Photos taken at Lafana from late October to early November this year are now up!. Please visit our website's "New Photos" section to view them. Some of the more notable ones include images of our backyard classrooms, now held in tents donated by the UN Children's Fund, as our classrooms were destroyed in the quake. Also pictured are photos of our new medicine dispensary, with first aid supplies generously donated by the Haiti Participative, and photos depicted everyday life at Lafana--bathing at an open spring, preparing food for the children, etc.
Last month, our friends at the Haiti Participative, an NGO that strives to promote healthy lives and nutritional well-being for children in Haiti, gave us a generous supply of first aid materials, medicine, and early childhood care supplies (diapers, tupperware, etc). While we have 2 trained and qualified nurses at Lafana full-time--in addition, I'm also a registered nurse--to attend to the children's medical needs, we are usually short of basic medical necessities, like rubbing alcohol, disinfectant, antibiotics, gauze pads, and cough/cold medicines and suppressants.
With hundreds of children studying, eating, sleeping, playing, and living together communally, illnesses can easily spread if prevention and treatment are not available. Haiti Participative's help comes at an extremely critical time--no other group has given us any medical help since the quake, with the exception of International Action's donation of deworming pills. The medicines and first aid supplies will allow us to treat basic cuts and illnesses on site and lessen our dependence on the local clinic.
Below, you can see some of the photos of the first aid supplies and medicines being used. Haiti Participative's help was especially appreciated by Exon Flaurent, 5, one of our children who was suffering from a skin infection on his head. Before and after treatment photos of a now happy and healthy Exon are below.
If you are involved with medical missions trips or know of people who are and are interested in visiting Lafana, please contact us! Dentists, pediatricians, and optometrists who are able to volunteer their time and supplies for check-ups for our children are greatly welcomed and very much needed!
Today, 8 caseloads of soap from UNICEF contingency stocks in Petit-Goave have arrived at Lafana. They were kindly delivered by Terre des Hommes, a network of organizations working for the rights of children. The soap was part of our request for hygiene supplies from UNICEF made last week. We are also waiting and hoping to receive hygiene kits from UNICEF.
Supplies like soap, shampoo, and detergent are essential to maintaining a healthy level of hygiene, and when coupled with good hygiene habits, like handwashing, form an extremely effective barrier against the transmission of diseases, especially diarrhea and respiratory infections.
Terre des Hommes/UNICEF's soap donation is of great help and will last us for up to 6 months. We are crossing our fingers for additional hygiene supplies from them. In the meantime, we're in the planning stages to get some handwashing tippy taps up.
Also, we were informed by John Augsburger of Allied Recovery International that our well new well and treadle pump should be completed in another 2 days or so! His crew dropped off bricks and sand for the concrete slab to protect the well earlier today.
The kind people at Patagonia have donated rain jackets for our 15 cooks, teachers, and caretakers to better equip them to face the inclement weather during hurricane season. Recent storms continually flood our transitional tents and some of Lafana's buildings and have damaged the outdoor kitchen as well. Powerful rains have a great potential to disrupt life at Lafana, which is located right off the beach. While we are slowly reconstructing buildings damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, our workers are continually exposed to the elements more than usual, and these jackets are a welcome reprieve. They will be shipped down with a host of other supplies, including bedding and kitchen equipment. Thank you, Patagonia!
Other recent donations have included 120 family sized long-lasting insecticidal mosquito Olyset nets from Sumitomo Chemical USA and a large consignment of first aid supplies and medicines from Haiti Participative*.
We are very grateful for these and other generous contributions to Lafana.
If you would like to make an in-kind donation or know of any groups that are interested in doing so, please contact us! Outstanding needs include school materials and hygiene supplies.
*Photos of caretakers dispensing medicines from the Haiti Participative will be posted soon.
Last week's tropical storm Tomas passed by Lafana without incident. Rains and wind made us evacuate the children as a safety precaution, but we have luckily weathered the storm without any damages or losses.
Also, with the help of International Action, Allied Recovery International, and UNICEF, we are under the final stages of drilling a new well and installing a treadle pump. The quake ruptured our well. And we have since collected water off-site at an unprotected spring susceptible to contamination. The new well will greatly increase our self-sufficiency for safe water and allow us enough water to better meet our cooking and cleaning needs.
The first stage of drilling has been completed, and the Allied Recovery International's follow-up crew will come either tomorrow or at the beginning of next week to clean the well and install a concrete slab and treadle pump, which is easily operated by a small child. The pump will be like the one depicted in the youtube video below at another one of Allied Recovery's sites in Haiti.
Lafana is bracing for Hurricane Tomas, which is expected to hit Haiti tomorrow. The project path suggests that Tomas will brush southwestern Haiti, but nothing is certain. As we are right on the beach, we are particularly at risk for powerful storms such as this one. It has already caused considerable damage and loss of life in St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Vincent. The UN has estimated that 500,000 people in Western and Southern Haiti will be affected.
Our main building, which served as classrooms and sleeping quarters for the children, was completely destroyed in the January 12, 2010 quake. Many of them now sleep in transitional tents donated by UNICEF. Although a huge improvement to displaced living conditions after the quake, these tents are not storm-proof--They flooded in the torrential storms a few weeks ago.
I have instructed our caretakers Jo-el and Benito to take down the tents. Today, over the radio, government authorities have advised people living next to the coast to evacuate for higher ground. Right now, light rains but strong winds are buffeting Lafana. If things get progressively worse, we will move the children across the road to my grandparents' house. In inclement weather like this, the children sleep in one of our larger buildings that was damaged in the January quake, and government safety assessors have yet to arrive to evaluate structural integrity of the building. But in the current situation, we have no where else to put them.
We desperately need tarpaulins and other forms of transitional shelter supplies and help in rebuilding permanent structures to provide child-safe classrooms, dormitories, and living spaces. If you are able to help in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your kind thoughts and generosity.
- Marie L. Masson, Director of Lafana Institute of Hope