Anniversary of the Earthquake

On January 12, 2010 the earthquake struck that was to have such a profound impact on life in Haiti.  Haiti is a country with one major city, the capital Port-au-Prince, the home to almost all of its hospitals, universities, government buildings, and larger businesses.  The epicenter of the earthquake was near enough that Port-au-Prince was left in ruins.  More than 200,000 people were killed and more than two million were left homeless.

Reconstruction has occurred in many ways since that critical day but eight years later the country has not “recovered”.  The concept of recovery is itself unhelpful for understanding the situation.  Haiti was, before the earthquake, the most impoverished country in the hemisphere.   Then the earthquake destroyed a terrific quantity of already minimal assets.  Unlike the United States, where recovery can occur through the reallocation of existing resources, in Haiti these resources are not available.

It is true that substantial international aid was directed toward Haiti through agencies such as USAID and the Red Cross.  Money sent to smaller nonprofits (such as the Lamp!) enabled them to provide effective direct assistance but some of the larger agencies failed to utilize the money effectively.  It is also true, however, that international aid was always only one facet of the solution.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses needed to rebuild their personal and commercial lives and they have been doing this, with or without assistance.

Currently, the previous “business district” of Port-au-Prince remains a no-man’s land of damaged and abandoned buildings.  But much construction has gone forward.  Hospitals and schools have been repaired and many new government buildings will soon open their doors.  Although few permanent homes for earthquake victims were ever built, new programs have assisted families to find their own housing and this has meant that the “tent cities” of displaced people have disappeared.  There is a beautiful new hospital to the north of the city.

The news, in other words, is mixed.  Haiti remains a nation of limited resources.  A new building for the Ministry of Health will not change the fact that government spending on health remains a meager $13 per person per year.

The earthquake was simply a tragedy; many Haitians are still struggling to meet basic needs and this means that our work, as concerned members of the same human family, must continue.

Former downtown district

Upper portion of Port-au-Prince today

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Message from Jim

Dear Friends –

I have been lucky enough to have met a local resident in Cité Soleil in the past few years with whom I have become friends. Alfred lives in the Bwa Nèf section, not far from the Lamp Health Center. A few years ago while living in another part of Haiti, his wife died. “Li te gen fyèv, le sa a mouri,” he recounted sadly to me one afternoon, describing the febrile illness that would take her. At the time she had no access to a doctor or medication.

Alfred is constantly smiling. He lives with this two children in a home constructed of wood cross beams, corrugated tin and rust on the outside, but love and patience and kindness on the inside.

Alfred earns a living by making wood burning stoves for cooking. He has a small workshop next to his home. If you visit, you know he’s there because you can hear the tink, tink, tink of his hammer and awl, pounding the sheets of metal from discarded barrels into rounded forms that will eventually form the finished product. I like to visit Alfred, to sit with him and chat about our families, and admire his craftsmanship. Despite his limited means, he continually and consistently shares what he has, dealing artfully with life’s challenges, and transforming others’ lives in the process.

And so it’s plain to see that sharing forms the cornerstone of this relationship, like sharing forms the cornerstone of any meaningful interaction. Sometimes sharing can be challenging to say the least. But consistent sharing, with vision and organization invariably leads to positive change. This notion is key to understanding why Lamp has been successful.

Lamp for Haiti is the result of a sharing vision in which you have decided to participate. I am guessing that your choice to continue on this journey has been edifying in ways you might not have initially expected. But because of your willful participation Alfred and thousands like him have a health center nearby where children living on the fringe of the economic fringe, are receiving quality health care.

Lamp has made great progress this past year because of an unwavering belief that when we pursue a noble goal — like providing quality healthcare for a community in dire need — and when we do so in an organized fashion with vision and commitment, positive change will invariably come. Maternal-child health, child nutrition, organized electronic records, ultrasound and x-ray. All these were thought impossible. A sharing spirit has made them a reality.

