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Our Purpose

Hurricane Matthew Relief Project - November 2nd-7th 2016

As you know, on October 3rd, 2016, Hurricane Matthew ravaged through Haiti, especially affecting the southern portion of the country. Several cities and towns were flattened by the storm and left unrecognizable. Hundreds of people were displaced, left homeless and without the bare necessities of life such as clean water, food and clothing. Many of you opened your hearts and generously donated to Inspire Haiti in an effort to make a difference. We received large donations of toothpaste, deodorant, soap and children's clothing and shoes. Monetary donations made were used to purchase candles, matches, rice, oil, laundry detergent, toiletries, canned Mackerel and salmon in order to be distributed out to the people.

On Nov 2nd, a small team of IH volunteers, lead by Vice President, Samuel Denis, gathered in Haiti to put our plan into action. They traveled to Port Salut, Haiti and it's neighboring towns to distribute the items. We were able to provide over 100 families with food and toiletries and over 250 children with at least one outfit of clothing.

All of these families graciously thank you for your generosity and kindheartedness. We at Inspire Haiti cannot express in words how grateful we are for each and every one of you. We wish you could also be there to see the smiles, feel the hugs and sense the appreciation of those you've impacted first hand.

Click HERE to see photos in our gallery.

We wish you all a blessed 2017!

 

hurricane_matthew

Jeremie is one of the worst-hit towns - some estimates say up to 80% has been destroyed.
(Image courtesy of AFP)

To read more information on Hurricane Matthew and it's effect on Haiti's people, please click here.

Planning for the Future

In late March, Samuel Denis and Myrvine Bernadotte, went to Carpentier, Haiti to visit a potential site for an upcoming mission trip. The community of Carpentier is located in Southern Haiti. The community stretches to very high in the mountains which is challenging to get to. For this reason, there are thousands of people who cannot get down to the nearest hospital in Port Salut which is a 30 minute drive in a 4x4 truck over rocky mountainous terrain and likely a full days walk. The community members are eager to have IH return for a week long clinic and offered up the top floor of their school as a location site However, its remote location and lack of adequate roads poses enormous challenges to us.

Inspire Haiti is working to see if this site will logistically be possible for a mission.

InspireHaiti

Vice President Samuel Denis takes a tour of elementary school offered by
community members for mission site.

InpireHaiti

Courtyard of elementary school proposed as next IH mission site.

Inspire Haiti Looks to Partner with Humane Society International - Haiti

The Humane Society International (HSI) has been instrumental in providing much needed veterinary care to Haiti's animal population. In a country with unspeakable poverty and human suffering, the care of livestock is often neglected. However, these same animals have an enormous impact on the daily lives of the population financially and also from a dietary perspective. The Humane Society focuses on animal welfare and health providing services such as vaccinations, deworming, sterilization and other veterinary care to equines and farm animals.

IH is currently in talks with HSI-Haiti and is hoping to organize a medical trip where both animals and people will be treated simultaneously. Over the Easter weekend, Dr. Bernadotte and Vice President Samuel Denis, had the opportunity go to one of HSI's field clinics in Thomassin, Haiti.

We would like to sincerely thank Amelia Muccio, Director, Haiti Project and Disaster Operations for HSI and her team including Drs. Feguy, Rony and Juiliette for their commendable work in Haiti.

InspireHaiti

Dr. Bernadotte, IH President, discuss the Humane Society International's mission
and objectives with two Haitian Veterinarian's Dr. Juiliette and Dr. Rony.

Inspirehaiti

During this Humane Society International's mission in Thomassin, several roosters,
chickens, dogs and other livestock received much needed vaccinations.

InspireHaiti

Drs Juliette and Rony from Humane Society International - Haiti vaccinate and give
medical advice to animal handlers in Thomassin Haiti.

Dr. Myrvine Bernadotte: How a Haitian-American Physician Found Her Calling Beyond Medicine
(online)

Bernadotte

Myrvine Bernadotte is of that generational segment born in Boston, and raised by Haitian parents, who came to the United States in search of a better life. Dr. Bernadotte contends both her parents were born and raised in Haiti under extreme poverty. Upon their arrival in the United States, they stepped on the grounds of the land of the free, with almost nothing in their pockets. Her father arrived first, and left his wife Rosita and oldest daughter in Haiti. Dr. Joseph H. Bernadotte was more fortunate than most, however, having battled poverty on the streets of Arcahaie and earned his medical degree from Haiti's Faculté de Medicine (Haiti's medical school).

But as usually is the case with individuals who have medical degrees from a foreign country, Dr. Joseph H. Bernadotte could not practice medicine in the United States. So he worked several factory and odd and end jobs in the state of Massachussetts before he was able to learn enough English to pass the U.S. Medical board exams. Dr. Bernadotte's wife arrived with a high school diploma, worked as a hotel maid and a factory assembler, and went to school and graduated as a registered nurse.

