December Update – Good News and Bad News

There has been some good news and some bad news from Boileau, “our village in Haiti. The good news is the school. The bad news is the threat of cholera. It continues to be very difficult to make contact.  The telephone network has been very unreliable.  We occasionally get a chance to talk with the priest or one of the villagers, but most connections are interrupted. We know that our information is incomplete, but seldom get a chance for a follow-up conversation.

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.

Cholera Update for “Our Village”

Our contacts in Haiti report that cholera is more widespread than initially reported.  It has reached the rural villages near our sister parish, St. Therese, but our clinic in Boileau has not yet diagnosed a case of cholera. As you have heard on the news, cholera can spread rapidly, and, once contracted, cholera can cause death in a few days…sometimes in hours.; But the other concern is that it can remain dormant in an infected person for several days, then erupt.  This increases the threat of spreading to several parts of Haiti. As people flee from the epidemic locations, they can be carriers even though they do not have symptoms.  Since Boileau has been so welcoming of refugees, there is a high risk of having the bacteria in the community.

The greatest threat for transmission is contaminated water supply, so your help is having a life-or-death impact once again.  The 17 wells and hand pumps for clean water that your gifts have provided in and around the village of Boileau are a source of clean water for several thousand families. The villages estimate that each well provides water for at least a thousand people, with a rough estimate of some 25,000 people depending on all the wells. Even before the cholera threat, the doctor at the clinic reported that the wells had transformed the villages.  The clean water dramatically reduced the wide-spread problems from ingesting the parasites and bacteria in the surface water.  The ripple effect of this reaches into all parts of the village life – even to allowing kids to stay in school for higher grades.  (See the update on the school in this website for more details.)

Please continue praying that the efforts to stop the epidemic are effective. The tent-cities of earthquake refugees are the most vulnerable. We are communicating with some medical teams to see how we can help with treatment and containing/controlling the transmission.

Overview Update – Not too late to help Haiti

The school is crowded.  Even the storage closet is being used as a classroom.  They have books – because of you.  The students are energetic—because you are providing a school lunch program. Their education will provide new solutions for tomorrow’s leadership in Boileau.

This discussion is a very brief overview update.  More detailed discussion about each project will be in an article dedicated to the individual project.  Discussions about the school and the Agriculture and Livestock Programs have been submitted so far.  These more detailed discussions are below.

The seeds you provided are growing tomatoes and cabbage and beans and corn. Families have food and can even take a little “to market” for a small cash crop. The emergency relief food you provided sustained the villagers through the initial earthquake crisis.  The seeds and tools and agriculture training provide the start of a sustainable source of food.

Piglets and chickens and goats and sheep–several families now have a start on raising livestock.  They even have a half-dozen cows and a bull!!

The villagers in Boileau are very grateful that there is some hope.  But the crowd at the clinic each day is a reminder both that much help is still needed and that someone hears their cry for help. The medicine you provide not only helps their body, it helps their spirit with it’s message that someone cares about them. The doctors and nurses and generator and clean water and micro-credit are all a testimony that they have not been forgotten.

The villagers in Boileau need a little lift in their spirits. The refugees from the earthquake have depleted their resources. Although they have not had a direct hit from a hurricane this year, they have had flooding.  Several families had to sleep on the school floor when their homes were flooded.

It’s not too late!  If you still have an envelope from the Christmas in July garland, your gift will help!  Next week we will start collecting the Coin Boxes.  Your success in finding ways to sacrifice a dollar each day for the Coin Box will help keep the kids in school and provide lunches and provide medicine.