Health is an overwhelming concern in Haiti. Access to providers is extremely limited, access to medications is limited and frankly, when a family has to choose between food and medicine, they choose food. Health insurance for anyone but the wealthy is non-existent Malnutrition, water borne illness, high blood pressure and respiratory infections are prevalent. As we come to each new parish, we always ask “What are your needs?” We must start where they are and do our best to address their perceived needs in the environment they live in.
Water is always a concern in Haiti. If there is a reliable water source, the quality is likely terrible. Infected water creates health issues such as cholera, diarrhea and malnutrition. As we strive to meet the needs of the community, we have worked on various water related projects such as:
- building cisterns to collect rain water
- installing water filter systems,
- funding of wells
A 5 gallon bucket of water weighs 40 pounds
- the women and children (typically girls) are responsible for getting the family water several times per day.
- In some areas, this can mean a 2 hour walk each way.
- head, neck and back pain are common
- girls are not being educated as they are busy getting water
Ecunio Alphonse has developed and had approved, a hygiene training program complete with posters and demonstrations. He covers the basics of hand washing, keeping water clean, eating from dry surfaces, not collecting drinking water from water sources used as toilets and tooth brushing. This training saved many lives in the wake of the cholera epidemic.
In communities where there is reliable medical follow up care, we hold medical mission trips. For many people, this may be the first time they have ever seen a health care provider. Medications are purchased from a pharmacy in Haiti and other supplies collected at SMM prior to the trip. Common illnesses treated are high blood pressure, wound care, acid reflux and respiratory infections.
Food for Seniors program
Destitute senior citizens suffer greatly in Haiti. They cannot work or farm or walk the long distances to carry water home. Our Food for Seniors program is working to create a sustainable business to generate money to purchase basic food for the most vulnerable seniors. The goal is to provide them with a monthly supply of beans, rice, oil and sugar. This is done through an animal husbandry program similar to Heifer International.