Good Morning Friends of CCH:
Thank you for your outpouring of concern, questions and prayers over the last few days. We know you've seen many reports of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew after it came ashore in southern Haiti on Tuesday. The number of confirmed deaths in Haiti continues to rise as rescue teams are able to access communities that are cut off by swollen rivers and destroyed roads and communications infrastructure. Homes and crops are severely damaged. Families and livelihoods have been destroyed.
Here is what we know and what we're thankful for:
- Jacmel proper as well as CCH's more rural partner communities survived the storm with relatively minimal impacts. All CCH Staff are safe as is the CCH Education Team that has been in-country since late last week. Our partner communities lost some of their crops, but the damage is far less than what was anticipated. Homes and schools in those communities also weathered the storm with only minor damages. Classes will resume on Monday.
- The CCH Primary Care Clinic reopened on Wednesday, even before Matthew's rains and winds had stopped. We are certain there will be an upsurge of diarrheal illnesses, including cholera, during these next few weeks and months - and that those illnesses will spread quickly. The incidence of mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria, zika and chickungunya will also rise because of standing water. Clean water, which will be key to preventing illness as well as treating those who do become ill, will be scarce, even for those who have the means to purchase it. We are currently working with organizations like Brother's Brother Foundation and others to ensure that our Clinic is prepared for increased numbers of patients as well as these critical needs.
- We are already in close communication with our partners at Jacmel's public St Michel Hospital and the national Ministry of Public Health (MSPP). St Michel, which has historically served an extensive area in southern Haiti, reopened their Primary Care Clinic part-time last week following more than 6 months of closure because of the physicians' strike. They have also reopened that Clinic this week, and we pray that this storm and its devastating impacts will be a catalyst in them becoming fully operational very soon. CCH will continue to partner closely with St Michel, MSPP and others to reach and serve as many patients as possible during this time of heightened need.
Here is what we don't know and what we're preparing for:
Although CCH's closest partner communities have faired relatively well during this time of need, there are many communities that we don't yet know about.
- We are currently reaching out to our partner clinics in the most severely impacted areas to better understand how they have been affected by the storm. We are eager to better understand how prepared (and resourced) they are to met urgent and widespread healthcare needs. Because of our strong infrastructure in-country and our extensive network of partners and supporters in Haiti and the US, CCH is well-positioned to be a conduit of aid, assistance and encouragement to those institutions who will be on the front lines of recovery in the most severely affected parts of the country. Because communications are down, that information is coming in very slowly, but we are steadfast in our efforts. Your prayers for them are appreciated.
- We are also exploring the potential need for CCH to take healthcare directly to more isolated communities who have been severely impacted by the storm and cannot easily access much-needed healthcare. CCH Physicians and management in Haiti are working together to reach out to their respective networks and meet with local leaders to better understand potential needs and priorities in this respect. We are prepared to reach further afield as needed - but acknowledge that we'll need the help of our Coalition to do so.
- Finally, Hurricane Matthew will have long term impacts in Haiti that we can't yet predict. The fabric of the nation's society - it's people and their livelihoods - will be affected in a number of ways. We stand ready to continue walking alongside our partners as the longer term implications of those effects are realized.
How you can help:
Many of you have reached out asking how you can best help during this crisis. While there has been no significant loss of life in the communities where we work, we've explained to you above how we're already preparing to serve our partner communities and mobilize people and resources, as needed, to reach further. If you feel compelled to help, we urge you to heed the words of Haitian Ambassador to the US Paul Altidor who just yesterday put out the following request:
"...As the country continues to assess the extent of the damage, the state of Haiti strongly encourages all who wish to help to work with the local organizations and institutions on the ground in order to gain their input on the actual needs of the affected communities."
CCH is committed to responding to the impacts of Hurricane Matthew in thoughtful and specific ways. We have strong, servant leaders on the ground in Haiti who are currently guiding our response. Wherever you help, please make sure that is the case - that the response is being led by Haitians, for Haitians. And if you want to give to CCH during this time of need in Haiti, we promise to be good stewards of your resources - directing your funds to where they are needed most.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to either of us if you have questions or need additional information. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. What a Coalition.
Clark Seipt Rubinste St Louis
CCH Executive Director CCH In-Country Director
The river in Jacmel, looking towards Lavanneau.
This is the river that teams drive across to go to Lavanneau and Basin Bleu.