“It's really the people on the ground that are in the best place to define what those needs are,” Day said. “The international community should always be trying to fill gaps. There was a lot of coordination that took place with Dianne in those first couple of days to make sure that we were mobilizing resources from here that she and our partners on the ground could use.”
Coordinating efforts, Jean-François said, was something they learned following the 2010 earthquake, during which time many relief programs were operating independently, instead of working together or with the local government.
“We talk with the Ministry of Health because they are the ones coordinating the response, the medical emergency,” she said. “That's a lesson learned from the earthquake in 2010. There was no real coordination, and that created a lot of issues later.”
Two weeks ago, Jean-François traveled to the southern part of the country to assess the current situation and begin planning longer-term recovery efforts.
“We’re working with the priests and sisters in the different communities because they live in the community,” Jean-François said. “They know our vulnerable [people]. The really vulnerable will not be able to rebuild their homes. They will not have funds to live for daily living.”
“With the sisters and the priests, we will move forward, identifying the kind of infrastructure, a home that will be adapted to respond to any hurricane with winds of 150 kilometers and an earthquake of the same magnitude we had,” she said.
After homes and rural health facilities are rebuilt, CMMB will help Haitians identify and work toward income-generating activities to establish a more secure financial situation. CMMB is also actively working with the local priests to encourage parishioners to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, an effort sidelined by the earthquake.
“We're not fundamentally an emergency relief organization,” Day said. “We're more of a long-term public health organization, but we have a very demonstrated capacity, which has been developed over years in Haiti, because of the necessity of responding.”
“We want to make sure we balance those two—that we have excellence in our emergency response, but also in our long-term public health programs,” he said.
Upcoming shipments from CMMB will include hygiene kits and additional medications. They will also provide water-purification systems for families to have access to clean drinking water.
As a native of Haiti herself, Jean-François is committed to helping her country with longer-term recovery, she said, beyond the current earthquake relief efforts.
(Story continues below)
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“I would like to see my fellow citizens, my brothers and sisters, living a better life,” she said. “Give them opportunities so things can change for them. That is my motivation. It’s the wellbeing of everyone living in Haiti.”