It’s good to have family with which to share at this time of year. Lamp’s efforts are reaching others effectively because of our commitment to this concept. We are helping to transform lives, and in so doing our own lives are changed too. Thanks again for being a part of this worthwhile project.

All the best to you and your own family this season and in the coming year,

James Morgan MD
Founder and Chair of the Board
jmorgan@lampforhaiti.org

We do need your continued commitment!

To make a year-end donation, click on the yellow Donate button
or send your check to Lamp for Haiti, P.O. Box 39703, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Thank You!

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Women’s Clinic is Growing!

The Women’s Health Clinic is one of the Lamp’s most valuable programs. In the past, women in this low-income community did not have an option for affordable care, so that prenatal check-ups, for example, were virtually unheard of. The majority of women also gave birth at home, in highly unhygienic conditions, due to the costs of delivery at a hospital. Complications in delivery resulted in many deaths. In Haiti, in general, 1 in 83 mothers die in childbirth (lifetime) and this number is higher in low income areas such as Cité Soleil.
The Lamp recognized immediately that services for women were a critical need, so that the Women’s Health Clinic has been a feature of the Lamp’s services since its earliest days. But the Women’s Clinic has grown dramatically over time. We expect to provide at least 450 mothers-to-be (and new mothers!) with regular check-ups in 2018.
Lamp services have also increased over time. This year we added ultrasound capability and also decided to include both delivery kits and infant kits in our regular service package. The kits have proven to be more than popular. They a great way to encourage expectant mothers to come in for regular check-ups since we only give kits to those that have come at least three times.
The area remains one of extreme poverty and many births still take place in homes, but the Lamp’s Women’s Clinic has become a well-loved community institution where women can expect to find professional care and genuine concern for their families’ health.
In 2018 we will be initiating a training program for community birth assistants, to reduce the risks of home births. Please stay tuned!

A satisfied doctor (and mom!)

An expectant mom visits the clinic

Dr. Severe examines a patient

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Canal Project Completed

A major building project was completed this quarter, namely a 150 yard drainage canal that will drain mosquito infested standing water and reduce flooding in the neighborhood adjacent to the Lamp for Haiti Health Center.  The project will have tremendous benefits for all of the families along its path.  Even more importantly, perhaps, the canal was built entirely with local labor.  As of August 30th, the Lamp has spent approximately $17,000 on labor costs alone, here in Bwa Nèf, in 2017.  This is an enormous infusion of earnings for the community.  Projects have included the canal, a “peace garden” adjacent to the clinic, and renovations of the public toilets and the main clinic building.  For a massively underemployed population, this is one of the most significant side benefits of having the Lamp health center in the midst of the community.  The dual impact of these projects mean that this is money doubly well spent.  The Lamp is building community in more ways than one.

For other stories from the latest newsletter, click here!

Early construction

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Child Nutrition Program Quadruples

In Bwa Nèf, home of the Lamp Health Center, malnutrition is a serious and ever-present threat to child health and long term development.  The Lamp’s child nutrition program provides peanut-butter based therapeutic foods and other health services to severely malnourished children aged 6 months to five years old.

In the past, severely malnourished children who came to the clinic were placed into the nutrition program by the attending doctor, and the Lamp also conducted assessments in local schools.

But this year the number of children in the program has exploded to more than four times the level of previous years.  One hundred and thirty five children were added to the program in the last six months alone.  The reason for this is simple: this year marked the first time in which the Lamp has employed Community Health Workers to visit each home in the surrounding community.  The CHWs, who make health needs assessments for each family, ended up discovering a great many children who were suffering from malnutrition.  This was heartbreaking in one sense, but worth celebrating in another because, right now, about 40 of those children are back to a healthy weight and the others are steadily putting on the pounds.

The combination of outreach, through the CHW program, and child nutrition services have resulted in an incalculable benefit to the community.

