When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, suffering in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country was nothing new. With endemic poverty, stark inequalities and persistent violence, Haiti has long been termed a “fragile state.” But we know it for its strong people. And for people like you, who have shown unwavering generosity, compassion and humanity towards Haitians.
International Medical Corps has worked in Haiti for over 2.5 years, since mobilizing our largest emergency response to date and arriving on the ground in less than 22 hours. At the peak of the crisis, our 408 medical volunteers saw as many as 1,000 patients a day, while at the same time training over 1,505 local health care providers, launching an innovative emergency medicine development program, and working side-by-side with Haitians to rebuild a decimated health care system. When cholera broke out in October 2010, we rolled out a network of 37 cholera treatment centers though 1,100 trained Haitian health workers, treating more than 39,700 cholera patients and educating over 2 million people on cholera prevention.
As International Medical Corps’ activities in Haiti have transitioned from emergency relief to long-term development, we have increasingly focused on addressing Haiti’s shortage of trained health workers and ongoing cholera epidemic. We are currently conducting continuing medical education sessions for local health workers and providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health for cholera surveillance, control and prevention. We also provide cholera treatment and prevention services through mobile clinics in hard-to-reach communities, such as Les Cayes, in rural Southern Haiti.
In sum, our achievements over the past 2.5 years have been remarkable. All the while, your support has been invaluable. So thank you for being there every step of the way as we help Haiti rebuild and regain strength.
Learn more about our work in Haiti and what your support has made possible.
“When the Antonovs came we had to run.”Sitting under the shade of a tree, 20-year-old Gisma recounts her terrifying ordeal to me, fleeing Antonov bombings in her village of Kukur in Sudan’s Blue Nile State. “They bombed my home and my neighbor’s home. We had to leave right away. We took nothing with us except our livestock.” Gisma, her husband and only child, along with their parents and neighbors, then began their 7-day walk in search of safety.Her daughter fell ill, but survived. She was lucky. “We saw many children die,” Gisma says.Gisma’s story is frighteningly similar to so many others who fled across the border into South Sudan’s Upper Nile State: bombings of their home villages; a many days-long journey by foot; carrying little more than the clothes on their backs; witnessing sickness and death along the way. I recently returned from South Sudan, where International Medical Corps has been providing care for some of the more than 100,000 refugees and returnees from Sudan. One year after South Sudan’s independence, hostilities in many areas in the north – the result of decades-old disputes over land, sovereignty, oil rights, race, and religion – continue to drive civilians out of their homes.
It is sobering to watch hundreds and hundreds of children - malnourished, weak coughing, and crying - file through our clinic. Their needs are immense.And yet… as I walk through Gendrassa refugee camp amid the thousands of tents, I notice that the camp is teeming with children laughing and playing Frisbee, parents cooking and cleaning clothes with their families and neighbors, smiling and coping and rebuilding some sort of new life.I remember Gisma’s words, reflecting on the past, the current and the someday:“There were a lot of people shooting guns in my village. It feels peaceful here. I don’t hear the guns anymore. When the war stops I hope to go home."
Halimo cares for her four young children alone, since her husband died in the brutal conflict that still rages in her native Somalia. In 2011 she fled drought and violence, making the 8-day journey by truck to Boqolmayo refugee camp in Ethiopia.
Once at the camp, Halimo was deeply concerned that she needed to repeatedly take her children to the medical clinic for treatment, as they were constantly falling ill and suffering from malnutrition.
Boqolmayo camp was built to accommodate 20,000 refugees, yet today nearly 40,000 people live there, placing a massive strain on the water supply and sanitation services in the camp. Diseases related to inadequate water and poor sanitation and hygiene practices such as skin diseases, eye infections, diarrhea and intestinal worms are a frequent feature of life in the camp.
This March we began a campaign to improve the hygiene and sanitation infrastructure at the camp. Before meeting with one of our Community Hygiene Promoters (CHP), Halimo had been fetching water using an old and dirty jerry can. She had no idea that this could be linked to the recurring bouts of diarrhea that her children had been suffering.
The CHPs taught Halimo about proper hygiene and sanitation practices, including hand washing at critical times, proper utilization of latrines, safe solid and liquid waste disposal, and proper storage and handling of water. Afterwards, Halimo began to attend our awareness-raising tea talks. For the last three months, she has been cleaning her compound, washing her and her children’s hands using soap and cleaning her jerry cans every other day.
“My children are healthy and growing well, and my first child is now in school!” says Halimo.