Two years of help and hope

by Ruth Bücker, 2012/01/12

Two years have passed, since the world looked onto one of the worst natural disasters of the past few decades. On January 12, 2010, an earthquake shook the island state of Haiti and brought misery, hardship, sorrow and poverty upon the people. For those affected, the days, months and years after the terrible experience were marked by uncertainty and despair.

Only three days after the few seconds, which had changed everything, a humedica doctor team arrived in the Haitian capital as one of the first relief teams in this terrible time, and cared for the injured, treated fractured bones and abrasions, and conducted live-saving surgeries.

Thanks to your trust, and the numerous generous donations, dear friends and sponsors, this first medical emergency and disaster relief aid could be expanded and humedica has been implementing relief measures in Haiti up to this day.

From emergency accommodations to a stable roof above one’s head

Immediately after the earthquake, humedica provided the victims with relief goods for everyday use and distributed almost 3,000 so-called shelter kits, which enabled the recipients to build first emergency shelters by themselves. During the following two years, these measures to relieve people of their first misery have been expanded in different places.

Working together in order to achieve something and to improve the situation. Photo: humedica/Thomas Grabka

Thanks to a generous donation of the company Roma KG, humedica was able to initiate the reconstruction of two boarding houses of an orphanage in Tapio. Furthermore, humedica equipped the pupils with school materials, and supported the management of the orphanage with operating costs and other arising expenditures.

Moreover, a canteen is being set up for 500 girls and boys of the adjoining school, where they will receive healthy warm meals on a daily basis.

A kindergarten is being constructed in Marbial, which will also dispose of a canteen, and besides that of a computer room. For the older children, humedica initiated and finances the reconstruction of a school.

By working together in this way, we can pave the way for hundreds of girls and boys with hope. A way that would otherwise be marked by a vicious circle of a lack of perspectives and poverty.

In addition, humedica has been able to support the refurbishment of another primary school in Meyer, which had not withstood the earthquake and had collapsed. Although before the earthquake the school had not disposed of class rooms and teachers for older students, humedica nevertheless provided the financial means for this, so that an access to education is now also granted to older girls and boys.

After final conclusion of these construction works in the next few months, the respective inauguration celebrations will take place, of which we will of course inform you on a regular basis.

The way into the world of employment

As a direct consequence of the earthquake, more then 1,500 persons were amputated one or several limbs. Furthermore, about 10,000 children and adults needed so-called orthotics (Note: orthopaedic devices used to support parts of the body with limited functionality and to correct malpositions and injuries, like e.g. splints or neck braces).

For long-term and sustainable treatment of these patients, and after a lengthy construction phase, the prosthetics and orthotics workshop, which adjoins the “Hospital of Hope” in Port au Prince, was inaugurated in presence of His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti, Mr. Jean-Robert Saget. humedica is the only organisation that focuses on orthotics and their maintenance.

The beginning of 2012 also was the kick-off for the training of local professionals as orthopaedic technicians. humedica finances the training of the apprentices for a period of two and a half years, and enables them to participate in a recognised course of study at the Don Bosco University of El Salvador, which is responsible for the theoretical part of the training, while practical training takes place at the humedica workshop. In order to care of patients with mobility handicaps who live at some distance from Port au Prince, the project furthermore disposes of a mobile workshop and a 4x4 vehicle.

Setback due to cholera

Just when the overall situation in the country seemed to relax in October 2010, the people of the Caribbean state had to cope with another setback.

Focussing on medical and disaster relief aid, the humedica teams could save lives not only immediately after the earthquake. Photo: humedica

Some first cases of cholera appeared and starting with only a few patients, a cholera epidemic, which claimed the lives of more than 7,000 persons, developed rapidly. According to the information of the United Nations, by the end of January of this year 522,335 persons had contracted the dangerous disease, which can be fatal without appropriate treatment.

Only a few hours after the news of the cholera outbreak, humedica could send a team of well-equipped first assistants to the Artebonite region. The team was headed by the long-term director of the health authority of Sonthofen, Ms. Dr. Irmgard Harms. The commitment in the fight against the epidemic was afterwards continued by about 30 more medical relief assistants from Germany and the Benelux states, as well as by Haitian medical staff.

The place of treatment was and is a small hospital in Drouin, in the North of Haiti, where the first two cholera cases had appeared. Since November 2010, the humedica-run hospital has been acknowledged as official cholera treatment centre by the local Health Department and the United Nations. It was in the framework of this project that cooperation with the World Food Programme was established in order to provide food for the patients.

Furthermore, in order to reach also those living in remote areas and provide them with medical care, humedica used mobile hospitals for the treatment of the village inhabitants, implemented sensitisation measures for controlling the epidemic and worked together with the partner organisation StART International e.V. in the field of artistic trauma counselling.

Two years of comprehensive support

Besides implementing these measures, humedica also was able to realise the Family Sponsorship Programme immediately after the disaster. The programme was already being run successfully in other countries. For 114 families in Haiti, this support meant that they were provided with essential goods and that they were assured support in the field of medical care and education.

Thank you very much for your trust and your support, which we could and can pass on to the people in Haiti in form of targeted relief measures. Photo: humedica (with Prof. Dr. Dr. Bernd Domres)

The sponsorships gave the receiving families the certainty that they were not alone after this terrible shock, and that they would have something to eat on the next day. Among other things, humedica also covers the costs for school registration, school uniforms, and further necessary materials, so that the children will be able to attend school also in future.

Thanks to the humedica sector of individual case aid, also individual persons could be supported; they were granted possibly life-saving medical treatment, and they gained new hope.

Two years are a long time, in which we have achieved a lot. Thanks to your donations and together with local and international partners, humedica could bring sustainable aid directly to those persons who urgently depended on it. We would like to thank you for your support during these two years.

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