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On my first day of Port-au-Prince, we drove through what my colleagues told me was a typical Haitian bustle. Crowds surrounded open-air stalls, children made their way to school and cars navigated through heavy traffic.
After visiting the treatment center, we traveled to meet Patrecia at her sister’s house. She had recently received free breast cancer surgery through a medical voucher with AmeriCares, and the visit was a follow up to monitor to new program’s process. Patrecia greeted us warmly and welcomed us into her sister’s home. She had been living with a tumor for two years, and now her pain was finally gone. She was grateful to AmeriCares and happy to have had the surgery. Her life definitely was not perfect: she had continuing economic stresses and health problems. But it was massively beneficial for her to receive this top-quality medical procedure free of charge. With her family history of cancer, it was important that she receive the surgery she needed.
At the end of my first day in Haiti, I was glad to have seen two very different types of programs that our Haiti office supports: one that focuses on stemming the tide of immediate emergency situations, and one that helps treat long-term calamities such as chronic disease.
Finally, we drove to see a cholera education program in action. In Cazeau, Haiti, about a third of this community of 32,000 have already been reached by traveling educators spreading the word clean water, proper sanitation and hand washing. Children gathered in the playground at their school to hear the community health worker, loudly chiming in to repeat the rules they learned in unison. Afterwards, students received water purification materials. This health education is crucial to preventing the waves of cholera that can cripple entire towns.
- Still, three years after the earthquake, Haiti’s health infrastructure requires profound rebuilding -- and strengthening so that it comes back better than before. I was so glad to get the chance to see these health programs firsthand, a great reminder of the strong strides that have been made towards quality care and the needs that still exist.