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The following post begins our March 2007 newsletter.

Greetings from Gatineau, Haiti

A young Haitian man from a village near Gatineau was cut with a machete while working in his fields a few weeks ago. The next day he began having spasms in his muscles and by the following day he was dead. The cause of death was known to all the local villagers: tetanus. Had there been a clinic nearby with anti-tetanus toxoid and vaccine, he would not have died. In a village not far from this young man’s was a 23 year old woman, pregnant with her second child. She had had no problems during the entire 9 months of her pregnancy and she and her husband were only waiting for her to go into labor. Around midnight on a night in December, she began bleeding. Her husband gathered his neighbors and they took her to the nearby clinic, waking up the nurse who was there. She started an IV, but there was nothing she could do to stop the bleeding. It took until noon for them to get her down to the hospital in Jeremie and just after getting there, she and her unborn infant died. Was the cause of death placenta previa or lack of access to emergency obstetric care?

To continue reading the March 2007 newsletter, please visit the News page of our website.

One of the things that is very important to us in terms of the sustainability of our work here in Haiti has to do with community participation. When the local community participates in the development of a project, both in terms of planning and implementation, the project is more likely to succeed over the long term, because they are motivated to see results from their own efforts continue far into the future. They take ownership of the project and treat it as if it’s theirs. This is known as community sustainability, and is based on community participation, which has to be cultivated from the start of a project. This is opposed to the “hand-out” mentality, where those responsible for a project come into a community and announce that they are there to do a project. In this situation, the community plays no active role in the process, and dependency is created, rather than empowerment.

The community needs and resource assessment we are presently conducting helps us to have a better understanding of the issues related to health care availability, barriers to access of care, and overall health needs in the communities. Once this information is summarized, it will help us as we develop our programs and decide our priorities of service. But, it also helps to begin the process of community participation and, hopefully, long-term community sustainability.