Last week, a standard early-fall storm swept through the city of Port-au-Prince. In a span of 10 minutes, the strong winds damaged thousands of tents, injured many, and killed at least 5 people. With most of the quake's 1.5 million homeless survivors still living in sprawling tent cities, the heavy rainfall left them at a dangerous public health crossroad. The precarious water supply is forcing many to drink from the rainwater flowing from gutters and sewers. Hence, more people will be fighting deadly waterborne diseases.
The most amazing element of the Holiday season is neither the surprising gifts nor the delicious food; it is the loving spirit of togetherness and love that drives the holiday magic. When fully understood and embraced as such, suddenly, the foods taste better, the lights shine brighter, and the moments seem perfect.
A reason to give thanks! Clean Water in the city of l'Estère!
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is two days away. Although it has been a very difficult year for many of us, Thanksgiving Day always offers us an amazing opportunity to reflect and express gratitude for the often-overlooked blessings in our lives. Without a doubt, if you are able to read this newsletter, you are blessed in so many ways. And you may ask, how? According to one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen, the answer is very simple; one simply has to realize that life is the best thing ever, and you have no business taking it for granted. The people of Haiti understand this too well.
The great American novelist and activist, James Baldwin, once said that we must look unblinkingly at the circumstances, confront the constructed reality, face the tears of the wounded, and harness ourselves to a great collective effort toward justice.
Today, International Action met with DINEPA water department officials and UN WASH Cluster partners to strategize a coordinated response to the spreading cholera epidemic. To combat this fatal waterborne disease, International Action plans to supply and install 50 chlorinators and 8 water tanks throughout Artibonite Department, the epicenter of the outbreak. Nine hundred chlorine tablets have also been released by the organization to the Haitian water agency and other NGOs addressing the public health crisis.
A deadly cholera outbreak has erupted across Haiti's Artibonite Department, claiming at least 150 lives and sickening more than 1,500 others. The first registered cholera epidemic in Haiti in decades is the worst public health catastrophe since the January 12 earthquake.
Having grown up in Haiti, I understand the acute dangers of living without clean water. I remember vividly the small worms that we had to remove by hand in the water buckets in our house. The frequent trips to the local clinic were a constant reminder that each sip of water was a risk. As a result, ensuring that water is safe, secure, and sustainable for my younger Haitian brothers and sisters has always been a personal and professional priority. International Action has granted me the opportunity to do just that.
Early this morning a homeless Haitian boy kneeled by an open drainage ditch to clean himself up. Due to the increased rainfall experienced during the rainy season, the drainage ditch is at the brink of overflow, allowing this boy to wash his hands and face with its waters. This water is contaminated.
First I would like to thank International Action for the positive work they are doing in my country, Haiti. Thank you for targeting the issues at their root by trying to eliminate the problem, not just dealing with the negative outcomes. The purpose of my email is to inform International Action that I will be having a medical mission in Carrefour, Haiti at the College Elie Blaise starting Saturday, June 25. During the mission we will offer complete physical examination, screening (diabetes & blood pressure), eye exams, patient education to raise awareness, screening and treatment for malnutrition, acid reflux, wound care and much more.
Cholera resurgence is heavily hitting the community of Carrefour. Our team will focus its efforts in that zone to bring a solid response. We will work with the local community such as the mayor, delegates, and water board leaders.
The water before was clear. But, that didn't mean it was not contaminated. After International Action installed chlorinators on water tanks, no kids are getting sick any more and everybody feels much better. We used to have epidemics of fever, malaria, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. I see a very big, big difference... Dalebrun and his team are very dependable. We don't know how to thank you enough. Dalebrun is like a saint to us.
Day after day in May it rained in Port-au-Prince. Wesley Laîné reported to us,
Children were huddled up under blue tarps and tents, praying, hoping that the rain would stop. It does not.
This morning, gutters, and sewers are overflowing with rainwater mixed with mud and trash. For many, it will be their only source of drinking water. Some will bathe in it. Others will use it to cook. The end result will be the same, more waterborne illnesses and more deaths.
Water is essential to our survival. Imagine being without it or having to walk hours to have access to the most vital commodity that we need to go about our daily activities. — Madame Nicole Defay, Director of Williamson Village in Haiti
Since October 2010, the death toll from cholera has reached 6,435. The Haitian Health Ministry places the number of people infected just under 500,000. The mode of transport of cholera from person to person is unclean water; other illnesses profit from untreated water, such as chronic diarrhea, hepatitis, and typhoid fever.