As fate would have it, our next scheduled medical trip is to the southern coast of Haiti. I visited briefly in June to see the clinic in Marigot and met some of the people we will be working with on our trip. Earlier this month, Hurricane Matthew with the strength of a freight train, hit the southern shores and particularly the western peninsula of Haiti. The photos can’t do justice to show the tiny huts that were flattened, the lives that were ruined, the deaths that were not counted. A majority of the crops used to feed the country were in the western peninsula. The crops were leveled. The fear of mass starvation is very real.
In the U.S. when we see massive homes leveled by an act of nature, we can connect with the devastation. The loss of “things” is a visible reminder here. In Haiti, it is the absence of the last bit of shelter those families have known. The tiny gardens that kept them alive have been reduced to mud and sticks.
Clean water is nowhere to be found. Cholera, a bacterium that has a “starvation survival” mode, comes to life when sewage is dumped into the water. With no real sanitation, plumbing, trash removal, etc. cholera has resurfaced with a vengeance in Haiti since the hurricane. It has infected the water that is used for cooking, cleaning, drinking. Cholera can be mild in some cases with stomach upset and diarrhea, but is also known for causing severe diarrhea, which will dehydrate and kill within hours. It only takes one treatment of Doxycycline 300mg to drastically reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with cholera. Also, simple oral rehydration tablets can save a life.
We are thankful for all of the generous donations of money and supplies for our upcoming trip. The Heart of Medicine has no paid staff. Your donations will supply the clinic in Marigot with medication, wound care supplies, equipment and oral rehydration tablets. It will also contribute to paying Haitian interpreters, drivers, and cooks which all goes back to the community to provide for their families. As I’ve said in other blogs, Haitians are extremely industrious and want only what we all want – safety, shelter, food and clean water for their families. Please come back to read the daily blog for our trip so you can see the faces of the people you have helped with your generosity and read about their stories.