Children's Hope Solidarity Team at MABE Orphanage -- Gressier, Haiti

Children's Hope Solidarity Team at MABE Orphanage -- Gressier, Haiti

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reaching Out to Haitians

Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Courtesy photos from Leisa Faulkner and Paul Burke. Graphic by Megan Harris - State Hornet

Sacramento State graduate student Leisa Faulkner and sociology professor Paul Burke have been visiting Haiti to distribute food and medical supplies to residents of Cite Soleil and Port au Prince. Through their charitable organization, Children’s Hope, they’re also raising funds for an amputee clinic. More than 4,000 Haitians lost their limbs after the earthquake and only 120 have been fabricated.

by Lauren Greenwood

Madam Pun and her visiting American daughter are providing a home and a school to 20 orphans in her backyard in Cite Soleil, Haiti, while also picking up family-size bottles of hand sanitizer to distribute throughout the city.

Pun is one of the many volunteers helping to distribute $240,000 worth of hand sanitizer donated to Children’s Hope, a Sacramento nonprofit organization. The supplies will be distributed next month to the living camps of Cite Soleil, where threats of cholera, malaria and exotic diseases are prevalent.

Sacramento State sociology graduate student Leisa Faulkner founded Children’s Hope in 2004 to help the children and people of Haiti.

Members of Children’s Hope regularly go to Haiti to do humanitarian work, Faulkner said. She and her team of volunteers take hand-carried donations to schools, clinics or prisons.

Faulkner has made 13 trips to Haiti since 2004. She has brought other people into Children’s Hope, like sociology professor Paul Burke, who is the vice president of the organization.

Burke, Faulkner and three other Sacramento community members recently returned from their weeklong trip to Port au Prince and Cite Soleil. While on their latest trip, they delivered medical supplies, raised funds for an amputee clinic project and finalized the details of an airlift drop that would deliver $250,000 worth of medical supplies.

“We feel responsible to make all of the donation monies go as far as humanly possible. We buy wholesale pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and pain medications before we go,” Faulkner said.

They visited hospitals and amputee clinics, such as the Lamp, Handicapped International and Helping Hands for Haiti, and a clinic in Mire Balais. The Lamp is the only free medical clinic in Cite Soleil.

“Cite Soleil is (a) huge, notorious slum that is incredibly poor. Imagine if 500,000 people were homeless and living on the street - that’s Cite Soleil,” Burke said.

Residents of Cite Soleil rely heavily on donations because they cannot afford the necessary medical supplies to survive.

A 3-year-old baby boy would have died of respiratory failure and high fever had it not been for the Tylenol drops donated by a Sacramento resident, Burke said.

While delivering medical supplies to the Lamp, Burke and Faulkner met a mother with her baby boy wrapped in a towel and wearing a diaper made out of his sister’s bikini bottom. When Faulkner gave the baby a kiss, she said she noticed he was unnaturally hot.

The doctor at the clinic said the baby was having respiratory failure and needed to be brought to the hospital for him to live, Burke and Faulkner said.

“I asked him if infant Tylenol drops might help and he said we could try. I dug into the medical supply box we had just dropped off, found the drops and gave them to the baby,” Faulkner said.

“It brought the fever down so we had time to drive the few hours it took to get to the closest hospital.”

Burke said they are grateful to “the thoughtful person in Sacramento who donated Tylenol drops that saved a life.”

In addition to delivering medical supplies, Burke and Faulkner started setting up an amputee clinic in Cite Soleil. They brought in Jim Thweatt, a physical therapist from West Sacramento, who’s also an amputee.

An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 Haitians lost limbs after the earthquake because of falling debris and gangrene-related infection. Artificial legs are the most commonly requested artificial limbs, and doctors are still expecting to discover more amputee cases, according to a Miami Herald report.

“After the earthquake, people were cutting off other people’s arms and legs with hacksaws. They didn’t have any anesthetics,” Burke said. “People are hobbling along with no legs or arms.”

Burke and Faulkner said they spoke with many Haitian doctors and physical therapists and discovered that only 120 new limbs have been fabricated since the earthquake.

After seeing the need for an amputee clinic firsthand, Thweatt and Children’s Hope started to raise funds to set up the clinic, where Thweatt can see amputee patients and provide physical therapy.

Besides working on their projects, Burke and Faulkner also deliver food to shelters in Cite Soleil.

“The hunger is overwhelming. We never really know what’s going to happen,” Faulkner said. “They are inspiring in their resiliency.”

While food and medical supplies are the common needs, there are some who asked for money to invest, Burke and Faulkner said.

One example is a women’s group in Morne Lazarre, Haiti.

Burke and Faulkner visited Rea Dol, head of the women’s group and a “mother figure” in Morne Lazarre, to give food to the group.

Dol, however, asked for microloans, which are small loans given to entrepreneurs in poor countries to start their own business. Once successful, they pay back the loan and can borrow more. Burke and Faulkner said they took the money they were planning to spend for food donations and financed eight microloans for $50 each.

