Heart to Heart International medical team in Haiti responding to 7.2 earthquake
LENEXA, Kan. – In response to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Saturday, August 14, 2021 Heart to Heart International (HHI) immediately deployed a team of Haitian doctors and nurses to the affected areas.
The team will be in the impacted communities by Monday to assess needs, meet with local community partners, distribute hygiene kits and treat patients. More supplies and team members will be sent as needs are determined.
HHI has had a presence in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010 with a Haitian team that focuses on healthcare and disaster preparedness and provides outpatient and family medicine at clinics throughout the country.
“Heart to Heart International-Haiti is uniquely qualified and prepared to respond to this earthquake because the team is already in the country and able to reach the affected areas almost immediately,” said Kim Carroll, president and CEO of Heart to Heart International.
Many of the staff members have family in the most impacted areas. In addition to the loss of life, the team is sending reports of thousands of destroyed homes and buildings, landslides over major roads, incredibly damaged infrastructure and strong potential for disease and other health concerns because of unsanitary water supplies.
The HHI-Haiti medical team has experience in disaster response. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, an all-Haitian medical team from HHI deployed to Puerto Rico to treat patients in the rural mountain region. The team was successful because they had previous personal experience recovering from natural disasters.
This earthquake is sandwiched between Tropical Storm Fred, which passed over northern Haiti earlier this week, and Tropical Storm Grace, which is on track to pass over Haiti in the coming days. This also is on top of the recent turmoil of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination five weeks ago.
Heart to Heart International is a nonprofit international health organization with its headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas. Since its inception in 1992, HHI has delivered medical aid and supplies worth $2.2 billion to more than 130 countries, including within the United States. HHI responds to natural disasters both domestically and internationally by supplying medical relief and mobilizing volunteers. The organization is a 4-star Charity Navigator charity and is on the “Philanthropy 400.” To learn more, visit hearttoheart.org.
UPDATE (January 14, 2020) HHI is supporting the Ponce Health Sciences University Mobile Medical Unit, which has deployed to the areas impacted by the recent earthquakes. In addition to supporting the Ponce Health Sciences University, HHI is supporting the Puerto Rico Department of Health with hygiene kits and technical assistance, building on an ongoing grant program established in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. HHI is working to fulfill a request for tetanus vaccines and insulin in response to the earthquakes and is actively participating in the Puerto Rico VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) meetings looking for potential partnerships, connections, and ways to help the anticipated impacted communities.
Hygiene kits assembled by the following partners are being sent to restock the already distributed supply of kits:
PQMD (Partnership for Quality Medical Donations)
IBT Industrial Solutions
Employment Practices Network of Kansas City
(January 10, 2020) A 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the southern region of Puerto Rico on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, followed by a 6.0 aftershock. These are the latest in a series of earthquakes that began on December 28. These quakes have forced more than 2,000 people into shelters. A million people are without power and thousands are without water as of Thursday, January 9.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico. “We are concerned about potential impacts of this week’s earthquakes on the lives of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” Azar said. “Across HHS, we have worked closely with the territory’s health and human services authorities on disaster recovery, and will continue to do everything we can to help ensure the health and well-being of people across the island.”
Heart to Heart International has had an agreement in place with the Medical Corps Reserve of Puerto Rico since fall of 2019 to respond to health needs in Puerto Rico in the case of a disaster. We stockpiled hygiene kits with the Puerto Rican government (Medical Reserve Corps), with COSSAO in Utuado and with TLC in Yabucoa. The organizations have distributed the kits to those sheltering outside in the Southwest part of the island.
“We have remained active in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, working with local communities and government organizations to improve health access and be better prepared should a disaster occur. No one ever wants a disaster to happen, but you want the ability to respond quickly if they do. With hygiene kits prepositioned on the island, we are able to help people immediately after a disaster,” said Kim Carroll, CEO, Heart to Heart International.
More hygiene kits are being shipped to Puerto Rico to fulfill requests from the Medical Reserve Corps and the Office of Public Health.
We continue to reach out to all our partners on the island and remain ready to respond to needs on the ground.
World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
World Humanitarian Day 2019 is set to celebrate Women Humanitarians and their undying contribution in making the world a better place. This year’s campaign on Women Humanitarians supports the recognition that women deserve in the strengthening of global humanitarian response as well as in protection efforts under the international law.
