As noted in the earlier report, there is acute concern about the school children getting the cholera bacteria. It could spread quickly in the crowded environment of the school. We are exploring feasibility and impact of extra precautions such as adding hand-washing capability for large numbers of students to encourage more frequent hand washing. In addition to some form of building and washbasins, this will probably require drilling a well specifically for the school. Of course, what additional we can do and how quickly will depend on donations.
Based on the limited contact, however, we can report that the school is doing very well. Every corner is filled with the 744 students. We now have 10 grade levels, Kindergarten thru 9th grade. Also, the children are staying in school longer. Previously, most dropped out after 3rd or 4th grades. Now the classrooms are filled all the way to the highest grades. Also, part of the crowding in the school is from the 150 hurricane refugee students. So, the school is the good news.
The crowded school is also now causing major concerns. The threat of cholera has frightened them for the past several months. Because the school is so crowded, if students start to carry the cholera bacteria, the risk of contagion is high. Fortunately, having the clean water from the wells you provided reduces many of the risks since the most frequent transmission is drinking contaminated water. Of course, as with all bacteria, there are other concerns of transmission.
Cholera has now reached the village. During our brief conversation with the village priest last night, he reported that they now have a confirmed case of cholera, apparently carried from Port au Prince by one of the hurricane refugees who traveled back to the Port au Prince area to visit family. Fortunately, they were able to treat the woman, and they expect she will survive. Unfortunately, they know that since the cholera bacteria has reached the village, their risks have multiplied. If the bacteria is introduced into the crowded school, the risk of contagion increases exponentially.
In addition to supporting preventive measures, we will continue working with the doctor and nurses at the clinic to quickly identify and isolate any new cases – also, of course, providing treatment.
The doctor reports that most of the villagers are significantly healthier than they were 3 or 4 years ago – due to the improved diet and the clean water your donations have provided. They now have a better chance of survival even if they get the cholera bacteria.
Please continue to keepthem in your prayers.