September 19, 2023

ADRA Distributes Aid Amid Resurgence of Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

Initiative also assisted families displaced from their homes due to gang violence.

Kevner Sineus and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
ADRA Haiti leaders and volunteers hand over a water purification kit on August 31. [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Haiti recently distributed hundreds of water purification filters and hygiene kits to more than 700 families amid a resurgence of cholera in that country. Distribution efforts spanned the Ouest, Sud-Est, and Nippes departments. It also took place at specific sites where displaced families are staying throughout the city of Port-au-Prince, ADRA Haiti officials said.

“After conducting a thorough assessment of the needs concerning a resurgence of cholera in some areas of Haiti, it became evident that many households were severely affected due to lack of access to clean drinking water,” Myrlaine Jean Pierre, ADRA Haiti country director, said. Water purification kits and hygiene kits, which included buckets, filters, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and soap, were distributed during the months of July and August thanks to a partnership with UNICEF and Global Medic, she said.

The distribution that benefited 720 families also included families and individuals displaced from their homes due to the escalating violence caused by gang violence, Jean Pierre said. “The ADRA effort is playing a vital role in strengthening access to basic services, particularly clean drinking water, which is a key element in preventing the spread of cholera,” she said.

Need for Drinking Water

In Nippes, dozens of families received water purification and hygiene kits during a distribution effort on August 29.

“The absence of latrines in most houses forces people to defecate in the open, which consequently causes the contamination of springs, which are their main source of water,” Norzé Dieuné, Nippes’s emergency manager, said. “The kit is very easy to use, and once it is purified by the filter, the water can be used for several days without a problem,” he said. Most of the water pipes were destroyed due to the construction of a road by the Petite Riviere, Dieuné said.

Lili Zéphirin, Nippes Community Leader for Women Advocacy, thanked ADRA for its commitment in assisting dozens of families in the department. “These materials will serve so many families who are faced with serious drinking water issues,” she said. “Generally, people use the water from the river for drinking, and unfortunately, because of contamination, it causes intestinal diseases,” Zéphirin said.

“I thank ADRA for this important tool that was given for my family,” Rita Hector, a mother of five who was happy to receive the filter and hygiene kits, said. “In the past, I had to buy water because I cannot drink well water, so this will help.”

Gesler John, from the Charlier community, thanked ADRA for the filters and the kits. “The water is usually contaminated when it rains, and many of us have to dig in the ground to find something to drink, but these filters will help us,” he said.

Assisting Displaced Families

ADRA moved quickly to distribute water purification filters and hygiene kits at the Vertières Adventist School in Carrefour-Feuilles, where 74 families were taking shelter after fleeing their homes, which had been burned by armed men.

“We are doing this first intervention, allowing these families to have drinking water and hygiene items,” Carlin Louis, ADRA Haiti’s local emergency manager, said. “The situation is one of sadness and anguish to see how these people had to leave their homes, leaving everything behind, and no longer have anything to survive on,” Louis said. “It’s very sad.”

Mireille David, who is blind, was saved by a friend. “I would have been burned to death inside my home if it had not been for a friend who took my hand to help me escape,” David said.

Marie Adeline Fenelon, a mother of four, is also taking shelter at the Adventist school. She recalls how fast she had to flee her home. “The violence we suffered was terrible. It is simply God who saved us, otherwise we wouldn’t be here,” said Fenelon, who also thanked ADRA.

ADRA Haiti will continue to monitor several regions to ensure some of the most desperate needs are met in communities needing aid, Willy Lima, ADRA Haiti programs director and programs manager, said. “We are proud of the dedicated team, volunteers, and partners who took part in this crucial work ADRA has undertaken in Nippes, Sud-Est, Ouest, and in displacement sites within the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, to have made this initiative a success,” Lima said. “Their commitment to our mission of serving humanity with love and compassion is truly inspiring.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.