On Saturday, August 14th, Haiti experienced a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. It killed over 2,200 individuals, injured close to 12,000, and leveled homes, hospitals, and schools. Fortuitously, the Order of Malta’s Worldwide Relief organization, Malteser International, through Malteser International Americas (MIA), has been working on the ground in Haiti since the last big earthquake in 2010 and its team of 24 was able to assess the damage and mobilize its relief efforts immediately.
MIA’s immediate response focused on some of the most affected areas, namely Petit Trou de Nippes, Baradères, and L’Asile, in the country’s southern departments, the epi-center of this earthquake.
In coordination with relevant national, UN, and local entities and organizations, Malteser International Americas was able to confirm that most of the houses in these areas have been destroyed, and critical public service infrastructure like schools, hospitals, and water systems have collapsed. More importantly, MIA was able to give medical support to three of the most affected health centers in the area with over 775 medical supplies and medicines, as well as able to distribute 144 tarpaulins for temporary shelter, and tools to clear excessive debris.
In addition, they have given cash distributions to 600 people, particularly focusing on women and the most vulnerable: single mothers, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. A common practice in humanitarian aid, cash distributions were given after carefully assessing what was available at local markets. Experts have determined that this was the best and most dignified way for Haitians to get certain basic necessities.
Going forward, MIA will focus its efforts on three main areas: education, water, and medical attention (including mental health).
- Rehabilitate five different schools to ensure up to 1,500 children and 30 teachers will be able to access continuity in education, as well as provide them with mental health support to begin to heal from this collective trauma.
- Repair drinking water systems to restore (or in some cases, establish) access to safe drinking water. In doing so we will increase local capacities for long-term management of water structures and reduce plastic pollution in the long-term.
- Coordinate closely with local and community leadership, to provide mental health support to these communities. Both the safe water and mental health activities will benefit a combined 40,000 individuals.
- Finally, support three of the most heavily affected medical clinics in the southern departments with medicines, essential medical supplies, and provisional shelter kits. These clinics will serve 20,035 individuals.
Overall, the extent of the damage will take time to fully be understood. It is estimated that over 579,000 people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and overall, between 1.2-2 million people were affected. But, as always, MIA will be on the ground assisting in the country’s recovery long after other NGOs and relief organizations have moved on.
Your support of Malteser International Americas’ efforts in Haiti and throughout the Americas is greatly appreciated. Click here to visit Malteser International Americas’ website and learn more.