In January 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake. In August 2021, an earthquake struck again. Both times, Medical Teams mobilized to provide care and support to those in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquakes.

Haiti Earthquake 2021

At 8:29 a.m. on August 14, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook Haiti. The epicenter of the quake occurred in Petit Trou de Nippes, which is located in the middle of the Tiburon Peninsula in the southwest region of the country. Aftershocks up to 5.1 magnitude followed.

Although new details are being reported every day, the latest numbers are heartbreaking. More than 12,000 people were injured, and nearly 2,200 killed. An estimated 2.2 million people were affected. Building damage is widespread, and the health system is overwhelmed.

Man stares at rubble of a building caused by 2021 Haiti earthquake
Photo credit: Ricardo Emmanuel Michel (FH)

As an organization with historical ties to Haiti, Medical Teams launched a response as soon as we learned of the earthquake, raising funds and awareness. We are partnering with local organizations on the ground, like Food for the Hungry, to begin relief efforts and provide food, water and hygiene kits. We’re also sending medical supplies to local clinics so that the many injured can be treated. As new assessments and reports come in, we’re ready to help.

Haiti Earthquake 2010

When Haiti shook in 2010, 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.

At the time of the earthquake in 2010, Medical Teams was on the ground contributing to relief efforts. When there was a cholera outbreak less than a year later, we were there, too. We stayed in Haiti strengthening its health systems until 2018 when the community was able to sustain providing care on its own.

Rebuilding After Disaster

Five years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the country was moving beyond the crisis. They had not only begun rebuilding the areas most affected by the disaster, but were re-engaging other areas of the country that had typically been under developed. One of these areas was a remote village called Crochu, where Medical Teams was invited to work. We saw signs of hope as we worked to develop health services and infrastructure.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the commitment of our staff, there emerged stories of hope — stories like this one about a Haitian woman named Chalumène Vernis:

On February 21, 2014, she delivered a beautiful baby girl in the locality of Crochu, where Medical Teams had created a Safe Motherhood Project. Weeks before Chalumène gave birth, Medical Teams 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 Medical Teams. 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.

Mother holding her baby
Another mother, Jésumène (pictured), successfully delivered her baby by emergency C-section thanks to support from Medical Teams.

Not only did mothers in remote areas get support in delivering their babies, but they were able to access medicine and other essential supplies. In a country rocked by crisis after crisis, Medical Teams was there to care for some of the most vulnerable people.

Continued Support from Medical Teams

Just as Medical Teams supported the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, we’re ready to do it again in response to the devastation in 2021. The effects of the most recent quake will no doubt produce needs as time goes on, and Medical Teams is currently exploring ways we can support Haiti and its people. Join us in our efforts!

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Note: Portions of this post were originally published in January 2015.