and almost irreplaceable community volunteers that we have in Kingston. That’s essentially him in a nutshell.”

Since there are many hardworking volunteers in Kingston, Gordon didn’t expect the award would land on his lap.

“I was delighted and quite surprised,” said Gordon. “While I made some contributions, I can think of many others who would be equally deserving, but I see this as a tribute to volunteer activity in general.”

Tammy Babcock was awarded the 2013 First Capital Honourable Achievement Award.

“It’s overwhelming, to be honest,” said Babcock. “It’s a little bit embarrassing. It’s never easy to be recognized for volunteer work that you do, but at the same time I’m really grateful for being appreciated, especially by a city like Kingston. I love Kingston. It’s absolutely an honour.”

Babcock has 20 years of international volunteer work behind her. She rebuilt homes and constructed a community centre in Thailand following the tsunami in 2004. Since the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, she has invested her energy in Cité Soleil by establishing a water tower and medical centre through her organization Help Tammy Help Haiti.

Babcock is doing all kinds of training work out of the medical centre she created. They have a First Aid for Peace program that brought together 10 different people from six different gangs. Over the course of a month, these young men were taught how to clean and pack bullet wounds, clean and stitch stab wounds. Skills that are relevant to their way of life.

“We just put them in an environment to learn,” said Babcock. “And naturally they became friends, all of them were friends at the end. In the beginning, certainly not. They were extreme enemies.”

The medical centre also has a first aid program for young women, with a focus on hygiene. On July 15, Babcock is heading to Haiti for 10 days where she aims to train 100 young mothers in CPR for infants. St. John’s Ambulance has contributed to this project by donating $3,000 worth of materials and first aid equipment.

Babcock is currently fundraising for a community centre in Haiti. Benefit by Design, a local company, has sponsored the facility’s basketball courts.

The next major fundraiser Babcock is hosting will be happening at Queen’s on July 6 at the main gym. There’s a registration fee of $25 per person, or $75 for a team of three. To get involved visit helptammyhelphaiti.com and send Tammy an e-mail.

The 2013 Mayor’s Award Winners for Youth Volunteerism went to Cheyenne Wood (Grade 5-8), Cynthia Bradley (Grade 9 – 12) and Katrina Putos (Post-secondary).

Wood has devoted time to Community Response to Neighbourhood Concerns for the last four years and is a leader in her school with respect to anti-bullying. Bradley is part of the Ongwanada Volunteer Team. She works with adults who have developemental disabilities. And Putos has been involved with the K-Town Triathlon since she was four years old,. She has served as the event’s run director, transition director and bike birector. She’s also the assistant volunteer Pegasus Club coach in volleyball.

Helping Haiti Community Centre 3D Rendering

Kingston-Sponsored Community Centre Under Development in Haiti

By Merideth Smith, Kingston Herald June 14, 2013

The Help Tammy Help Haiti charity – founded by longtime Kingston resident, Tammy Babcock – is making great strides towards building the ‘Pivot Point Community Centre’ in Haiti’s Cite Solei. (3D render pictured)

Babcock reports that property for the community centre has been purchased and cleared, and she is now fundraising to support the first step of its construction: preparing the foundation for the entire facility.

The Cite Soleil community centre will include two large training rooms, a covered basketball court, and two multi-purpose open air meeting spaces for citizens to utilize.

Babcock envisions the two story structure as a neutral space for the people of Cite Soleil – a place she describes as “a desperately needed building block for peace.” The centre will offer classes that focus on conflict resolution, special needs, adult education and job skills training.

Help Tammy Help Haiti has had great success with this initiative in the past.

Former gang members have been taught First Aid, which has resulted in some of the students who were enemies in their previous existence to become close friends.

The medical clinic built by Help Tammy Help Haiti was finished in June 2012. While awaiting doctors to begin treating patients, the clinic is being used as a training facility for First Aid courses; with a current class being run for young mothers, focusing on hygiene and infant & child care. (pictured right)

Tammy is hoping to reach out to organizations who are interested in assisting with the staffing of the medical clinic.

