News & Stories

Darryl Delsoin in Haiti
July 22, 2020

A heart for improving health in Haiti

Darryl uses a biomethanation plant to convert waste products into cooking fuel that is safer and healthier than charcoal.

Senior biochemistry major Darryl Delsoin, whose future plans include a career in medicine, is focused on solving community-based health problems in the present. Like his peers at Berry, Darryl is committed to both education and service. He has volunteered at Habitat for Humanity in Rome since 2017 and spent a year coordinating weekly service events (totaling 900 hours) for the Lambda Sigma organization on campus. Most recently, Darryl sought to improve the health conditions in his home country of Haiti after discovering that most locals risk their health every day by using charcoal to cook food. Due to the lack of resources, these citizens do not have a safe and healthy option for cooking fuel.

By taking advantage of a course on business and innovation, scholarship and grant opportunities, and connections made through the business department at Berry, Darryl put a plan into action. Consulting a chemical engineer ultimately led to the purchase of a biomethanation plant to change the way families are fueling their stoves. Using anaerobic digestion, the plant functions to convert waste products (like cow manure) into methane gas (cooking fuel). By converting bio-waste into biogas, the biomethanation plant has the ability to significantly minimize air pollution and potential respiratory illnesses.

“I think this interest for indoor air pollution is implicitly shaping the kind of doctor I want to be,” Darryl says. “Diseases like COVID-19 definitely give more reasons to want to treat breathing-related conditions for a living.”

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project because Darryl did not want to risk interactions with families. However, he adapted to the circumstances by redirecting his focus to a smaller-scale project with individuals who could benefit from biogas: workers who eat and sleep on the farms where the plant is located. Because of his unwavering pursuit for change, Darryl’s project now provides 10 farmworkers with biogas to cook their meals. “I am glad that my time at Berry gave me the chance to encounter many situations where changes have to be made to ensure the success in whatever you are trying to accomplish,” Darryl says.

As he waits to gain momentum to serve the family groups, Darryl is working on financial planning for his project. Using award money won from Berry’s annual Pitch Competition (where students present entrepreneurial ideas and compete for cash prizes), Darryl plans on building a protective structure for the biomethanation plant. Since the plant produces natural fertilizer, Darryl will use money earned from the fertilizer sales to purchase more biomethanation plants for Haiti. He also plans on creating educational material to prepare communities for their new cooking fuel. Professor of Management Paula Englis, who serves as a mentor on the project, says, “Darryl is an amazing young man who is working hard to make a difference every day!”

While he will primarily focus on individual patients as a doctor, Darryl still has a passion for solving community-based health problems. Englis adds, “I think this is just the beginning of his impact on the world.”

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