Now with such an inspirational family history, Myrvine Bernadette could not help but give her best in life. There were no excuses whatsoever. If two people past their 20s, who arrived in the United States practically penniless and not knowing any word of English could rise professionally, how much so for their seed—a daughter of the land?

From Massachussetts, the Bernadottes moved to Brooklyn, where they lived for nine years. Bernadotte's family was so vast, that in the apartment complex where she lived, solely relatives occupied each wing. Every day, she was reminded through the Haitian customs and culture that were part of routine life that, yes, she was a Bostonian, an American for sure; but she was Haitian. "I have always strongly identified with my Haitian roots, even when it wasn't always popular to do so in Brooklyn in the 1980's," she recalls.

Like most upwardly mobile-minded Haitian families in New York, the Bernadottes moved their family to Long Island, where Myrvine attended high school. She later attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for college and Michigan State University for medical school. She's since had a long career in emergency room medicine, but she has never forgotten about Haiti. Fast-forward to 2009, when she saw it fit to launch Inspire Haiti, a non-profit organization that provides medical care and medical supplies to the needy in Haiti.

Q & A

When was the first time you visited Haiti, and what were your impressions?
The first time I went to Haiti was in the late 1980's. I was about eight years old. I was entirely put off by the country. I was appalled by the poverty, lack of clean water, adequate water pressure and electricity. It seemed all the daily necessities I took for granted in the United States were nonexistent. It was a real culture shock! Furthermore, my sister and I were devoured by mosquitoes. We both swore we would never go back. However, years later, just prior to entering medical school, I returned to Pignon, Haiti with my mother to volunteer our time and I fell in love.

Do you remember the first time you were inspired to become a doctor?
As a result of my parent's educational background, I was always surrounded by medicine. I can recall at a young age listening, while my mother gave advice to relatives and community members. I learned to take blood pressure measurements before entering high school and quickly became the go to person in the family for this task. However, the spirit of philanthropy and uplifting humanity came from my maternal grandmother. My grandmother, Meme, lived with us until the day she died at 88 years old. She was the caretaker all of our cousins, as well as my sister and I. I can remember when she would return to Haiti for visits, she would have a small bag for herself and two extremely large suitcases full of items to give away to those less fortunate than we were. My Uncle would predictably complain, as he would be assigned to help her lift them to get to the airport. Nonetheless, she would always remind us of the importance of reaching back and lending a hand.

How did Inspire Haiti take shape?
Inspire Haiti was formed in late 2009, just prior to the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. Inspire Haiti was founded by eight individuals who met after endeavoring on an unrelated mission to Haiti in May of 2009. As a group, we were startled to find that there were several areas of need that remained collaboratively unmet by any organization.

During the next several months, we engaged in continued dialogue about the patients we'd seen and treated in Haiti, in particular, a five-month old baby girl born with congenital syphilis. She initially presented with two broken arms and several other signs of abuse and neglect inflicted by her abusive mother. We repeatedly discussed the solutions that could prevent the insensible acts imposed on this child. From those repeated discussions, the extensive background experience of all individuals involved and our love for a country in utter despair, Inspire Haiti was formed. Our objective is to improve the living conditions for the majority of Haitians: one person at a time, one community at a time.

You have a team in Haiti correct? Or do you just travel with a team from the USA?
Among our many long-term goals, Inspire Haiti envisions developing a community center in Haiti to provide medical education and services, after school activities, nutritional guidance, and social services. Currently, we organize mission trips to Haiti whereby groups of volunteers travel from the US to Haiti for a week at a time. We have collaborated with community leaders in Cite Soleil, Hospitals in St. Marc, Paillant and Port Salut to conduct mission trips. During each mission trip, we travel with a team of medical doctors, nurses and community volunteers. We provide the patients with medication they need and clothing for adults and children. We also make an effort to educate each patient on his or her health issue and preventative measures.

Within 4 days of the devastating earthquake of 2010, two members of IH and I were in Haiti volunteering our time and efforts to those in need. Additionally, those members remaining in the states mobilized themselves to gather supplies such as walkers, wheelchairs, clothing and medical supplies to send to Haiti. Since that time, we have returned to Haiti with groups of volunteers and served in various communities. Currently, we are in the processes of building relationships with other organizations in order to grow and provide broader services to one community. In the near future, we would like to become more involved in the social aspects such as clean water projects, school building etc. Additionally, although Haiti is a markedly impoverished country, we firmly believe there is tremendous beauty in the land, vibrant and rich culture, food and language. As a result, we strive to expose our volunteers to all of this during the week we are working in Haiti. Our volunteers are fed various classic Haitian dishes the entire week in Haiti. We often end the long and difficult week of working and living in harsh conditions with a visit to a beautiful location to decompress. As a result, our volunteers have a different prospective of Haiti than what they may have seen in the media or heard of prior to visiting. In fact, many of them are eager to return to Haiti with us in the future.