“From supporting civilians caught up in crisis to addressing disease outbreaks, women humanitarians are on the front lines.” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
To celebrate 2019 World Humanitarian Day, we are introducing you to just a few of the women of Heart to Heart International. These women highlight the passion and dedication that everyone at HHI has for making the world a better place.
Joan Kelly – Manager, Disaster Response
“I started my humanitarian career volunteering with a community organization in rural Tanzania in 2007. Learning that there was a lot I didn’t know, I studied international humanitarian aid at the University of Kansas and Cornell University to improve how organizations can save lives, best alleviate suffering, and restore dignity. Over the years I’ve worked for organizations around the world, promoting community-led programs that overcome an us vs. them mentality. Right before coming to Heart to Heart, I worked in Syria coordinating programs that focused on health, livelihoods, and the protection of vulnerable people.
I was raised in Kansas, and feel fortunate to work for Heart to Heart International that is in the Heartland providing humanitarian aid around the world. Whether responding to a Tornado in Kansas, the U.S./Mexico Border, or any where else in the world, I am constantly motivated by the communities that are doing everything they can to help others in need. For me, humanitarian work is a daily dose of optimism, with example after example of the best in people.”
Brittni Blaser – Coordinator, Disaster Response –
“I’m from Lawson, Missouri, and I worked as a CNA while I
finished my Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management and Global
Sustainability at Park University. I’ve always loved to travel, so I spent one
year exploring parts of Southeast Asia, Europe, and Australia. While in SE
Asia, I volunteered with the Khmer Institute for National Development in Phnom
Penh, Cambodia. I assisted the organization with their “Check My School”
program that was working to get textbooks and running water in the schools.
After my travels were over, I decided to get my Master’s. I finished my Master’s
in International Healthcare Management, Economics, and Policy with a
concentration in Global Health at SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy. Prior to my
completion, I did an internship with the Belize Red Cross working on their Zika
Once finished with my internship, I knew I’d be moving back
to the United States and started looking for disaster response volunteer
opportunities. This is how I came across Heart to Heart International. I
applied for their Disaster Response Team while in Belize. The day after I moved
back, I attended their training workshop, and a couple weeks later I deployed as
a logistician for Hurricane Michael in Panama City, FL.
Between my experience at HHI’s workshop and working with the
team in Florida, I knew that this was not only the profession I wanted to pursue
but the organization I wanted to be a part of. I started with HHI a few months
later as their Disaster Response Coordinator.
I can’t think of anything that is more rewarding than being
a humanitarian worker. Working in Disaster Response can be very busy and a lot
of hard work, but going into a community that has been devasted by a hurricane
or tornado and watching that community put everything aside to help each other
is one of the most incredible things I have ever been a part of. Another great
thing about it is, participating in a response team with HHI and our
volunteers. These selfless individuals put their life on hold to go provide
much needed services to those survivors.”
Nachelle Kaughman – Manager, Volunteer Engagement
“I have been in the non-profit world for 13 years, helping connect
people and resources. As the Manager of Volunteer Engagement with HHI for
nearly a year, I have facilitated projects in Haiti and Puerto Rico. Whether
corporate volunteer trips or individuals on the Disaster Response Team, I love
to be the bridge between need and people who are willing to give of their time
and skills to serve others. “
Courtney Leeper – Volunteer Coordinator –
“I was born and raised in Papillion, NE. While attending school at Northwest Missouri State I had no idea what career path I wanted to choose, I just knew I want to make a positive impact on the world with my career. I came across the Emergency and Disaster Management major and quickly realized how much humanitarian aid organizations do and how much I wanted to be a part of it. After graduation, I joined NCCC AmeriCorps to attempt to get my foot into the world of humanitarian aid. Throughout my experience in AmeriCorps being deployed to both Hurricane Harvey and Maria, I realized that the organizations that were really making a difference in the lives of disaster survivors were nonprofit organizations. Which is why I applied at Heart to Heart International. What I love about the work I do at HHI is that I’m always working with volunteers who are just as passionate and dedicated about doing something to make a difference in the world as I am.”
