Field Notes from Haiti: National Problems, Local Solutions

All of the sudden our car sputtered and stopped. We were in the middle of rush hour traffic in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and the horns started blaring immediately.  “What’s going on?” I asked from the back seat.  “I don’t know, maybe it’s the battery?” our team leader Karen replied.

Our volunteer medical team had just finished seeing 200 patients at Hospital Asebad, and were headed across town for drinks at the tourist bar, La Caya. The Prestige’s (Haiti’s local beer) would have to wait.  We weren’t going anywhere. 

Karen put the car in neutral, and we pushed it out of traffic, and onto the shoulder.  Our fellow volunteer Johnson jumped out of the car and starting peering under the hood.  “Any idea what’s going on?” I inquired.  Before he could respond, five Haitians had volunteered to help.  We didn’t know what to think. But within five minutes, they had located a spare battery, popped out the old one, and replaced it with a new one.

The juxtapositions in Haiti are staggering.  The mountain views are gorgeous, yet you cannot find a street that isn’t obstructed by mounds of trash.  The crystal clear Caribbean water at the local beaches is breathtaking, but 1 in every 6 Haitians suffers from the water borne illness cholera.  It’s a land of immense beauty, and nearly ubiquitous suffering.   

 Haiti’s problems are innumerable, but it’s people are resilient. If I learned anything from my trip, it’s that their resiliency is the key to their future.

Haiti’s history is littered with examples of foreign intervention, both opportunistically, and under the guise of benevolent care.  However, shockingly few governments and organizations have taken the time to work with ordinary Haitians to solve problems.  This was a fascinating discovery; involving everyday Haitians in the discussion, and empowering their voices, I would learn, is rarely practiced.

Are the problems that face Haiti too much to overcome?  Sometimes it can feel that way. However, three organizations operating in Cap Haitien would suggest otherwise.  All are committed to addressing Haiti’s problems with input, and labor, from ordinary Haitians.

·      SOIL is a local non-profit that provides access to safe, dignified sanitation in a country where only 25% of the population has access to a toilet.   Not only does SOIL provide access to clean toilets, but they convert the waste into rich, organic compost that is used to refurbish Haiti’s depleted soils.  With a staff that is populated by over 90% Haitians local to the neighborhoods they serve, SOIL is empowering Haitian communities to create positive, sustainable change.

·      Meds & Foods for Kids is a locally sustained organization that produces Medika Mamba – a protein infused peanut butter that treats severely malnourished Haitian children.  Despite unreliable electricity and infrastructure, Medika Mamba is manufactured by local Haitien employees, using local ingredients.  This emphasis on the community boosts the local economy, fosters smarter agricultural practices and increases employment opportunities.     

·      Hospital Asebad is a recently opened 50 bed hospital managed and staffed by local Haitians.  The hospital provides high quality services to those who can afford them, in order to supplement the care of those who cannot.  In a community where many previously had to travel across the border to the Dominican Republic to receive worthwhile medical care, the establishment of Hospital Asebad ensures the local population has access to convenient and quality healthcare.

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Help2Heal, in conjunction with our non-profit partner, Project C.U.R.E., are committed to the empowerment of Haitians.  Our medical assistance enables Haitians to decrease the likelihood of acquiring preventable illnesses and diseases.  This leads to fewer hospital visits, and more disposable income to put toward basic needs, education and growing their businesses & skill sets.    As I witnessed when our car broke down, the Haitian people are motivated and savvy.  With increased opportunities, I look forward to hearing more success stories.  

Posted on May 16, 2016 .

Field Notes from Haiti: Tracing the path of a donated bandage

Help2Heal is committed to using business as a force for good.  For every purchase of a box of our adhesive bandages, we give away an equivalent number of adhesive bandages to resource limited communities around the world through our partnership with Project C.U.R.E, the largest supplier of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries.  So how do we get our bandages into the hands of those who need them the most? 

It all starts with a purchase.  Every purchase of Help2Heal products triggers a reciprocal donation to Project C.U.R.E.  Volunteers at the Project C.U.R.E. international headquarters in Denver, Colorado, include our adhesive bandages in “Kits for Kids”, a first aid kit comprised of donated medical supplies that provide basic care to children in developing countries.  These Kits give children access to scarce “medicine cabinet” items that often require a hospital visit to obtain in the developing world.  The availability of Kits for Kids enables basic first aid to be administered at the home, often preventing infection and other complications.  With hospitals sometimes prohibitively far away, these Kits save families valuable time and resources.

Once the volunteers finish assembling the Kits for Kids, they are loaded into a container at the Project C.U.R.E. warehouse.  These containers also often contain C.U.R.E Cargo – medical equipment that provides life-saving tools to improve diagnosis, treatment & care, and C.U.R.E Kits – suitcase sized pre-packed kits that include exam supplies, wound care and personal hygiene items.