How many people have benefited from Inspire Haiti so far, and how many towns have you served in Haiti?
We have visited several towns in Haiti including Paillant, St. Marc, Carpentier, Mason, Port Salut and several areas in Port-au-Prince. Although it is difficult to give an exact number of how many people have benefited from IH's services, I would say we have been fortunate enough to serve approximately 1000 people.

Haitian parents are always scolding, but they also like to give advice. What's the best advice that's ever been given to you by your parents?
My parents were definitely very strict with my sister and I. They were never reluctant to place us ajenou and the rod was never spared. In addition, they believe it takes a community to raise a child. Our Brooklyn community of Aunts and Uncles, were all entitled to discipline us at any time. At the same time, although they were strict disciplinarians, they were also wonderful counselors to my sister and me. My father would always say, "Piti, piti, zwazo fè nich li—little by little the bird builds its nest. Every time, I hit a bump in the road, my father would remind me of this and say nothing worth having comes easily. He taught me that obstacles are a part of life and should not always be avoided. Overcoming obstacles builds character, strength and integrity.

How did you make it through medical school?
Like all journeys I've faced, I made it through medical school by the grace of God and the support of an amazing family and circle of friends. Several are surprised to hear when I say that medical school was fun. I was fortunate enough to go to an exceptional school that focused intently on patients as human beings rather than a disease states. I was also blessed to go to a school that recognize the importance of diversity in medicine and created an environment where I could feel comfortable and flourish. I met the most amazing friends in medical school. Without them and the community we created together, I am certain I would not have made it through.

For those out there who are going into medicine, what words of wisdom do you have to offer?
For those going into medicine today, I would urge them to have a real understanding of our healthcare system and what being a doctor entails. Medicine has become a lot more than simply helping people. There are several ways to make an impact on community without practicing medicine. healthcare in the US is rapidly changing and we must be prepared to change with it. Beyond that if one were still determine to pursue a career in medicine, I would say to stay grounded and make sure you know who you are and what is important to you. Medicine can be all consuming if allowed to be so the act of prioritizing becomes paramount. Be certain to create a balance in your life.

You're an ER physician. How do you maintain your cool in stressful situations happening constantly in the emergency room?
There is no other field in medicine that suits me more than emergency medicine. Working in the Emergency Department can at times be stressful. The only predictable thing about it is its unpredictability. During times of stress, I stay calm by relying on God to guide and direct me. I also remain confident in my training and always stay humble. During my residency, I did a rotation in the pediatric intensive care unit, and would be on call at night alone (my supervising physician was always available by phone and would come in from home if I needed). At times, I would be afraid to take a decisive action for fear I would be wrong and cause a critically ill child to deteriorate. A physician I admired told me to never be afraid to help. He said that no matter what, a critically ill patient has a better shot of living with me, as a provider, than without, so do not hesitate to do something. He told me he would never be disappointed in me for being wrong but would be disappointed if I did nothing. I am never done learning. My classroom is my colleagues, nurses, staff and patients. I realize that I don't always have to have all the answers but I must know where to find them.

Few people will say that they have had it easy in life. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
My life has indeed not been without its fair amount of curve balls and windy turns, however, all things work for good and have helped to shape who I am today. Yet, certain aspects of my life have been more difficult than others. The unexpected death of my beloved grandmother was extremely difficult for me. For me, she epitomized everything good in my world.

Additionally, my path to medical school was not a traditional one. I was initially not accepted into medical school from college. As a result, after college graduation, I worked and went back to school to improve my chances of getting into medical school. I also obtained my Emergency Medical Technician license and volunteered with my local fire department. I entered medical school 3 years after graduating college. Initially, I felt as though my entire identity was in question. I was devastated by the prospect of never being a doctor because it was how I always envisioned myself.

In both of these instances, I ultimately came through it by remembering what my Father has told me, "Piti, piti…." So often in life, God's plan is not clear to us or seems inexplicable. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that although I don't understand, there is a reason for a storm or obstacle. I therefore lean on my family and friends for support to get myself through. I realize that I cannot and will not be easily broken.

Myrvine Bernadotte

Dr. Myrvine Bernadotte (in blue scrubs) and her staff attending to some patients during an Inspire Haiti medical mission trip.

ANNOUNCEMENT
Our Next Mission

We are very excited to announce that our next mission is being planned for March 2013.We are busy making plans and organizing, so stay tuned for more details to follow shortly. If you are interested in volunteering your time, making a financial contribution or other type of donation, please fill out the contact form here and we will be in touch with you. Thanks so much for your continued support!

Our Second Annual Silent Auction

On September 15, 2012, Inspire Haiti hosted it's second annual silent auction event in NYC. Among the many items auction were Haitian art sculptures, paintings, hotel stays, jewelry and sports apparel etc. We would like to again thank all of those who came to out to support us. We are also touched by the generosity of all those who donated their time and services. Thank you for believing in our dream and also the people of Haiti.

