“You just can’t imagine the poverty,” says Teresa Williams, FNP, Riverside Warsaw Medical Arts.
“They have nothing. Literally nothing,” explains Cynthia Barrack, RN, Community Liaison Nurse, Riverside Home Health and Hospice.
Teresa Williams and Cynthia Barrack are two local women with strong personalities and spirits and the determination to get stuff done. But even they are surprised how far they’ve come in such a short time. Having returned from their latest visit just before Thanksgiving, they took time to look back at all they’ve accomplished in the nearly two years they’ve been working to improve the lives of people living in one of the most long-suffering countries on earth. Haiti.
Do a quick Google search on Haiti and it’s easy enough to find dismal news about the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Much of this despair has been brought on by Mother Nature. The island is regularly hit with hurricanes and flooding, often weathering multiple severe storms in any given year; and there have been three significant earthquakes in the last eight years, two in 2018 alone. Hundreds of thousands died in the immediate aftermath of these natural disasters and millions continue to suffer from persistent homelessness, malnutrition, and disease. What’s even crueler is that much of what makes this misery persistent is entirely man-made. Through years of political instability, mismanagement and corruption, precious little, if any, relief ever reached the people who so desperately needed it.
With such large-scale problems, it’s surprising that groups like Hope United Haiti, the group Williams and Barrack work alongside, are finding success with small-scale solutions. Formed in 2017, they have partnered with Hope for the Hopeless, a Haitian non-profit, to rebuild the lives of those in one community.
La Mer Frappée is a community of about 10,000 people just outside of the capital of Port-Au-Prince. When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of Haiti 2010, millions were left homeless. Tent cities were built to accommodate them, but after several years, the Haitian government pushed them out, despite the lack of new housing. Landing in La Mer Frappée, they’re now attempting to make a new start.
In terms of starting over, it was literally a blank slate. There was limited access to fresh water or adequate housing. There were no schools for the children, no churches for community members to attend.
But that was then. An impressive list of improvements has been completed in just under two years, drastically improving the look of the village as well as the health and well-being of those that live there. A large multi-purpose building now stands as a school and church, serving 210 students in grades K through 5. They have a second building serving as the caretaker’s house and school office, which also includes a new well and latrines, providing fresh water and a clean environment to reduce the spread of disease. The pavilion, which was completed in November, is now a place for students to eat their lunches. Lunches are also funded by Hope United Haiti.
For the full article pick up a copy of this weeks Northern Neck News 12/5/18