Burke and Faulkner are already preparing for their next trip in July and are collecting medical supplies and donations. They hope the Sac State community will get involved with Children’s Hope, Burke said.

“You can donate Tylenol drops, children’s vitamins, prenatal vitamins, over-the-counter medication. It really does make a difference. I never have enough to meet one site’s needs,” Burke said. “If every Sac State student could donate, then we would have over 25,000 items.”

Burke and Faulkner are also seeking interns to fly down to Haiti with Children’s Hope for a month. Students must be able to carry two 50-pound duffel bags filled with medical supplies, Burke said.

“We don’t know where the next path will take us, but we do know that it’ll definitely include medical supplies, research and clinic buildings,” Faulkner said. “Every day, you’ll experience at least one tragedy and one miracle. There’s something so heart- wrenching, and then a few minutes later this miracle will happen. It’s inexplicable and inspiring.”

Lauren Greenwood can be reached at

Sac State Professor Involved in Haiti Before Earthquake

By Miriam Arghandiwal

Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paul Burke, a professor at Sacramento State, has been a social, political and humanitarian activist in Haiti since 1988.

When Haiti was hit with a 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, Burke did not merely see the devastation on the television, he felt it.

Burke said he and his girlfriend, graduate student Leisa Faulkner, watched broadcasts together as footage of the disaster began to flood news channels, which showed the ruins of neighborhoods they had previously worked to support.

“It was all in rubbles,” Burke said. “Leisa and I looked at each other and said, ‘We have to go.’ Within a couple hours we were putting the word out and checking for tickets.”

Burke’s own awareness of Haiti’s struggles came about when he was an undergraduate student at the University of San Diego. He said the school had a political film series that showed the film “Bitter Cane” one Friday night.

The film was a documentary filmed in the 1980s about Duvalier, a dictator in Haiti who was one of the worst Haiti had ever seen, he said.
“It completely blew me away.

I knew there were poor people in Haiti – What I didn’t know and what most Americans don’t know today is that Haiti is mostly poor because of decisions made by people in Washington, D.C.,” Burke said.

He said the film taught him how the United States government and various business corporations in the U.S. had sided against democracy and supported harsh dictatorships in Haiti, in order to maintain control and economically exploit the country.

Burke first started taking action by supporting Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential campaign.

Jackson’s campaign was based on the idea that the United States should support social justice at home and abroad, in places like Haiti.

Burke said that while teaching at Sac State in 2004, news came that Haiti’s dictatorship had been overthrown in a coup.

Burke immediately took action and created the Coalition for Democracy in Haiti. The group’s mission was to raise awareness of the country’s state of turmoil so a legitimate democracy was sure to be set up.

The collation dealt with adversity in pushing democracy in Haiti, Burke said, especially after the Bush administration sent in the Marines to occupy the territory in 2004.

“The Haitian presidential candidate Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won the popular vote, was pushed into exile. The rest of his political party were being murdered or pushed in exile also by death squads that had guns given to them by our government,” he said.

Burke said Faulkner, who was executive director of the collation at the time, offered herself as a human shield during a march for democracy.

“There was a mayor from a small town in Haiti, he was in the same political party as Aristide and he was planning a march but he couldn’t do it because the death squads would shoot him. So Leisa walked in front of him as a human shield.

The death squads wouldn’t shoot her with cameras watching; it would be an international incident for an American to be killed,” Burke said.

When the Haitian government finally gained stability and freedom, Burke turned his attention to humanitarian aid and in 2006 created A Child’s Hope Foundation, which provides funds for medical, school and athletic equipment.

Since the foundation was created, Faulkner and Burke have frequently visited Haiti to provide aid. The couple is now in Haiti on their third trip since the earthquake.

Burke uses his participation in the Sacramento Progressive Alliance to bolster his efforts.

The alliance is an organization that educates and pushes for worldwide peace and social justice, Burke said.

He said the alliance led to creation of smaller branches like Sac State’s Progressive Student Alliance, of which Burke is president.

“In our most recent trip we had an 11-person volunteer team. We had 22 duffel bags that were packed with 10,000 pounds of medical supplies that was roughly worth $30,000,” Burke said.

Cathlyn Daly, president of Capital Area Progressive, a organization that is dedicated to the development and promotion of progressive policies and legislation, was one of Burke’s fellow volunteers in Haiti during his first trip after the earthquake.

“It was a two-day trip to get there, and once you get to Haiti the devastation is immediately apparent.

There’s a lot of delays and setbacks we face, but Paul is always positive and makes light of every situation,” Daly said.

During Burke’s first trip to Haiti after the earthquake, he was shocked to see how catastrophic the damage had been.

“You see huts made of anything that could be found that people live in, and it went on for as far as you could see in every direction. It was like I was in the film ‘Independence Day,’ everything looked post-apocalyptic, like the world ended,” he said.

