On Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti rumbled.
As the Earth shook, the result of a magnitude-7 earthquake, roofs collapsed and cars careened off the road. More than 300,000 people died as a result of the massive quake, while others were grievously injured. Much of the country’s already insufficient infrastructure crumbled to the ground.
Léogâne, a coastal town, was wiped out completely. In nearby Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, government buildings and churches caved inward, leaving few safe havens for citizens to turn. Following the quake, people were sleeping in the streets. Health centers were damaged, making it nearly impossible to provide medicine.
Dead bodies were left in the streets, or under rubble.
The needs were extreme. Families, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, were profoundly affected. But when help was needed the most, you answered the call. For the past five years, your generous donations have made Medical Team International’s work in Haiti possible.
Five years after the earthquake, the country is moving beyond the crisis and has not only begun rebuilding the areas most affected by the disaster, but re-engaging other areas of the country that have typically been under developed, like Crochu. We see signs of hope as the country moves beyond disaster and continues to develop health services and infrastructure.
Even out of the worst disasters there emerge success stories — stories like Chalumène Vernis’.
On February 21, 2014, she delivered a beautiful baby girl in the locality of Crochu, where MTI has created a Safe Motherhood Project. Weeks before Chalumène gave birth, MTI worked with community members to develop an emergency evacuation plan for women who have complications during pregnancy.
So when Chalumène began having difficulties with her birth — hours passed with no sign of the baby — community members executed a plan developed by MTI.
By foot, they carried Chalumène for three hours on a handmade stretcher until they reached an area where ambulances were accessible. Chalumène was transported to a hospital, where she successfully gave birth to a healthy baby.
Five years after the earthquake, Haiti remains a country gripped by crisis. But there are signs of improvement. There are mobile clinics in several locales that distribute medicine and other essential supplies that have gone to help mothers and babies.
MTI staffer Joanne St. Louis, who is from Haiti, reflected on the last year, saying there’s work ahead to help the people of her country.
“There is still a lot to do. After the response to the emergency MTI transitioned to development work and went to Work in Crochu at the invitation of the ministry of health,” she said. “This is a remote village with very limited resources, poor access to health care. MTI is working closely with the population and the ministry of health.”
This year, MTI will work to double its community health efforts by expanding services to a new region of Haiti. Simultaneously, MTI is working alongside the Bereca Hospital in northern Haiti to improve capacity, especially in maternity care.
As we reflect on the five-year anniversary, take a moment to pray and remember the Haiti and the millions whose lives were changed when the Earth began rumbling beneath their feet.
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