January 2012 Mission Report - Nearly 500 Patients Treated

During the week of Jan 14-22, Inspire Haiti completed another successful mission in Haiti. In the course of one week, a group of 14 individuals, including several doctors (an Internist, OB/GYN and Emergency Medicine physician); five nurses; and translators assisted in providing treatment and medical supplies to nearly 500 patients. Our mission concentrated on the under served city of Port Salut, Haiti and its surrounding towns. In order to facilitate the rendering of our services, it was incumbent upon us to set up mobile clinics for which patients could more easily obtain care. In addition to treating illnesses, our focus was also largely on health education. Instructing the people on preventive measures is also essential to improving the overall health of the town and hopefully, the entire country. Among the myriad of cases we treated were: HTN, gastritis, joint infections, various infectious diseases, uterine prolapse, severe dehydration and much more. Thank you to all the volunteers who sacrificed a week of their vacation time to assist Inspire Haiti in furthering its mission- which includes, but is not limited to working to improve the health of those less fortunate.

Thanks again to our volunteers Dr. Talawnda Thompson, Internist; Dr. Babafunmilayo Kasali, OB/GYN; Maggie Lominy, RN; Damali Crawford, RN; Renee Powell RN; Portia Chinnery RN; Marie Carmel Tessier RN; Nadege Sanon, Translator, Nadgela Duperval, Translator; Giovanna Leone Translator and Olivier Volcimus, Translator and our fabulous photo journalist Amy Newman!

Special thanks to Deputy of Health in Port Salut, Sergo Sinal, Dr. Clifford of Port Salut Hospital and Bruno Residor in helping to facilitate our trip.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating items, please click here.

OUR SILENT AUCTION WAS A HUGE SUCCESS

We had a great time for a great cause! A big thank you to all those who donated items and services. We thank everyone who participated for their continued support.

If you are interested in helping out, please fill out the contact form here and we will get back to you with more information.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

This past April, Inspire Haiti's President, Myrvine Bernadotte and Vice President Samuel Denis traveled to southern Haiti in order to meet with other nonprofit organizations and begin planing a future mission trip for the fall of 2011. Among the sites visited were Les Cayes, Camp-perrin and Torbeck.

Children at Children of Israel Orphanage (CIO) in Torbeck Haiti


Samuel Denis of IH and Yelline Isidor of CIO pass out sneakers to children at orphanage

Children open boxes of sneakers donated by Target.

HAITI: POST EARTHQUAKE, ONE YEAR LATER

NY Times Article "Haiti" Jan 11, 2001
OVERVIEW

One of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, Haiti in recent years has struggled with problems ranging from near-constant political upheaval, health crises, severe environmental degradation and an annual barrage of hurricanes.

On Jan. 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, reducing much of its capital to rubble. It was the worst earthquake in the region in more than 200 years. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank estimated that the total cost of the disaster was between $8 billion to $14 billion, based on a death toll from 200,000 to 250,000. The toll was later revised by Haiti's president to upwards of 300,000.

More than a million displaced people still live under tents and tarpaulins. International donors promised Haiti $5.3 billion at a March 2010 donor's conference; but reconstruction, of the build-back-better kind envisioned at the conference, has barely begun. Officials' sole point of pride six months after the earthquake — that disease and violence had been averted — vanished with the outbreak of cholera.

Political unrest is once again at the forefront, this time over the disputed 2010 presidential election. Violent protests followed preliminary results that were widely considered suspect. Adding to the overall national malaise, the national electoral council announced in December 2010 that current President Rene Préval's protégé — a former state construction company executive named Jude Célestin — had edged out a popular singer, Michel Martelly, for a spot in a January 2011 runoff against Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady.

Despite this gloomy backdrop, many Haitians have started to find some equilibrium — to heal, to rebuild or simply to readjust their sights.

The Duvalier Legacy

Haiti occupies an area roughly the size of Maryland on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Nearly all of the 8.7 million residents are of African descent and speak Creole and French. The capital is Port-au-Prince.

The country is, by a significant margin, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with four out of five people living in poverty and more than half in abject poverty. Deforestation and over-farming have left much of Haiti eroded and barren, undermining subsistence farming efforts, driving up food prices and leaving the country even more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its long history of political instability and corruption has added to the turmoil.

During the 18th century the western portion of Hispaniola, called Saint-Domingue, was one of the richest colonies in the French empire, known for its lucrative sugarcane and coffee plantations. (The rest of the island was controlled by Spain.) In 1791 the African slave population revolted, eventually winning independence from Napoleon Bonaparte's France and becoming the second country in the Americas to free itself from colonial rule and the world's first black republic. The country was renamed Haiti.

Haiti's history has been marked by many periods of profound political disarray, including frequent changes of governments, military coups and, beginning in 1915, a two-decade occupation by the United States. The most infamous of Haiti's leaders was François Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, who was elected president in 1957, beginning a long rule known for corruption and human rights abuses that left Haiti increasingly isolated. His son Jean-Claude Duvalier controlled the country from 1971 until he fled in 1986, leading to another period of alternating civilian and military rule.

