Remarkable things are going to happen in the Artibonite Valley with the help of many good Haitians, the right leader, and a few chlorinators

arbonite Last month, Father Dessalines of the St. Claire parish in Dessalines, Haiti approached International Action seeking our help. There are 150,000 people in four villages in the Artibonite Valley that need clean water. We have met with Father Dessalines and we will begin installing chlorinators in early 2013.

In partnership with St. Ann Catholic parish, Father Dessalines and the members of St. Ann’s started a school feeding program and currently feed 720 children daily.  Together they also teach basic hygiene and water sanitation to adults and children to prevent the spread of disease like typhoid and cholera. But, the need for clean water was still great, especially after the cholera outbreak in 2010.

Father Dessalines first responded to the cholera outbreak by working with Food for the Poor to install a large solar powered water treatment system in the town of Dessalines.  The small villages of Fabias, Poste Pierrot, Oge, Haute Feuille, and Hatte Chevreau still lacked access to clean water.  Most Haitians in these villages rely on community wells, rivers, or canal waters for their main source of water, which are often contaminated.

In spring 2012, The Sunrise Rotary Club of Hagerstown approached St. Ann about raising funds to provide water treatment systems for up to 5 villages.  Father Dessalines and several members of St. Ann’s parish were very excited.

The church members and Father Dessalines knew they needed a water purification system that was simple, affordable, and easy to maintain. They contacted many groups that had very effective water treatment systems, but they were too expensive. During their search, Father Dessalines came across our chlorinators in the coastal town of St. Marc.  He was very impressed by what he saw.

The first thing Father Dessalines told us when we met him was, “The people there are very happy with your chlorine system.”

With the funds raised by the Rotary clubs we will be able to install the chlorinators needed to provide, the 150,000 Haitians in Fabias, Poste Pierrot, Oge, Haute Feuille, and Hatte Chevreau with permanent access to clean water.

Father Dessalines and childre of the Artibonite Valley

One Person Can Make an Impact! Eduardo’s Birthday Wish is Clean Water for Haiti

On November 21st Eduardo Couto, a student studying International Relations in London, is turning 27 years old. He is not asking for a party. He does not want or need presents. Instead, he wants his friends and family to help our group, International Action, provide clean water to the hundreds of thousands of Haitians in need.

International Action is a Washington D.C. and Haiti based non-profit organization, whose purpose since 2006 has been to improve the health of Haitians by preventing the spread of waterborne diseases in Haiti, such as cholera, typhoid and chronic diarrhea. We accomplish this by installing chlorinators on neighborhood water kiosks, which provide communities and schools with permanent access to clean, safe water.

Roughly 900,000 Haitians now have clean, safe drinking water because of our efforts.

Eduardo reached out to us because he knows that despite all of our success, there are still four million people in Haiti that do not have access to clean, safe water.

Our chlorinators effectively treat water, while remaining inexpensive and easy to use. They have the potential to provide millions of Haitians with clean water, permanently.

What Eduardo is doing is incredible. Please, do something amazing today, join Eduardo and International Action, and give the precious gift of clean water.

Here is the link for Eduardo’s fundraising campaign:

Update: Effects of Hurricane Sandy in Haiti

The effects of Hurricane Sandy in Haiti are now clear. Sandy was twice as deadly as Hurricane Isaac, which hit Haiti less than two months ago. 54 Haitians have lost their lives because of Hurricane Sandy.

As of October 30, 2012, President Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe declared a State of emergency throughout Haiti because of the many problems the country now faces after the storm.

The leaders in Haiti must find shelters for the 14,000 families that have lost their homes to flooding and wind damage. These people will also need access to clean water as the number of cholera cases has already begun to increase due to the flooding. Oxfam has received reports of about 150 new cases of cholera since the storm left the Caribbean.

Another major concern for Haitians affected by Hurricane Sandy, and the whole of Haiti, is food security. There has been a spike in food prices, which were already very high in Haiti before the storm. “Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Reuters. Thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, which will cause food shortages and cripple the economy in southern Haiti.

Haitian Ministry of Agriculture official Jean Debalio Jean-Jacques said the government has not fully computed the economic and agricultural losses of Hurricane Sandy. However, non-profits present in Haiti and government officials are meeting on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, to further assess the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy and to create a strategic plan of action.

Haiti Affected by Hurricane Sandy: Nine people have died and thousands are being evacuated.

Hurricane Sandy has swept through Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti. Government officials in Haiti are still assessing the damages caused by Sandy. Hurricane Sandy comes on the heels of Tropical Storm Isaac, which killed 24 Haitians and forced many to abandon their homes temporarily.

It was reported that Sandy caused landslides, flooded hospitals and homes, and tore down a bridge and a cholera treatment center. Flooding has caused the evacuation of more than 1,000 people still living in post-earthquake settlements. Additionally, some roads have been blocked off leaving several communities isolated.

