Many in the U.S. bemoan the restrictions placed on their favorite summertime activities: family gatherings, fun-filled vacations, stadium-filled sporting events, and an easier pace to the day. This summer, few activities seem carefree or even possible.
Like many parts of the U.S., daily oppressive heat and humidity takes its toll. The paces of Haitians slow down under the burden of relentless hot weather.
Unlike the U.S., air conditioning is a luxury few Haitians can afford. Patients fare the worst, as high temperatures exacerbate cardiac, respiratory, and various chronic ailments. Summer is the time more cases of severe dehydration and its critical conditions present at Hopitâl Sacré Coeur. Infants … are particularly vulnerable.
Basic necessities, such as food and clean water, that might counterbalance some summer perils remain frustratingly elusive. An on-going food shortage broadens famine like conditions across the nation. More and more severely malnourished children arrive at Hopitâl Sacré Coeur. Some beyond hope of effective treatment. Adults, weakened by lack of food and poor nutrition, are more prone to injuries. Without a strong immune system to fight off infections and disease, they too fill up hospital beds and clinics. And then families are threatened when the breadwinner falls ill or injured.
When rain finally arrives, it brings more obstacles and endangerments than relief. Heavy downpours from tropical rainstorms pommel the parched earth too hard and too fast to be absorbed. Landslides wash away homes, crops, and livelihoods. Those Haitians without adequate shelter stand at the mercy of nature’s severe forces.
Small streams and hand-dug wells, once a source of barely adequate drinking water, become contaminated and unusable. Tropical Storm season is now cholera season as the waters let loose often deadly cholera, which buttresses the summertime uptick of viral and parasitic diseases: malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya and lymphatic filariasis – to name just a few.
Summertime in Haiti puts a bright spotlight on the debilitating and suffocating poverty that has sadly, become the rhythm of daily life. All the jeopardies of living on a thin ledge with cracks full of human vulnerabilities showcase way too clearly. Summer in Haiti is a season of increased vigilance, preparation … and often heartbreak.
The dramatic devaluation of the Haitian currency continues, rapidly increasing inflation — currently above 20% — and the on-going challenge of supply chain distribution and water shortages have given devastating blows to a fragile population. The average person is powerless to control these looming threats — that could afflict any country — but they certainly feel the effects. Prices across the board have soared. As one Haitian said, “The money we do earn, can’t respond to our basic needs.”
The heart wrenching frustration. You work hard all day making an honest living — one of the lucky Haitians to have a job! You go to buy food for your family and find near empty shelves and vendors’ carts; what is available costs more than you made — some prices having doubled since last year! On your walk home (Even the occasional tap-taps are no more.) you notice fewer cooking fires because few people have anything to cook. You do notice more women and small children from nearby towns hauling heavy buckets of water — their village water supplies ran dry. The local mango trees have been picked clean and even the compost and garbage piles have been purged of remotely edible materials. At least you have your health … for now.
Although the deadly virus arrived in Haiti latter than in other countries, its tragic impacts have dug deeply into the fabric of everyday life. Lockdowns are yet another luxury few Haitians can afford. Some family members must leave home in search of daily work, food, and water. The risk of exposure seems the lesser of two evils.
Over the past two months, Hôpital Sacré Coeur has cared for a steady stream of patients stricken by COVID-19. Like “Healthcare Heroes” around the globe, Hôpital Sacré Coeur staff willingly risk their lives to provide compassionate medical care.
Without proper nutrition and adequate clean water, immune systems breakdown, health issues turn more serious, and, yes, people — our sisters and brothers — die. Daily, we see the tragic effects of these prolonged and degenerative humanitarian crises. Clothes hang more loosely on adults and the eyes of the children do not sparkle as much as they did even six months ago. Bodies under stress and emotions running rapid require greater tending and monitoring. Deadly diseases continue their assault. Today, a steady stream of people arrive at Hôpital Sacré Coeur — many frightened and in despair — in search of hope and relief.
Your Steadfast Generosity Saves Lives Every Day.
During This Deadly Haiti Season, Please, Make a Generous Special Summertime Donation.
Even a Few Dollars Makes a Strong Impact.
That Would Make for A Very Awesome Summer!
With our deepest gratitude for YOU!
Harold Prévil, M.D.
CEO, Hôpital Sacré Coeur
Sister Ann Crawley, C.S.J.P.
Hôpital Sacré Coeur Outreach
David G. Butler, M.D.
Chairman and Medical Volunteer
P.S. YOU can make a tremendous difference! Please, send your tax-deductible donation by August 31st. Remember: 100% of your donation goes directly to patient care programs.