Despite bouts of optimism in recent years brought on by the implementation of a new constitution and the first peaceful transfer of power between two elected presidents in the nation's history, Haiti's politics in the post-earthquake era remain as tumultuous as ever.

Regime Change and Free Elections

In 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide took power after winning 67 percent of the vote in a presidential election, but was overthrown shortly after taking office in a violent coup leading to a three year period of military rule that ended only after the intervention of a United Nations force led by the United States. While the 1995 election of René Préval, a prominent political ally of Mr. Aristide, was widely praised, subsequent elections were plagued with allegations of fraud, including the 2000 restoration of Mr. Aristide to his old post.

Over the following years violence spread throughout the country as the government cracked down on opposition party leaders, holding power in part with the aid of extra-legal gangs. In February 2004, after groups opposed to the Aristide government seized control of cities and towns throughout Haiti and closed in on the capital, Mr. Aristide resigned and fled to South Africa. U.S.-led armed forces under the authority of the United Nations Security Council were sent to Port-au-Prince to stabilize the situation and to oversee the installation of an interim government. The United Nations has spent some $5 billion on peacekeeping operations since 2004.

In 2006, Mr. Préval was again elected president amidst allegations of impropriety.

Political Instability and Natural Disasters

Since 2008, the situation worsened dramatically, with the nation staggering beneath the double whammy of food riots, government instability and a series of hurricanes that killed hundreds and battered the economy-- this before the deadliest earthquake in the country's history.

Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike and Tropical Storm Fay landed within the space of a month in August and September 2008. Nationally, damages came to a total of $900 million, or nearly 15 percent of the gross domestic product. The national toll was 800 dead, down from 2004 when 3,000 perished.

With the absence of jobs, many Haitians have sought work in the United States and elsewhere despite the global financial crisis. With some 900,000 youths expected to come into the job market in the next five years, dismal prospects are the main threat to stability.

The January 2010 earthquake left the country and its densely populated Port-au-Prince in ruins, its poorly constructed buildings and shanties destroyed or seriously compromised and the government broken.

More than 3,000 school buildings in the earthquake zone were in shambles; hundreds of teachers and thousands of students were killed. Some schools may never reopen, leaving vast numbers of children languishing in camps or working in menial jobs, struggling to sustain themselves.

The United States and Its Tone

Humanitarian aid from around the world has streamed into Haiti. The United States, which has a history of either political domination or neglect in its backyard, has tried to strike the right tone, coordinating relief efforts and pledging financial aid.

Since 1994, Haiti has resurfaced in the American conscience only during times of crisis: the Aristide meltdown; and after four devastating storms in 2008 that wiped out most of the country's food crops and damaged irrigation systems, causing acute hunger for millions.

In the aftermath of the January earthquake, the United States has been among the largest single donors, committing $1.15 billion on top of the more than $900 million already spent.

Pledges added up to nearly $5.3 billion for the next two years, and a total of $9.9 billion over three years or more, according to Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general. But the very size of the outpouring raised questions about whether the commitments would be met and how fast the financial support could help salve the needs of the Haitian people.

Hopes Fade for a New Haiti

By May 2010 the hope that a more efficient, more just Haiti might rise from the rubble was giving way to stalemate and bitterness. Haitians complained that the politically connected were benefiting most from the scant reconstruction work and that crime was returning. Meanwhile, unproductive politicians and aid groups struggled with temporary refugee camps that looked more permanent every day.

Parliament was essentially disbanded; power was in the hands of Mr. Préval, his cabinet and a reconstruction commission led by the Haitian prime minister and former President Bill Clinton. Haiti's first election since the January earthquake took place in late November 2010, characterized by disorganization, voter intimidation, the ransacking of polling stations and fraud.

Even before the polls closed, 12 of the 18 presidential candidates had called for the election's cancellation. On Dec. 7, following an election in which polling places were ransacked and ballot boxes stuffed, the country's electoral board announced that Jude Célestin, seen as Mr. Préval's hand-picked successor, and Mirlande Manigat, a former Haitian first lady, had won the first round of voting. The results set off violent protests that have shut down the capital and spread outside the city.

Michel Martelly, a singer with an impassioned following in the streets of Haiti's bedraggled capital, came in third.

A statement from the United States Embassy, urging all Haitian political figures to stay calm, expressed concern that the preliminary results were "inconsistent" with the findings of an independent Haitian election group that posted thousands of observers throughout the country and anticipated a runoff between Ms. Manigat and Mr. Martelly — as well as with the reports of other observers, including Americans.?

If the preliminary results were to withstand scrutiny, Ms. Manigat, 70, a university administrator who aspires to be Haiti's first elected female president, and Mr. Célestin, 48, the head of a state-run construction company, would face each other in a runoff election on Jan. 16. But Mr. Martelly, 49, made it clear that he would put up a fight against the "little group that wants to keep power." He was referring to Mr. Célestin, a political novice, and his supporters in the current government.

