By Haiti Action Committee
On August 14th, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the Southern Peninsula of Haiti, killing over 2,200 people and wounding 12,000. More than 300 people are still unaccounted for. 53,000 homes were destroyed and another 77,000 damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without shelter and facing food insecurity. In a country with only one trained doctor for every 3,000 Haitians, medical help is desperately needed to treat those who are wounded or sick. To make matters worse, heavy rains from Tropical Storm Grace pounded the area, producing mudslides and flooding, destroying livestock and increasing the danger of water-borne diseases.
Thanks to your generous contributions, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund has been able to support grassroots organizations in Haiti as they provide relief to Sid, Grandans, and Nip—the three main departments impacted by this horrific disaster.
Even as news from Haiti slips from the front pages, the needs remain as pressing as ever. The work has not ended — in fact, it has just begun. Here are some of the ways in which your donations have been put to use: The University of the Dr. Aristide Foundation (UNIFA) is making an all-out effort to aid those in need. UNIFA reopened in 2011, following the return from forced exile of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his wife and colleague Mildred Trouillot Aristide. Since that time, UNIFA has graduated 523 doctors, 116 nurses, and 46 physiotherapists. Many of these graduates, as well as other medical students in training, are providing much needed assistance to the victims of this earthquake. Here is some of what UNIFA has done:
- UNIFA mobilized its doctors and nurses, with assistance from medical students who live in the earthquake zones, to set up medical clinics and provide emergency health care. They sent brigades of medical professionals with supplies to the earthquake zones to support the work of local medical personnel.
- Mobile clinics organized by UNIFA med school graduates are currently underway in the Grandans department. One clinic was set up at a local high school, Lycée de Chambellan, starting on Sept 6, 2021. During the first 2 days, approximately 300 injured people were treated. The young doctors also ventured into the community to see if there were people in homes needing care.
- UNIFA students organized a blood drive on the UNIFA campus. Nursing students assisted lab technicians from the Haitian Blood Transfusion Center, which then transported the blood to the earthquake zones. The UNIFA blood drive sparked other organizations to follow suit.
- They mobilized mental health workers to support victims of the earthquake as they deal with the trauma of what has occurred.
- UNIFA used telemedicine to connect doctors and nurses in the field with colleagues for consultation on the most difficult cases.
- As a new academic year begins, UNIFA is standing by to offer scholarships to students from the earthquake zones.
Other grassroots groups have purchased tarps and lumber and brought them to the region of Aken, where little to no aid has reached. With the lumber, local organizers have been helping displaced residents build more sturdy shelters.
- Women’s organizations in the rural areas of Aken have distributed rice and beans, bottled water, clothing, sanitary kits, and medical supplies to residents.
- Clean drinking water is in short supply and water pipes have been damaged throughout the Southern Peninsula. Organizers have begun the work of repairing pipes, while they continue to deliver bottled water to those who need it.
- In Lazil and nearby rural communities, organizers brought residents rice and beans, bottled water, clothing, and first aid supplies.
- In Okay, local organizers discovered that community ovens and flour mills, used for baking bread, had been destroyed. They have launched a project to rebuild these ovens, so vital to the survival of families in the areas.
- In Jeremi and nearby rural communities in the Grandans region, women’s organizations and community groups distributed tarps, sugar, sanitary napkins, toothpaste, clothes, cooking oil, toothbrushes, and water.
- In the town of Barade and the nearby mountainous area, local organizers brought tarps for families who were living out in the open. They distributed supplies of Clorox for disinfection purposes, soap, clothing, food, water, kerosene for lamps, and medical necessities (aspirin, alcohol to disinfect wounds, bandages).
All of this work embodies the determination of Haitian grassroots organizations to meet the needs of their people throughout this crisis and beyond. We hope your solidarity will continue as well.
The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund has no paid staff and no overhead. Each and every dollar we raise goes directly to Haitian organizers on the ground. Please help us keep the spotlight on the people of Haiti.
We Thank You!
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund Board of Directors
Walter Riley, Attorney at Law, Co-Chair
Sister Maureen Duignan, O.S.F., Co-Chair
Seth Donnelly, Educator and Long-Time Haiti Solidarity Activist
Nia Imara, Astronomer and Artist
Pierre Labossiere, Co-Founder, Haiti Action Committee
Marilyn Langlois, Human Rights and Community Advocate
Robert Roth, Educator and Co-Founder, Haiti Action Committee