As emergency teams respond to the recent earthquake in the southwest, Humanity & Inclusion continues to help Haitians face the Covid-19 pandemic.
Humanity & Inclusion and its local partners— Pain Without Borders, Together For A Better Future In Haiti, National Association Network for the Integration of People with Disabilities and Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation—reached more than 10,000 people as part of its “Tackling Covid-19” project which ran from August 2020 through June 2021. With funding from the Belgian Development Cooperation, Humanity & Inclusion is continuing its Covid-19 response in north and northeast Haiti throughout 2021.
During the 10-month project, hygiene kits containing soap, buckets with taps for hand-washing, hand sanitizer and other items were distributed to 1,400 families. Teams also shared information protection measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
Families also received a $150 cash transfer to spend as needed to afford food, medical care or other necessities.
Through the project, more than 3,500 people received rehabilitation care. Among them, 286 patients participated in respiratory therapy, a form of physical therapy that frees up the respiratory passages, strengthens breathing muscles and improves ventilation to better move oxygen through the body. Humanity & Inclusion and its partners trained 40 rehabilitation professionals in respiratory therapy to treat patients with future respiratory infections.
Mental health support
Since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health has been a major challenge. Confinement and inactivity during the lockdown, for example, have increased anxiety and distress of individuals and families who fear for their health and future.
Humanity & Inclusion and its partners provided communities and medical staff with information on mental health issues, a field that is underrepresented in Haiti. Some 2,000 patients and caregivers took part in awareness sessions and learned about the role of psychologists and psychiatrists, psychological distress, and psychological care management and its importance. Teams published informational videos in French on Creole on Facebook, reaching more than 120,000 people, and answered community questions ranging from “What is an emergency service?” to “What are the signs of psychological distress?”
More than 400 health professionals attended trainings to better meet the psychosocial needs of the community. The specialists learned how to listen attentively to patients without forcing them to speak, how to comfort them, and how to guide families to sources of information and refer them to the services and social support they need.
Teams offered psychological support to 270 patients and caregivers. An additional 130 patients participated in group therapy, enabling them to talk about their experiences. A helpline funded by the project offered emergency support and reassurance to 2,300 people in distress. When necessary, some participants were referred to a psychologist.
An estimated 800,000 people have been affected by an earthquake that hit Haiti mid-August. Women and girls with disabilities are among those most impacted. Humanity & Inclusion’s teams are on-site and coordinating with local actors to ensure that humanitarian aid takes their needs into account.
The population in Haiti has long been exposed to issues of poverty, made worse by frequent natural disasters in the country. Today, in addition to inflation of the local currency, Humanity & inclusion surveys of local markets found that the cost of basic goods has increased since the earthquake. A pack of women’s sanitary napkins was 75 Haitian gourdes before the earthquake, but now costs over 100. Even more challenging, many people are now without any income after the disaster.
“Many women with disabilities have lost their tools for their income-generating activities,” says Marijoe Pierre, President of the Haitian Association for Women with Disabilities in the South. “A disabled woman seamstress lost her sewing machine in the rubble. She is a single mother with three children. This machine allowed her to feed her three children. She now lives with them in a camp for displaced people along the road to Torbec.”
According to the UN, around 1,500 people with disabilities have been identified in the three most affected regions (Nippes, Grand’Anse, South), the majority of which are women. In the more than 500 emergency rehabilitation sessions carried out by Humanity & Inclusion’s team since August, 58% of patients have been women and girls.Read more
One month after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake affected 690,000 people in southwest Haiti, humanitarian needs in the country remain immense. The natural disaster wreaked havoc on the Grand’Anse, South and Nippes districts, causing over 2,200 deaths and putting 650,000 people in need of vital support.
“Day after day at the rehabilitation center, patients are multiplying,” says Guetchly-Nise, a physical therapist recruited by Humanity & Inclusion and its partner FONTEN in Les Cayes.
Humanity & Inclusion’s physical therapy reinforcements taught rehabilitation exercises and distributed mobility aids to Stephanie, 12, and her aunt after they were injured when their home collapsed during the Aug. 14 earthquake.Read more
From clearing explosive weapons to helping entrepreneurs launch their own businesses to assisting people with disabilities and mine victims, Humanity & Inclusion has stepped up its actions in northern Chad since 2017.
Rachel Datché, 33, was traveling to see her sister when she stepped on an anti-personnel mine in Fada. After her right leg was amputated, she received an artificial limb and post-surgical care at the orthopedic and rehabilitation center in Kabalaye in 2020. Rachel (pictured above) is one of the participants in PRODECO, a vast development program coordinated by Humanity & Inclusion in consortium with three other NGOs. The four-year project to help restore the economic sustainability of the local population will wrap at the end of 2021.
“This wide-reaching program includes mine clearance operations, risk prevention, victim assistance, rehabilitation and economic assistance,” explains Jean-Michel Mathiam, who manages Humanity & Inclusion’s actions in northern Chad.