Faith in Haiti's electoral council, seen as controlled by President Préval, has been shaky from the start. After it declared Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-American hip-hop star whose declared candidacy provoked considerable excitement in the country, ineligible to run for president, many of his supporters transferred their allegiance to Mr. Martelly, a political newcomer. But they often said the authorities would not permit him to win.

CHOLERA

Cholera Confirmed in Haiti, October 21, 2010 (CDC)
An outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Haiti on October 21, 2010. Cholera had not been documented in Haiti for decades so cholera outbreaks were considered unlikely in Haiti immediately following the earthquake in January, 2010. For a cholera outbreak to occur, two conditions have to be met: (1) there must be significant breaches in the water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure used by groups of people, permitting large-scale exposure to food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae organisms; and (2) cholera must be present in the population. While it is unclear how cholera was re-introduced to Haiti, both of these conditions now exist.

Cholera infection is most often asymptomatic or causes a mild gastroenteritis. However, about 5% of infected persons develop severe, dehydrating, acute watery diarrhea. The first line of treatment for cholera is rehydration. Administration of oral rehydration salts and, when necessary, intravenous fluids and electrolytes in a timely manner with adequate volumes will reduce case-fatality rates to <1%. Severe cases of cholera should be treated with antimicrobial agents to which the circulating strain is susceptible. Antimicrobial treatment is not recommended for mild cases of cholera and should never be used as "chemoprophylaxis" to prevent cholera on a mass scale.

As with other causes of acute watery diarrhea, the prevention and control of cholera require surveillance, heightened measures to ensure the safety of drinking water and food, and appropriate facilities and practices for disposal of feces and for handwashing. Although using vaccines to control an outbreak of cholera is complex, oral cholera vaccines are being considered for use among high-risk populations in Haiti.

UN: Number of Cholera deaths in Haiti shows signs of falling or stabilizing
Source: UN News Centre

24 January 2011 –
The number of people dying from cholera in Haiti has been on a downward trend or has stabilized in all ten of the country's departments affected by the outbreak, the United Nations humanitarian office reported today, adding that the number of hospitalized people has also been decreasing.

However, it remains unclear whether the epidemic has reached its peak, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update. It noted that a peak can only be determined if the majority of affected areas report a decreasing number of new cases over a period of three to four weeks.

The cholera outbreak was first reported in October last year. It led to the setting up of cholera treatment centres and smaller treatments units throughout affected areas, and a call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the international community to provide immediate massive aid to fight the epidemic.

As of 16 January, Haiti's public health ministry reports 194,095 cumulative cases of cholera and 3,889 deaths, with an overall fatality rate of two per cent nationwide. In November, the UN World Health Organization reported the fatality rate as standing at 2.3 per cent.

In its update, OCHA said the number of daily hospitalizations nationwide is down, from 837 on 11 December, to 515 on 16 December; and partners, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, are planning to close treatment locations and reduce their presence in some areas due to the decrease in the number of cholera cases being admitted.

OCHA said much effort is now focused on moving medical services to areas where they are most needed, mainly in remote rural areas. A total of 129 physicians and 326 nurses are still needed nationwide to support cholera response activities – a significant decrease from the 2,000 nurses and 350 physicians initially required.

Humanitarian agencies are also focussing on raising hygiene awareness and spreading cholera prevention messages in camps and surrounding host communities, as well as distributing hygiene kits. Cholera prevention activities and the training of teachers on nutrition and children's emergency hygiene promotion are also being implemented in schools.

OCHA said that lack of funding, poor access to remote areas and lack of community mobilizers have been identified as the most pressing needs in relation to the cholera outbreak.

In November, the United Nations launched an appeal in November for $164 million from the international community to provide treatment and put preventive measures in place, supplying water-purification materials, carrying out large-scale public information campaigns, and helping to build treatment centres – so far, the appeal has received 34 per cent of its funding.

INSPIRE HAITI’S MAIDEN VOYAGE

On March 6th, with the help of eight dynamic people who opened their hearts and volunteered their time to help Haiti heal, Inspire Haiti set out on it’s very own mission. The group traveled to Paillant, St. Marc and Port-au-Prince and provided much needed primary care to those in need. In only a few days, we were able to treat nearly 300 people with food supplements, clothing, medications and medical care.

Kids

Additionally, as part of a partnership the Deidre Imus Environmental Center, members of Inspire Haiti helped distribute the “Kids Love Kids,” goody bags to the children of Haiti. These goody bags were made by children in the United States wanting to send gifts of love and compassion to fellow children in Haiti. This program is a result of efforts from Operation Goody Bag, the Catholic Medical Mission Board and the children of East Brook Middle School.

