Haiti: Rebounding From Disasters

In Haiti, crises take many forms. It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. An island slightly larger than Maryland, it sits exposed to forces outside its control. Earthquakes shake it. Hurricanes pummel it. Diseases sicken it. And political upheaval destabilizes it.

It lies at the nexus of tragic circumstances. But there are other forces at work that are even more powerful.

There’s a saying in Haitian Creole that articulates the sentiments of so many, Ou pa ka viv san espwa. Translated, it means: “You can’t live without hope.” Haitians now live with more hope because of your years of support.

While Medical Teams International will be transitioning out of working in Haiti full-time, we stay committed to helping the country should another disaster strike.

Over the years, Medical Teams International has responded to address the most urgent needs, to immediately respond and build a better tomorrow. You helped us send teams to respond to two major disasters: The 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. We’ve worked to lay a foundation, equipping communities with the tools to take control of their health. In partnership with the people we serve, we’ve built systems that will enable communities to weather future disasters.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, we sent volunteers doctors and nurses to perform orthopedic surgeries and treat hundreds at Kings Hospital, just outside Port-au-Prince. Six months after the earthquake, we began focusing on trauma counseling and providing people with prosthetics, helping those left physically and emotionally disabled by the earthquake.

As time went on, you supported cholera clinics, trained midwives, rehabilitated people seriously injured during the earthquake and treated children for malnutrition. You’ve allowed mothers in tiny communities to take charge of their health and the health of their loved ones. Because for a birth attendant living in a remote area, the feeling of hope comes from knowledge.

This is a lasting impact.

Training Saves Lives

Jaqueline is midwife who saved the life of her daughter Altinise thanks to the training she received. After giving birth, Altinise began losing blood. Shivering and dizzy, she was barely able to move. Jaqueline swaddled Atlinise tightly and performed an abdominal massage. She told Altinise to immediately start breastfeeding the baby. Doing so releases a hormone that helps stop bleeding.

These were tactics that Jaqueline had learned during her training with Medical Teams. They saved her daughter’s life. Soon the bleeding eased, the dizziness disappeared and the shivering went away. Altinise’s condition improved.

Jaqueline and her daughter Altinise, hold Altinise's beautiful daughter

Jaqueline, left, and her daughter Altinise, right, hold Altinise’s beautiful daughter.

Jaqueline shared her story with Medical Teams’ Haiti staff and expressed how thankful she was. Three generations of the same family – grandmother, mother and granddaughter – all have you to thank. 

In areas where Medical Teams has worked, families like Jaqueline and Altinise are ready, willing and driven to bring health to their own rural communities. There are now systems in place to stamp out cholera and other diseases, and midwives are equipped with knowledge to help pregnant mothers and train others to do the same. For those you touched, there is now more hope in the future.


 

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