Grant to help Haiti's cholera crisis
BMS is supporting a partner in Haiti to respond to the country’s growing cholera crisis.
A BMS World Mission relief grant will help a BMS partner organisation in Haiti continue its response to the growing cholera crisis in the country.
The grant of £7,900 will enable Haiti Hospital Appeal (HHA) to hold a cholera awareness and prevention conference for 200 church and community leaders in Cap-Haitien, which is at the centre of the outbreak.
Those attending, from the Baptist Convention of Haiti and other denominations, will, in turn, spread key messages from the conference to up to 100,000 people in the area.
Money from BMS will provide soap and other essential cleaning products for those most at risk.
Carwyn Hill, HHA’s co-founder and CEO, hopes the conference will provide both spiritual and practical ways for church leaders to respond to the crisis. “The current stigma against cholera is weakening the response, with families abandoning loved ones who are diagnosed with the disease,” he says.
“Communities are gripped with fear, and we have heard cases of clinics turning away cholera patients. We believe the Church has a fundamental role to play in the response to the cholera situation, and through inspiring church leaders to put in place the love of Jesus, we believe significant change in people being stigmatised can be made.”
At the time of writing, over 1,300 people across all ten of Haiti's regions have died from the outbreak; more than 20,000 people have been affected.
Haiti was already experiencing widespread poverty before the devastating earthquake, which struck the country in January.
That disaster has left great numbers of the population even more vulnerable; many remain in temporary housing and only about 17 per cent of people have adequate sanitation.
In his blog on Sunday (21 November), Carwyn wrote that the incidents of cholera in Cap-Haitien are “increasing rapidly”.
He says, “One mayor I spoke to seemed to believe that within a year at least three million people could be infected. Thirty people died in our area last week, and still we haven’t reached the peak.
“The pressure is really mounting as Cap-Haitien now has the highest rate of cholera-related mortalities in the country.”
In recent blog posts Carwyn described seeing bodies of cholera victims covered by sheets as he rode in the HHA ambulance through the streets of a city, which is also experiencing violent protests from groups of disillusioned people.
“It doesn’t take long until you’re confronted with the harrowing scenes that have driven this city to such despair. It is as if I’m re-living some of the disturbing moments just after the earthquake.”
As well as the conference, HHA will be transforming its clinic into a 200-bed cholera referral centre this week following discussions with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
“The main facility which MSF is running at the moment is incredibly over-crowded with over 300 patients,” explains Carwyn. Despite the amazing work they are doing, it’s an impossible environment to serve the expected numbers of new patients as the cholera continues to grow out of control.
“In the next few days our site will be transformed into a special referral centre, and within days we could have over 100 patients. Large tents will be erected, and about 160 national staff recruited. It’s a huge operation, but a great privilege to be involved.”
> For the people of Haiti living through another crisis situation, so soon after the earthquake.
> That the riots in Cap-Haitien would not hamper the relief effort, and that many more with cholera would receive the medical care they need.
> For all that the Haiti Hospital Appeal is doing to help those with cholera, especially through the conference for church leaders and the newly-established referral centre.
> That Haiti’s elections this coming Sunday (28 November) would remain peaceful and fair, should they go ahead.
> That, above all, the Spirit of God would intervene in this desperate and seemingly hopeless situation.
Four grants totalling around £33,000 went to Haiti Hospital Appeal, £18,400 was sent initially to BWAid, whilst a further grant of £38,000 was recently used by the Co-operative Baptist Fellowship to construct 20 houses near Port au Prince.
Amanda George/British Red Cross (Drinking)
Ansel (Man on bed, Riots)
HHA (Body on street)
Jake Price/MSF (Brothers on bench, Father with child)
UN Photo Sophia Paris (Girl on bed)