The program costs the Lamp approximately $75 per child.  If any reader would like to consider organizing a fundraiser for this program, please contact the Lamp at admin@lampforhaiti.org or call at (267) 499-0516!

Richanda at start of program

Richanda half-way through program

Receiving packets of therapeutic food

Ms Alissage, the nurse that manages the child nutrition program

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Persistence, Expertise and Community Buy-In Generate Results

“Cocktails for a Cause” supports local doctor’s initiative in Haiti

 

When Montclair native Dr. Jim Morgan had been providing medical services for a few years in
Cité Soleil, an area scourged by terrible poverty in Port au Prince Haiti, he was approached by
one of the local women who had been working with him since he started the Lamp for Haiti Health
Center in 2006.

 
“How long,”she asked, “will you keep coming back?” His answer: “Until they put earth over my
body.” Fast forward a few years when a powerful earthquake devastated the beleaguered island
and Dr. Morgan almost overnight found a flight to Haiti and got a cab to the Lamp health center.
He was greeted by Jesalah, the woman who had questioned his commitment a few years back. “I
can’t believe you are here,” she wept. Dr. Morgan took her hands and said, “I told you I would
be.”

Being there, in the midst of the dire poverty, the lack of sanitation, running water and electricity;
being there, after the earthquake, after the hurricanes and tropical storms, and after many NGOs
and volunteers have left the island in despair, is what Lamp for Haiti does.  And that commitment
to taking care of the health needs of part of a community of 300,000 people living on less the $1
day has won the respect of the local people for The Lamp, and their full participation in its growth.

In the 11 years since Dr. Morgan and a few like-minded people, including his wife, Ellen
Cunningham, M.D., decided that they could provide, “some level of dignity” to the people of Bwa
Nef, the neighborhood in Cité Soleil where they have located the health center, both the numbers
of people served and the staff have grown. And the staff is entirely Haitian,  a number of whom
live in Cité Soleil. Fifteen men and women - two doctors, five nurses, a lab technician, community
health workers and other staff - provide primary care and emergency care and health education.
Five years ago maternal and child health care was added; more than 13,000 patients are treated
with children counting for nearly half.

As much as health care is desperately needed in a land where malaria, cholera, HIV-Aids are
endemic, that is not all the area needs nor all that The Lamp does. Besides providing health care
and related jobs within the health center, Dr. Morgan noted that the The Lamp creates jobs
around it.

“People sell drinks and snacks outside the clinic and we use local workers for capital projects,” he
said. Recently, The Lamp had to have a $10,000 drainage canal built and all the labor was local.
And, In addition to building and maintaining other sanitation projects, including a public toilet, The
Lamp also offers tuition sponsorship to more than 30 children.

Dr. Morgan recounted how the level of deprivation around the clinic can be mind-boggling to
outsiders. And adding to this deprivation, the slow pace of any progress and bureaucratic
roadblocks  have led to abandonment by some foreign aid organizations, workers and volunteers.
“When we first started,” Dr. Morgan said, “The people here had had it up to here with outsiders
coming in, meaning well, dropping stuff off, starting mobile clinics, taking photos and walking
away.” People are well-intentioned, he added, but there has to be a willingness to listen, a hunger
for input from the people in the community. Without legitimate buy-in from the community,
“programs don’t stand a chance.”

Persistence, expertise and community buy-in are the reasons Lamp for Haiti has succeeded.
From its start as an effort by a few well-meaning Americans to distribute medications to needy
Haitians, the Lamp has developed more and more of a Haitian identity, with Haitians providing
health care and coordinating with other Haitian agencies in the area to serve thousands of people
who would otherwise do without. With a $400,000 annual operating budget, Dr. Morgan and the

Haitian and American staff have their work cut out.  But Dr. Morgan’s guiding principle never
wavers. “I have the capacity to impact lives - to makes lives worth living, the way my life is -  that’s what
connects me to the Lamp for Haiti,” he said. “And I want other people - here and in Haiti - to feel
connected to that work too.”

