I’m writing to share an update with you on COVID-19 in Haiti. There are now 24 confirmed cases with an additional 218 suspected cases. One person has died.
We fear, however, that there are in truth many more cases than what these official numbers reflect.
Haiti — with a population of some 11 million — has tested just 257 people for the coronavirus, according to the Miami Herald.
My colleague Kristie van de Wetering, Beyond Borders’ Deputy Executive Director, has 16 years experience working in humanitarian missions in Haiti, and she is heading up our Emergency Management Team (EMT).
She meets daily with our colleagues in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and on Lagonav Island who are coordinating our response to the COVID-19 crisis in Haiti.
Here’s her most-recent update that I wanted to share with you:
The Haiti team continues to be in good spirits – clearly (and understandably) concerned for themselves, their families, colleagues and country. But they are also incredibly motivated to play an active role and do what they can to limit the spread and impact of this virus. We check in daily as an EMT but also daily with each member of the team to keep connected, keep morale up and remind them that we are in this together.
Our Regular Programming: With the number of cases growing and now in areas that our teams usually work, all physical activities in the field have been suspended.
Over the past several days a number of staff have been getting set up to use this time of physical distancing to work from home on important things that don’t require going out into communities or physical interaction with others, such as finishing up new training modules, creating new monitoring and evaluation tools, entering data from social mapping exercises carried out in communities to name just a few.
Only absolutely essential staff are coming to the offices on a rotation and as-needed basis. These are program leaders, and finance and logistics staff who are playing a critical role in our COVID-19 response efforts.
Supporting the Most Vulnerable: Communities we serve and those we work with are extremely vulnerable and in urgent need of supplies to help them protect themselves and their families from the virus.
In the immediate, we are putting together hygiene kits composed of buckets, soap and bleach, with informational brochures that will be distributed through our networks and with our partners in rural and urban communities, and in support of local government leadership.
We are mobilizing and supporting those in our networks who know how to sew to make artisanal face masks that can be made available to the wider community.
Families living in extreme poverty are being hit even harder by the crisis as prices for basic food items and supplies skyrocket. We will be providing these families with additional cash subsidies to help keep food on the table.
Our COVID-19 communication team is working on critical messages to share as the risk for violence and exploitation of women and children – especially girls – increases significantly in times of crisis. These messages will be shared on community radio, on WhatsApp networks, by text messaging and other ways Haitians usually communicate.
Supporting Joint Response Efforts: We know that together we are stronger and so the team is working closely with local authorities, community-based organizations and other actors to coordinate response efforts in order to avoid duplication and make sure the most vulnerable receive help.
I have asked Kristie to share updates with you, so from time to time you’ll be hearing from her.
And I continue to be encouraged by the stories of deep solidarity among neighbors who are making stunningly generous sacrifices for one another as this crisis unfolds in Haiti.
If, in your current situation, you are able to help and are looking for ways you can be in solidarity with families and communities in Haiti, I invite you to visit our newly created COVID-19 website at: https://donate.beyondborders.net/COVID-19 where you can also get the latest on the number of confirmed cases.
With deep gratitude,
Co-Founder & Executive Director | Beyond Borders