St. Francis Haiti Outreach
P.O. Box 2563
Staunton, VA 24402-2563
November 2010 Volume 4 No. 6
This month’s pictures show two students at Our Lady of Pointe-a-Raquette Catholic School: Easy E. Charles, in 2nd kindergarten, and Widsherly Lormeau, in 5th grade.
A NEW NAME FOR HAITI OUTREACH FOUNDATION
You will notice a new name on today’s Newsletter—St. Francis-Haiti Outreach. The Diocese of Richmond has asked us to process all donations to our Haiti Mission through a parish account, so we ask that you make your checks payable to St. Francis-Haiti Outreach. This is simply an administrative adjustment. All programs and distribution of funds to our twin parish of St. Louis on La Gonave will continue as usual. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Linda Kofeldt at 885-7763 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CHOLERA UPDATE FROM LA GONAVE
There has been a great deal of misinformation on the news and in the newspapers about the cholera cases in Haiti. There are cases in the north, in Port-au-Prince, and in other areas, but, so far, there have not been any cases of cholera in Pointe-a-Raquette. Last week, two patients who were already ill from cholera came over to Anse-Galets, on the north side of La Gonave, because they thought they would get better care at the Wesleyan Hospital there than on the mainland. They were admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation. Both are recovering without problems. These are the only documented cases of cholera on La Gonave as of November 19th. However, Dr. Medgine is prepared for any influx of patients with symptoms of cholera. As the medical facilities on the mainland become overwhelmed with cases, we expect more sick people will attempt to come to La Gonave for treatment. Dr. Medgine and Fr. Roosevelt are using this outbreak as a teaching opportunity to reinforce the necessity of boiling all water before use.
In other parts of Haiti, however, the cholera outbreak is spreading. Since there hadn’t been any cases of cholera in Haiti for over fifty years, the people have no immunity to the disease. They are angry and worried about how this bacterium entered their country. Fear has caused many Haitians to accuse the Nepalese United Nations Peacekeepers of bringing the disease with them to Haiti. There is no evidence that this is the source of the current outbreak, but, for cholera to occur, two conditions have to be met: 1) There must be poor sanitation and difficulty obtaining clean water which would then permit large groups of people to be exposed to food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera; and 2) cholera must be present in the population. In other words, if cholera occurs in a population after fifty years of absence, somehow the germ was brought back into the area. The strain of Vibrio cholerae currently in Haiti is a strain that has been found in East Asia, but also in many other regions world wide. It was brought into Haiti recently by some means, but it may be difficult or impossible to identify exactly how it arrived in Haiti. What is easy to predict is that many more people will become ill before this outbreak is over. A similar outbreak in Peru in the 1990s lasted for years before it was contained.
There is not an effective vaccine for cholera. There is a vaccine available, but, at best, it is about 50% effective. This vaccine is not available in the United States. The best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid contaminated water and food and to wash your hands. These simple measures, however, are not simple for most Haitians.
There have been deaths on La Gonave which were originally attributed to the cholera outbreak. These people were found to have high levels of copper in their bloodstreams as a result of eating fish which had come from water contaminated from copper runoff from a manufacturing plant. No one on La Gonave is eating fish now.
MESI ANPIL!! This is a perfect opportunity to say, once again, “Thank you very much for your generous donations to Bob’s Clinic”. During the Matching Funds Challenge which ended October 4th, $11,163.00 was received. Because the goal of $10,000 was reached and exceeded, matching funds in the amount of $10,000 were given by an anonymous donor. These funds will support the clinic for about eight months. You cannot imagine the difference having a doctor in Pointe-a-Raquette makes in so many lives, particularly now. Dr. Medgine continues to do an excellent job in very difficult circumstances. Your support provides pre-natal care for women, vaccinations for their children, treatment of infectious diarrhea, which is still the largest killer of infants and young children in developing countries, treatment for other infectious diseases that are very common in Haiti, such as malaria, typhoid fever, and tuberculosis, and general medical care for chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The clinic is prepared for cholera cases if they arrive. Without your support, there would not be any access to dependable medical care on the south side of the island of LaGonave. You are making a difference and saving lives every day by your support of Bob’s Clinic.
Thanks also to all the people who donated OTC medicines and bakery equipment last year. The items have arrived in Pointe-a-Raquette and Dr. Medgine is very grateful for your support.
Thanks also to all of our school sponsors and other donors who make possible the work being done in Pointe-a-Raquette to foster empowerment of the people. Sustainable projects are making a difference in the ability of people in Pointe-a-Raquette to take responsibility for their lives and to support their families. With your help, people are being “taught to fish” so that they may eat not just today, but each day.
Trip to Haiti
In January, 2011, Dr. Linda Kofeldt and Jeanne Branch, the Religious Education Coordinator at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro, will be travelling to Haiti. They may be joined by some other parishioners from St. Francis. If you would like to send a message to Fr. Roosevelt or your sponsored schoolchild, please send it to St. Francis-Haiti Outreach, P.O. Box 2563, Staunton, VA 24402-2563 or bring it to the St. Francis office before January 7th.
Fr. Roosevelt sends his thanks and blessings to all for a very happy Thanksgiving and asks for your prayers for the people of Haiti. Please continue to pray for them during this crisis.
Men anpil chay pa lou. Many hands make the load lighter. Bondye beni ou. God bless you