INSPIRE HAITI MEMBERS HELP IN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF

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Inspire Haiti is a fairly new non-profit organization intent on bringing quality medical services to the people of Haiti. Moreover, we want to be more than just a team of medical providers who travel to Haiti a few times a year. Our focus is on building a strong, thriving community that is not only physically sound but also nutritionally, emotionally fit. Our hope is that this self-empowered community will then be able to give this same gift to their neighbors.

The recent catastrophic earthquake in Haiti has caused us to rearrange our agenda and focus more so on the health needs of the people. Since the disastrous earthquake in January, Inspire Haiti members have been to Haiti twice on relief missions.

On January 16, 2010, 3 members of Inspire Haiti’s board, traveled to Haiti, along with another nonprofit organization, to provide medical relief work. While there, Jane Burke, RN, Magallie Lominy, RN and Myrvine Bernadotte, MD were one of the first groups of medical teams to work out of Project Medishare’s field hospital at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. From there, they went on to create mobile clinics in areas such as Soleno, Leogane and Carrefour Feuilles.

Although a very difficult trip, the team continuously cites the amazing spirit of the Haitian people as a source of encouragement and hope. Dr. Myrvine Bernadotte writes: “Through unspeakable physical trauma and emotional stress, the people continued to be hopeful. Every night before going to bed, we would hear the people praying and singing in the street. The services would continue all through the night. I definitely learned a thing or two from Haiti’s people about being resilient and grateful for all my blessings.

"The conditions in Haiti are devastating. There has been incredible destruction in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. In every corner, this is a building, school or church that has been affected. More crushing than the damage done to buildings is that done to the people. We saw unspeakable injuries, many of which went untreated for days due to lack of access to care. The smell of dead bodies near every rubble was sickening. Nonetheless, despite several obstacles, we are all definitely glad we went. We worked primarily at the tent hospital at the airport and from there went out directly into some of the most destroyed communities. Everyday, we treated 50-60 patients before sundown. Our team consisted of one physician (myself), 4 nurses and members of an unforgettable family who helped us coordinate our efforts.”

THE LATEST ON HAITI EARTHQUAKE 2010 NYT

APRIL 13, 2010 Michelle Obama made an unannounced visit to Haiti to inspect the earthquake-battered country and reinforce the American government’s commitment to help with the long recovery effort. — NYT

APRIL 13, 2010 Fabienne Jean, a dancer whose leg was amputated, is caught in a tug of war between potential health care providers. Ms. Jean's situation highlights the way in which many Haitians, like their country, are now dependent on international charity. — NYT

APRIL 8, 2010 A new report from the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) proposes that international donors support Haiti's agricultural sustainability by putting an end to subsidized rice imports and instead committing to purchasing the Haitian rice crop. Such a change would provide food to those in need while also promoting Haiti's self-sufficiency. — Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

APRIL 8, 2010 While the world came together at a Donors' Conference on Haiti on March 31, several women's organizations joined together to release the Gender Shadow Report, a response to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) issued by the Haitian Government. The Shadow Report draws attention to the conspicuous absence of a discussion of gender in the PDNA, and calls for women's participation and leadership in reconstruction efforts. — Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

MARCH 28, 2010 The earthquake has focused attention on Haiti’s glaring gap between tiny pockets of wealth and extreme poverty. — NYT

MARCH 26, 2010 Bill Clinton made a public apology on March 10th for trade policies enacted during his administration that damaged Haiti's agricultural system and economy. The apology has called attention to the need for just international aid policies that promote Haiti's sustainability and capacity. — Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

MARCH 26, 2010 Following a 3-week visit to Haiti, an Amnesty International delegation reports that sexual violence against women and girls is widespread in the internal displacement camps. Further, victims of sexual assault are faced not only with inadequate protection, but also with an utter lack of health and other resources. — Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

EARTHQUAKE OVERVIEW

Feb. 19, 2010: - The New York Times
A massive earthquake struck Haiti just before 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital. The quake was the worst in the region in more than 200 years. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank estimates that the cost could be between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion, based on a death toll from 200,000 to 250,000.

The day after the quake, Haiti's president, René Préval, called the destruction "unimaginable.'' The quake left the country in shambles, without electricity or phone service. Governments and private groups from Beijing to Grand Rapids pledged assistance, but the extent of the destruction -- and Haiti's shaky infrastructure before the quake -- meant aid efforts faced steep obstacles. With little food and water to be had, thousands of residents of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where the destruction was centered, fled the city to seek refuge with relatives in the countryside.

Despite scattered looting, the city remained relatively calm, but there was little evidence that the central government was able to function.

Thousands of people lay trapped or dead in the rubble of government buildings, foreign aid offices and shantytowns. Schools, hospitals and a prison collapsed. Sixteen United Nations peacekeepers were killed and at least 140 United Nations workers were missing, including the chief of its mission, Hédi Annabi. The city's archbishop, Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, was found dead in the rubble of the Port-au-Prince cathedral.