The containers are earmarked for communities in which Project C.U.R.E. has undertaken a thorough, on-site assessment process that ensures that every container delivered will meet the specific needs of the recipient hospital or clinic. The relationships formed during the assessments, and maintained over time, enable the continued successful delivery of medical supplies to the people in their communities who need them the most.

Upon receipt of the containers, the local hospital or clinic distributes the Kits for Kids to young families and children.  While distributing the Kits, the contents are explained, and proper sanitation and wound care treatment are detailed.  This education component is crucial, and helps foster a greater knowledge of basic first aid treatment within the community.

Project C.U.R.E strives to deliver health and hope to the world. We at Help2Heal enthusiastically support this mission, and are very proud to contribute adhesive bandages to help achieve that goal.

Posted on May 16, 2016 .

Field Notes From Haiti: Setting up a pop-up clinic

On our trip to Haiti, we had the opportunity to deliver medical assistance to the rural mountainside village of Port Margot – to bring the hospital to them - via a ‘pop up’ clinic.   For Port Margot, and many other ‘pop up’ clinic sites around the world, Project C.U.R.E.’s team of volunteers provides rare access to medical attention.  This is crucial, as the nearest hospitals are typically hours away, and transportation is often difficult to obtain. 

 The central focus is the people, and as administrators of the “pop up” clinic, our goal is to make them as comfortable as possible. Given the volume of patients waiting, movement control is the first essential consideration.  In Port Margot, we held our clinic at a local church.  The main chamber of the church was used as a waiting area, and a non-medical volunteer managed the flow of people (typically in smalls groups) down to our “pop up” clinic in the church’s basement.

In the basement, we set up three staging areas: the initial triage section staffed by nurses, the doctors “offices” and the pharmacy.

1.     The triage section was the initial point of contact for the patients.  The nurses took their vitals, and provided a general overview assessment of their health.  This allowed the doctors more time to spend on the specific ailment affecting the patient. 

2.     The doctors “offices” were the second stop, and gave the patients the opportunity to discuss their ailments in detail.  After reviewing symptoms and diagnosing the issues, the doctors would prescribe medications.

3.     The final station was the Pharmacy – staffed by a nurse and two non-medical volunteers.  The patients picked up their medications and were on their way!

For the local community, the opportunity to see trained medical professionals within walking distances of their homes cannot be overstated.  And in a country like Haiti, where the majority of people can only afford one meal per day, the cost savings of free healthcare enables families to spend more of their limited money on food, shelter and education for their children.  Smarter, healthier children lead to a brighter future for Haiti, and ‘pop up’ clinic sites around the world.

Posted on May 16, 2016 .

Help2Heal Heads to Haiti in March

One of my top priorities as manager of Accountability/Giving is to communicate the difference we are making in the world to you, our customers.  Buying a Help2Heal adhesive bandage is a unique experience; not only are you helping a loved one, but you are also helping a person in a resource limited community as well.  I’m committed to sharing the impact we are making across these communities, so you can understand the difference your purchases are making.

To further this mission, I will be joining our non-profit partner, Project C.U.R.E., on a one-week clinic trip to Cap Haitien, Haiti.   There I will have the opportunity to volunteer at the ASEBED hospital in the city, as well as at two rural “pop up” clinics in the surrounding countryside.  I will be taking a lot of photos, and look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences with you.

 


Posted on February 29, 2016 .

Meet Brian Lichtenheld, Chief Accountability Officer

My name is Brian Lichtenheld, and I manage Accountability/Giving here at Help2Heal.  Growing up, I was inspired by the mantra “help other people at all times.”  This philosophy has pushed me towards a life of cheerful service.  I’m passionate about using business as a force for good, and look forward to ensuring your “buy one, give one” purchases make an impact on the lives of the resource limited throughout the world.

I’m excited about the opportunity to work at Help2Heal because we will be making a distinct difference in the lives of those who do not have access to basic first aid supplies.  Your support, in conjunction with our non-profit partner, Project C.U.R.E, will enable the delivery of critical first aid supplies to those who need them the most. 

Through your purchase, we will work together to save lives, prevent infection and mitigate complications resulting from wounds. This will lead to more time spent at school for children, more hours at work for adults, and as a result, a more robust and sustainable local community.  The simple act of purchasing a Help2Heal product will have a profound impact on lives and communities across the world.

I’m thrilled to be starting this journey, and look forward to getting to know our community.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or suggestions.  Always more than happy to help.

Brian Lichtenheld

Brian@help2heal.com

Accountability/Giving 

Posted on February 26, 2016 .

Help2Heal Donates 100,000 bandages to Project C.U.R.E.

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Posted on February 15, 2016 .