A medical team from Project Medishare arrived in the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes early Monday morning, but the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) agent could not get through the protests and roadblocks to pick them up at the airport. Several hours later they finally connected, but by that time it was too late to make the half hour trip to the SFA branch in Laborde and so they stayed at their hotel. The following morning there were again protesters on the streets, but the group set out anyway for Laborde. They encountered several roadblocks along the way, but each time managed to negotiate their way through without being pummeled by flying rocks. The payoff was being able to start several days of midwife and community health agent training in a rural farm community without access to a healthcare facility.
One of several groups of midwives and community health agents being trained in Laborde by Project Medishare. Photo: Hatnim Lee.
Project Medishare had already been stars in our eyes when they responded to our original request for a mobile clinic service for our farmer members and their families following the earthquake in August. During that first clinic the community expressed concerns regarding high maternal mortality rates in the area. This led to Medishare returning this week with a team of doctors and nurses to train nearly 40 midwives and community health agents on best practices when delivering babies without medical support. As part of their training, the team provided 500 birth kits—each including umbilical cord clamps, nasal aspirators, soap, sterile blades and other items.
Shortly after the earthquake we began providing emergency assistance to the 1,000 SFA farm families in Laborde who were severely affected. They had asked for help in the form of food, medical care, tents (we had to substitute tarps for tents) and water. Our initial emergency response report is online here.
Rice being distributed to SFA members in Laborde.
The medical care component was topped up by this week’s follow-up visit by Project Medishare. The food request was initially covered by 17,000 hot meals prepared at our request by World Central Kitchenfor the first few weeks following the earthquake, along with a small distribution of rice by the SFA. But we wanted to distribute enough rice to give families some sense of food security for the next few months while they continue to recover. This led to last week’s delivery of over two tons of rice to Laborde. This was enough to provide 55 lbs of rice to each of the 400 families most in need.
Now we are focusing on the longer-term agricultural recovery phase. The priorities are increasing the local seed bank capacity, supplying pumps to improve irrigation, introducing a livestock program, and expanding the existing tree planting operation with a focus on fruit trees.
The SFA has been able to provide these services because of an incredible outpouring of support from a large number of people and organizations from many different countries. Notable in this group are the Julian Grace Foundation and the Raising Haiti Foundation. And we are grateful that Project Medishare and World Central Kitchen covered their own costs for the services they provided.
Our remaining challenge is to help farmers begin rebuilding some of the more than 700 homes in the Laborde area that were completely destroyed or severely damaged. To this end we are setting out to raise the funds to cover the first 15 homes at a cost of approximately $5,000 per unit. The homes will be built by the farmers themselves with oversight by an engineer. But we can’t start until we raise the full amount of $75,000… in case you were thinking about making your first contribution or perhaps a follow-up donation!