One Chapter Ends, Another Begins: Renewed Vision in St. Marc, Haiti
“Na p bati kominote nou pou yon pi bon Ayiti demen”
This simple Creole phrase, translated as “Community building for a better Haiti tomorrow” is the mission of our partners Rayjon Share Care Haiti. Recent changes in programs in the St. Marc area are bringing new meaning and fresh vision to these words.
For over 25 years, Rayjon has supported the larger health clinic and an elementary school in the village of Gilbert, in partnership with Hope for Haiti (St. Mary’s), the Sarnia Rotary Club, the Canadian government (until 2010) and many generous donors in Canada. Through our combined efforts quality health care (including emergency, maternal and preventive health services) is present in a region without prior access. A fully functioning laboratory allows patients to receive test results without having to journey to the city, 250 children attend school each year, and over 38,000 vaccinations have been administered.
Earlier this month Rayjon was notified by the Haitian landowner (a member of the Gilbert community) that effective immediately his family would be assuming all responsibility for the operation, funding and management of both the Gilbert clinic and school. While this shift means a change for Rayjon, it is also a tremendous opportunity for us to encourage a self-governing, independent health care and education system in Gilbert. We are happy to know that services will continue for beneficiaries and are pleased to acknowledge and affirm the self-sufficiency of the Gilbert community.
As our priorities shift out of health care we will be able to dedicate our energy and resources into other thriving programs: adult literacy, rural education in Pinson, microcredit and capacity building. The heart of community development lies in listening to the needs, dreams, and goals of beneficiary communities and responding with our partnership and support. Their ideas, their vision, their commitment to work together. This is community building for a better Haiti tomorrow.
We would like to thank our many dedicated partners and donors who have supported the Gilbert and Lagarenne clinics over the years. Your contributions have helped to develop self-sufficiency we are now seeing today.
HURRICANES MARIA & IRMA
Maria has battered the Dominican Republic with heavy rain and wind, especially in the north. In the town of Consuelo, Project Director Georges and neighbours sheltered in place at the Rayjon project site (Consuelo Community Development Project or CCDP). The neighbourhood is extremely flooded. Even heavy rain causes much turmoil in his community- homes previously weakened by Irma and last year’s Matthew are in danger and water brings increased risk of illness and disease.
Further from the eye of the storm, Cap Haitian, Haiti still has received torrential rain. Most businesses and schools were closed for two days during Hurricane Maria. Many streets are flooded.
Irma lashed the northern shore of the Dominican Republic and crossed north of Haiti on September 7, 2017.Rayjon is a long-term partner on the ground in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Our main focus will be to ensure that programs supporting beneficiaries continue uninterrupted, and that resources are available where most needed.Dominican Republic: Flooding is quite widespread. At the Rayjon project site (CCDP), temporary shelter was provided for neighbourhood families whose homes (many already in a state of serious disrepair after Hurricane Matthew last year) were damaged and flooded. Project Director Jorge has requested emergency funds to assist with the provision of clean water and food while families wait for the water to recede.Cap Haitien, Haiti: Power was disrupted for two full days, making communication very difficult. Field Director Andre Jean Pierre and his family, as well as all Sacred Heart Centre staff are safe. Cap Haitien (Haiti’s 2nd largest city, on Haiti’s northern coast) appears to have been spared the full force of Hurricane Irma as the storm moved north, but still was battered with intense rainfall and heavy winds, leading to many flooded streets and poor access to power and clean water. The Haitian government instituted a curfew and all schools and offices were closed down. Residents were advised to shelter in place. A lot of trees have fallen, some roads were damaged, and there are reports of several houses being destroyed.Cap Haitien is vulnerable to flooding and dangerous mudslides. Health organizations working in Haiti have expressed concern over the potential to see a rise in cholera. Although cholera cases right now are considered low, the disease remains a serious concern. We have already seen an increase in the number of people seeking assistance at the Sacred Heart Centre’s Nutrition Program for children. Please continue to keep Cap Haitien in your thoughts and prayers as they recover from the damage.The Sacred Heart Centre will be an important resource for families in the coming weeks and months. Funds are needed to increase the supply of food and medically formulated nutritional supplements for infants and children, as well as to provide emergency assistance to “Red Zone” families in the most dire need.
We are committed to using whatever limited resources we receive in the most effective and accountable way to support our partners and the local communities through this crisis.
Cap Haitien coastline, September 7, 2017