The extent of the damage does not appear to be as great as Tropical Storm Isaac. However, nine people have died, and there could be reports of more deaths over the next few days.

Spread the Word: October 15th is Global Handwashing Day!

It is important for every person to know that washing your hands with soap can be lifesaving. Washing your hands can prevent people from getting sick and from spreading diseases, yet not nearly enough people actually wash their hands. For this reason The Global Handwashing Day seeks to promote the act of washing your hands and the proper ways to do it.

The Global Handwashing Day is a campaign initiated in 2008 by the Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW). The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness around the world about the importance of washing your hands with soap. Every year there are over 200 million people in over 100 countries that participate in the Global Handwashing Day.

So why is washing your hands with soap so important? Thoroughly washing your hands can prevent the spread of waterborne diseases and acute respiratory infections.  Diarrhea and other diseases like cholera and typhoid are transmitted when a person drinks or eats something that has been contaminated. Bacterial infections can be anywhere, which means that hand washing before and after handling food, after using the toilet, and after handling garbage is vital and will prevent many infections.

Washing your hands can decrease the risk of waterborne diseases by 20% and the risk of respiratory infection by 25%. While there needs to be a conscious effort by everyone to wash their hands well, it is especially important for those in countries that lack effective water treatment and sewage infrastructure. Poor sanitation and a lack of clean, safe water increases the probability of infection spreading, making it paramount that all adults and children wash their hands with soap. The goal of the Global Handwashing Day is to remind people about the importance of hand washing and to promote hand washing in places where it is not a common practice. Please take some time on October 15th to spread the word about hand washing, support a group that actively works to promote hygiene, or simply remember to wash your own hands with soap.

 Don’t forget to always wash your hands…:

  • Before, during, and after you prepare, touch, or eat food.
  • After you use the toilet.
  • After you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose.
  • After you touch or clean up after an animal.
  • After you handle garbage.

Proper way to wash your hands:

  1. Make sure you run your hands through water until they are wet.
  2. Rub soap all over your hands, in between your fingers, under your nails, and the back of your hands.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands with soap for approximately 30 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands with water and dry them with a clean towel.

Non-profit Organizations Join Forces to Fight Malnutrition in Developing Countries

Children are our future. They will grow to be our future leaders and innovators. For these reasons, our children need to be healthy so they can have a chance at a bright future.

Unfortunately, thousands of children worldwide lack the necessary nutrients to grow and lead healthy lives. While children’s health is a worldwide concern, children in developing countries struggle significantly more than children in wealthier countries. According to the World Health Organization, 51 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five worldwide. But in Haiti (one of the poorest countries) 165 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five.  Preventable conditions such as malnutrition, respiratory infection, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and diarrhea are responsible for more than half of under-five deaths. Many infants do not even stand a chance as they are born with vitamin deficiencies and birth defects because their mothers are malnourished during pregnancy.

Fortunately, there are people working non-stop to improve children’s health in Haiti.

Some of these people are part of Samaritan’s Purse and ACDI/VOCA, two international groups that work to improve the health and nutrition of children in Haiti. Samaritan’s Purse operates a free clinic in Cite Soleil and are opening a free antenatal clinic in Trouchouchou, Petit Goave. They see over 200 children each week at the Cite Soleil Clinic treating burns, illnesses, wounds, and malnutrition. Samaritan’s Purse also prevents the spread of intestinal worms by making albendazole available to all children in need. International Action’s role at these clinics is small but important. They provide much of the albendazole needed to help the children that come to these clinics.

Children need more than treatment of illnesses and ailments to lead healthy lives. They need to have enough food and the right nutrients to develop healthily.

ACDI/VOCA works with the Bureau de Nutrition et Development (BND) to coordinate a very effective mother and child focused nutrition program. The nutrition program is part of a larger food security program funded by USAID.

The ACDI/VOCA food security program has three focuses: (1) the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, (2) the improvement of the health and nutrition of women and children, and (3) the development of a disaster early warning system for food security.

To improve the health of children and mothers, ACDI/VOCA, through community health rally posts, is providing health and nutrition education, growth monitoring and promotion, training and supportive supervision to government health care providers and targeted food rations to pregnant and lactating women and children. Along with the aforementioned services, supplements are being provided to ensure children and mothers have the nutrients they need to be strong and healthy.  International Action has aided ACDI/VOCA in this effort by providing their Southeast health rally posts with vitamin A. Vitamin A helps strengthen immune systems and prevents blindness.

The program has helped thousands of children and women. A total of 12,589 children and 4,371 pregnant and lactating women now lead healthier lives because of the nutrition program.

Thanks to groups like Samaritan’s Purse, ACDI/VOCA, and International Action, children in Haiti can grow up healthier and more prepared for their future.