Cholera 8 – Urgent Situation in Les Irois. Cholera Spreads in Haiti

Cholera 7 – The Epidemic Spreads to Port au Prince

Fr. Scott

It happened – our worst nightmare. The cholera epidemic spread from the Artibonite region to Port au Prince. And now the nightmare is getting worse: cholera is spreading throughout Haiti and it is sure to get endemic. In Les Irois in southern Haiti there are 753 cases and 11 people have died over the last 5 days. And there will likely be outbreaks of this terrible, diarrhea-dehydration-death causing disease throughout Haiti for an indefinite time period in the future. In fact, there is no end in sight – except more body bags with victims.

CTF-SOS DRS is doing its part to help. In addition to a mission to Artibonite in October and a co-sponsored cholera treatment facility on the grounds of our community in Port au Prince, we have now landed in southern Haiti in the town of Les Irois (roughly halfway down the coast between Jeremie and Port Salut [see the map] .

The situation is urgent. And events happened quite quickly. Here are a series of e-mail conversations that show how quickly things have developed. Now you will be update on the urgent situation in Les Irois.

On December 15 I responded to the urgent pleas of Fr. Norbert, a Haitian priest, via an e-mail directed to the Executive Director of Light of the World in Florida, Theresa Banks. I wrote:

Dear Theresa,

Health and peace.

 
I received your message about the situation in Les Irois. I have tried to contact Fr. Norbert. No luck so far. I asked him to call me on SKYPE. That is the best way at this moment: fr.scottbinet.
 
As the Lord would have it, yesterday I sent Theresia on a mission to Carcasse, Jeremie, Les Irois, etc. for hurricane/earthquake relief and possibly cholera relief. We have several earhtquake/hurricane programs in the area that are part of our larger project – Perpetual Help Haiti. Yes, Divine Providence is working.
 
In fact, I just spoke with Theresia. She is about to call the priest in Les Irois (whom she knows well as we are sending about 200 of his students/orphans to school). Theresia will be staying in Les Irois tonight. She is on her way to Jeremie now. Therese will be speaking with Fr. Maximo [whom she knows/has met] about medications, etc. She will do this after Therese gets a report from the priest in Les Irois. Theresia is with two members of our community – Marc Daly and Vickens. They will be helping Therese to secure fluids, etc. I believe Fr. Maximo will be open to collaborating with us to help the people in Les Irois. I spoke with him about a similar need prior to going to Artibonite in October when Therese and I helped with the cholera situation there. He was very open to helping. We will see this time. I will update you when I know more.
 
How do you think Light of the World can help? Therese et al. are scheduled to stay in the Les Irois/Carcasse/Jeremie area until at least Sunday. I have given her permission to stay longer if she wants given the situation in Les Irois. Once again, the Lord has put Theresia in the right place at the right time! She will work with V and MD to help the people in Les Irois. 
 
I am heading to Houston where I have a fundraising event to attend sponsored by my brother Todd. But I am always in contact with Therese. I will return to Haiti on Wednesday the 22nd and depending on the situation may be going to the affected area myself. We will see. 
 
I am leaving for the States tonight. I will be in Miami after 8 PM. You can call me on 414-731-7318. You can give Fr. Norbert the same number.
 
I have CCd some of my CTF-SOS DRS collaborators. You remember Marco Iazzolino as you met him at your board meeting in Florida.
 
Let us stay in touch and see what the Lord wants us to do together to help the people in Les Irois and the surrounding area. You let me know how you think LOTW can help and I will try to facilitate that.
 
The urgency of the situation became more apparent when I spoke again with Theresia. Here is my follow-up e-mail: 
 
Health and Peace –
 
Per my previous e-mail, Theresia Sinaga is now with Marc Daly and Vickens in Les Irois – a coastal town in southern Haiti. The situation there is worse than we thought. At the only hospital in town there have been 375 cases of cholera and 11 deaths over the last 5 days. 

SOS DRS is the first outside group to arrive at the hospital given its remote location. Fr. Francine, the local parish priest, and the nurse in charge of the cholera response welcomed our group. And the medical and hygiene supplies they had brought from Jeremie were a welcome sight as well.
 
Therese, MD and Vickens arrived in Jeremie only after many hours of traveling on difficult roads. The new [used] vehicle that we had purchased the day before held up well though. In Jeremie Therese met with a member of one of our collaborators – Medecins du Monde [MDM] (Doctors of the World). We are collaborating with them in medical/cholera care on the grounds of our community in  Port au Prince. There is an intermediate level cholera center in our side yard and numerous medical tents on the front lawn. All this is to serve the people in the camp of 6,500 that is directly in front of the community. 
 
Our MDM colleague was helping at the hospital in Jeremie as the group was given responsibility for the cholera response there. He facilitated our acquisition of numerous bags of Lactated Ringers solution, oral rehydration salts, IV sets, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin and gloves. And then T.MD and V bought soap and drinking water elsewhere. Much as we did when T, MD and I went to respond to the cholera epidemic in Petite Riviere, Artibonite in late October/early November, these three left a hospital in a larger city to go to a more rural and underserved area – Les Irois. 
 
Therese and I had heard 2 days before this Dec. 15 mission that  8 people had died from cholera in Les Irois. Therese had just returned from that town a few weeks before so she was particularly concerned. We both looked at each other when we received the news – wanting to help, but feeling helpless. We wanted to serve those with cholera and give our donors a chance to help them as well – e.g. St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Jupiter, Florida. But we were not sure what to do. We were particularly frustrated in our efforts because we could not leave the community on the 13th when we heard the news: they were burning tires in the streets in Port au Prince after the release of the November 28 election results. Then on the 14th in one hectic day – when there was relative calm in the city – we prepared for the mission and I sent Therese, MD and Vickens to the earthquake, hurricane and cholera-affected affected area.  Stay tuned for more.

And finally, in her most recent communication, Therese reiterate the urgency of the situation

Dear all in Christ,

Peace.

As I am writing you I am already in Irois. Yes, the situation is worse than we thought. When we arrived last night at 11 PM I had a meeting with the local priest (Fr. Francine Bernard) who is a diocesan priest. He told us that last week on Friday 11 people died because of cholera. And yesterday 2 people died because of cholera. In the hospital now there are 375 people who are suspected of having cholera. This is the only hospital in Irois and it lacks  medicines and doctors. Thank God carried some IV fluids, oral rehydration salts, antibiotics, water, soap, gloves, etc with us. This morning we are going to work in the hospital. As the mission coordinator I have decided that SOS DRS will stay and collaborate with the hospital to respond to the cholera ooutbreak. So far there is no other organization here to help the hospital and the nurses. Therefore I might extend my stay here if the situation is getting worse and Fr. Scott may join us.

Thank you so much for your concern. Let us keep praying for the people here and let us do something together for them – our brothers and sisters.

Theresia Sinaga

 Help us help Haiti. And spread the message about what is happening in Haiti so others will help as well.

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