Did you know Haiti is ranked Number 1 in the Western Hemisphere, and Number 21 in the world…for infant deaths in children under the age of five? With these dismal statistics in mind, I headed to Haiti in November 2014, joining a contingent of nurses led by Betty Kasson, RN, also of St. Dunstan’s. We were determined to see how we could help our sister parish of St. Andre’s in Haiti make a difference. Our goal was to establish health records for the 950+ students of St. Andre’s, provide nursing care, and hopefully train “Health Agents” from the St. Andre’s parish to carry on the health work.
We filled extra suitcases with medical supplies and donations from Direct Relief, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Henry Schein Medical, and some 1,000 toothbrushes and dental floss from the Sutter family for a dental education program. A new partnership with Vitamin Angels provided Vitamin A and Albendazole as a deworming medication, as well as prenatal vitamins for women. We anticipate the vitamin, deworming programs, along with the food program, will greatly increase the children’s survival in this community.
The trip was an amazing experience for all of us. The team, along with our partner St. Andre’s volunteers, assessed eight different classes at St. Andre’s school, from pre-school through 6th grade. Two teams then gave classes on hand and dental hygiene. The kids loved it, and we gave a toothbrush and floss to all 950+ students that day. It was rewarding to see how much the students of St. Andre’s already knew about hand and dental care, being taught how to avoid many of the illnesses that poverty invariably brings. Perhaps best of all, we were blessed to have three impassioned Haitian volunteers agreed to continue as Health Agents for the school and community. We gave them training to learn basic wound care, fever treatment and vital signs measurement, as well as Vitamin A and Albendazole distribution as part of the Vitamin Angels’ grant.
The team also traveled to one of Father Noe’s rural church/schools in Labegue, where we saw and felt the greatest effects of poverty on health. At St. Andre’s, we had seen evidence of a high parasitic burden in the children. However, in Labegue we saw parasitic loads worsened by malnutrition. Rural schools do not have a daily food program like St. Andre’s. We saw and treated a wide variety of maladies including skin parasites, ear infections and anemia, all worsened by malnutrition. The meal program provided to the students at St. Andre’s truly is a blessing to that community!
Our new goal: find funding for a full time school nurse for the students of St. Andre’s school. $10,000 will establish an infirmary with equipment, supplies and salary for one licensed nurse. Only $10,000! Imagine what a gift that will bring to the entire community
Your help is needed NOW! Help us with ideas for a fabulous fundraising event OR grant OR funding resources.
Please contact me, Kim Murray R.N., at HaitiPartners@aol.com