Survivors squatted in the streets, some hurt and bloody, many more without food and water, close to piles of covered corpses and rubble. Limbs protruded from disintegrated concrete, muffled cries emanated from deep inside the wrecks of buildings - many of them poorly constructed in the first place. Ten days after the quake, the number of survivors pulled from the rubble stood at 121 as hopes of finding more dwindled.

Relief Efforts
On Jan. 13, as Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, warned of a humanitarian disaster, President Obama promised that Haiti would have the "unwavering support" of the United States.

But while world leaders pledged hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of troops, delivering on these promises was a logistical nightmare. In the days after the quake, aid was arriving only in a trickle to those thought to need assistance. Power was still out and telecommunications rarely functioned. Most medical facilities had been severely damaged, if not leveled. Supplies of food and fresh water were dwindling. Ships could not bring their cargos of supplies into Haiti's damaged port; the airport was functioning with severe limits; roads were blocked not only by debris but also by people with no safe shelter to retreat to.

Aid agencies from around the world geared up to help but soon found themselves knocked back on their heels by a catastrophe they describe as more difficult to manage than famine in Africa or the tsunami in Asia.

Rarely if ever, they say, has a natural disaster so ravaged the crowded capital of an already poor country, devastating both the government and the international agencies that usually step in.

For weeks, relief came in the form of food giveaways that resembled a Darwinian sport — with biscuits and bottles of canola oil or biscuits thrown like footballs from the backs of trucks to masses of men jockeying for position.

At the end of January, a new United Nations system of food distribution began, with coupons being handed out that qualify their recipients -- primarily women -- for 55 pounds of rice. The new approach eased the confusion surrounding aid, though by some estimates only a third of those who need it were receiving food.

Haitian Government Response
Along with its many other dire problems, Haiti soon faced a crisis in leadership. Foreign nations sent hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance, only to find the government too weak to harness it. Virtually every symbol of the country’s political system vanished into the rubble.

Parliamentary elections were postponed. Radio programs became soap boxes for opposition leaders to strike the government while it was down. A nation that had been looking forward to a rare, peaceful transfer of power experienced familiar — albeit faint — rumblings of chaos and coups.

In the eyes of many, Mr. Preval initially seemed incapable of pulling himself together, much less this deeply divided society. Several weeks after the quake, he began to take steps to reassert his authority and restore his government, but given Haiti’s turbulent and unforgiving politics, the damage may have been done.

Earthquakes in the Caribbean
Haiti sits on a large fault that has caused catastrophic quakes in the past, but this one was described as among the most powerful to hit the region.

The Caribbean is not usually considered a seismic danger zone, but earthquakes have struck there in the past.

"There's a history of large, devastating earthquakes," said Paul Mann, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas, "but they're separated by hundreds of years." Most of Haiti lies on the Gonave microplate, a sliver of the earth's crust between the much larger North American plate to the north and the Caribbean plate to the south. The earthquake on Tuesday occurred when what appears to be part of the southern fault zone broke and slid.

The fault is similar in structure to the San Andreas fault that slices through California, Dr. Mann said. Such earthquakes, which are called strike-slip, tend to be shallow and produce violent shaking at the surface. "They can be very devastating, especially when there are cities nearby," Dr. Mann said.

David Wald, a seismologist with the Geological Survey, said that an earthquake of this strength had not struck Haiti in more than 200 years, a fact apparently based on contemporaneous accounts. The most powerful one to strike the country in recent years measured 6.7 magnitude in 1984.

Social Conditions in Haiti
Haiti is known for its many man-made woes - its dire poverty, political infighting and proclivity for insurrection. The earthquake's devastating blows landed on an economy about one-tenth the size of New Mexico's that was already feeble and struggling before the disaster.

The country is, by a significant margin, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with four out of five people living in poverty and more than half in abject poverty. Deforestation and over-farming have left much of Haiti eroded and barren, undermining subsistence farming efforts, driving up food prices and leaving the country even more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its long history of political instability and corruption has added to the turmoil.

The United States and other countries have devoted significant humanitarian support to Haiti, financing a large United Nations peacekeeping mission that has recently reported major gains in controlling crime. International aid has also supported an array of organizations aimed at raising the country's dismal health and education levels.

Since 2008, the country's situation has worsened dramatically, as it faced food riots, government instability and a series of hurricanes that killed hundreds and battered the economy.

Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike and Tropical Storm Fay landed within the space of a month in August and September 2008. The four storms flooded whole towns, knocked out bridges and left a destitute population in even more desperate conditions. Nationally, damages came to a total of $900 million, or nearly 15 percent of the gross domestic product. The national toll was 800 dead.

As Haitians begin to turn their attention to rebuilding a crippled economy after the earthquake, the country experienced a rapid surge in prices of crucial products.

The nation's main port was knocked out of operation, hobbling exports. The banking system, largely shut down because of fear of robberies, is struggling to restart. The earthquake destroyed the finance ministry and part of the central bank, and killed senior financial officials, including Jean Frantz Richard, director of the tax collection agency.

 

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