Written by: Noreen Connolly
Media Representative: Cocktails for a Cause
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Hurricane Irma spares Haiti

It sometimes seems as though Haiti must suffer through each disaster that visits the region but in this case there is cause for celebration not sorrow. The impact of Hurricane Irma on Haiti was much less than feared. The north of Haiti experienced some violent winds but in the Port-au-Prince area, where the Lamp for Haiti Health Center is located, there was no significant damage. The Health Center was closed for a day to allow staff to prepare for the coming storm but in the end those precautions were — happily — unnecessary. The day after the hurricane passed, Friday, September 8th, the Health Center welcomed patients as always.

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The Clinic Gains an Ultrasound

As reported last year, Abington Hospital near Philadelphia contributed an ultrasound unit to the Lamp. We can now report, with utmost pleasure, that the ultrasound machine has been in full use for many months. Transporting the unit to Haiti was far from an easy task. Shipping it would have incurred a tremendous customs fee, so it was dismantled and carried over, piece by piece, in personal baggage. Happily enough, we were also able to re-assemble it on the other side! While waiting for all of the pieces to arrive, our staff took courses on advanced imaging interpretation and were able to put the unit to use the same day that it was assembled. We had often asked clients at the women’s health clinic about their satisfaction with our services and the word had always come back loud and clear: please add ultrasound! Well, the satisfaction meter has taken a terrific swing upwards. The ultrasound adds a very substantial capacity to improve care for expectant mothers and many other patients, male and female. A key tool has been added to the Lamp’s diagnostic toolbox.

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The Spring Campaign is a Success!

Our Spring Campaign this year focused on the Lamp’s services for children.  Fully one third of all of our patients are six years old or less!  The women’s health clinic is also a key part of the Lamp Health Center and this means that our doctors see a lot of very young infants as well.

Our goal for the campaign was to raise $25,000 for children’s services.  In fact, due to the generosity of many people, we easily exceeded this target.  The total raised was $26,962!  This level of health care funding will have an immediate and real impact on the lives of children in need.  We will be able to move forward with all four activities that we were hoping to fund:

  • We will be able to purchase a full range of essential medicines in special pediatric formats and doses;
  • We will hold health fairs in two local schools and provide each child in two grades with a new pair of shoes;
  • We will be able to give at least 200 expectant mothers a new infant kit – something we have not done before!
  • We have already given our staff the word to expand our child nutrition program, and will add at least 50 children to that program in the coming months.

It is a privilege to be able to pass on this great news to our staff in Haiti!  Thanks to everyone that participated!

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The Lamp Goes to City Hall

The Lamp is always eager to work in partnership with any organization that seeks to improve conditions in Cité Soleil.  This principle certainly includes collaboration with the government, both national and local.  Our recently established Community Health Worker program, for example, takes full advantage of our collaboration with Haiti’s Ministry of Health.  Because of this partnership we are able to put our own staff into the Ministry’s training courses and utilize health education materials that have been developed and approved by the Ministry.

Last week we took a new step in this direction.  We held our first mobile clinic at City Hall in Cité Soleil.  The name Cité Soleil is typically used to denote the huge shanty town on the edge of Port-au-Prince (where the Lamp’s Health Center is located) but it is, in fact, also a “commune” – that is, a municipality with its own mayor.  The mobile clinic was organized in direct collaboration with Mayor Huslain Frederick, a politician with a genuine desire to make a positive impact.  The joint effort increases the standing of the Lamp in the larger community and allowed us to provide medical services to a whole new population.  We will continue to explore this partnership.

Despite the normal difficulty of setting up in a new location, Lamp doctors saw 235 people and continue to follow up with those who need ongoing care.  “It was a hard and beautiful journey in Cité Soleil” said our Medical Director, Dr. Hyppolite.

 

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