Judy Hastert – Laboratory Manager
Before joining Heart to Heart International, Judy Hastert worked
in laboratory microbiology and quality. She and Carla Orner were recruited by
HHI to work on parasitology on a water sanitation project in Guatemala. The
project checked kids for parasites and treated them appropriately. Both women
fell in love with the work of HHI.
“I appreciated being able to use my skills, things that not
everyone else can do, to help out in the humanitarian field. There was such
gratification to that feeling,” Judy said.
Judy and Carla continued volunteering with HHI, setting up
point of care labs around Kansas City and performing laboratory training and
audits in Haiti. Carla was ultimately hired as Program Director and Judy as
Laboratory Manager. They have helped set up point of care testing at laboratories
across the U.S., trained laboratorians across the globe and helped organize
volunteer service trips to rehabilitate a hospital in Cameroon.
One story from that trip to Cameroon still resonates with
Judy. “I took a team of BD volunteers to Fotabong, Cameroon, to train Community
Health Workers. 22 women were chosen for
this role, which was considered an honor. Those women would take their
notebooks home each night and STUDY! We
couldn’t trip them up with our quizzes. They were so invested and so excited
about supporting their community is this way. Every day they would get together
and brainstorm, creating an original song that would promote or talk about one
of the topics of the day – anything from breastfeeding to nutrition to
sanitation. Our classroom got quite a reputation
on that trip because there was so much laughing and singing emanating from the
space, just pure joy.”
Judy said that one of the things that helped make her
decision to join HHI was realizing that she didn’t want to spend the rest of
her career on personnel management. She wanted to use her specific skill sets
in a way that helps people.
“One of the best things about this work is working with such
exceptional like-minded people who want to expand access to health care and serve
the underserved. The people who spend their lives working in safety net health
clinics or providing health care in developing countries with no water, no electricity
and no money are exceptional. Anything and everything we do to support them and
this work is very meaningful, very gratifying work.”
Heart to Heart International has been busy shipping essential product and supplies to Louisiana, including our Hygiene Kits, thanks to your support.
Following reports from our Disaster Response Team, volunteer groups have been building Hygiene Kits at The Hub to help ease the stress & strain on residents. Torrential downpours across the state displaced 12,000 men, woman and children. This is the largest disaster in 100 years for the state of Louisiana.
Under gift options designate Louisiana flood to support this crisis.
In the 25 years Laura and Dale have lived in their Central, Louisiana home, they had never experienced flooding like this. During Hurricane Katrina, they lost their roof and had flood waters up to their front stoop, but, otherwise, their house remained intact and their possessions undamaged. This year, Laura and Dale were not spared. The massive rainfall and flooding of the past few weeks showed them no mercy. Water flowed into their one-story home, devastating everything in its path, and forcing the couple out. Staying in a shelter at night, Laura and Dale have begun the long cleanup process. While sorting through and emptying their home of the 25 years of accumulated possessions and memories, the couple is also battling the characteristic late summer heat and humidity of Louisiana.
Heart to Heart volunteers met Laura and Dale while delivering cleaning supplies, water and HHI provided care kits to them and other countless families like them throughout Louisiana. The Hygiene Kits provide much needed hygiene items, including toothbrushes, washcloths and soap to those affected by the floods. With bathtubs, sinks, and the entirety of people’s daily essentials ruined by the flood waters, the care kits are much needed and much appreciated. Having the ability to clean themselves allows people a sense of normalcy and optimism in the midst of cleaning up the devastation of their homes.
Laura and Dale are planning to repair and return to their home. They are attempting to salvage anything they possibly can, but the damage from more than 4 feet of water inside their house is staggering. However, for Laura and Dale, like many others, walking away from their home is not an option. They will continue sorting, working, and cleaning. Heart to Heart will continue providing help, supplies, and care kits to them and others like them. You see, walking away is simply not an option for us, either.
Settled dirt on many cars showing the stark reality of how high the water was just a week ago.
This is Alice, a strong willed women who made it out of the LA floods, but her home did not. Below is a look into her neighborhood and what they have lost as a community in central Louisiana.
Sadly, this is just one of the towns out of many that were affected by flood waters and horrible damage.
Convoy of Hope hands out Hygiene Kits in Baton Rouge, LA.