That phrase loosely translates to, ‘Hold Tight Dear Haiti.’ It is quite well known all over Haiti and among Haitian Americans. With the events of the past few months, especially the earthquake in the Southern Department there’s a need for encouragement and lots of comradery among everyone.
Photo: On Flag Day in Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti on May 18th 2019
In 2019 when I worked at Health Equity International (HEI), I lived in Fond-des-Blancs, a town located about 90 kilometers from Les Cayes. Les Cayes is one of the cities that was severely impacted by the earthquake on August 14th 2021. The earthquake has caused over 2000 deaths and disrupted the lives of thousands of people in the Southern Departments of Nippes, Sud, and Grand-Anse.
The weekend of the earthquake, I spent hours on the phone getting in touch with colleagues and friends who live in Fond-des-Blancs and Les Cayes, and/or work at HEI. My colleagues and friends in the south have been close to the situation and have been affected in some way. It was disheartening to hear what they are going through.
One of the most touching phrases I heard was from my public health colleague and friend, Miliane Clermont, who is also the Deputy Director General for HEI. During our conversation, at some point she paused and said, in a matter-of-fact tone, “Se lavi!” It translates to, “This is life!” I was reminded, once again, of the reality she faces and lives in as she was born and raised in Les Cayes and is now close to the relief efforts on the ground.
My heart breaks for the people of Haiti as they work through another disaster. Yet, I am humbled in knowing that people like Miliane, who is a nurse by training, are in the country working hard on the ground. I have faith that public health champions like her will uplift those who are wounded at this time.
At Konbit Sante, our mission continues to support the development of the Haitian healthcare system, with maximum local direction and support, to meet the needs of the people. To that end, we work closely with Haitians to provide solutions and methods to support their own communities.
Even during this time of great need in the south, and as the earthquake relief efforts are ongoing, we are working closely with our healthcare partners. Two of them, Justinien University Hospital and Unite de Lutte pour la Sante Health Center, have received funding from Konbit Sante for transportation costs to send clinicians to the south to provide direct medical care to victims of the disaster. Additionally, we are collecting supplies from our warehouse and collaborating with other organizations in the area to eventually send them for distribution to the southern part of the country.
In the days to come, we will engage with organizations and hospitals in the southern part of Haiti to collaborate and support as much as possible. We understand that even though our work has been focused in the Northern Department of the country, at times like this we all come together to provide support.
We appreciate the support of everyone, near and far, during the past few weeks. We thank you for the donations that you have dedicated to the earthquake relief efforts. Please continue to pray for Haiti and please continue to send all your positive wishes for the people of the country.
In the meantime, Kembe Fem Ayiti Cherie! We all stand by YOU at this time.