Toby Burke, Paul’s mother, said his activism has made his family more socially aware.

“Paul is knowledgeable; he has taught me a lot. He loves teaching others what is going on, especially young people like his students,” she said.

Burke said as far as his own inspirations go, the people of Haiti and his conscience are what push him to continue to help out in Haiti.

“The people there are inspiring, they have gone through so much, but they’re so tough and tenacious. You’ll never see a Haitian man cry, but as we walk around we all feel like breaking down at the tragedy,” Burke said.

Burke said one of the reasons why Haiti was ill-prepared to handle the earthquake was because of the Haitians’ long history of being exploited by countries like the United States.

The least Americans can do, is to try to give back now, he said.

Miriam Arghandiwal can be reached at

Saturday, April 10, 2010

2010 Haiti Journal #11 March 31, 2010

2010 Haiti Journal #11 March 31, 2010

(delayed because of no internet service)

This is our 3rd trip to Haiti since the quake, and this time our Childrens Hope team visited every amputee rehab clinic we could find in the Port au Prince area. We interviewed their doctors and physical therapists to discover only 120 new limbs have been fabricated since the quake, though they estimate 4,000 to 10,000 people have had an amputation since the January 12 disaster. Thousands and thousands are missing limbs and have no way of knowing what their life will become. At one remote rehab clinic that was so far away Paul missed his plane trying to get back, two older boys drawn together by age and that both were missing a limb watched with awe as Jim Thweatt (our team’s physical therapist) showed off his own artificial limb by jumping and dancing about.

Life-times of new possibilities shown in their eyes.

Later that day at another clinic run by our friend Dr. Joey in Port au Prince, we met a Physical Therapist named Christina who is sponsoring a woman she found laying in a box. Pam was a double leg amputee when Christina found her… staring at the inside of that box. No radio, no TV, nothing to read or to do or to hope for. Pam is now on her way to be casted for two new legs. Christina has decided that no matter what it takes Pam will not have to go back to the box.

Finally we think we may have found a spot for the amputee rehab clinic that Jim wants to head up -- at Dr. Joeys clinic near Cite Soleil. What wonders it will make in people's lives!

Thank you for your constant support and good wishes. I regret I have not been able to get on line before, but your generous donations and pledges are noted and appreciated. I will be sending the rest of the journals as time and access allow. So many inspiring people here.

with peace and thanks, leisa

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2010 Haiti Journal #10 Help still needed - leaving for Haiti tomorrow (Saturday)

Chidlren's Hope -- You Can Now Donate Online!

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Dear Friends,

While crazy rainy torrents swirl through tent cities, we are rushing to pack our over-stuffed bags. Our little team of five leave for Haiti tomorrow morning, where we will be met by a translator and small bus to carry our supplies.

We will stay in tents ourselves this trip...which is hard for me to complain about, since we will come back in April to homes that are dry, and rooms that are snug. My friend for many years, Rea Dol wrote me this morning from Haiti and told me her teachers at Sopudep school are sleeping in cars at night. Every night...when they are lucky enough to get out of the rain- for lack of tents.

If you watched the video I sent last journal (NYTimes) about Rea, you know that she struggles not only to house as many students and teachers that she can, but also to feed them. Food is available in Haiti, there is just no money. If you want to help me help Rea, you can donate right here on our blog, just click the donate button to the left. I will get notice in Haiti, and will go with Rea to buy food. This is the magic of hands on solidarity.

I know so many have given all they can, but maybe you can tell a friend or two. Thank you so very much, peace, leisa

Leisa Faulkner, Executive Director
Children's Hope

3025 A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682

Text me @ 916.801.4184

Friday, April 2, 2010

2010 Haiti Journal #9 Rea of Sopudep School, Mayor-Mother

March 8, 2010

Dear Friends,

As we build our little team to return to Haiti this month, I had to stop and send you this link. Since 2004 many of you have heard me talk of Sopudep school...some of you have pictures of the school children as thank you's for donations. Rea created Sopudep School for street kids, she is now the un-official mayor-mother of the area where so many of "her children" lie under the rubble. It seems fitting on this International Woman's Day, to honor this woman I am honored to have call me sister.

Now you can see her and meet her for yourself, even if you can't join our next team. A substantial portion of the money donated for our last trip I handed to Rea to buy food for the children of Sopudep. Watch this video, and see what a miracle you took part in...then ask your friends, family or neighbors to watch..maybe they can help us collect new funds to take to Rea for food on March 25th when we leave again for our third service in Haiti since the quake... please help us not go empty handed.

peace, leisa

Leisa Faulkner, Executive Director
Children's Hope

3025 A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682
Text me @ 916.801.4184

The Mother Figure of Morne Lazarre

Rea Dol leads an effort to feed and care for the people of Morne Lazarre, a poor neighborhood in Port-au-Prince.

Watch Video