Into the Mountains: Battling Cholera in Haiti

intro screengrabFor several months, Heart to Heart International (HHI) has led an anti-cholera campaign in the remote mountains of southeast Haiti, centered around the village of Cascade Pichon.

The video below gives an overview of the campaign and showcases how HHI is working to get in front of any new cholera outbreaks in the region, by not just bringing in needed aid supplies, but by hiking up into the mountains to educate the populace from one remote village to the next. The video also shows how local residents are stepping up to volunteer with HHI to help their own communities fight the scourge of cholera.

Education is key in battling cholera in Haiti…

To help fund these anti-cholera campaigns and other efforts to create access to healthcare in Haiti, please donate.

And please share this video on places like Facebook and other locations to let others know about our work in Haiti!

###

Combating Cholera in Haiti

Cholera Response

This isn’t an easy fight, but it’s one that Heart to Heart International is committed to waging.
As we blogged recently, Cholera has flared in the remote southeast of Haiti around the picturesque area of Cascade Pichon.  Where the outbreak stems from, we’re not sure yet.  But its affect is apparent.
In our survey of the outbreak in this small region we found nearly two dozen people died from cholera and more than 50 contracted it, were treated, and thankfully survived.

cholera bacteriumCholera is relatively new to Haiti, believed to have been introduced for the first time in 2010 in the months following the January earthquake.  It is a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea.  It causes severe and rapid dehydration, cramps, dry mouth and skin, excessive thirst, lethargy and nausea.
The CDC: The cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by feces (poop) from a person infected with cholera. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene.

 

This is where Heart to Heart comes in.  We’ve mobilized a response of not just supplies needed – like oral rehydration salts and hand-washing materials – but our professional Haitian staff consisting of doctors, nurses and public health workers.  The goal:  To treat those affected, to help them recover and to train the local population in cholera prevention.
What follows is a gallery of photos from Heart to Heart’s ongoing response to combat cholera. Click a photo to begin the slideshow.

Into The Honduras High Country…

…or, How To Survive The Rough Roads Of Honduras.

I think we’re still vibrating from the bone-rattling trip Saturday up into the mountains of this part of southeast Honduras.  We were in a 4×4, but that doesn’t make the jostling any less, it just means you’ll make it to the top. You hope.  We’re just lucky it’s the dry season here.

We woke Saturday morning with the plan to head out and up into some communities that are very difficult to access, either by vehicle, burro or on foot.

After a hearty breakfast, we loaded into a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, 4-wheel drive of course, and left the Rapaco compound, bound for an area that Global Brigades has implemented what they call their holistic model.  This is where they put into practice all of the separate Brigade they run: Medical, Dental, Architecture, Water, MicroFinance and more.  Go here to learn more about GB’s overall mission.

And so we started up.  And up.  And up.  Though Honduras has a long Caribbean coastline, the interior is mostly highlands: wide valleys and mountains reaching in excess of 6,000 feet in elevation.  And these mountains are steep, jagged and rugged.   Driving up the rocky roads you may feel as if you’re in the Rockies of the Southwestern US for all the pine trees and blue skies and chest heaving elevation.

The first community we stopped in, after crossing two rivers (again thankfully it’s the dry season), was Zurzular.  Here, Global Brigades operates a clinic and is just finishing construction on a pretty cool looking school designed by their Architecture Brigades.

 

From there we went even higher up to the village of Palo Verde.  This is where we met up with a Water Brigade, college students from Northwestern University, busy digging a trench through a coffee plant plot perched on a steep mountainside.

 

 

 

There are many acres of coffee plants in the higher elevations of these mountains.  And most of the people living in these remote villages are way out here to cultivate and harvest the coffee bean.  And due mostly to the remoteness, these villages don’t have, or haven’t had until GB’s efforts, access to clean water or adequate medical care.

 

 

The Water Brigade we fell in with was busy laying 6 kilometers (3.6 miles) of PVC pipe from a natural spring and stream higher up in the mountains.  We hiked into the dense forest, down a steep slope, slick with mud, to see the source and how the water is collected and sent down the pipes to houses miles away.

 

 

 

We made the thigh-burning climb to get back to our truck and then drove to the village of Bella Vista. Here, houses are already connected to the system, and clean treated water now flows through their pipes.  It’s not about convenience or luxury, but rather that first line of health defense.

To cap off the day, we drove back down to Palo Verde and assisted the Water Brigade dig a 100 foot-long trench down to knee depth.  Good hard work, which the children and the chickens enjoyed watching.

It was quite the day.

Now, our attention turns to the Medical Brigades that have begun to arrive from stateside, and the deployment of the Ready Relief Boxes.

DW HHI — Posted From Rapaco Hacienda, Honduras