She is specifically interested in reaching out to Father Richard Frechette, who oversees Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Haiti, and the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO), founded by Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn.

Much like Help Tammy Help Haiti, J/P HRO focuses on efficiently managed and sustainable assistance for Haiti. They have been celebrated for their effective and efficient work during the cholera epidemic.

Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos Haiti is a Christian organization that focuses on childcare, health care, and education. “Father Rick”, as Frechette is known, is an inspiring figure who went back to school to become a doctor in order to better help the people of Haiti.

NPH Haiti recently finished a new hospital in Cite Soleil, St Mary’s hospital, that features an outpatient clinic, 80 inpatient beds, and an emergency surgery centre.

Babcock would also like to raise awareness for Robinson, a man from Cite Soleil who is raising money to go to dental school. Since he was 18 years old, Robinson has been helping international organizations in Haiti work within his and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Robinson has never wanted to ask for support before, as he doesn’t want to take money away from large community projects, but needs help to put his plan to become the first local dentist in Cite Soleil into action. Very few international dentists even will visit the area which makes dental health professionals a desperately needed service.

Kingston Charity Teaches Haitian Gangs to Heal in Cite Soleil

By Merideth Smith, Kingston Herald January 31, 2013

Gangsters giving first aid to fellow residents of Cite Soleil – the notoriously impoverished district of Port-au-Prince in Haiti – might sound unlikely, but it’s now a reality due to an innovative project developed by the “Help Tammy Help Haiti” charity founded by Kingston resident, Tammy Babcock.

During her many trips to Haiti, Babcock had puzzled over how to help the Haitians of Cite Soleil escape the allure of gang life, where many young men lacking food and personal safety are drawn to gangs as a way to fill those needs.

That concern led to the idea of enlisting young men into a first aid training program, which satisfied two goals: providing much needed medical care to the community, and allowing for an alternative to gang life.

The First Aid for Peace initiative puts rival gang members in the classroom together for one month. Their children are also provided with a head start program during this time, which provides schooling and one meal a day (photo).

When the first class graduated on September 23, 2012, the group had formed lasting friendships – reflected in one instance, as Babcock described, when a graduate lost a friend to gang violence and turned to a former classmates (and rival gang member) for comfort.

As the third anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake passed, Haiti was once again in the news when Canada’s International Co-operation Minister, Julian Fantino, announced that the Canadian International Development Agency would suspend funding new projects due to the slow progress of development in Haiti.

That announcement received additional attention when Kingston-native Don Cherry wrote on his @CoachsCornerCBC twitter account “Maybe it’s just me. But Canada gave Haiti 49.5 million dollars last year. Are we nuts?”

Cherry later elaborated by saying he would rather see the money go to the over-burdened Canadian health-care system, adding that “Charity begins at home.”

The outspoken hockey commentator’s opinion drew wide-spread attention from both supporters and those who disagreed with his take on how Canadian charity dollars have been used in Haiti.

Help Tammy Help Haiti began after Babcock’s first trip to Haiti in 2008. She fell in love with the people of Cite Soleil and began developing projects to help them in lasting ways.

The charity focuses on sustainable projects, with its first endeavor – a water tower built in July 2009 – using the existing water system to provide safe drinking water to the residents of Cite Soleil.

The tower was built with money donated to the charity and residents who use the water are charged a nominal fee that only covers tower maintenance and a wage for the operators. Many other water sites in Cite Soleil are run as businesses and charge much more.

Help Tammy Help Haiti also built a medical clinic in June 2012 and is now working to build a community centre nearby.

Babcock says they plan to start a first aid course for women in March and are in the process of selecting candidates now. Designed for mothers with young children in mind, this course will teach first aid and CPR with a focus on hygiene.