Legacy of war
The Borku and Ennedi regions were ravaged by civil war and conflict with neighboring Libya in the 1980s, leaving land contaminated by anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. Humanity & Inclusion recently completed its mine clearance operations in northern Chad, which helps people living in rural and agricultural areas earn a living by ensuring the roads leading to their villages are clear of mines.
In Faya and Kirdimi, more than 740 acres of land have been decontaminated through weapons clearance operations. More than 1,000 mines were destroyed by 120 deminers coordinated by Humanity & Inclusion and Mine Advisory Group MAG.
Teams also tested a drone mine detection system. The technology will revolutionize mine clearance operations worldwide.
Supporting small businesses
Since Oreike Bandy’s divorce four years ago, the 38-year-old mother has struggled to feed her family by selling bread at a market in Fada. She’s one of more than 1,000 people who have received a financial boost through a social fund to start her own business and become financially independent.
“I joined the village savings and loan organization [AVEC] and put aside some of my earnings each week to invest in the AVEC. This enables me to renew my stock of food products,” Oreike, pictured above, explains.
Ache Guene, 38, lost her husband four years ago and was suddenly faced with the difficult task of raising their five children alone. With help from Humanity & Inclusion, she also set up her own business and lifted her family out of poverty.
Maimouna Abass, a 30-year-old widow and mother of two children, now runs her own market stall in Fada, where she sells biscuits to earn a living.
"My life has changed. I can reinvest my profits in my business,” she says.
In 2017, Humanity & Inclusion launched a large-scale development program called PRODECO in partnership with three other NGOs: Mine Advisory Group (MAG), the Swiss Foundation for Demining (FSD), and Secours catholique et développement (SECADEV). Humanity & Inclusion recently completed its mine clearance operations in northern Chad. The organization will continue identifying people with disabilities, primarily victims of mines or explosive remnants of war, in villages and communities to participate in the project through 2021.
After more than 30 years of war, humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are immense. Humanity & Inclusion is steadily resuming its activities in four provinces: Herat, Kunduz, Kandahar and Nimroz.
Julio C. Ortiz-Arguedas, Humanity & Inclusion’s Country Director in Afghanistan, shares more information on the organization’s history in the country and how it has been impacted by the recent regime change:
Most of Humanity & Inclusion's activities with people in Afghanistan have resumed after a few days' interruption. Humanitarian needs are immense in a country devastated by decades of conflict and one of the most contaminated by explosive remnants of war and landmines in the world. Today, 80% of the Afghan population has some form of disability due to the presence of mines and explosive remnants of war, armed conflicts and limited access to health and nutrition services.
The rehabilitation center in Kandahar is the major activity of Humanity & Inclusion in Afghanistan. Humanity & Inclusion set up this center in 1996 and has been supporting it since. At the center we have a total of 53 staff working to support people for rehabilitation and psychosocial aid.
We were able to gradually resume activities. Since the Taliban took control of Kandahar on August 13, the rehabilitation center has served 240 men and 180 women, distributed 200 walking aids and fitted 50 beneficiaries with orthotics or prosthetics. These numbers represent a 50% increase over the average in the previous months: the end of the fighting, of the roadblocks and the increased security have allowed more people to access the center.
However, the Kandahar Mobile Team—comprising 15 members—could not yet return to the countryside, so it was deployed in the center and, in that same week, was able to accommodate 117 people.
People are coming every day at the center, sometimes from very far away—we had families who made a one-day trip to come to get treatment—as it is the only rehabilitation center for the south of the country.
Images: A glimpse at daily activities at the Kandahar rehabilitation center, including physical rehabilitation and manufacturing of artificial limbs and braces. Copyright: HI
On a recent visit to a hospital in Les Cayes, Humanity & Inclusion’s staff met Oscar, who remains positive despite his home being destroyed and his leg broken in the earthquake.
On August 14, Oscar was just outside his home, walking down the narrow alley between two buildings, when he felt the ground begin to move.
“The walls swayed back and forth and I started to run,” he says. “I knew immediately that it was an earthquake, and that they could collapse at any moment." Before he could escape, the bricks began crashing onto him, cutting his arms and shattering his leg. Despite his broken leg, Oscar continued to run to avoid being buried by the rubble.Read more
The Humanity & Inclusion emergency response team has begun the training process for physical therapists who will be reinforcing local hospitals and a rehabilitation center in Les Cayes, Haiti.
Our experts are working with seven physical therapists and one physical therapy assistant who have already received all of the appropriate training to respond to routine rehabilitation needs. Most of the specialists have participated in past trainings conducted by Humanity & Inclusion.Read more
After the 2010 earthquake introduced her to the field, Humanity & Inclusion rehabilitation graduate Guetchly-Nise now finds herself treating those affected by the most recent disaster.
This week, Humanity & Inclusion teams in Haiti are training physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists in emergency rehabilitation to reinforce overwhelmed medical centers in Les Cayes. On Wednesday, one of the new recruits, Guetchly-Nise, started her first day responding to those who were injured in the earthquake.Read more