Thank you to everyone who has supported our work so far. Please, continue to spread the word that Hurricane Matthew has passed, but the suffering is really only beginning.
Since the hurricane struck, we have been continuously working on the ground in Haiti, with no time off, providing services under horrific conditions. HHF provides for the city of Jérémie, as well as over 100 rural mountain villages. Access to the villages has always been difficult, and now it’s almost impossible– roads are washed out, trees and debris are everywhere, and continuous downpours and thunderstorms keep the roads from drying and further erode them. This is Haiti’s rainy season, although these last 3 years have had a drought. Now, at the time that the area could benefit from some rain, it is only making the disaster worse.
But we do not take “impossible” for an answer, and we are reaching an increased number of villages as the days go by. The reports are the same in all villages we have reached – virtual destruction. It’s the same story, over and over again, in the mountains. Crops are gone, people are homeless, and nearly all the animals (goats, chickens, pigs, etc.) are dead.
The people of Jérémie are incredibly sick, as there has been no opportunity for anything or anyone to dry out. With torrential rain each day, very few have had any opportunity at all to do even minor repairs to their houses, or whatever is left of their houses. The people are hungry, discouraged and very worried about cholera; they remember that thousands died from the cholera epidemic following the earthquake in 2010. People had almost nothing before the hurricane – now they have, if possible, even less.
Three weeks after the hurricane, hunger and desperation are leading villagers to eat animals that have been lying dead and bloated, trying to ‘clean’ them with the juice of oranges. This will, of course, only lead to disease. We are talking about hunger that you cannot even imagine – and the future is bleak since crops and the small gardens and fruit trees that people relied on are all gone. Our fear is increased hunger and malnutrition, disease, infections, cholera, etc….
However, the people of Jérémie are amazingly resilient and they continue to hope.
HHF has been in Haiti for over 30 years, and we have an excellent network to the mountain villages, with 48 HHF staff members actually living and working in the villages. We are also working with strong partners on the ground in Haiti – Caris Foundation, Project Medishare, AmeriCares, Hospital Bernard Mevs, Sow a Seed, and Operation Blessing.
HHF is able to distribute food and provide medical care, and we are helping to provide people with some form of shelter – including the distribution of 320 tarps – and all of them have been distributed without riots or violence – because of the trust our community has in us. We are their neighbors, caring neighbors, and they know it.
Patients continue to come to HHF’s Center of Hope for medical care – walking not only from parts of Jérémie, but from many villages, some very far away – a strong indication that they cannot find help anywhere else. Just today, for example, we had over 400 people show up at the Center of Hope for care – that is not including our usual clientele of pregnant women and malnutrition recuperation patients. Increased numbers of malnourished children and pregnant/lactating women are being seen daily. Some of these patients, including babies, have been airlifted to the hospital in Port au Prince because they require care that is more advanced than what is available in Jérémie. There have already been fatalities due to cholera, but the numbers are undetermined as of this writing. As of three days ago, 164 cases of cholera were reported in the Commune of Jérémie alone.
Community health teams continue to go out into the mountains to provide care in villages that can be accessed, including Fond Bayard, Castillon, Dayere, Moron, Bigarade, Robin, and Fond-Rouge-Torbeck. We have very high numbers of people showing up at these HHF “mobile clinics”. People in the villages are not only injured, but they have no food, no clean water, and close to 100% of the homes in the villages are destroyed in some form or another. According to our preliminary assessment so far, all of the Happy Houses seem to still have cement walls, but all the roofs are gone – some are in worse shape than others.
HHF’s mobile clinics in Fond Bayard and Castillon are each seeing about 400 patients per day. An HHF team spent an entire week in Dayere, which is high up in the mountains – a vehicle drops them off and they must walk for two hours to reach the clinic, which was destroyed by the hurricane. The team there is seeing patients daily, living and working from the few staff houses that remain habitable in Dayere.
The team from Moron is treating more than 250 patients per day. Fortunately, the HHF clinic in Moron is a cement building and is able to provide shelter for the medical team.
HHF has been assisting a total of 321 children at nine orphanages for the past three weeks. The orphanages receive enough food to last a week for their respective number of children.
A women’s association representing 120 families received assistance in the form of food and Aquatabs, which are used to purify the drinking water. With our partners, we are moving towards more sustainable, long-term plans for addressing clean water – such as chlorine makers, which will placed in strategic locations to provide chlorine to families to disinfect their drinking water.
Food that was donated to HHF has resulted in the distribution of nearly 1,500 food kits – enough to last a family of 5 for one week (without storage or refrigeration). HHF is at the mercy of whatever donations come in, but what does come in is given out to people immediately.
Please continue to keep the people of Haiti, our dedicated Haitian staff, and Haitian Health Foundation in your thoughts and giving. Please continue to spread the word.
Together, we can continue to improve the conditions after Hurricane Matthew ~ one person at a time.