Facing problems with confidence and courage

by Caroline Klein, Ruth Bücker,  2011/06/08

For about one week, Haiti has been tormented by heavy rainfalls that were caused by a low pressure area and led to severe floods. 20 persons lost their lives due to the devastating meteorological conditions and according to the latest reports by UN OCHA, 470 families are affected (you can read the complete status report here). Entire boroughs of the capital are still flooded. And the rain is going on and on.

The current situation resembles the situation of last autumn, when torrential rains flooded the streets of Port-au-Prince. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

The conditions in the tent cities, which had originally been intended to be only an interim solution, have deteriorated substantially. Thousands of people had to flee and look for new shelter, as rain and mud have destroyed their emergency shelters. Even buildings have been damaged or collapsed due to the masses of water and mud.

Also the “Hospital of Hope” where humedica has been active since the devastating earthquake in January 2010 and where the prosthetics and orthotics workshop is currently being built, was flooded by rainwater. Project coordinator Caroline Klein was roused from her sleep, when an employee of the local hospital administration called her early last Monday morning.

She was told the bad news that the offices were flooded. Fortunately, the water had damaged no electronic devices and the prosthetics centre had not been affected by the floods. “What is so wonderful and also so unbelievable and inspiring about the Haitians is that after a short period of mourning they immediately start working on improving the situation”, reports the young coordinator of the projects in Haiti.

They immediately brought buckets, rags, plates and other objects that could be used to remove the water from the building. After about four hours of working barefoot in the mud, we had finally repaired all the damage. Our offices almost looked like they had before the water entered.

Fortunately, the humedica offices have so far not been flooded seriously – unlike the emergency shelters of several hundred families. Photo: humedica/Caroline Klein

This could only be managed thanks to the Haitian employees of our hospital and our coordinators Andé Lannoo, Danny Pelaez and our voluntary assistants Tobias Gienger and Rudolf Welz. They countered this new blow of fait with brave enthusiasm, although it has by no means been easy, since during our clean-up efforts we were again and again reminded of the devastating extent of the flood by the radio news.

The ongoing rainfalls also have negative impacts on the already difficult conditions of the local infrastructure: small potholes have turned into large ditches and the road to the Dominican Republic is completely flooded.

Furthermore, the floods mean a substantial setback in our fight against the cholera epidemic and Dr. Stefan Kusick and Klaus Ruhrmann, the two doctors working at the Cholera Treatment Centre in Drouin, are facing new challenges due to the continuously increasing number of patients.

During the past few weeks the number of new cases of cholera per week had increased from 1700 to 2600 infected persons. Many of the health centres simply do not dispose of sufficient medical material for treating this large number of patients and for taking in the patients under ideal conditions. Therefore the support of the humedica mission team with treating the patients is urgently needed.

The number of cholera infections is soaring and we hope that the dramatic situation that prevailed a few months ago will not recur once more. But as there are not many organisations left that are actively fighting the cholera epidemic, I am all the more pleased that we can offer medical aid in this region and will be able to act immediately if the number of cholera patients increases also in this region”, Caroline Klein points out her fears, but also her hopes and confidence.

The Artibonite River that already burst its banks in 2010 is once more causing a new surge in the number of cholera infections. Please help us to take action. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Hope that the rain will not claim any more victims and that the rest of the refugee camps will be spared from damage by the ongoing rainfalls. Confidence that the people will soon be able to return to their every-day life. Caroline Klein concludes her alarming, but nevertheless hopeful message with the following sentences:

The Haitians can teach us a lot about how to live with all these difficulties and how to overcome the problems. After the first couple of hours we had spent removing the water from the building, we were sitting together, eating and laughing once more. This is a gift of the Haitians: untiring vitality. And the strength to overcome even the worst of situations.”

Dear friends and sponsors: since June 1, two medical relief teams have been active in Drouin where a well-functioning Cholera Treatment Centre was set up last year. Thanks to the support of BILD hilft e.V. „Ein Herz für Kinder“ (Bild helps Association “A Heart for Children”), humedica will be able to send further medical teams to Haiti until next October.

Please support our fight against the once more spreading cholera epidemic by means of a targeted donation via our online form or to the account below:

      humedica e.V.
      Donation Reference “Haiti Cholera
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also make a fast, secure and direct donation by means of sending a text message: send a message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. You will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica projects.

Thank you very much!

Storm clouds over the Haitian capital. Photo: humedica/Caroline Klein

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