In a small village 25 miles north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a long-awaited medical center will soon be built as part of a new SUNY collaboration.
In September, 10 SUNY campuses, including Binghamton University, introduced a collaborative project that will help support the Haitian village of Arcahaie by improving food supply, building a medical center and providing an educational focus on its economic and social programs. Partners include the African Methodist Episcopal Church Service and Development Agency (AME-SADA), Effort Commun Pour Le Developpement de L’Arcahaie, the Haiti Development Institute, Hope on a String and YouthBuild International.
According to Sally Crimmins Villela, the SUNY associate vice chancellor for global affairs, each nonprofit organization involved in the project has previously worked in Arcahaie, so their knowledge of the community is essential to the success of the collaboration.
The 10 SUNY institutions involved include University at Albany, University at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY-ESF, Nassau Community College, SUNY New Paltz, Stony Brook University, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Binghamton University. Each SUNY will contribute a different program. BU’s College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) will provide public administration services to what will become a sustainable village and learning community.
Residents will participate and build the medical center in order to help rejuvenate the economy, resulting in the production of goods and services to be reinvested into the sustainable village. Ultimately, the revenue from hospitality management, aquaculture and organic farming will be reinvested into Arcahaie’s economy.
Although not longer directly involved, Laura Bronstein, dean of the CCPA, praised the initiative.
“Projects that bring together faculty, students and community members in efforts that benefit and build communities – both locally and around the world ― are a big part of what CCPA is about,” Bronstein wrote in an email.
The support of the village was inspired by a similar SUNY learning model in Lebanon. An $800,000 donation from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and 40 acres of land contributed by Carmelle Bellefleur, Nassau Community College professor of nursing, helped start the initiative in Haiti. Bellefleur was the first to dream of this initiative and said it’s particularly important for New York state, which has a large Haitian population.
“Working in Haiti is in service to the diverse student body, faculty and communities SUNY embodies,” Bellefleur said. “Giving back to our communities in the U.S. and in Haiti has been central to my career, and a personal and professional endeavor.