This month marked three years since Haiti’s 2010 earthquake—a day none of us will ever forget. It also marks International Medical Corps’ third year in Haiti, where we have been working uninterrupted, side by side with Haitians, since just 22 hours after the earthquake hit.
With your support, International Medical Corps has accomplished an enormous amount over the past three years. During the initial emergency response, we deployed more than 400 medical volunteers to provide critical care for hundreds of thousands of Haitians. Subsequently, we established a network of primary health care clinics in and around earthquake-affected areas and launched programs in mental health, nutrition, child protection, early childhood development, water and sanitation, disaster risk reduction, emergency medicine development, and cholera prevention and response.
International Medical Corps was one of the first responders to Haiti’s cholera outbreak in October 2010, rolling out a network of 10 cholera treatment centers that provided lifesaving cholera care for more than 33,215 cholera patients. We also ran an emergency medicine development program at Port-au-Prince's General Hospital that trained more than 300 Haitian physicians and nurses in nearly every component of emergency care delivery.
In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy wreaked further havoc on the fragile island nation, killing at least 54, leaving over 200,000 homeless, and causing extensive flooding and damage. Diarrheal disease, cholera and food insecurity have spiked as a result of Sandy. International Medical Corps responded by adding two additional mobile medical units (MMUs) in one of the hardest hit areas, Les Cayes, to provide cholera screenings, primary health screenings, health care services and hygiene promotion.
All this—three years of support for Haiti’s recovery—was made possible by you.
Today, we continue to help rebuild Haiti’s broken health infrastructure through robust training programs for local health professionals and technical assistance to the Ministry of Health, while providing cholera treatment and prevention services through MMUs in hard-to-reach remote communities in Southern Haiti. We are also working to rehabilitate the damaged Aquin District water supply system, restoring water for 94,000 vulnerable Haitians.
So thank you for helping Haiti rebuild: one day at a time for three years running and still going strong.
They cannot remember their ages or how long they have been married. They say this does not matter to most people in the Blue Nile anyway. It’s their five children that matter—and being able to stay together through the constant fleeing and oppression of war. Love's endurance measured, in part, by violence.
They fled the war-torn state of Blue Nile State in Sudan ten months ago after bombings overran their village. Without water or food, their family hid from the bombardments for three days, followed by a quick dash towards the border. The journey was difficult and his father and step-mother died along the way. Things became much quieter once they crossed the border into South Sudan and settled in the border refugee camps—first in Jamam and later in Gendrassa refugee camp.
But then she faced another battle. At six months pregnant, she contracted Hepatitis E. An International Medical Corps community health promoter found her suffering in her dark tent and immediately dispatched an ambulance.
In a camp of nearly 10,000 refugees, any sense of urgency drowns in an ocean of tents—stopping at one white tent to find directions to yet another white tent. The rainy season makes hard things harder. Mud caused the white Toyota Land Cruiser ambulance to slip and spin as it tediously rushed to her aid. An International Medical Corps physician and driver carried a stretcher across shin-deep waters and into a dark, stuffy tent where a handful of family members crowded around a sullen figure slumped over a bed. “Sabahl-al-kheir” (good morning) the doctor said and she looked up at him.
She was still alive.
She was quickly transported back to International Medical Corps’ clinic and immediately treated for early liver failure and a critically low blood glucose level. In the end, she and her baby were saved.
But they are part of a rapidly rising refugee population in Upper Nile State, South Sudan that is facing urgent health, nutrition and disease prevention needs. Conflict and hunger in neighboring Blue Nile State of Sudan continues to drive people across the border. International Medical Corps is responding in Maban County, which currently hosts over 100,000 refugees.
So for her and her baby and many more like them—thank you for supporting our work in South Sudan.
We often tell you about the individual lives our work touches so that you can understand the personal impact your support for International Medical Corps has. But in many ways, the sustainability of our efforts depends on the local health care workers we train. They help connect our critical health services with the people we aim to reach, and ensure that lifesaving skills and knowledge stay in local communities long after we’re gone.
So meet Semira (pictured).
Semira joined International Medical Corps in September 2011 as a Hygiene Promotion Field Officer working in the remote Dolo Ado refugee complex in Ethiopia, home to 10,000 Somali refugees. Here, International Medical Corps provides relief to thousands of refugees impacted by the severe drought that has inflicted wide-spread food insecurity and devastation across east Africa.
In Dolo Ado’s Kobe camp, Semira educates refugees on safe hygiene and sanitation practices to promote optimal health among families living in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Semira’s numerous responsibilities include conducting peer discussions on safe hygiene and sanitation practices at schools; weekly gatherings and focus groups for women; and house-to-house visits. She also organizes monthly jerry can cleaning campaigns at water points to ensure that families are keeping these containers (used to carry drinking water) free of disease-causing germs. To keep her skills up-to-date, Semira regularly participates in International Medical Corps’ monthly refresher training sessions.
Semira is proud of her work and notes that many of the households she has worked with have improved their hygiene and sanitation practices, including hand washing after bathroom use and before food preparation, proper disposal of household waste, and hygienic use of latrines.
Semira says, “I am hopeful that I will build on my community mobilization skills and hygiene and sanitation knowledge through additional capacity-building trainings provided by International Medical Corps…I also plan to go on to further education to gain management skills.”
It’s because of your support that Semira has positively impacted so many people’s lives in Kobe camp—and that she will continue to change lives for the better for many years to come. Thank you!